The starter BullGuard Antivirus product includes antivirus, anti-ransomware, malicious URL filtering, a vulnerability scanner, and surprisingly, a performance booster for games and other demanding full-screen applications. 24/7 customer support, including live chat, is available if you have any problems.
Can't make up your mind? No problem. You can check out a 15-day trial of BullGuard Antivirus, and there are 30-day builds of BullGuard Premium Protection and the intermediate BullGuard Internet Security. You're protected by a further 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you plenty of time to be sure this is the right antivirus for you.
The BullGuard Antivirus interface is a little cluttered, especially for a starter package. Rather than having its main screen focus entirely on antivirus and your security status, the program divides it up into eight or nine small panels.
Only one of these relates to antivirus – two more cover vulnerability scanning and the performance-optimizing Game Booster, which are handy features, but not ones you'll need to look at daily. The remaining six (BullGuard VPN, Firewall, Backup, PC Tune-up, Parental Control, Secure Browser) are greyed out or unavailable as they're not included in BullGuard Antivirus.
While this is a waste of valuable on-screen real-estate, it doesn't make the package any more difficult to use. A drop-down list displays the actions you can take – Quick Scan, Full Scan, Custom.
Hidden away in the Settings is an option to add further scan types, which BullGuard calls Antivirus Profiles. You could use this to create custom scans where you get precise control over which areas of the system are checked, what files are examined, the way the scan is run (manually, on a schedule) and what the program does if it finds any threats. Not everyone needs or will even notice this, but it's good to have the option available.
BullGuard Antivirus also provides real-time protection, and for the most part that worked as we expected. Dangerous downloads were automatically scanned and blocked, for instance, and the package immediately detected malware we unpacked from a password-protected archive.
We noticed one limitation, though, in email scanning. BullGuard Antivirus doesn't scan incoming emails at the network level, instead using email client add-ins (Outlook and Thunderbird are supported). If you're using another client, or the add-in doesn't work or gets disabled, your emails won't be checked.
If you read your emails in a browser, this won't be an issue. And even if you're affected, BullGuard's real-time protection should detect and block any malicious attachments as soon as they're saved or opened. Still, it could mean some users will lose a layer of security they'll often get with other vendors.
Our tests found scans times were a little faster than usual, with 50GB of test executables taking 23 minutes for the first run and 3:16 for the second. Scans didn't noticeably affect the performance of our system, either, and we were able to continue working without any active scan getting in our way.
BullGuard Antivirus supports a simple vulnerability scan, which checks your Wi-Fi security, auto-run settings for mobile devices, Windows Update status and whether your drivers are digitally signed. This doesn't look as extensive as vulnerability scans from Kaspersky and Avast, and even these few checks didn't work quite as we expected.
The scan told us we were missing one Windows Security Update, for instance, and directed us to Windows Update to install it. But Windows Update said we were up to date; there was nothing to install.
BullGuard's final highlight is its Game Booster, an interesting tool which recognizes when games or other full-screen applications are running, and tries to improve their performance by giving them a greater share of system resources. Although this has nothing to do with antivirus or security, it's aiming to combat the notion that installing an antivirus will slow down your PC.
The Game Booster works by shifting user processes (and optionally, system processes) to use the same CPU cores, reducing their demands on your system resources and making a greater share available to the game.
It's a smart idea, and independent testing has shown very positive results. Gaming rig builder ChillBlast benchmarked the game-related performance of BullGuard Internet Security against Kaspersky, AVG, Norton, McAfee and even Microsoft Defender. Not only did BullGuard deliver the best performance, it was even faster than a control system with no antivirus installed.
In other words, installing BullGuard Antivirus didn't reduce gaming performance, it actually improved matters. We wouldn't choose an antivirus based on that, alone – security issues should come first, after all – but it's an interesting feature, and could be very appealing to some users.
Priced at $30 for a single device, one-year license; $48 for two years, or $60 for three.
That's decent value, cheaper than Bitdefender Antivirus Plus after you exclude the initial discount ($20 for year one to cover a single device, but $40 on renewal.)