BullGuard Antivirus Review: No New Products in 2023
BullGuard has been acquired by Norton. Sales of BullGuard products have been discontinued. This review will remain online until further notice.
Using the Internet without a care in the world - This is the feeling that BullGuard wants all of its customers to have. Thanks to its machine learning and multi-level protection, the service should be able to thwart complex threats that some of its competitors have difficulty with.
In this review, we'll let you know how well this actually works and what BullGuard is really capable of.
What Is BullGuard?
BullGuard* is a London-based developer of security solutions. Since February 2021, it has been owned by Avira (making it, by extension, part of Norton LifeLock). BullGuard's antivirus software is sold in a number of different packages for Windows, Android, and macOS (however, not for iOS).
We tried BullGuard on Windows and Android, but reference all of the developer's different subscription options below.
BullGuard Antivirus Review
Solid scores from AV-Test
Game Booster for optimized and secure gaming
Vulnerability Scanner identifies and neutralizes threats to your system
Blocky user interface
Dissimilar testing labs results
Lacks features (no file shredder, webcam protection, or password manager)
Installation & Usage
It takes about five minutes to install BullGuard. You can either buy the software or download its trial version. For the latter, all that's needed is an account, since it isn't necessary to input a payment method.
Once BullGuard has been installed, the software's dashboard will launch. On a 4K screen, we immediately noticed the app's low resolution, with its logo and some icons heavily pixelated. This isn't a dealbreaker, but it looks unprofessional, especially considering how elegant and aesthetic some of its competitors' clients are.
BullGuard's user interface is blocky, but you get access to all of its features.
Many antivirus programs only integrate their most important features into the home or start screens of their dashboards. Often, these are grouped around a large button that launches a virus scan. BullGuard took a different approach, including 10 modules on its dashboard's start screen. With these, users can start a scan or open the software's secure browser.
The 10 modules are: "Antivirus", "Firewall", "Vulnerabilities", "Backup", "PC Tune Up & Game Booster", "Identity Protection", "Parental Control", "Home Network Scanner", "Secure Browser", and "BullGuard VPN". When you click on one, a drop-down menu will open and offer additional options.
Review additional options and features for each module by clicking on the downward-pointing arrow.
The settings menu is located in the upper right of the dashboard. On each submenu, you'll be able to choose between a basic or advanced view. With the former, you can only make a few changes, like turning certain features on or off. In the advanced view, it's possible to adjust how the program reacts to various threats or situations.
You can configure antivirus protection along with the program's other features in the settings area.
There's also a web interface that you log in to with your BullGuard account data. Here, you'll find "Identity Protection", which monitors your personal and payment data, as well as anti-theft features for smartphones and mobile devices (more on these in the Mobile Features area of the next section).
BullGuard gives users access to a few more features in its web interface.
We liked that BullGuard makes all features accessible through its dashboard's start screen. Unfortunately, the interface is too blocky for us and pixelated on a high-resolution monitor. Most users won't use features like parental controls, identity protection, or backups every day, so they could have been housed elsewhere. In general, a more streamlined approach, with different categories and more space would have been better.
Determining which BullGuard features you'll have access to depends on the subscription you book. Below, we'll go through each of these:
BullGuard Antivirus features
The most affordable BullGuard subscription package includes all key antivirus features but is only an option for Windows users. In the "Antivirus" module, you can use the dropdown menu to perform a quick, complete, or custom scan. With the last, you'll be able to specify which folders should be checked.
With custom scans, you can specify which folders BullGuard should check for malware.
It's also possible to plan scans in advance, although it takes some time to find this feature. Look for "Antivirus: Profiles" in the settings area and click on "Add Profile". Here, you can schedule scans as well as specify which areas of your system are to be analyzed and how BullGuard should handle infections. After you've created a scan profile, you can select it from the drop-down menu, or schedule it to run at daily, weekly, or monthly intervals.
You can create plenty of scans and schedule them to run at regular intervals.
Scans can be further configured in the antivirus settings area. Under "Optimization", you can exempt specific files, file types, processes, or boot sectors. The program does offer a nice variety of settings, however, we would have liked to see this applied to the profile level, to allow for full customization.
Scans can be further configured in the program's settings area.
Real-time protection for all subscriptions
In addition to regular scans, BullGuard also protects users in real-time against all sorts of malware threats, including phishing, ransomware, and malicious emails. You can adjust some related aspects, such as whether the program should monitor your web traffic or emails, by going to Settings > Antivirus. It's also possible to activate or deactivate the software's heuristic spyware detection.
