(Last updated on January 11th, 2021)
Bitdefender or ESET, which antivirus software is a better option in 2021?
Read this comprehensive, data-driven comparison to make an informed decision.
In this ultimate comparison, you’ll see what’s included in different security products Bitdefender and ESET offer, as well as how both software compare against one another in terms of malware protection, system impact, user interface, cost, and more.
Do you know the AV-Test Institute registers over 350,000 new malware samples every single day?
The digital world we live in is becoming increasingly complex with time, which means your security and privacy are at risk.
If you don’t take precautionary measures to protect your devices – especially computers — against malware (a collective term used for viruses, worms, ransomware, spyware, and other threats), it is just a matter of time before you’ll become one of the victims of some widespread malware attack.
Bitdefender and ESET are two well-known cybersecurity companies that offer a range of antivirus products to help you protect your devices and safeguard your privacy.
Best Antivirus Suite for 2021
Overall Score: 9.9/10
60-day money-back guarantee
Right now, we think that Norton is the best antivirus software your money can buy. It regularly earns perfect or near-perfect scores from independent labs and has the least impact on system performance compared to rival products. Its products combine top-notch security with an array of excellent security features and, best of all, offer exceptional value for money.
Overall, Norton 360 Deluxe (currently at 70% off) is our pick for the best antivirus suite in 2021. It is competitively priced and comes with almost everything you could possibly ask for, such as a firewall, a fully integrated VPN, dark web monitoring, cloud backup storage (50GB), a password manager, and parental controls. You can cover up to 5 PCs, Macs, smartphones or tablets with this suite.
If you want full-on identity protection and don’t mind paying more, Norton 360 with LifeLock Select (currently at 35% off) gives those in the US a full range of identity protection features, more backup space (100GB), as well as all the above.
First, let see the security products both companies offer.
|Bitdefender Antivirus Suites|
|Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition (Windows only)|
|Bitdefender Antivirus Plus (Windows only)|
|Bitdefender Internet Security (Windows only)|
|Bitdefender Total Security (Windows & Mac)|
|Bitdefender Family Pack (Windows & Mac)|
|Virus Scanner (Mac only)|
|Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac (Mac only)|
|ESET Security Suites|
|ESET Nod32 Antivirus (Windows only)|
|ESET Internet Security (Windows only)|
|ESET Smart Security Premium (Windows only)|
|ESET Multi-device Security (Windows & Mac)|
|ESET Cyber Security (Mac only)|
|ESET Cyber Security Pro (Mac only)|
If don’t have time to go through this detailed comparison and want the answer right now, see the graphic and our short verdict below to make your mind.
Bitdefender offers more security-related features and extra utilities in its security suites than ESET. Independent tests prove that both software put a minimal impact on system performance, but Bitdefender is far better than ESET in terms of malware protection.
Best Antivirus for 2021
- Robust feature-set
- Excellent anti-malware security
- Minimal system impact
- Easy-to-use interface
- Automatic updates
- Trusted by 50 million users
- 100% virus protection promise
- 60-day money-back guarantee
#2 (Very Good)
- Exceptional malware protection
- Little impact on performance
- Trusted by millions of users
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- User-friendly interface
#3 (Very Good)
- Good malware protection
- Trusted by big corporations
- Minimal impact on performance
- Good value for money
- 30-day risk-free guarantee
Let’s begin with the detailed comparison …
What’s Included in Bitdefender’s Security Packages?
Bitdefender offers a separate lineup of products for PCs and Macs, but its top-drawer product is compatible with both platforms.
Bitdefender’s range of security suites starts from the limited free antivirus product, called Bitdefender Free Edition (compatible with the Windows platform only). It provides protection against a range of malware threats, like ransomware, viruses, worms, etc., but you won’t find many advanced protection-related features or extra utilities in the freeware.
However, protection against online threats is incorporated into the freeware.
