(Last updated on January 12th, 2021)
Bitdefender or ESET, which antivirus software is a better pick in 2021?
Our experts have put together this comprehensive Bitdefender versus ESET comparison to help you make a wise decision.
In these hectic times, it can be tempting to assume that your computer and data are secure since so many people are using the internet at the same time. But the truth is that there’s never been a riskier time in history to be putting data online. And yet, we’re doing it more frequently every day!
The dangers are only growing. In 2018, for instance, there were over 10 billion malware attacks, and recent statistics show that this number is only likely to grow in the future. In the U.S. alone, over 8 million computers were found infected with malware. The ugly truth is that anyone’s device can become easily infected if it isn’t adequately defended.
Remember, though, that a free version that is already installed on your device doesn’t stand a chance against modern malware programs. It lacks the sophisticated technology to guard your device reliably. That kind of advanced technology and multi-level protection is only available with paid antivirus products.
So, what you need is premium antivirus protection. But what if you don’t know where to look? Don’t worry; we can help with that. You won’t need to do hours of research and investigation since we’ve already taken care of all that.
Editor’s Note: We have spent over 150 hours examining all the top antivirus software out there, so you can get the best antivirus product for yourself and those you love.
At the moment, we think that Norton is the best antivirus software available in the market. It offers exceptional anti-malware security with minimal impact on system performance, as evidenced by the recent independent lab tests conducted by the AV-Test Institute.
Currently, Norton is offering an exclusive 70% discount to our readers for a limited time, so grab your copy of Norton before the sale ends.
Best Antivirus Software for 2021
- Unbeatable anti-malware protection
- Minimal system impact
- Exceptional value for money
- Recommended by PC Mag, CNET & TechRadar
- 100% virus protection promise
- 60-day risk-free money-back guarantee
We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to showcase the strengths and weaknesses of two antivirus champions: Bitdefender and ESET. We’ll show you which one is more worth your time and money.
Breakdown of the Comparison
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Bitdefender vs. ESET comparison:
- Anti-Malware Protection
- Impact on System Speed
- User Interface
- Customer Ratings
In a hurry? Take a sneak peek at the comparison to find out the winners in each category.
Comparison at a Glance
Features… Bitdefender’s features are more varied and useful to most people, and you can get them for less money than ESET’s in comparison.
Anti-Malware Protection… In independent evaluations, Bitdefender beat ESET in terms of how well both software defended a computer against malware attacks.
Impact on System Speed… Bitdefender won one test against ESET, while tied with ESET in the other. Thus, Bitdefender is likely a little better in terms of system performance.
User Interface… Bitdefender’s interface is very streamlined but has optional complexity if you desire. ESET’s interface is clunky in some key areas.
Pricing… You get more licenses for less money with Bitdefender, compared to ESET’s rather pricy one-license deals.
Popularity… Independent survey reports show that ESET has a higher market share and is more common among anti-malware product users.
Customer Ratings… Bitdefender received only average reviews, while ESET has some high scores in this regard, showing that it offers decent customer service.
Bitdefender beats ESET in virtually all critical areas, including protection, feature spread, and pricing. That’s why Bitdefender stands out as the better choice.
2021’s Top Antivirus Picks
#1 (Best Overall)
- Extensive feature-set
- Award-winning malware protection
- Minimal system impact
- competitive pricing structure
- Intuitive user interface
- 100% virus protection promise
- 60-day money-back guarantee
#2 (Very Good)
- Robust Feature-set
- Excellent Anti-malware security
- Zero System Slowdowns
- Exceptional Value for Money
- Intuitive User Interface
#3 (Very Good)
- Impressive Feature-set
- Good malware protection
- Value for Money
Let’s dig deeper now.
One of the best ways to determine which of these two antivirus products will be more suitable for your needs is to compare their overall features.
We’ll start with Bitdefender, which has a free version called Bitdefender Free Edition. This software package is only usable with the Windows platform and offers limited protection against malware threats.
However, it’s a very barebones solution for today’s modern malware threats, and we don’t recommend it unless you’re at a pinch.
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2021, another Windows-only suite, is the company’s first paid coverage. Besides providing top-of-the-line protection against all kinds of malware, the suite boasts a host of advanced features and utilities such as:
- Password Manager – collects and stores all your login details and passwords to protect against the misuse of sensitive information by hackers.
- Limited-use VPN – allows you to browse the internet anonymously temporarily.
- File Shredder – lets you permanently delete any risky or sensitive files you select, preventing them from being leaked or stolen.
- Anti-Fraud feature – defends you against any kinds of phishing threats or scams, especially those found in your email inbox.
Next up is Bitdefender Internet Security 2021. This software suite includes everything that you get from Antivirus Plus but adds some great additional features like:
- Two-way Firewall – capable of both monitoring your home network and blocking attacks simultaneously.
- File Vault – secures any sensitive files onto your drive and restricts access to them.
- Vulnerability Checker – alerts you to any potential security holes present in your system, such as outdated software.
- Parental Controls – monitor the browsing habits of your kids and block them from viewing certain sites.
- Webcam Protection – guards you and your family against webcam spyware planted by hackers.
Bitdefender Total Security 2021 is the premium offering from the company, and it’s the best you can get from Bitdefender. It’s usable for Windows, Macs, and mobile devices and comes with 5 licenses by default. It has everything from the Internet Security suite. In addition, it offers:
- Anti-Theft function – lets you locate any devices (with Total Security installed on them) if they become lost or stolen.
- Optimization Tools – let you organize or delete temporary files and improve your computer’s overall performance.
Bitdefender Total Security is easily the best choice in terms of value for money when you take all of its functions into account. You can opt for Bitdefender Family Pack 2021 instead if you want a single subscription to take care of the security needs of all your household devices.
For Mac devices, you can also opt for Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac. This suite provides a number of key security perks for users of Apple products. All of Bitdefender’s security suites come with unlimited customer service through email, online chat, and phone call options.
ESET’s most basic security suite is called ESET NOD32 Antivirus. This suite includes:
- Advanced Firewall – offers top-grade antivirus and antispyware functionality as well as protection against any phishing threats.
- Gamer Mode – reduces unnecessary pop-ups during a gaming session or movie time.
- Exploit Blocker – prevents cheating during games and alerts you to any mischief.
- Cloud Scanner – monitors and scans the Cloud and other related functions.
- Small System Footprint – optimizes system resources and provides more power to frequently-used programs.
- Malicious Script Detector – guards against browser assaults from malicious websites.
- Ransomware Shield – protects against threats to financial information and money related frauds.
- License Manager – catalogs and connects various devices with shared licenses.
Next up is ESET Internet Security, the company’s middle-range security suite. It comes with everything included in NOD32 Antivirus with some additional features:
- Personal Firewall – prevents hackers from getting access to your computer and makes you untraceable over public WIFI.
- Hardened Browser – offers protection for your banking and payment processes.
- Anti-Spam Shield – keeps your inbox organized and free of junk or unwanted emails.
- Botnet Protection – saves your computer from network attacks launched by endpoint machines.
- Parental Controls Suite – helps monitor your kids’ browsing habits and limit their access to unwanted websites.
- Webcam Controls – prevent hackers from spying on you with your device camera.
- Home Monitoring System – protects your home network and devices from malicious network traffic.
- Anti-Theft feature – exclusive to Windows operating systems, this feature helps to trace missing or stolen devices for you.
Finally, ESET Smart Security Premium takes everything previously offered and adds some more features, such as:
- Password Manager – collects, organizes, and secures various passwords on your devices and encrypts files and sensitive information.
- Secure Data Features – Secures removable media like USB keys, which can be handy for transferring sensitive data without the use of the internet.
All of ESET’s security software is usable by Windows, Macs, or mobile devices. Additionally, you can get ESET Cybersecurity and ESET Cybersecurity Pro for Mac-specific antivirus products. You also get free customer support from ESET in your local language.
The Winner: Bitdefender. Bitdefender’s features are more accessible and useful for the average user, and they’re accessed in earlier tiers of the subscription list.
2. Anti-Malware Protection
Malware protection should be the first and foremost focus of any decent antivirus software. Since it directly affects how well they can shield your computer from viral threats, it’s imperative that we investigate unbiased evidence of their effectiveness.
Thankfully, there are two different independent testing companies we can consult to see how Bitdefender and ESET compare when they’re put to the test for quality.
Our first organization, The AV-Test Institute, uses a 1 to 6 rubric for scoring its Protection test. As per recent evaluations, we found that Bitdefender managed a perfect 6 out of 6 score, indicating a high capability for malware defense. However, ESET chose not to participate in this test.
AV-Comparatives is another helpful independent testing site we can turn to for evidence as to these companies’ effectiveness in malware protection.
For its Real-World Protection Test, Bitdefender received an ADVANCED+ award, the highest award offered by AV-Comparatives. ESET, meanwhile, received only the STANDARD award, the bottom tier of recognition.
Looking into AV-Comparatives’ Malware Protection Test, we find Bitdefender, once again, achieving the highest ADVANCED+ award. ESET also showed improved performance here and secured the second-best ADVANCED award.
The Winner: Bitdefender. Bitdefender surpassed ESET during independent evaluations, showcasing its superior ability to guard your computer against different kinds of malware attacks.
3. Impact on System Speed
While malware defense is undoubtedly critical, you can’t discount performance, either. An antivirus software that makes your computer sluggish and unresponsive won’t be one you want to install, let alone protect you.
Let’s go back to the same independent testing companies and see what conclusions they drew from their tests.
According to the Performance Test conducted by the AV-test.org, Bitdefender once again proved its effectiveness, scoring a 6 out of 6.
