Although the internet has transformed our way of life, it brings with it some dangers. Cybercrime and malware threaten your privacy and important data. This calls for antivirus software.
There is an abundance of antivirus software on the market today and it can be difficult to choose the one that’s right for you. I’ve made the decision simpler with this comparison of two of the leaders in the antivirus world: Bitdefender and Sophos.
The comparison will showcase the standout attributes of Bitdefender and Sophos, including features, useability, and price. I have conducted my own tests to help guide you in choosing the right antivirus software to protect your internet-enabled devices.
Which is better, Bitdefender or Sophos?
Bitdefender is my winner. It is outstanding at protecting your device against malware and sophisticated threats. It is simple to use and provides exceptional additional features that both an avid and occasional user of the internet would find useful.
Want more details? Read on for a full comparison of Bitdefender and Sophos.
- Protection against ransomware
- Password manager
- Unlimited and secure VPN
- Privacy protection
- Safe browsing
- Real-time protection
|Feature||Bitdefender Premium Security||Sophos Home Premium|
|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||✖||✖|
Bitdefender is a Romanian company founded in 2001 and has over 500 million users worldwide. It aims to be the most trusted cybersecurity provider in the world, offering innovative and transformative ways to help consumers stay safe online. Bitdefender protects both businesses and home users alike.
Sophos is a British company which was founded in 1985 in Abingdon, England. Its primary focus is protecting organizations and large businesses, although it does offer free and premium antivirus software for in-home use. Sophos currently protects over 400,000 organizations in more than 150 countries worldwide.
Pricing and compatibility
Pricing across antivirus software varies. There’s an array of options to choose from, including some free alternatives. It may be tempting to opt for a no-cost service, but these typically don’t offer the same level of protection as their paid counterparts. As you can see from the table below, both Bitdefender and Sophos offer a free antivirus software that will protect your device from the most basic threats, as well as one or more paid options.
|Bitdefender Antivirus Free||Bitdefender Antivirus Plus||Bitdefender Total Security||Bitdefender Premium Security|
|FREE||$59.99 per year||$89.99 per year||$149.99 per year|
There is a clear difference between the two price structures. Sophos is much easier to understand, offering just two plans: a free version and one premium alternative. With the premium version, you get more privacy features such as webcam and browser protection, and you can use it on up to ten devices instead of just one.
In comparison, Bitdefender offers many different plans to suit your needs. Its prices range from free to $149.99, with the highest tier option offering protection for up to ten devices. Aside from those listed above, there are other options including a family pack, a small business plan, or the new Bitdefender BOX.
If you are still undecided, both Bitdefender and Sophos offer a free 30-day trial, so you can try before you buy. You can try Sophos Home Premium for thirty days, and then it reverts to the free version, which is great if you don’t want to get caught out by the automatic payment. Bitdefender provides downloads for full trial versions of its software, without the need to submit your credit card details.
At the time of writing, both brands are offering discounts. You can purchase Sophos Home Premium for $45 per year, a saving of 25 percent. There are additional savings for multiple years of subscription. In comparison, Bitdefender is offering discounts across their plans, with Bitdefender Premium Security coming in at $89.99 for a year’s subscription.
Compatibility is another thing to consider before purchasing. Both Bitdefender and Sophos work with Windows, Android, and MacOS devices.
While Sophos is considerably cheaper than Bitdefender, what you get for your money is just as important as price. Read on to find out more about what each service has to offer.
Effectiveness against malware
Malware is a broad term used to describe any software that may be a threat to your device. It includes trojans, worms, adware, ransomware, and more. As technology develops, so do these threats. To test the effectiveness of Bitdefender and Sophos against malware, I performed some tests of my own.
I downloaded four sample malware files from The European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR) and turned off real-time detection. You can see the results in the table under ‘EICAR Sample.’ The second test evaluated the performance of the software in real-time and how well malware was detected and quarantined. These results are shown in columns labeled ‘Live Sample.’
|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
As the table above shows, both Bitdefender and Sophos managed to detect and block all four EICAR samples.
Both Bitdefender and Sophos also blocked all three live samples.
Even though both Bitdefender and Sophos performed exceptionally in my own tests, I wanted to see how they measured up in independent tests.
AV-Test and AV-Comparative are both leading websites in their field and provide in-depth data to discover which brand offers the best protection. AV-Test results from May 2020 and June 2020 showed that Bitdefender scored 100 percent in their real-world testing which included 339 samples. Sophos Home scored 96.3 percent in May and 100 percent in June.
AV-Comparatives most recent real-world protection test from February 2020 to May 2020 showed Bitdefender scoring a 99.3 percent protection rate. AV-Comparatives did not include Sophos in the tests from February 2020 to May 2020.
During the test period of March 2020, AV-Comparatives also highlighted false alarms. The false alarm test shows how accurately a file is picked up as safe or a threat. Bitdefender picked up seven false alarms which placed it in the top five performers in the test. As Sophos was not in this test, we cannot compare the two.
To sum up, Bitdefender and Sophos both provided outstanding protection against malware in my own tests. Bitdefender earned a perfect score in AV-Test’s assessment which makes it the winner in this round.