Another level up is Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2021. Along with excellent malware protection, it offers a WiFi Security Advisor (blocks malware threats that try to spread through your network), a Vulnerability Scanner (checks for outdated software and other security holes in your operating system), and a file shredding utility (helps delete your important files securely so no one can recover them).
Advanced multi-layered ransomware protection, a hardened web browser (for secure online banking/shopping), and a password management utility (stores all your passwords at one place for safe, hassle-free logins) are also available in the “Plus” suite.
A single subscription of Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2021 lets you protect up to three PCs.
Another step up is Bitdefender Internet Security 2021. Along with everything that’s jammed into the “Plus” suite, it offers a two-way firewall (monitors incoming and outgoing network connections and blocks malicious traffic), a spam filter (blocks junk emails from reaching your inbox), and a file encryption utility (keeps your personal files and documents away from hackers).
A limited parental control utility (helps control what kids can do online and blocks age-sensitive content) and a limited VPN are also included in the “Internet Security” plan.
You can protect three PCs with a single subscription of Bitdefender Internet Security 2021.
Next up is Bitdefender Total Security 2021 – the company’s full-blown and most popular antivirus offering. In that, you’ll get everything that comes as part of the “Internet Security” suite, plus a useful Anti-theft module (helps find stolen or lost devices) and performance enhancing tools, such as OneClick Optimizer, Disk Cleanup, Startup Optimizer.
Unlike other suites, Bitdefender Total Security 2021 is also compatible with MacOS.
You can protect up to five PCs, Macs, Android, and iOS devices (in any combination) with a single “Total Security” license.
If you need protection for more than five devices, there is no better option in the market than Bitdefender Family Pack 2021. Under this suite, you can protect an unlimited number of PCs, Macs, iOS and Android devices with the “Total Security” license.
Now, let’s see what Bitdefender offers for Mac users.
For MacOS, Bitdefender offers a specialized premium antivirus suite, called Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac. It offers complete protection against all sorts of Mac-related malware threats, along with a VPN and an encryption utility. Protection against annoying adware and dangerous phishing attacks is also incorporated into the product.
Note: Both Bitdefender Total Security 2021 and Bitdefender Family Pack 2021 are also compatible with macOS platform.
What’s Included in ESET’s Security Packages?
Much like other antivirus makers, ESET offers a separate lineup of products for both Mac and Windows, but one of its security products is multi-device compatible.
First, let’s go over the ESET’s suites that are compatible with the Windows platform.
The company’s entry-level offering is ESET NOD32 Antivirus. You won’t find any advanced security features or extra tools in this security suite, but it covers all the bases when it comes to protecting against viruses, spyware, worms, Trojan horses, and other related threats. Protection against ransomware and phishing attacks is also incorporated into the entry-level product. A silent mode utility (suspends notifications for uninterrupted gaming/movie experience) is also available in the package.
Another level up is ESET Internet Security. It includes everything found in the previous suite, plus a hardened browser (kicks in automatically when you visit a known financial site), a two-way firewall, an Anti-spam filter, an Anti-theft module and a Network Monitor (proactively monitors your network traffic for malicious patterns).
Protection against webcam spying is also available in the “Internet Security” suite.
Another step up is the top-drawer ESET Smart Security Premium, which is the company’s full-blown antivirus offering for the Windows users. In that, you get everything that comes as part of the “Internet Security” package, plus a password manager and the Secure Data module (an encryption utility that can create virtual drives to make your sensitive data inaccessible to hackers).
It is a surprise to see that ESET’s top-end suite is not compatible with MacOS.
If you want protection for a range of devices (PCs, Macs, and mobile) running on different platforms, ESET Multi-device Security pack is an option. A single subscription of this suite allows you to download ESET’s Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux antivirus products. But keep in mind that, unlike Bitdefender Family Pack 2021, ESET does not offer protection for unlimited devices in this suite. So, it could prove to be a costly option if you have many devices in your household
Also, for some reason, you’ll have to choose either ESET Nod32 Antivirus or ESET Internet Security with the “Multi-device Security” suite; you can’t install the high-shelf ESET Smart Security Premium suite.
