BullGuard Premium Protection Antivirus Review: VPN, Safe Browser Protection, and Parental Controls

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Bullguard has been around since 2002 and joined Avira this year as part of Norton Lifelock but is still sold as a separate product. For your annual subscription you get a very wide range of antivirus and security tools as well as PC tuning and child protection.

As with any other antivirus provider with the exception of Avira, the first year subscription is charged at half the renewal rate. A subscription for ten devices is generous, however, and upgrading to two years of coverage also saves you money, making it one of the more affordable products on the market.

Bullguard also has cheaper products. Go to Bullguard Antivirus and you’ll only pay £ 24.99 a year but miss out on the firewall, parental controls and mobile apps. However, if you’re a Mac user, you’ll be annoyed to find that the cheapest app for your computer isn’t available – you have to hit the medium Bullguard internet security (£ 44.99 / year, Bullguard.com).

Whichever you choose, big news in the 2021 edition is dynamic machine learning, which continuously monitors your computer for known malware signatures and virus-like behavior. This runs on your computer, so if you are cut off from the internet – perhaps to prevent your antivirus software from updating itself – you are still protected.

Files are scanned as they are accessed, and you can schedule full or quick scans of your entire system. There is also cloud-based protection, which detects and analyzes emerging threats without the need to download updates.

How we tested

We installed Bullguard in a virtual machine that was running a fully updated and activated copy of Windows 10 Home, put it through its paces on the clean machine, and then put test files from EICAR (the European Institute for Computer Anti-Virus Research) and spy exposed protection. It recognized 100 percent of our test files. Bullguard has a 100 percent rating on av-test.org, compared to the industry average, which is also 100 percent – antivirus products seem to detect viruses well.

Bullguard Premium Protection: £ 69.99 / year, 10 devices, Bullguard.com

(Ian Evenden)

valuation: 8/10

  • Antivirus
  • Firewall
  • Web protection
  • Performance optimization
  • Parental controls
  • Data protection management

In addition, with Bullguard Premium Protection you get identity protection, which compares your data with known data leaks that are circulating on the dark web, and a backup module to automatically make copies of your important files safe on an external drive. There’s even a VPN, but it has to be downloaded separately, and a PC tuning suite that checks things like disk fragmentation, unnecessary files, and the size of your web browser’s cache in hopes of making your PC run more efficiently. There is a lot going on.

So much so that we took a look at Task Manager to see what it was up to. Bullguard ran nine background processes in addition to its app, none of which consumed processor time while idling, but each took a small bite out of available memory. This was actually beaten by Avira, which ran 10. Interestingly, Malwarebytes had the fewest and only ran one process for its anti-malware service and another for its VPN.

However, instead of consuming many small bits of RAM, Malwarebytes took a large one, with the two background processes taking up around 250MB of memory. On computers with several gigabytes of RAM – our test VM was allocated 8 GB – this hardly matters, but if you are in a limited memory situation, it is worth paying attention to.

The app also needs an update for high-resolution displays. Elements of the hub looked pixelated on a 4K monitor, and while the text was fine, the graphical elements like the Bullguard logo, the fire graphic denoting the firewall, and even the close button in the corner of the window looked clear low resolution.

Continue reading: The best password managers to protect your accounts

The firewall will automatically block anyone trying to access your PC from outside, check apps that have been modified to see if malware is at work, and can be set to not respond to network pings and act effectively hidden.

The VPN, which runs in a separate app, protects your data from snoops, and there is a secure browser that is set up so that it does not use cookies, extensions or other plugins without your express consent. It also clears its history when you leave and helps to cover up your tracks. There’s also Dark Web Scanning, an identity protection feature partnered with Experian that can look for things like passport numbers, email addresses, phone numbers, and credit card numbers in the event of a data breach and accept that that data will be shared with and stored by Experian. Of course there is a privacy policy that you have to agree to.

(Ian Evenden)

Network scanning is another interesting feature from Bullguard that notifies you when you connect to an unsecured WiFi hotspot that could be used to access your information. This provides a clear map of your local network and reveals any security flaws that allow it to see places it shouldn’t.

Family life

The parental controls are broad, but include a few presets based on a child’s age to make things easier. You can block websites with a range of keywords, from gambling to drugs to plagiarism (for school work) and gradually open them up as your child gets older. You can also set up a schedule so that the managed account can only access the internet within certain time periods and certain apps are prevented from connecting altogether. This last feature has a hilariously outdated list of chat apps, but the ability to add new entries to the blacklist can bring it up to date.

There are also a subset of privacy controls for managed accounts, so you can block information like their email address or phone number from being sent. We tried bypassing controls using a variety of browsers but it blocked everyone including Brave and Opera’s VPN was unable to connect.

(Ian Evenden)

How does Bullguard work?

Like many security apps, Bullguard is modular and opens a hub app from which you can choose which module to activate or play around with. For example, you need to activate a profile associated with a Windows account to manage parental controls or set up a backup schedule.

During the installation, the app goes through an analysis phase in order to optimize the performance of your PC. It found a setting on our test PC that no other app had pulled up – we had activated autoplay for external drives, which means that a USB drive full of malicious programs could be plugged in and executed without our express permission. When we clicked through to fix the issue, Bullguard opened the Settings app to exactly the right page and we were able to turn off autoplay with a single click.

Continue reading: McAfee Total Protection Review – exceptional antivirus software

Otherwise, Bullguard, once configured according to your wishes, sits in the background until it has something to report. Things like Windows auto-start are turned on by default, and there are even options to minimize the number of notifications sent to you so that you can both do your chores with peace of mind.

The verdict: Bullguard Premium Protection

Bullguard’s antivirus, firewall, and anti-malware tools look solid, and the high level of importance attached to identity protection – a VPN, a secure browser, and a dark web service – really spoils us.

The antivirus and internet security market is crowded, and apps like Bullguard have to do something to stand out. In the case of Bullguard, the fact is that it is great value for money and comes with a wide range of antivirus and security tools. It’s rare to have just one computer in the household these days, so being able to install Bullguard on 10 devices (or 15 if you’re paying a little more) with one subscription is an excellent thing.

Bullguard Premium Protection

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Are you looking for more options? For another antivirus to consider, check out ours Norton 360 review

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice that you can trust. In some cases we generate income from clicking the links and buying the products, but we never allow this to skew our reporting. The ratings are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.


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