Norton vs Bitdefender Premium Security

Norton and Bitdefender are amongst the most popular antivirus products out there, with both products reaching millions of consumers all around the world. But which one is actually better? That’s what we’re here to find out.

I will be comparing two similar products – Norton 360 Deluxe and Bitdefender Premium Security – to help you figure out which one is best overall. I will running my own tests to see how effective they are at identifying and neutralizing threats. We will also double check our findings against lab tests from. It is also important to consider the ease of use, extra features, and value for money.

Want to skip straight to the result?

If you are in a rush, I can tell you that the winner is Norton. It had better results in independent tests, had less of an impact on system performance, and comes in at a lower price point. It’s hard to fault.

Summary: Norton vs Bitdefender

No valueNortonBitdefender
Websitewww.Norton.comwww.Bitdefender.com
Real-time protection
Web protection/anti phishing
Firewall
Password Manager
VPN
PC Cloud Backup
Identity Theft Protection
Web cntrol/dashboard
Best deal (per month)$3.33
GET 52% off the first year!
$5.83
Save 56% on one year plans

A bit about the companies

Norton

Norton has been around for 28 years and since 2001, it has been produced by Symantec Corporation in California. Norton has become a global leader in consumer cybersecurity, helping secure the devices and online privacy of nearly 50 million consumers.

Formerly Symantec, Norton acquired LifeLock identity protection in 2017, which led to its name change of NortonLifeLock. In December 2020, it announced the acquisition of Avira antivirus, and in August 2021, it announced that it would be acquiring Avast, which itself acquired AVG a few years prior. This means Norton could soon implement the best bits from all three of these companies. Avast had already finished syncing the Avast and AVG cloud and behavioral monitoring technology.

Bitdefender

Compared to Norton, Bitdefender is a newbie to the world of cybersecurity. Bitdefender was founded in Romania in 2001 and works with government organizations, enterprises, and consumers across over 150 countries, protecting half a billion users worldwide.

Norton vs Bitdefender pricing

In terms of price point, Norton 360 Deluxe and Bitdefender Premium Security are very different. Norton 360 Deluxe is considerably cheaper than Bitdefender, even with the discounts both offer on their website. However, Norton 360 Deluxe only offers protection for up to five devices, whereas Bitdefender Premium offers protection for up to 10 devices. The table below outlines the different products both offer:

Both Norton and Bitdefender come with big discounts on your first purchase. Norton 360 Deluxe offers 52% off your first purchase making the product $49.99 for the first year. Bitdefender Premium Security offers a 56% discount making the purchase price $69.98. (This is at the time of writing). As you can see, Norton 360 Deluxe is considerably cheaper than Bitdefender even with the special discounts present. Norton also has other higher-priced packages if you are looking for something extra.

Both Norton and Bitdefender offer a money-back guarantee, allowing you to try out the product and make sure it is suitable for you. Norton boasts a 60-day money-back guarantee whereas Bitdefender is just a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Both Norton and Bitdefender work with all the major operating systems including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices.

Effectiveness against malware

When deciding which antivirus product is best, it’s important to know which one will do the best job of protecting your PC against malware. I ran some tests to see how each product performed.

The first test I performed checked for malware threats in real-time, instead of waiting until a scheduled scan time to check my PC files. I also ran a second malware test where I downloaded harmless malware test files from The European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR) which simulate different vectors of infection, where threats come from and the forms they come in. I turned off real-time detection and ran a full system scan and a quick scan to see how well the malware was detected and quarantined.