Now, let’s see what ESET offers for Macs …
The company offers two antivirus solutions for Macs: ESET Cyber Security and ESET Cyber Security Pro. The former provides comprehensive protection against all malware threats (including viruses, spyware, ransomware, worms, etc.), along with a Presentation Mode (suspends notifications for interruption-free experience) and free premium support.
ESET Cyber Security Pro includes everything found in its younger sibling, plus a firewall and a parental control module.
Bitdefender vs ESET: Which Software Provides Better Malware Protection?
To find out which software is better in terms of malware protection, I will look at how both security programs fared in the most recent tests conducted by AV-Test and AV-Comparatives – two independent laboratories that comprehensively (and regularly) evaluate the performance of various top antivirus products.
The most recent AV-Test’s evaluations were conducted in July and August 2018. Participating products were tested against 19,747 widespread malware samples and 275 zero-day malware samples.
Bitdefender registered excellent results in the tests; its detection rate was perfect, at 100%, against both types of malware samples during both months. It received a perfect 6 out 6 rating from the experts in the ‘Protection’ category.
On the other, ESET did not participate in the most recent AV-Test evaluations.
The experts at AV-Comparatives do several tests to examine how well a security product detects and prevents malware infections, but the two major ones are Malware Protection Test and Real-World Protection Test.
The former test thoroughly assesses a security product’s defenses against malicious files (before, during and after execution), while the latter examination aims to test a product in real-world malware conditions (as experienced by everyday users).
In the most recent Malware Protection Test — which was conducted in March 2018 — Bitdefender was one of the few products that received the highest ‘ADVANCED+’ award, due to its perfect detection rate of 100% and low false positives’ count.
ESET, on the other hand, could only manage the third-best ‘STANDARD’ award in this test, as its protection rate was slightly lower, at 99.82%. It returned one false positive during the test.
***False positive refers to the case when a benign program is wrongly identified as malicious by a security product.
The most recent Real-World Protection Test report published by AV-Comparatives includes combined results of the tests conducted over the period of five months (from February to June 2018). Bitdefender once again got the highest ‘ADVANCED+’ award, while ESET received the second-best ‘ADVANCED’ medal.
Overall, it is clear than Bitdefender is ahead of ESET in terms of malware protection.
Bitdefender vs ESET: Which Software Puts Less Impact on System?
Another important aspect that you should consider is the impact a security product puts on system performance.
Like other software programs, antivirus products occupy some percentage of system resources, which means your computer may experience pauses if your security software is resource-intensive.
To see which software is better in this category, I will once again look at how Bitdefender and ESET fared in the most recent performance tests conducted by the independent labs.
AV-Test’s Performance study measures the average influence of security products on computer speed while executing few everyday computer tasks, such as visiting websites, downloading and installing applications, launching software. The impact each security product is measured in terms of the slowdown it caused on a standard PC as well as on a high-end PC.
Bitdefender once got a perfect 6/6 rating from the AV-Test experts in ‘Performance’ category.
ESET, on the other hand, did not participate in the AV-Test’s recent evaluations
The performance study conducted by the experts at AV-Comparatives is similar to the AV-Test’s examination. Several common computer actions are carried out, and an impact score is allotted to each product depending on its performance in the test.
Both Bitdefender and ESET received the highest ‘ADVANCED+’ award in this test, due to their impressively low impact scores of 6.9 and 6.5, respectively.
Overall, both Bitdefender and ESET are excellent in terms of the impact on system performance.
Winner: It’s a tie
Bitdefender vs ESET: Which Software Offers Better User Experience?
First, let’s look at the Bitdefender interface.
The new Bitdefender 2019 interface is modern, clean, and intuitive. You have four main items in the left rail: Dashboard, Protection, Privacy, and Utilities.
