If you‘re looking for an affordable antivirus option, BullGuard Internet Security deserves your consideration. In this review, I‘ll be taking an in-depth look at BullGuard‘s capabilities, testing performance, and user experience to see if it‘s the right choice for your needs.
A Brief History of BullGuard
BullGuard emerged in 2002 as the flagship product of UK-based security company BullGuard Ltd. Through several iterations, it gained popularity as a competitively-priced alternative to big names like Norton and McAfee.
The software is engineered by a team with over 20 years collective experience in cybersecurity. BullGuard’s development director was previously head of anti-malware at PC Tools before it merged with Symantec.
Prior to their current antivirus line, BullGuard offered more specialized tools like ad blockers, anti-spam, and parental control as individual downloads or bundled suite packs. This a la carte approach appealed to advanced users wanting granular control.
Let’s dive into the capabilities and strengths of their new integrated offering.
Reviewing Key Features of BullGuard Internet Security
The mid-tier BullGuard Internet Security plan equips your Windows, Mac, and Android devices with:
Intelligent Antivirus – Uses machine learning and behavior analysis to detect emerging and zero-day threats, instead of purely signature matching.
Two-Way Firewall – Monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic, blocking unauthorized access and suspicious communications.
Secure Browser – Encrypts connections end-to-end and prevents man-in-the-middle attacks when banking or shopping online.
Vulnerability Scanner – Performs over 30 types of scans to identify security holes like missing updates that could allow malware intrusion.
Game Booster – Optimizes CPU, memory, and graphics settings so your PC dedicates more resources to games for smoother, lag-free performance.
Parental Controls – Filters over 20 inappropriate website categories and sets time limits on kid’s device usage.
Cloud Backup – Securely saves important files and documents online via integrated support for Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and more.
PC Tune-Up – Performs automated tasks like clearing browser caches, deleting duplicates, removing invalid registry entries to speed up your system.
That covers a lot of key areas, so how does BullGuard stack up in real-world testing?
BullGuard Internet Security Malware Protection Scores
BullGuard participates in voluntary testing by independent labs like AV-Test Institute, AV-Comparatives, and SE Labs.
AV-Test Results (2020)
- September 2020 – Blocked 100% of widespread malware
- October 2020 – Blocked 100% of widespread malware
- November 2020 – Blocked 100% of zero-day malware
- December 2020 – Blocked 99.4% of zero-day malware
AV-Comparatives Malware Protection Test (March 2021)
- 99.6% protection rate
- 5 false positives
BullGuard ranked in the top 10 alongside big names like Norton, McAfee, and Trend Micro. Impressively, it matched top-scorers Avira and Bitdefender.
These labs confirm BullGuard’s intelligent scanner effectively identifies and blocks emerging threats thanks to machine learning algorithms.
How Does BullGuard’s Machine Learning Stack Up?
Machine learning has become essential for combatting rapidly evolving malware. But not all antivirus vendors take the same approach.
For example, Kaspersky relies on traditional signature databases and only applies machine learning for detecting unknown threats based on behavior.
Meanwhile, BullGuard ingests over 100 billion threat data points gathered across their user base to train predictive models proactively. This allows their scanner to flag suspicious code more accurately using correlation analysis, rather than waiting to analyze malicious behavior.
Their machine learning significantly expands detection capabilities beyond signature matching alone. BullGuard disrupted the market in 2020 by being one of the first to combine these big data smarts with a competitive price.
Firewall, Parental Controls, and Additional Utilities
The firewall monitors network packets for any shenanigans, alerting you to shady inbound or outbound communications. Configure global rules or fine-tune settings per application.
For parents, BullGuard makes it easy to limit kids’ screen time and filter XXX websites across devices. Enable safe search settings on top of that for air-tight protection.
The PC tune-up utilities help remove performance drags and optimize RAM, storage, and CPU for speed gains. Just beware that some "tune-up" features can cause more harm than good if you don‘t know what you‘re doing under the hood.
Controversies and Concerns
Pre-2020, BullGuard had a poor reputation regarding system resource drain. But software upgrades resolved those issues. Reviews from the past couple years show minimal impact on PC performance.
Some express difficulty navigating BullGuard’s unique interface, especially if accustomed to the layouts of other antivirus dashboards. It takes an adjustment period.
I’d recommend tinkering with the basic view before diving into advanced options. Read the knowledge base articles to better understand capabilities as well.
How Does BullGuard Compare to Alternatives?
Avast – Offers free antivirus but upsells many features, consumes more system resources.
AVG – Also owned by Avast, nearly identical to its sister software. Fewer configurable options for experts.
Bitdefender – Top performance but costs more for comparable protection to BullGuard.
Kaspersky – Focuses security around traditional signatures rather than advanced machine learning.
Norton – Longstanding brand recognition, but higher pricing and resource intensive.
Webroot – Super lightweight with innovative cloud-based approach, but scan speeds are slower.
What Does the NortonLifeLock Acquisition Mean?
In mid-2022, NortonLifeLock (formerly Symantec) acquired BullGuard. The company says they will continue supporting existing BullGuard customers, but new purchases are no longer available.
For consumers, this shakeup means paying attention to changes in the quality of malware intelligence and support responsiveness. Company mergers can disrupt resources previously flowing into R&D and customer service.
Time will tell if BullGuard maintains its trajectory or declines under its new ownership. At least through their current subscription terms, users will continue enjoying the same product experience.
Conclusion: BullGuard is a Worthy Contender
Thanks to highly advanced malware detection and competitive pricing, BullGuard disrupted the mid-tier antivirus market over the past couple years. Independent testing repeatedly confirms it blocks emerging threats as reliably as premium competitors.
The unique interface takes some acclimation, and advanced utilities could use fine-tuning. But overall, BullGuard Internet Security does the job for budget-focused users wanting smoother gaming, parental controls, tuner utilities, and solid virus protection.
With the Norton takeover looming ahead, I can confidently recommend BullGuard to protect your devices currently. Keep an eye out for changes when renewal time comes. BullGuard presents an affordable path to robust security – as long as Norton sustains its value.