To add to my own tests, I checked out some of the most recent antivirus tests managed by the major independent antivirus test labs. Look at the table below comparing the test results from both Norton and Bitdefender. These tests were performed on my PC with three different lives samples and four EICAR samples:

No valueNortonBitdefender
Websitewww.Norton.comwww.Bitdefender.com
Eicar Sample 1BlockedBlocked
Eicar Sample 2BlockedBlocked
Eicar Sample 3BlockedBlocked
Eicar Sample 4BlockedBlocked
Live Sample 1 (Adware)BlockedBlocked
Live Sample 2 (Trojan)BlockedBlocked
Live Sample 3 (Trojan)BlockedBlocked
Best deal (per month)$3.33
GET 52% off the first year!
$5.83
Save 56% on one year plans

The results showed Norton blocked just one of the EICAR samples but allowed three, compared to Bitdefender, which blocked all four of the EICAR samples. Norton blocked the .txt file and the download from EICAR.com on HTTP but allowed zip files. On HTTPS, the .zip files and the .txt files were allowed while the Eicar.com file was blocked.

Both Norton and Bitdefender immediately detected and deleted all three live samples.

Norton antivirus block

bitdefender malware results

bitdefender scan

To add more depth to the analysis, I looked up the latest test results from AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, two of the best-known independent AV testing labs.

The latest AV-Test report showed that during July and August 2021, both Bitdefender and Norton scored 100 percent in their protection detection against malware attacks, inclusive of web and email threats (real-world testing).

I also looked at the latest AV-Comparatives Real-Time Protection Test from July-October 2021. Norton scored 100 percent and Bitdefender scored 99.7 percent in their online protection rates, putting Norton slightly higher than Bitdefender. Norton achieved first place out of every antivirus in this test; no other reached 100 percent.

AV-Comparatives also has another useful tool in testing the best antivirus programs: a false alarm test. This test is useful in seeing how accurately a file or app is identified as safe or as a threat. The lower the number of false alarms, the better. False positives occur when the antivirus flags a non-malware file as malware and can therefore be an annoyance.

The test results from July-October 2021 show thirty-seven false alarms for Norton, and zero for Bitdefender. This is the same test that showed Norton at the highest with 100 percent detection, something no other antivirus in that test showed. This could suggest that Norton is more aggressive with its detection, offering slightly better security, but with more false alarms.

Impact on PC Performance

The impact antivirus programs have on your PC performance is an important thing to consider and is something to be aware of when deciding which one is right for you. To find out which of the two antivirus programs had the best performance numbers, I captured data while running both full and quick scans. To verify my findings, I looked at the performance scores for both Bitdefender and Norton from some recent independent tests.

The table below shows the results of my test and how long it took to complete, plus the number of items that were scanned. The time to complete an antivirus scan is affected by a number of factors such as the speed of the PC, the number of files that need to be scanned, and the antivirus program that you are using.

No valueNortonBitdefender
Websitewww.Norton.comwww.Bitdefender.com
Full Scan Time (minutes)121110
Number of scanned objects1,420,2764200000
Full Scan CPU Utilization %8456
Full Scan Memory Utilization %7581
Full Scan Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)3813577
Control CPU Utliization % (no scan)1432
Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)7274
Control Disk Utilization (seconds) (no scan)1365
Quick Scan Time (seconds)171338
Quick Scan CPU Utilization %3756
Quick Scan Memory Utilization %7681
Quick Scan Disk Utilization %413557
Best deal (per month)$3.33
GET 52% off the first year!
$5.83
Save 56% on one year plans

A full scan with Bitdefender was completed in 110 minutes and scanned 4.2 million items, compared to Norton, which took 121 minutes and scanned 970,000 items.

Next, I tried running a quick scan with each antivirus. Norton completed the scan in 171 seconds, while Bitdefender completed the quick scan in 338 seconds.

I also recorded some data to see how my PC’s resources were affected by both antivirus programs.

Bitdefender recorded a higher CPU Utilization than Norton when running both programs. Bitdefender also recorded a higher control disk utilization when not performing a scan. During a full scan, Bitdefender used less CPU than Norton. The biggest difference is in the full scan disk utilization: Bitdefender utilized 3,577 MB/s and Norton came in at 381 MB/s.