Dashboard – which is the default view — displays your protection status, either with a green checkmark or a red cross, along with links to a few important modules. The button to run a quick scan is also available on this window. If you to change the look of the main screen, you can add a new module in a matter of seconds.
Protection, Privacy, and Utilities contain relevant features and their settings. The links for Notifications, My Account, Settings, and Support are also available in the left rail.
The suite you’re subscribed to is shown in the title bar.
Now, let’s look at the ESET interface.
The ESET interface is simple, bright and airy.
Along the left side are six category items: Home, Computer Scan, Update, Tools, Setup, and Help & Support
Home window is the default view you see when you start up the software. When everything is safe, you will see the “You’re Protected” message on this page, along with a creepy robot on the right. Links to quickly access the password manager, Secure Data, and Connected Home Monitor are also available on the main window.
Computer Scan window lets you start different types of scans, while Update screen shows which version of the product you’re using and when the virus definitions were last updated.
Tools screen includes all the advanced modules included in your plan at one place. Setup and Help/Support are pretty much self-explanatory.
Overall, Bitdefender’s product interface is more robust and customizable than ESET’s.
Bitdefender vs ESET: Which Software is Less Expensive?
|Bitdefender Products||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|Bitdefender Antivirus Plus||$59.99/year||Check here|
|Bitdefender Internet Security||$79.99/year||Check here|
|Bitdefender Total Security||$89.99/year||Check here|
|Bitdefender Family Pack||$119.99/year||Check here|
|Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac||$59.99/year||Check here|
|Bitdefender Small Office Security||Varies||Check here|
|Bitdefender GravityZone Business AV||Varies||Check here|
|ESET Products||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|ESET NOD32 Antivirus||$39.99/year||Check here|
|ESET Internet Security||$49.99/year||Check here|
|ESET Smart Security Premium||$59.99/year||Check here|
|ESET Multi-device Security||$69.99/year||Check here|
|ESET Cyber Security for Mac||$49.99/year||Check here|
|ESET Business Products||Varies||Check here|
Bitdefender’s security suites are less expensive than Webroot’s.
Bitdefender vs ESET: Which Software is More Popular?
Now, let’s see which of the two software is more popular.
OPSWAT, which is an independent company, publishes a monthly report on the market share of leading anti-malware vendors. According to their recent report (which was released in August 2018), ESET is fourth on the list with 11.52% market share, followed by Bitdefender (8.52%) and Webroot (6.99%). Avast tops the chart with 17.04% market share.
Statista is another independent company that reports on the market share held by antivirus companies. According to their most recent report, which came out in January 2018, ESET is second on the list with 14.03% market share, while Bitdefender (6.1%) stands at the seventh spot.
It can be said that ESET is more popular among the antivirus community than Bitdefender.
Both Bitdefender and ESET offer a range of security packages to precisely match your protection needs.
Bitdefender is the winner of this detailed comparison; it fared better than ESET in almost all the categories we considered.
Our recommendations: If you want to get the highest level of security and performance, there's no better choice than Norton, which protects over 50 million users worldwide.
After reviewing dozens of antivirus products from some of the biggest names in the cybersecurity realm, we believe that Norton 360 Deluxe is the best antivirus suite available on the market. It provides flawless anti-malware protection without slowing you down. Plus, you get almost all the advanced features you could ever want.
If you're willing to pay more for advanced identity protection features, we recommend Norton 360 with LifeLock select (only available in the US). It's a bit pricey but worth the price.
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Anas Baig is a consumer privacy advocate and cybersecurity journalist by profession. Has has more than 7 years of professional experience under his belt. Anas has been featured on numerous media publications including The Guardian, Lifehacker, The Next Web, Infosecurity Magazine, Security Boulevard, Hacker Noon, CMS Wire, IAPP, SC Magazine, and many others. His interest includes Digital Privacy Rights, Information Security, Networking, Privacy, and Data Protection.