Almost nothing makes hackers as happy as when they discover a vulnerability in someone's system. With BullGuard's "Vulnerability Scanner", you can rest easy in the knowledge that the software automatically assesses and closes any gaps in your system's defenses. This includes patching your programs or shoring up your WLAN.
BullGuard's Vulnerability Scanner keeps hackers away from your system.
Gamers who don't want to sacrifice security are likely to find "Game Booster" a neat feature: It automatically determines when you're playing a game, and optimizes your system. In more technical terms, it isolates all other open programs to one or two CPU cores. This means that you won't be tempted to disable your antivirus while gaming.
With Game Booster, you can have both speed and security while gaming.
Internet Security subscription features
That about does it for the standard features included in all of the program's subscriptions. Starting with Internet Security, you'll also have access to the following:
BullGuard offers a basic firewall that can be used to regulate Internet access for each installed program on your system. Whenever an unrecognized or unknown program launches, a pop-up window will open, in which you can grant or block their Internet access. Clicking on "View advanced Windows rules" opens Windows Defender.
What you get with BullGuard is good, however, other antivirus programs, like Bitdefender, offer more versatile and customizable firewalls.
With BullGuard's firewall you can specify which programs are allowed to access the Internet.
Some online activities are more dangerous than others. Online banking, for example, can reveal all sorts of sensitive information. BullGuard offers a secure browser that protects against this. Use it to shop, bank, or anything else that requires greater discretion. With the "Favorites" feature, you can pin specific websites to the browser's home page, making it possible to access them even quicker.
BullGuard's Secure Browser provides extra protection when banking or shopping online.
With "Parental Control", you can limit your children's online activity, block specific types of websites, and even control their access to programs and apps.
Under the "Privacy" tab, you can specify which information your children shouldn't have access to, such as telephone or credit card numbers (BullGuard will sever the connection if they input any of these). This worked well during our assessment, however, it wasn't too difficult to trick the program, which we did by including an empty space between the numbers.
In other antivirus programs, parental controls are managed through a web dashboard that allows you to see and modify all profiles or devices. With BullGuard, these profiles are linked to your Windows user accounts, making it harder to manage multiple devices. Parental controls can also only be used on desktops and computers. Individual profile statistics, at least in comparison to other antivirus parental controls, aren't particularly detailed.
Several different options are offered for limiting your children's access to online content.
Rounding things out, Internet Security users are also able to create backups. Once again, it's possible to create different profiles that back up your files at regular intervals to cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive, as well as external hard drives, USB sticks, or a network.
Premium Protection features
BullGuard's most expensive subscription package includes everything mentioned above, as well as two additional features: a home network scanner and identity protection. With the first, your network is constantly monitored for suspicious activity. Identity protection, which is managed in the browser through your BullGuard account, scans the web for personal information, including your:
- Email addresses
- Phone numbers
- Credit/debit cards
- Drivers license
- Membership cards
- Social security number and other IDs
- International bank account number (IBAN)
BullGuard alerts you if it discovers your personal information online.
BullGuard's premium subscriptions offer far fewer bells and whistles than those of its competitors. For example, BullGuard VPN has to be purchased separately. In our mind, this or a password manager could have easily been included to sweeten the pot. Some basics, like a file shredder, for permanently deleting files or webcam protection, are likewise nowhere to be found.
Only Android users can benefit from BullGuard's mobile app, which comes with both the Internet Security and Premium Protection subscriptions. Its app only features five modules: "Antivirus", "Parental Control", "Antitheft", "Backup", and "Wi-Fi Security".
In the "Antivirus" screen, you can scan your device, but all of the desktop's advanced options are missing. With "Backup", you can create a backup and restore your contacts or calendar events, however, it isn't possible to back up other files. "Wi-Fi Security" alerts you to suspicious networks.
BullGuard's smartphone app is only available for Android.
Anti-theft and limited parental controls
The two remaining features in Mobile Security Manager are controlled via your BullGuard account and browser. There, you'll be able to locate your device in case you lose it, remotely delete data, create a backup, or activate an alarm. There isn't a camera trap feature or automatic device lock if a certain number of conditions are met (i.e. the wrong PIN is input x number of times, an unknown SIM card is inserted, etc.).
Unlike in the desktop version, you can't filter content in the mobile app's parental controls, or limit use or screen time. It's only possible to monitor saved photos and apps. Since many children use smartphones, BullGuard's mobile parental controls don't offer much to parents interested in limiting what sort of content their children can access or their app usage.
The Mobile Security Manager is your anti-theft headquarters.
BullGuard's complement of features is decent, including a few extras like cloud backups or Game Booster, along with all the basics.