Impact on PC performance
If you’re using your device regularly, especially for work purposes, you need to make sure that your antivirus software has minimal impact on things like CPU and memory utilization. I ran some tests to see the effects Bitdefender and Sophos had on my PC whilst running a full and quick scan. Note that Sophos does not have a quick scan option.
|Test Type||Full Scan Time (minutes)||Full Scan Items Scanned||Quick Scan CPU Utilization %||Quick Scan Memory Utilization %||Quick Scan Disk Utilization %||Quick Scan Time (seconds)|
Sophos’ full scan was completed in a short 15 minutes. This is compared to Bitdefender which took 110 minutes to complete a full scan. Bitdefender scanned 4,200,000 items in this time. Sophos does not provide details on how many items it scans which is unusual for an antivirus program.
How did these scans affect the performance?
The table below highlights the effects both Bitdefender and Sophos had on my PC when no scan was present and whilst performing a full scan.
|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)|
As you can see, Bitdefender had minimal impact on my PC compared to Sophos when a scan was not taking place, at just 32 percent CPU utilization. Bitdefender also had similar results when a full scan was taking place, at just 56 percent CPU utilization compared to Sophos’ 97 percent.
AV-Comparative provides some data on PC performance, which is handy to compare my results against. The test shows the impact antivirus software has on PC performance when performing eight common tasks:
- Downloading files
- Browsing websites
- File copying: first and subsequent run
- Installing and uninstalling applications
- Archiving and unarchiving
- Launching applications: first and subsequent run
In April 2020, Bitdefender scored a very fast rating for all, with the exception of file copying on its first run which scored just a fast rating. Sophos did not take part in the April 2020 Performance Test.
As you can see in both my own and independent tests, Bitdefender outperforms Sophos in terms of performance and impact on a PC. Considering Sophos did not take part, it is an easy round for Bitdefender. This goes to show that Bitdefender is exceptional in malware protection whilst having a minimal impact on your device.
I have discussed pricing, malware protection, and performance so far in this comparison and now it’s time to take a look at additional functionality. It can become confusing to compare antivirus software, so I have picked out a few of the standout features from each.
- Unlimited VPN traffic
- Priority Support
- Device Optimizer
- Window, MacOS, Android, and iOS protection
- Parental Control
- Multi-layer Ransomware Protection
- Protection against malware, spyware, adware
- Malware Remover
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Real-Time Antivirus
- Ransomware Security
- Banking Protection
- Privacy Protection
- Identity Protection
- Advanced Web Security
- Parental Web Filtering
- Remote Management
- Premium Support
Unlimited VPN Traffic – A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an important tool when protecting yourself online. It secures your online presence by encrypting all your internet traffic, helping protect things like your banking information, passwords, and downloads. The Bitdefender VPN has apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS.
Multi-layer Ransomware Protection – The multi-layered approach ensures that your documents, pictures, videos, and music are safeguarded against all kinds of ransomware attacks.
Device Optimizer – This feature is great if you don’t want the software to bother you with unnecessary requests. It can detect when you work, play, or watch a movie, and will pause popups and alter visual settings so you can use your device without interruption.
Parental Web Filtering – With this feature you can control the content your children view online by easily filtering categories around inappropriate content or websites.
Web Security – This feature blocks websites that are potentially compromised, creating safe browsing for banking, shopping, and other activities.
Identity Protection – This will prevent malware from stealing your usernames or passwords stored in your device’s memory.
Bitdefender and Sophos have similar features as outlined earlier in the comparison table. That said, Bitdefender’s VPN and multi-layered approach to prevent malware is exceptional and provides you with the ultimate protection.
Signup and installation
Whether you’re a complete novice or advanced user, the signup and installation process needs to be quick and easy. Sophos provides a clear and simple design outlining the price, and an option to see what multiple years of subscription would cost. It highlights your discount and provides an intuitive form for inputting your personal details and payment information.
Bitdefender has a similar signup page, clearly showing your discount, product, and plan type. The only difference is that there is no subscription length option. Bitdefender does highlight that plans are on auto-renewal whereas Sophos does not, so this might be something to be wary of when purchasing any of Sophos’ products.
Both programs are easy to install within minutes.
How easy is the interface to use?
With all the added features antivirus software comes with, the interface needs to be easy to navigate. When opening Bitdefender’s dashboard, you will be told if you are safe. There are options to start a quick scan, open the VPN, and access the safe pay section. The panel on the left allows easy access to Bitdefender’s extra features, and there’s an option to head to the support site if needed. The gray and green color scheme is easy on the eye and to clear to read.
The Sophos Home Premium interface is a lot simpler in comparison, so it should be intuitive, even for beginners. It clearly shows if you’re protected and provides an option to start a full scan of your computer. There aren’t many features to navigate, only managing your activity and adding a device, so it’s pretty self-explanatory. The color scheme could use some improvement as it makes the content a bit difficult to read.
The best antivirus software providers offer solid customer support; this ultimately gains rapport and trust between the brand and its customers. Bitdefender provides support 24/7 through phone, online chat, or a ticket system. If your request isn’t urgent, you can try the vast online support hub with top solutions and how-to videos.
Sophos Home Premium customers can contact the support team between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm through phone or online chat. It’s important to note that Sophos does not offer any support for free home users, aside from the knowledge base available on the website. This means if you have any complex questions, then you would need to reach out to Sophos directly.
To conclude, Bitdefender is my winner. Sophos mainly focuses on its business clients rather than home users, which shows through its simple interface and features. Sophos also only offers two plans (free and premium), limiting customer options. Bitdefender is one of the leaders in the antivirus world, and has outstanding malware protection and performance rates, as well as a VPN and world-class privacy protection. Although considerably more expensive than Sophos, it’s worth the extra money when you consider the additional privacy and security.