(Last updated on January 17th, 2021)
Bitdefender or Norton, which antivirus software is a better option in 2021?
Read this comprehensive, fact-based comparison to make a wise decision.
The so-called digital world we live in is becoming increasingly complex with time, and it goes without saying that your security and privacy are at stake.
Do you know the AV-Test institute registers over 350,000 new malware samples every single day? Hackers are constantly releasing new malware (a collective term used for viruses, worms, ransomware, Trojan horses, and more) on the internet that can do a lot of terrible things, such as corrupt your computer, breach your privacy, steal your sensitive login details, and so on.
So it makes sense to say that having a reliable antivirus suite on your computer is no longer an option but a requirement.
In this ultimate comparison, you’ll see the antivirus products both Bitdefender and Norton offer, as well as how they compare to each other in terms of malware protection, system performance, user interface, and more.
Best Antivirus Suite for 2020
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 2020. 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.
In a rush? Below is a quick summary of the comparison, and the winners in each category.
A Quick Rundown of the Winners in Each Category
Winner: Norton. Bitdefender does have an impressive feature set, but Norton provides you with more advanced features with every package.
2. Malware Protection
Winner: Tie. Both Bitdefender and Norton showed excellent performance in independent malware protection evaluations.
3. System Performance
Winner: Norton. Norton performed slightly better than its competitor in recent independent performance tests.
Winner: Tie. Both products have straightforward and intuitive interfaces.
Winner: Tie. Both antivirus brands offer equally excellent pricing options that cater to all users.
6. Customer Satisfaction
Winner: Norton. Norton enjoys a significantly larger market share than Bitdefender.
Norton is the winner as it offers more security-related features and extra utilities in its products than Bitdefender. Independent lab tests prove that both software provides excellent malware protection, but Norton is slightly ahead of Bitdefender in terms of system performance.
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…
Bitdefender Antivirus Free is the company’s free antivirus product. The bare-bones freeware offers limited malware protection and doesn’t include any advanced protection-related features or extra utilities that have become commonplace tools in modern antivirus suites.
However, protection against malicious websites and phishing attacks is included in the free product.
Bitdefender’s entry-level paid-for offering is Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2021. Along with great malware protection, it offers a hardened browser for secure online shopping/banking, a password manager (stores all your passwords at one place), a file shredder (deletes your sensitive files securely so no one can recover them), a WiFi Security Advisor (helps fix vulnerabilities in your network), and a battery saver utility.
Silent mode feature (for interruption-free experience) and a vulnerability scanner (checks outdated software and other flaws) are also part of the product.
Next level up is Bitdefender Internet Security 2021. In that, you get everything that is included in the ‘Plus’ suite, along with a two-way Firewall (monitors network connections and blocks malicious attempts made via network), a file encryption utility (shields your sensitive files from ransomware) and webcam protection.
Parental control features and an anti-spam module (blocks junk emails) are also jammed into the “Internet Security” suite.
Another level up is Bitdefender Total Security 2021 – the company’s most popular suite. Along with everything that is included in the ‘Internet Security’ suite, it further adds a useful anti-theft module (helps find stolen/lost devices) and several performance optimization tools, such as DiskCleanup and OneClick Optimizer.
You can protect a maximum of five devices (PCs, Macs, iOS, or Android) with a single license of Bitdefender Total Security 2021.
Also, the “Total Security” suite is compatible with both Mac and Windows.
If you want to protect more than five devices, then Bitdefender Family Pack 2021 might be the best option for you. It includes everything that is part of the high-end ‘Total Security’ suite and offers protection for an unlimited number of PCs, Macs, iOS and Android devices with just one license.
Now, let’s see what Bitdefender offers for Macs.
Bitdefender offers a separate product for Mac users, called Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac. It offers excellent malware protection, along with a VPN and a few other advanced protection-related utilities.
Bitdefender Total Security 2021 and Bitdefender Family Pack 2021 are also compatible with the Mac operating system.
Let’s see what Norton offers in comparison.
Like Bitdefender, Norton also offers a range of antivirus suites to meet your needs, but there is no free offering.
The first suite in the line is Norton AntiVirus Basic – the company’s entry-level premium product. It offers great protection against viruses, ransomware, worms and other online threats, but there aren’t any advanced security-related features or extra utilities packed into this suite.
Next up is Norton Security Standard, which is compatible with both Mac and Windows platform. Along with excellent protection against all sorts of malware threats, it offers a two-way firewall (prevents hackers from gaining access to your computer via network) and premium customer support.
Norton also offers 100% virus protection guarantee with this suite, according to which a Norton expert will “help keep your device virus-free, or give you a refund.”
You can protect 1 PC and 1 Mac or mobile device (Android or iOS) under the “Standard” suite.
Another level up is Norton Security Deluxe. It includes everything that’s jammed into the “Standard” suite, along with a web portal (to help you manage protection for all your devices at one place) and protection for up to 5 PCs, Mac, smartphones or tablets.
Norton Security Premium is the company’s top-drawer (and most popular) antivirus suite. In that, you get everything that comes with the “Deluxe” suite, plus premium family safety features (helps kids explore the internet safely), automatic backup of your important files, and 25GB of secure cloud space for data storage.
