BullGuard AntiVirus – Unbiased Review

Relying on nothing else than common sense is not the best way to protect a computer against viruses. You may know better than to download and run anything you find on the Internet, but modern threats are no longer as obvious as you might think. If you decide that it’s about time to address this issue, one solution that is worth looking at is Bullguard. It brings an affordable and effective protection system for your computer and your personal data, that is quite easy to master, even if you have never seen an antivirus before.

The program comes with all the usual security features you would expect from a top-of-the-shelf antivirus. Also, the bonus features of its different packages can definitely come in useful. What’s more, Bullguard’s user friendly design makes it a good solution even if you intend to install it for your parents.

A relative newcomer in the security industry, Bullguard was founded in 2002 by Morten Lund and Theis Søndergaard and headquartered in London, UK. In the first year of its existence, the antivirus managed to gather 3 million users and by 2006, that number grew to 16 million. Though it still has some stiff competition to face, Bullguard can certainly hold its own, a fact proven by numerous certifications, awards and high scores from leading independent testers.

Installation and setup

Installing BullGuard is far from a difficult task. A wizard will guide you through the entire process, with step-by-step instructions, which doesn’t involve anything significant, apart from creating an online account and agreeing to the licensing conditions. It takes about ten minutes to complete the operation, but most of the time is spent updating the program’s virus signatures database and optimizing your system.

Besides Windows Defender, the operating system’s basic security measure, you should not have other antivirus software installed on your computer, if you don’t want to encounter any conflicts. There are also lighter security applications you will want to watch out for, like AppCheck Anti-Ransomware.

If you run into any problems while installing the program, like existing virus infections preventing the installation, BullGuard’s support team will be more than happy to help out. They will even access your computer remotely, to solve any problems for you.

User Experience

Even novice users should be able to master BullGuard’s controls without any difficulties. The layout of the user interface makes everything very easy to understand. The program’s modules are displayed as small panels, on a main dashboard, with short descriptions, indicators for their current state, as well as quick options for regular tasks. You can tell by the green check marks, on each module, if everything is running without any problems.

If, for example, you want to run a virus or vulnerabilities scan, you can simply click a button, on the relevant module, to start immediately. Alternatively, you can choose other options, for different scan types, in a drop-down menu, located right next to the aforementioned button. There is much you can do from the main dashboard, without going through separate menus. Even when you run a virus scan, you will be able to see the progress directly on the Antivirus panel, on the main dashboard.

A configuration menu is available for each of the program’s modules, from which you can make a wide range of fine tweaks, like setting the scanning module to avoid certain file types, to improve performance. What’s more, BullGuard lets you switch between Basic and Advanced modes, when looking through these menus, which makes it accessible to all user categories. If you are an inexperienced user, who is intimidated by crowded menus, you can stick to the Basic mode and make only a few general settings, which involve easy-to-understand options. Alternatively, if you are an advanced user and want more control, you can go to the Advanced mode.

If you want to play a video game, enabling BullGuard’s Game Booster will make things much smoother. You won’t be interrupted by any notifications and you won’t have to pause in the middle of the game because of scheduled scans or updates, because they will be disabled. Furthermore, BullGuard can make smart use of quad-core processors, to make your gaming experience better and prevent anything that can lead to frame rate drops

Another feature you will definitely appreciate is the possibility of creating custom profiles, for different computer usage scenarios. You may create profiles for gaming, for watching movies, working and so on. What’s more, you can set these profiles to engage automatically when you run specific applications. Whenever you want to start playing your favorite game, you can just launch it right away, without bringing up BullGuard’s interface to enable the Game Booster.

Value for the Money

There is no denying that BullGuard is a good investment. The program has everything you need to ensure that your computer won’t be affected by viruses and that hackers won’t reach your private data. The lowest-tier package comes with enough features to satisfy more than your basic protection needs, while the highest package can protect all devices in your home, at a price that is difficult to ignore.

Test results from certified testing companies show that BullGuard is improving constantly. In the AV Comparatives Real-World Protection Tests, the program cam quite close to 100% in terms of threat detection, earnings itself several “Advanced+” badges, as well as a Gold Malware Protection award. While it has some catching up to do, if you look at a few other programs, BullGuard also surpasses other well-known antivirus solutions. This upward trend is confirmed by other testing companies, like AV-TEST or VirusBulletin, where the product line achieved similar results.

BullGuard AntiVirus

Even if you opt for the basic package, you still get an effective virus detection and prevention system, as well as protection for your personal information, game boosting options and a system vulnerabilities assessment feature. Also, everything comes at a relative low price. This makes it more than suitable for that one computer you may have in your house, used by yourself or a family member, for entertainment, keeping in touch with friends or online shopping.

BullGuard Internet Security

Coming with cross-platform support, for up to ten devices, BullGuard Internet Security is a good choice for both professional and family use. Its enhanced firewall can protect your system against hackers, while its parental controls can protect your children from harmful online content and dubious individuals. Also, thanks to the built-in backup software, your important documents or family pictures will be safe, even if your hard drive is broken beyond repair.

BullGuard-Premium-Protection

While the top-tier package in other security suits come at seemingly forbidding prices, at least for regular users, BullGuard Premium Protection is accessible to everyone. If you are already aiming towards Internet Security, then the difference you would have to pay for this package is quite small. You could get protection for up to 15 computers, Macs, smartphones or tablets, an advanced scanner, for any device on your network, including smart appliances, as well as identity protection, to prevent frauds committed in your name. This package is certainly a no-brainer if you live in a “smart home”, with everything, from TVs to light switches, connected to a network.

Scanning and detection

BullGuard comes with all the protection features you would expect from a major antivirus program. This includes active scanning, real-time protection, as well as behavioral analysis, to protect your system against all threat types, including zero-day malware. This means that you can fight off existing virus infections, but you can also prevent future attacks, so you may work or play comfortably, knowing that you won’t trigger anything that may result in your data being infected or stolen.

  • Multiple scanning modes BullGuard lets you perform quick scans, to make sure there are no viruses hiding in commonly accessed locations, like the Documents or Pictures folders. It doesn’t take long to complete a quick scan, but if you want to make absolutely sure your system is clean, then a full scan would be a better idea. It takes longer to complete, but the program will check all files on your computer. If you are sure that certain applications or folders are clean, you can add them to an exclusions list, to avoid touching them and make the scanning process faster.

    Custom scans can be set up easily, if you wish to check for viruses in specific folders. Furthermore, the software lets you save your scanning profiles, so you can verify the folders in the future, without having to select them every time. Profiles can be scheduled as well, which gives you the possibility of focusing on what is important, instead of interrupting your work, to run a routine scan.
  • Real-time protection Like most antivirus programs, BullGuard won’t let any threats affect your system, even if you are not scanning. All the files, archives or executable you open will be scanned automatically in the background. If they hide anything malicious, the program will block the threat immediately, before it gets the chance to do anything to your files. If you download a file from the Internet, it will be checked for viruses, before the download is complete.

    The software can also check for threats when you connect a removable storage device, like a USB flash drive or an SD card. If a thumb drive contains malware, it could easily spread to your system when the device is plugged in. Fortunately, connecting an unknown device won’t present any risks, because BullGuard will make sure there are no threats on it and if there are, it will prevent them from affecting your files.
  • Behavioral analysis Ordinarily, by the time new viruses are classified and added to a signatures database, they have enough time to infect your computer and cause all kinds of damage, from corrupted files to an inoperable system or stolen data. This is exactly the sort of issue BullGuard’s behavioral analysis feature can solve. Besides comparing files to known virus definitions, the program will also keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

    An application you have downloaded may seem clean after a thorough virus scan, but it could still be coded to attack certain parts of your system or read privileged files, once you run it. Fortunately, if the application actually starts to behave like this, BullGuard will step in immediately and shut it down right before your eyes, thus saving your valuable data.
  • Vulnerability scanning BullGuard doesn’t just display outdated applications when you run a vulnerability scan. The software can also identify faulty system settings that only a tech expect would be able to spot. If you have no idea what a port is or why a driver should be digitally signed, then running a vulnerability scan is definitely something you want to do.

    The program can detect even small and insignificant risks, which could normally be countered by its other security measures without any problems. For example, novice users probably don’t know that the Autorun function of a USB drive can be considered a risk, since certain viruses can attack a system the moment such a device is plugged in. This is one of many vulnerabilities BullGuard can point out. It displays them right in front of you, in a list, along with icons that indicate their severity, and you can solve the issues and make your system secure at a moment’s notice, with a single click.
Final thoughts
BullGuard is an interesting antivirus, highly configurable in some areas and with an unusual extra in its Game Booster, but it's worrying to see such disappointing protection results from the independent testing labs.
My pros
Above-average blocking of malicious URLs
Customizable scan types
Blocked our test ransomware
Effective Game Booster
My cons
Poor results in recent lab tests
Cluttered interface
Can't cover multiple PCs on a single license
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