Whether you’re a business or an individual, having anti-virus protection on your PC and internet-enabled devices is incredibly important for keeping you safe online. It is also important to research which antivirus product will be best for you, both in terms of extra features and value for money, before you make the purchase.
Norton and Bitdefender are amongst the most popular antivirus products out there on the market today, with both products reaching millions of consumers all around the world. However, determining which one is best can be a challenge.
In this comparison, I will be comparing Norton 360 Deluxe and Bitdefender Premium Security to help you figure out which one is best overall. I will be looking at the overall protection against malware by running my own tests, how effective they are at neutralizing threats, and if the scans slow down your machine. It is also important to consider the ease of use, extra features, and value for money.
Summary: Norton 360 Deluxe vs Bitdefender Premium Security
- Real-time Threat Protection
- Secure VPN
- Multi-layer Ransomware Protection
- Secure VPN
- Advanced Parental Controls
|Feature||Norton 360 Deluxe||Bitdefender Premium Security|
|Antivirus and Antispyware||✔||✔|
|Banking and Payment Protection||✔||✔|
|Network Attack Protection||✔||✔|
|Automatically update apps||✔||✖|
|PC Cloud Backup||✖||✔(50GB)|
|Identity Theft Protection||✖||✖|
|Run suspicious apps in sandbox||✖||✖|
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.
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 more than 150 countries, protecting half a billion users worldwide.
Pricing and Compatibility
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 ten devices. The table below outlines the different products both offer:
|Norton 360 Standard||Norton 360 Deluxe||Norton 360 and LifeLock Select||Norton 360 and LifeLock Advantage||Norton360 and LifeLock Ultimate Plus|
|$79.99 per year||$99.99 per year||$149.99 per year||$249.99||$349.99|
|Bitdefender Total Security||Bitdefender Premium Security|
|$79.99 per year||$89.99 per year||$149.99 per year|
Both Norton and Bitdefender come with big discounts on your first purchase. Norton 360 Deluxe offers $50 off your first purchase making the product $49.99 for the first year. Bitdefender offers a $60 discount making the purchase price $89.99. (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 at 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 sample malware files from The European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR). 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. Take a 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:
|Test File||EICAR Sample 1||EICAR Sample 2||EICAR Sample 3||EICAR Sample 4||Live Sample 1 (Adware)||Live Sample 2 (Trojan)||Live Sample 3
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.
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.
During March and April 2020 Bitdefender scored 100% in their protection rates against malware attacks, inclusive of web and email threats (real-world testing). Norton also scored 100% in March, however, in April it scored just shy of 100%, at 99.5%.
I also looked at AV-Comparatives latest Malware Protection test from September 2019. Bitdefender scored 99.5% and Norton scored 99.9% online protection rate, putting Norton just slightly higher than Bitdefender.
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 September 2019 show seven false alarms for both Norton and Bitdefender, meaning they are on an equal playing field in terms of false positives.
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 it takes 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.
|Test Type||Full Scan Time (minutes)||Full Scan Iterms Scanned||Quick Scan CPU Utilization %||Quick Scan Memory Utilization %||Quick Scan Disk Utilization %||Quick Scan Time (seconds)|
A full scan with Bitdefender 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.
|Test Type||Control CPU Utilization % (no scan)||Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)||Control Disk Utilization (MB/s) (no scan)||Full Scan CPU Utilization %||Full Scan Memory Utilization %||Full Scan Disk Utilization (MB/s)|
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 2019, Bitdefender scored “very fast” in seven out of eight tests. Norton’s fell just shy with six “very fast” results.
Norton beat Bitdefender in File Copying speed. However, Norton was slower when archiving/unarchiving, installing and uninstalling applications and launching applications on its first run.
When it comes to performance, Bitdefender performs slightly better, although not by much. There was only a minor impact on speed and performance while I ran a number of tasks on my PC, which the other independent tests verify.
Lots of providers now add in some extra features in addition to the antivirus scanner itself. I’ve looked at what is included in each package to see which one offers the best value.
- Cloud Backup
- Smart Firewall
- Password Manager
- Virus Protection Promise
- Parental Control
- Secure VPN
- PC SafeCam
- 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.
Cloud Backup – Norton offers 50GB cloud backup for PC’s. It will automatically store and protect important files and documents against hard drive failures, stolen devices and even ransomware.
Password Manager – With password manager you can easily create, store and manage passwords, credit card information and other credentials online – safely and securely.
PC Safe Cam – Having your webcam protected is incredibly important. With the PC Safe Cam you will get notified if cybercriminals try to use your webcam, and Norton can help block them.
Unlimited VPN Traffic – A VPN greatly improves your privacy on the web. It protects your online presence by encrypting all internet traffic, including bank information, passwords and downloads. It includes unlimited encrypted traffic for your Windows, Android, macOS and iOS devices.
Anti-Theft – Bitdefender Premium Security packs effective anti-loss and anti-theft tools for your Windows laptop or tablet, remotely accessible from anywhere in the world via your Bitdefender account
Multi-layer ransomware protection – Bitdefender’s multi-layered approach against ransomware includes a data-protection layer that safeguards your documents, pictures, videos and music against any kind of ransomware attack.
Sign Up and Installation
Signing up is simple for both Norton and Bitdefender.
Norton clearly lays out the price, discount, and the 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.
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.
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.
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 really 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 am going to award the narrowest of victories to Norton over Bitdefender. However, while Norton 360 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.