However, not all of the features have kept up with the times. Its parental controls come to mind which don't offer much for mobile devices. We also sorely missed the presence of a file shredder, webcam protection, or password manager. Since BullGuard has its own VPN, we were also disappointed that this wasn't offered as a bonus to Premium Protection subscribers.
Security & Performance
To assess the security and performance of all of the antivirus programs from our sample, we relied on how they were scored by AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, two independent testing labs. Both thoroughly examine antivirus programs on the basis of how many malware attacks they thwart and how reliable they are, regularly awarding security and performance scores.
100% (6 / 6)
83% (5 / 6)
0% (0 / 3)
BullGuard received maximum points for security from AV-Test, but only 5 out of 6 in terms of performance. AV-Test noted that with BullGuard, commonly used programs ran much slower.
AV-Comparatives last checked BullGuard quite a while ago and the results were unimpressive. In its Real-World-Protection Test, 1.6% of all threats were undetected, with 34 false positives noted. This poor showing meant that BullGuard was the weakest program in the entire sample and the only one that didn't receive a certificate. Since this was also the last time that AV-Comparatives examined BullGuard, we don't think the situation has improved.
Nevertheless, AV-Comparatives didn't have anything bad to say about the program's performance back then. All the same, we lean towards AV-Test's findings, since, during a complete system scan (70 minutes), we also noticed performance issues: Our Internet browser lagged and programs needed more time to open than usual.
Once again, we have mixed feelings about BullGuard: AV-Test awarded it top marks in terms of security, however, AV-Comparatives ranked it lowest in its sample.
BullGuard's help area features FAQs as well as a few guides to the developer's other programs. These include plenty of screenshots and easy-to-follow step-by-step walkthroughs. There's also a forum and a blog, the latter of which features regular articles on phishing, data hydras, and ransomware.
For a more human touch, there's a chat window in the lower right corner of the support center. Unfortunately, even during regular business hours, we couldn't reach the developer's support staff. Instead, our question opened as a classic support ticket. This disguises a basic support feature as a live chat which is a bit dishonest. A response came 11 days later, which isn't impressive for a support ticket or "live" chat. No hotline is available.
Overall, BullGuard's support area is fairly average; the articles, guides, and static content are decent, but "live" support is little more than a support ticket system.
As noted above, there are three different BullGuard subscriptions: Antivirus, Internet Security, and Premium Protection. The first offers basic protection for Windows, including ransomware and phishing tools. Internet Security users get the secure browser, firewall, parental controls, cloud backup, PC optimization, and support for macOS devices. Premium Protection includes all of the above as well as a home network scanner and identity protection.
None of the subscription options include a VPN, which must be purchased separately.
As of the time of writing, BullGuard doesn't offer any business plans.
Below, you can find a current summary of prices:
|Antivirus||Internet Security||Premium Protection|
|Price per Year||$29.99||$59.99||$89.99|
|Contract Period (Months)||12||12||12|
|Max. Number of Devices||1||10||15|
|Special Protection Features|
Since subscriptions and features vary from provider to provider, we compared all of the services from our sample on the basis of a template. The comparison below shows that BullGuard is one of the pricier options on the market:
Any of BullGuard's solutions can be tested at no cost 30 days. According to the terms of usage, the cancellation deadline is seven days after purchase, however, BullGuard promises (for example, on Trustpilot) to allow customers 60 days to request a refund if a payment has been automatically charged.
BullGuard isn't exactly on the cutting edge when it comes to antivirus. Its user interface looks more at home in the early 2000s or even late 90s, and most features, like its firewall and parental controls, are bare-bones compared to what else is available.
The program does do a few things right, however: "Vulnerability Scanner" and "Home Network Monitoring" identify more unusual threats, and so far as AV-Test is concerned, the program provides excellent security. AV-Comparatives, the other testing lab we rely on for our technical scores, was not impressed with the software's security.
Taken together, BullGuard is average, and in comparison to more powerful programs, not a bargain. As such, we would recommend most other programs from our sample before it.
Reviews are just a snapshot of how a program performs, and are often highly subjective when it comes to support or user interface. For that reason, we gathered a number of reviews from trusted and popular aggregators so that you can see how BullGuard is (generally) received.
Alternatives to BullGuard
Bitdefender, the best-performing antivirus software from our sample, did better with the testing labs, offers more features (including webcam protection, a file shredder, a password manager, and a VPN), and is packaged in a more modern interface than BullGuard.
Should you prefer a free antivirus, then Avast is one of the best out there.
More alternatives to BullGuard can be found below: