Bitdefender Free vs. Avast Free

Which free antivirus is best for protecting your computers and devices?

Both Avast and Bitdefender originally built their reputations on their high-quality, free solutions. Even though they've both grown into professional-grade security companies, they still offer top-notch free options. While you can't go wrong with either product, Avast Free Antivirus and Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition take very different approaches. 

Avast wants you to upgrade to a paid plan with lots of extras and additional tools, while Bitdefender offers a bare-bones, no-nonsense antivirus that provides complete protection without other bells and whistles.

Overall Findings

Bitdefender
  • Excellent protection on the free version.

  • Super-simple to install and use.

  • Ultra-lightweight and fast.

  • Both definition-based and behavioral protection.

Avast
  • Excellent free protection.

  • Top-quality protection from a variety of threats.

  • Clean interface with smooth performance.

  • Definition-based and behavioral protection.

  • Extras like a password vault and Wi-Fi protection.

Avast and Bitdefender are both fantastic antivirus programs. They both provide the same level of protection you'd expect from a decently priced antivirus application, but for free. Avast and Bitdefender have both chosen not to compromise their free versions, opting instead to add more to their paid offerings. By providing the latest virus definitions and behavioral analysis that you'd find in their paid counterparts, both products measure up to any threat you could throw at them.

Avast does give you a little more, including password storage and Wi-Fi analysis and protection, but Bitdefender performs a little better. Which product you choose might just come down to preference.

Current Versions and Prerequisites: Only Avast Covers Mac and Mobile Devices

Bitdefender
  • Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10.

Avast
  • Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10.

  • macOS.

  • iOS and Android.

You'll find that neither program uses static versions, like most software. Instead, they have yearly releases with continual updates and upgrades along the way. They also continually update their virus definition databases to provide the absolute latest protection.

While both Avast and Bitdefender protect a range of operating systems on their paid versions, only Avast offers free protection for Macs and mobile devices. Bitdefender does support all current versions of Windows, however.

Ease of Installation: Both Are Fast and Simple

Bitdefender
  • Simple to find and download.

  • Very quick installation.

  • Mandatory account signup.

Avast
  • Simple and easily available download.

  • Nearly automatic installation.

  • Gets out of your way.

  • Installs quickly.

It's extremely easy to install either Avast or Bitdefender. The free versions of both antivirus applications are readily available on the companies' websites, and neither developer makes it difficult to access or locate them.

Once you start the install, Avast gets running and then gets out of your way. It'll minimize and let you keep working while the installation runs. It shouldn't take too long, though, and you'll be ready to scan quickly.

The experience with Bitdefender is similar. The main difference, however, is that Bitdefender requires you to sign up for a free account before you can complete the installation. It's not a huge deal, as you just need an email and password. Still, it's inconvenient, and it feels unnecessary.

Types of Malware Protected Against: Nearly Every Threat Out There

Bitdefender
  • Viruses.

  • Spyware.

  • Ransomware.

  • Trojans.

  • Phishing.

Avast
  • Viruses.

  • Spyware.

  • Ransomware.

  • Trojans.

  • Phishing.

Neither Avast nor Bitdefender compromised protection in its free releases. You'll get the absolute best protection with either one. They both defend against traditional computer viruses as well as spyware, Trojan horses, ransomware, and phishing attacks. Because Bitdefender and Avast both use real-time analysis of system behavior, they'll also protect against the latest and even unknown threats.

Both also have excellent scores in independent industry scoring tests. They consistently perform perfectly or near-perfect in test after test. The most you'll have to worry about is the occasional false positive, but even those are rare.

Update Frequency: Yearly Version Releases and Continual Updates

Bitdefender
  • No static version.

  • Continual updates.

  • Regular definition updates.

Avast
  • Yearly versioned release.

  • Continual definition releases.

  • Minor updates and bug fixes as needed.

Once again, these two are evenly matched. They both have yearly versioned releases while still updating regularly to patch bugs and improve their malware detection. Count on regular virus-definition updates from Avast and Bitdefender.

Combine that with the fact that both have heuristic monitoring built in to detect any new and unusual changes on your system, and you can be assured that both companies are staying on top of even newly released threats.

Software Performance: Bitdefender Is Built for Speed

Bitdefender
  • Application is lightweight and fast.

  • Scans are speedy.

Avast
  • Super light on system resources.

  • Speedy basic scans.

  • Smart targeted scans.

Neither application is lacking in the performance department, either. Avast features a well-designed interface that's snappy and responsive. You'll be able to find your way around with ease, and Avast won't slow down your computer's regular operations, even during scans.

Even with Avast's admirable performance, Bitdefender is faster in every way. Bitdefender is built for speed, and the application itself is incredibly lightweight and responsive. Scanning with Bitdefender is also about as quick as it gets. Not only are the scans themselves fast, but they also don't slow down the rest of the computer at all.

Additional Tools: Avast Has Some Useful Extra Tools

Bitdefender
  • Anti-phishing.

  • Anti-fraud.

Avast
  • Password storage.

  • Wi-Fi and network protection.

Generally, free antivirus programs don't come with a lot of extras. Bitdefender's "extras" are just built-in functionality. So while Bitdefender doesn't boast many "extras," you get a lot of features right off the bat.

Avast does have a few super-helpful features if you want to take the time to use them. For example, Avast has a secure password vault to help you store your passwords, without the need to remember them all or write them down where someone can find them. It also offers a Wi-Fi scanning feature to help you analyze your local network and make sure nothing suspicious is going on.

Final Verdict: You Really Can't Lose With Either One

This is a tough one, and you can't really lose here. Avast offers an excellent free antivirus that will not only scan your system but protect you from new threats in real-time. It comes with a couple of neat extras and offers solid performance. 

There are two main reasons why you'd pick the free version of Avast, though. First, if you like the features the paid Avast offers, and you're considering upgrading, go with the free one for now. The other reason Avast is appealing is its multi-platform support. If you want a free antivirus on your Mac or mobile device, Avast is your only option out of these two, and one of the few options anywhere. 

Bitdefender wins on performance, hands down. It's faster to use, simpler, and scans faster. Bitdefender will give you the same quality of protection as Avast, and it's not cluttered with a ton of features and links to try to get you to upgrade. It just does its job, no pressure.