Next, I analyzed the results from some other independent tests. The tests run by independent labs show how each antivirus impacts PC performance during eight common tasks:

  • Downloading files
  • Browsing Websites
  • File Copying: First and subsequent run
  • Installing/uninstalling applications
  • Archiving / unarchiving
  • Launching applications: First and subsequent run

Each task is given a rating ranging between very fast and slow.

In the AV-Comparatives Performance Test from October 2021, both Bitdefender and Norton achieved an Advanced+ rating, the highest rating out of Advanced+, Advanced, and Standard. For comparison, Microsoft Defender only achieved Standard.

Looking deeper into the data, Bitdefender achieved the highest “very fast” rating in all performance categories, apart from two where it achieved “fast”, and Norton achieved very fast in all but one. Bitdefender was considered fast in the first run of file copying and the first run of launching applications. Norton was considered fast in installing applications.

When it comes to performance, Norton performs slightly better, although not by much. There was only a minor impact on speed and performance while I ran several tasks on my PC, which the other independent tests verified.

Norton vs Bitdefender features

Lots of providers now add in some extra features besides the antivirus scanner itself. I’ve looked at what is included in each package to see which one offers the best value.

Norton

  • Cloud Backup
  • Smart Firewall
  • Password Manager
  • Virus Protection Promise
  • Parental Control
  • Secure VPN
  • PC SafeCam

Bitdefender

  • Unlimited VPN traffic
  • Priority Support
  • Device Optimiser
  • Window, macOS, Android and iOS protection
  • Parental Control
  • Multi-layer ransomware protection
  • Protection against malware, spyware, adware

Both programs offer some of the same features, including parental controls, a VPN, and firewalls. Below are a number of the unique features included with each program.

Sign Up and Installation

Signing up is simple for both Norton and Bitdefender.

Norton clearly lays out the price, discount, and renewal price after the first year. There is also an option to add the Norton Computer Tune-Up, which gives access to Norton-certified technicians who will help make your PC or Mac run better.

Bitdefender also displays the price and discount clearly. However, by default, it enrolls you in an automatic renewal after the first year. If you do not want to renew, make sure you tick the opt-out option, otherwise, you may be caught out.

How easy is the interface to use?

Both programs have a very simple interface. Bitdefender is clean and simple, using a black and neon green color template. When opened, Bitdefender’s dashboard proclaims, “You are safe,” making it quick and easy to see if everything is working. It has the usual list of your devices alongside protection, privacy, and utilities sections. There’s also a section for you to share your suggestions and things you would like to see in any future updates.

Norton’s signature grey, black and yellow color scheme is laid out to ensure ease of use. The dashboard, like Bitdefender, lets you know if you are protected. From the dashboard, you will be able to access security, identity, performance, and other sections. Norton 360 Deluxe also includes a web portal where you can manage protection for up to five devices.

Customer Support

Norton

Norton offers 24/7/365 support on all of its product tiers. There is an online community forum, FAQ, and live chat support. Support is available through its Facebook and Twitter channels. However, unlike Bitdefender’s free phone support, Norton’s phone support costs extra.Norton Customer Support page

Bitdefender

Bitdefender Premium Security boasts an extensive support hub, with many common problems answered on their website or demonstrated through online videos, which is great if you want an easy fix. If this is not doable, you can contact support via email, phone, online chat, or through their expert community forums.Bitdefender customer support

Conclusion

Both programs are well-suited for looking after your devices with high malware detection rates. Norton scored slightly higher in independent tests, while Bitdefender blocked more of the samples used in my own testing.

Norton and Bitdefender add some great features on top of the antivirus engine, and in all honesty, it depends on what you need most that will determine which is best for you.

Due to its better performance in independent tests, lighter system impact, and lower price point, I will award the narrowest of victories to Norton over Bitdefender. Although Norton is affordable and provides everything most people are looking for, If you are looking at securing more than five devices, then Bitdefender is an excellent option for you.

Methodology: How do we make comparisons?