You can protect up to 10 PCs, Macs, mobile phones or tablets under the “Premium” suite.
The two main browser extensions that Norton offers are Identity Safe and Security Toolbar. The former is a password manager while the latter secures your online experience and also prevents identity theft.
If you are interested in Norton’s business products, click here for more information.
Winner: Norton. Norton has more advanced features than its rival, especially in its high-end products.
2. Malware Protection
Malware protection engine is the heart of a security product.
To see whether Bitdefender or Norton is better in terms of malware protection, I’ll look at the most recent independent lab tests conducted by the AV-Test Institute — a well-known and respected independent security lab that deeply evaluates various top antivirus products, including Bitdefender and Norton.
AV-Test’s most recent evaluations were conducted on Windows 10 platform during May-June and July-August 2020. All participating products were tested against various samples of zero-day malware (or new malware) and widespread malware (also called old malware).
Both Bitdefender and Norton blocked 100% of both types of malware samples in both recent evaluations, registering an excellent 6 out of 6 score in the protection category.
Bitdefender (May-June 2020):
Bitdefender (July-August 2020):
Norton (May-June 2020):
Norton (July-August 2020):
Winner: Tie. So, it’s clear that both Bitdefender and Norton are excellent in terms of malware protection.
3. System Performance
It is part of a security product’s job to protect your computer against real-time malware attacks, which means it has to continuously run in the background just like any other computer application. So if an antivirus software is resource-intensive, needless to say your system’s performance (or speed) will suffer – especially if your computer is behind the times.
To see how much impact both Bitdefender and Norton put on computer performance, I will look at the most recent performance tests conducted by the independent security institute.
AV-Test’s Performance study measures the influence of a security product on computer speed while carrying out a few common computer tasks, such as launching popular websites, launching applications, downloading/installing software. The influence of each product was measured in terms of system slowdown on a standard PC as well as on a high-end PC.
Both Bitdefender and Norton received the highest 6/6 star rating from the AV-Test experts in the July-August 2020 test. In the previous test, however, Bitdefender could only achieve 5.5 points out of 6, whereas Norton achieve a perfect 6 score.
Bitdefender (May-June 2020):
Bitdefender (July-August 2020):
Norton (May-June 2020):
Norton (July-August 2020):
Winner: Norton. Although both antivirus brands performed well in the two evaluations, Norton was slightly ahead of Bitdefender in one of the tests and that makes it the winner of this category.
Another important consideration is the user interface.
First, let’s look at Bitdefender’s interface…
Bitdefender interface is dark and modern, in shades of black and light grey. There is a vertical menu on the left which consists of the following tabs: Protection, Privacy, Tools, Activity, Notifications, Account, Settings, and Support.
Protection window is the first screen you see when you open the software. If everything is okay, you’ll see “You’re Protected” written next to a checkmark. Right next to it is a toggle switch for Auto-Pilot feature, which – when turned on – handles everything on its own, without interrupting you with mindless notifications. Buttons to run a Quick Scan or a Vulnerability Scan are also made available to you on the view.
Privacy and Tools tabs contain relevant features and their settings. The rest of the tabs are pretty much self-explanatory.
The name of the suite you’re subscribed to is displayed in the top bar.
Now, let’s look at Norton’s interface…
Norton’s interface is simple and bright, in colors of white and green. The default screen shows your protection status, along with last scan time and a link to run a Quick Scan. There are four modules on the main page: Security, Identity, Performance, More Norton.
Security tab lets you run different types of scans, check error logs, manually update malware definitions, and more. Identity module contains privacy-related features, including Norton’s password manager, while Performance window includes several computer performance improvement tools. Clicking More Norton tab takes you to Norton’s online portal where you can manage protection for all your devices at one place.
The bottom bar shows your subscription status, while the bar at the top contains links to Settings and Help.
Winner: Tie. Overall, both Bitdefender and Norton offer a simple and easy-to-use interface.
|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|
|Norton Products||Regular Price||Discounted Price|
|Norton Antivirus Plus||$59.99/year||Check here|
|Norton 360 Standard||$79.99/year||Check here|
|Norton 360 Deluxe||$99.99/year||Check here|
|Norton 360 with Lifelock Select||$149.99/year||Check here|
|Norton 360 with Utimate Plus||$349.99/year||Check here|
|Norton Small Business Security||Varies||Check here|
Winner: Tie. Both companies offer products at nearly the same price points.
Both Bitdefender and Norton are well-known brands in the market. To see which of the two is more popular, I will look at the independent market share statistics and the number of followers of both software on social media.
OPSWAT is a company that regularly releases monthly reports on the market share of top antivirus products. According to their most recent report, Bitdefender stands 9th on the list of top antivirus products, with a market share of 4.27%. In contrast, Norton (Symantec) sits on top with a market share of 13.16%, followed by Avast (12.69%) and ESET (11.45%).
Winner: Norton: The stats are evident that Norton is far more popular than Bitdefender.
Independent studies have shown that Norton is better than Bitdefender in terms of malware protection and the impact on system performance. Also, Norton offers more security-enhancing features and extra utilities in its suites than Bitdefender.
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.
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.