AV-Comparatives, meanwhile, also ran a Performance Test, and Bitdefender once again collected an ADVANCED+ award from the testing organization. ESET matched Bitdefender here and also received an ADVANCED+ award.
The Winner: Bitdefender. Although ESET matched Bitdefender during one test, combined with the AV-test.org evaluations, ESET falls short in comparison. Therefore, Bitdefender is likely better at maintaining optimal performance at all times.
4. User Interface
The fine details of the operations of both antivirus companies are important, but we can’t forget to look at how convenient each software is for a typical user. A good user interface is indicative of both smart design and a customer-friendly approach.
So let’s see how Bitdefender and ESET measure up to this criterion.
Bitdefender uses a single dashboard or control panel that is streamlined and basic at first glance. This will appeal to new or novice computer users, who will find that the majority of operations and tasks are easy to initiate and understand.
If you’re more computer literate, however, you’ll appreciate the fact that Bitdefender allows you to customize your experience entirely. You can modify preset action icons with “quick access” slots, which you can fill with the features and tasks that you use most often.
You can make a string of easy scans or other functions that you perform daily or weekly in this manner. Similarly, you can also move tiles or tasks around into organized clusters if that suits you better.
In short, Bitdefender allows for both streamlined and complicated use depending on your preference. We think this shows a seamless design because it has something for everyone.
How does ESET’s user interface compare?
ESET’s interface utilizes a basic dashboard with a blue-and-gray palette. This interface can be resized and run in either windowed or full-screen modes. A cool bit of functionality is that you can drag and drop files right into ESET’s window for instant analysis.
However, using the ESET interface to schedule scans or monitor your network takes a handful of clicks and navigating a bunch of drop-down menus. You have to go through several steps to run an operation compared to Bitdefender’s more efficient interface design.
Discovering whether your computer is at risk is pretty easy since there’s an indicator bar that alerts you to the current status of your security situation.
The Winner: Bitdefender. Bitdefender is both more intuitive and easier to use, but it also offers more complexity for those who want it. ESET’s interface is clunkier and less responsive.
Pricing is another crucial aspect to consider, and it may be the deciding factor for some folks. The truth is that good antivirus also provides exceptional value for money; otherwise, you might be paying too much for something not worth your money.
Let’s see how Bitdefender and ESET compare in this regard.
Bitdefender Total Security, which is the ultimate in terms of quality and feature spread, costs only $44.99 per year for 5 licenses. Remember that this suite is also suitable for Windows, Macs, and mobile devices.
If you want complete security for your household, Bitdefender Family Pack covers 15 devices for just $69.98 per year. That is excellent value for as many licenses as you desire. Bitdefender business solutions and their prices can be reviewed here.
|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|
For the costs of ESET’s business-oriented products and additions, you can look through 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|
The Winner: Bitdefender. You get way more licenses from Bitdefender for a lesser cost, which directly translates to more value for money. It also means that Bitdefender is more valuable for families or anyone who needs to defend a multitude of devices at once.
Popularity rating is an indispensable indicator of how well received a product is among users. So, let’s turn to two leading survey organizations for their malware market share reports and see which product shines more brightly.
OPSWAT is the first organization, and its Windows Anti-Malware Market Share Report of September 2019 stands Bitdefender at a market share of 11.2%. Amazingly, ESET takes the lead here and commands the highest 13.1% market share.
It will be interesting to look at findings from Statista here, as well. According to their survey report of August 2019, Bitdefender holds a 10.17% market share among the Windows anti-malware application vendors worldwide. ESET, on the other hand, stands out with a 12.89% market share.
The Winner: ESET. It is evident from the survey reports that ESET has a higher market share among antivirus products.
7. Customer Ratings
How well a company’s customers hold them in regard can show us a lot about their day-to-day operations and customer service. We can check review-collecting resources to see the average opinion of both Bitdefender and ESET’s users.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is one of these review-collecting websites. BBB translates customer feedback into a single letter grade ranging from A to F. From this organization, Bitdefender managed an average C score, while ESET scored a phenomenal A+.
That shows that ESET’s customers may prefer their service to Bitdefender’s.
Let’s now move to Consumeraffairs.org, another review-collecting site that uses a five-star rating system. On this site, Bitdefender scored four stars out of five, while ESET scored a four-star rating as well, showing similar results from both companies’ customers.
The Winner: ESET. Based on review-collecting sites, it appears that ESET’s customers are generally more satisfied with their experience or otherwise have less reason to complain. Bitdefender didn’t suffer from these ratings but didn’t impress, either.
While it’s a fierce battle, there’s no doubt in our minds that Bitdefender is superior in almost every regard. Bitdefender’s amazing spread of innovative features, excellent scores on independent tests, and reasonable pricing model; all solidify it as an obvious choice in this era when internet security is a necessity. Don’t settle for anything but the best!