There’s much more to our comparisons than quickly selecting an antivirus with good reviews or several extra features. We perform a series of tests and consider many factors before an antivirus even makes it into our comparison. Below are some of the checks we undertake:

  1. Malware detection: We put the products we test against several virus infections to see how they react.
  2. Performance impact: To ensure the software doesn’t brick your device, we use lab testing to check the effects of AVs during scans and while it’s idle.
  3. Customer support: We look for providers with several support options. At the minimum, we expect email or ticketing, though most offer live chat and phone support too.
  4. Pricing: Many providers have enticing offers for new subscribers in their first year of signing up. We source these offers to ensure you get a great deal.
  5. Devices: Most AVs offer up to 1-3 installations, but we search for products that offer support for more devices (at an extra cost) and include apps for Windows, macOS, and sometimes smartphones.

Check out our antivirus testing methodology guide to learn more about how we test AV providers.

FAQs about antiviruses

What is the best free antivirus and should I use free or premium?

Although at their core both paid and free antivirus programs do the same thing, it is worth noting that there are some key differences. 

Free antivirus software lets you perform scheduled and on-demand scans of your hard drive, to detect and remove computer viruses and other malware. A paid service goes a step further by also performing active real-time scanning of all downloads and incoming data packets.

This additional protection provides greater levels of security because it enforces proactive protection against threats, rather than reactive (removal) of exploits as and when they are found on your machine. 

Paid antivirus software also often includes various other advanced security features as part of a security suite. This includes things like parental controls, safe search, email scanning, password management, cloud backups, dark web protection, and more.

All that said, free antivirus is always better than no antivirus and Bitdefender actually offers one of the best free antivirus products on the market.

How do I uninstall Norton or Bitdefender?

You might decide it's time to switch to a different product, or maybe your new PC came loaded with an antivirus product you don't want. If you want to change your antivirus or reinstall it, you can easily remove it by using Windows’ native uninstaller tool. To use it, head to the Control Panel and click on Programs and Features. Now, search in the list of available programs for either Norton or Bitdefender. 

Once you have located your antivirus, right-click on it and choose to uninstall. The uninstaller will now launch. All you must do is follow the on-screen instructions to completely remove the antivirus and all of its components. You may be asked to restart your computer for the changes to take full effect.

If you want to remove Norton or Bitdefender on a Mac computer, head to the Application folder, locate the applicable removal tool for your antivirus and launch it. Now follow the instructions to remove the antivirus from your Mac.

Do I need a VPN?

Yes. Antivirus software does a completely different job to a VPN. If you want robust online security and privacy, it is essential that you use both a VPN and an antivirus. 

Antivirus software is designed to scan your machine’s hard drive for potentially malicious programs, viruses, worms, and other malware. A good antivirus also scans all incoming traffic to prevent you from downloading anything malicious. 

A VPN, on the other hand, provides you with online privacy by encrypting all of your web traffic and tunneling to a remote VPN server location. This prevents local network administrators, wifi-hotspot providers, Internet Service Providers, and government snoops from being able to monitor your web browsing habits. 

A VPN also prevents the websites you visit from tracking your home IP address. This allows you to get an IP address in a remote location to bypass network restrictions, censorship, and regional content blocks. 

Both Norton and Bitdefender now include a VPN as part of their premium offerings, but you may find it’s not as capable as a standalone product. For example, many of the VPNs listed here, have additional capabilities like being able to access Netflix USA and BBC iPlayer while abroad.

Can I use Norton and Bitdefender together?

No, we wouldn't recommend using any two antiviruses simultaneously, as this can cause a software conflict that could damage your system.

Is Bitdefender safe?

Yes, Bitdefender is one of the safest and most effective anti-virus and internet security programs available. The official Bitdefender website is where you can download the software and find out more information. There are many positive reviews of Bitdefender online, and it has received high marks from independent testing labs. If you are looking for a reliable and safe anti-virus program, Bitdefender is a good option.

See also: