Bitdefender Review

written by

Jack Foster

last updated

September 23, 2020

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Features

3.5/5

Speed & Performance

4/5

Ease of Use

4.5/5

Mobile App

4/5

Customer Support

3.5/5

Pricing

3.5/5
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Bitdefender Pros:

Bitdefender Cons:

You may have heard of Bitdefender before because of the anti-virus software the company provides. Their VPN is simply one of a full suite of products. But is it worth it?

Overview

It is important to make clear that you need to use the entire Bitdefender Security suite in order to use the VPN. It does not come as a standalone product. If you already have an antivirus provider that you trust, you may not want to go down the Bitdefender route.

Bitdefender is a big multinational company that has offices in Australia, America, and Europe, with approximately 1,600. The business is headquartered in Romania; where it was originally founded. 

Romania is a member of the EU, so it is not exactly a haven for privacy. However, it is not a member of the Five, Nine, or 14 Eyes data sharing agreements, which is good news. 

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Speeds

Bitdefender is rare in the sense that it runs on Hotspot Shield’s proprietary Catapult Hydra VPN protocol. This is because the VPN infrastructure at Bitdefender is outsourced to the company that owns Hotspot Shield; Pango. 

As you will discover, the VPN service is very closely linked to the Pango products, so it is important to keep this in mind. 

While the speeds are pretty impressive, the latency wasn’t so. The coverage is good enough, but you don’t get city-level locations.

In total, there are 27 countries to choose from, with 27 cities. The number of IP addresses is undisclosed.

Most of the server locations are in Europe. There are five in Asia: in Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, India, and Hong Kong.

In South America, there are two servers: one in Brazil and one in Argentina. There is good coverage of North America, with Canada, the US, and Mexico having their own servers.

There are no servers in the Middle East, Caribbean, or Africa, though.

The fact that you can’t choose servers on a city-level is frustrating. This means you could end up stuck with slow speeds in some countries if the server in question is underperforming.

Security

I would describe the security as pretty average when it comes to Bitdefender. There are some good and bad points.

The use of AES-256 encryption is a good place to start! This is the industry standard and there should not be any way for someone to brute force through the connection.

However, there are some negatives to keep in mind. DNS leaks have been shown to be a problem with this VPN.

Furthermore, the use of Hotspot Shield’s proprietary Catapult Hydra is slightly worrying. Yes, the speeds are mega fast, but the industry-standard OpenVPN is a lot more reliable. Time will tell whether Catapult Hydra is up to the task.

In fact, there was a serious security vulnerability on the system back in 2018, which enabled some people to see the true location of a user via their WiFi network name. While this has since been rectified, it is still a concern. 

Logging policy

The logging policy is always one of the first things that I look at when choosing a VPN. Unfortunately, I wasn’t happy with the logging policy at Bitdefender. 

To make matters confusing, Pango – a company responsible for the likes of Betternet and HotSpot Shield – processes some of the data on Bitdefender’s behalf. The company has had a bit of controversy in the past in terms of how data was used on the free version of Hotspot Shield. 

To be fair to Pango, we must stress that these issues have been resolved and the company has made an effort to redeem itself. Nevertheless, it does make me feel a little bit uncomfortable when it comes to data use, especially considering the very vague nature of the privacy policy at Bitdefender. 

Some of the data that Pango will keep include:

  • Approximate geographic location
  • Aggregated website logs
  • Device information
  • Bandwidth used in every session
  • Connection timestamps
  • Your IP address

I personally think that this is way more information than is necessary. The only thing Pango guarantees it will not collect is any data that will connect you to your browsing data on the VPN. Consider Private Internet Access for a VPN with a no-logging policy. ExpressVPN and CyberGhost are good options too.

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Ease of use

The ease of use of Bitdefender is undeniable. While this is obviously a good thing, it does have a lot to do with the fact that there aren’t many advanced features. When you don’t have many features, it is very hard to make things complicated, isn’t it?

Still, I can’t complain! The VPN is easy to find and the app has a simple layout. The servers are arranged by country in alphabetical order. As there aren’t many countries, finding the location you want is a breeze. 

There is also a meter that enables you to track how much data is left if using the free version, as well as a connection timer. 

There aren’t really any extra VPN features aside from this. Of course, there are the security and anti-virus features that you get as part of the full Bitdefender suite.

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Torrenting

It is possible to torrent using the VPN network at Bitdefender. While the speeds are good and P2P file sharing is possible, I personally would advise using a different VPN instead.

This is because Bitdefender has been shown to leak DNS information. While this information is not going to be enough on its own to determine who you are, it could be used to identify you.

Your ISP will know where and when you are torrenting, but it won’t know what you are torrenting.

This could leave you exposed to man-in-the-middle attacks from malicious servers because your DNS traffic will not be encrypted. 

I just do not think it is worth the risk, especially when there are plenty of other VPN providers out there that are perfect for torrenting, including CyberGhost, NordVPN, and ExpressVPN.

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Unblock streaming services

While Bitdefender state that their VPN can unlock content from all over the world, this is not accurate. While you can unlock some streaming services, I did run into a bit of trouble with others.

Let’s start with the good news, though: I was able to unblock BBC iPlayer through choosing the UK server, which is something a lot of VPNs struggle with, as BBC iPlayer is known for having strong defenses in place.

On the flip side, I was not able to access Netflix from any server. This included the servers in the US and the UK. So, if you want to be able to access different Netflix libraries, you should choose a different server instead.

While YouTube does not have the strongest geo-blockers in place, it is still good to see that Bitdefender enables you to pass these and access content that is typically blocked in your current location. 

Can you use Bitdefender in China?

Bitdefender is not a good choice if you are looking for a VPN and you live in a country that is highly censored. 

The company has even said that their VPN cannot be used in the following countries:

  • UAE
  • Turkey
  • Russia
  • Oman
  • Iraq
  • Iran
  • China
  • Belarus

If you live in any of these countries or you are planning to travel there, this VPN simply will not work, so it is better to choose another option instead. Some good options include ExpressVPN, Astrill, and PrivateVPN.

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Compatibility

When it comes to device compatibility, you can expect the basics to be covered only.

There are specific apps for iOS, MacOS, Android, and Windows. 

There is not a standalone VPN for these, though. It is the Bitdefender Mobile Security & Antivirus app that you’re going to need to download. 

As mentioned, this shows again why Bitdefender is only suitable for those who are seeking a range of security products, rather than just a VPN.

You cannot tunnel your Fire TV Stick or AppleTV with this VPN.

You can check out my “reviews by device” if you would like more information on the best VPN for a specific device.

Games consoles and streaming devices

If you are looking for a VPN for gaming purposes, Bitdefender isn’t the best option out there. Some of the servers were fast enough for online gaming, such as the French and UK server. On the whole, though, achieving lag-free gaming is unlikely on most of the servers. 

Browser extensions

In terms of browser extensions, there aren’t any! Nothing more to say here!

Customer support

The customer support is decent at Bitdefender. I must admit that it has been improving all of the time. Any VPN provider that has live chat gets a thumbs up from me. It may not be available 24/7, but it is still helpful and my queries have always been responded to quickly. 

There are troubleshooting instructions and setup guides available on the website, helping you to get started and assisting you with some of the most common issues. They are easy to follow.

The forum is always helpful as well, although as is the case with most forums, reliability is not assured because the forum is mainly user-operated.

Pricing

As I have referenced a number of times in this review, you are not going to be able to purchase the VPN from Bitdefender on its own. It is part of their security products.

The Bitdefender ANTIVIRUS PLUS product includes a VPN. You can either purchase this for Windows or for your Mac.

The cost depends on the number of devices you want to connect and the length of your contract. For example, if you opt for a three-year plan, with three devices connected, the price is $83.99 for the length of your contract.

There are some differences between the plans. For example, with the Windows option, you can connect as many as ten devices, yet the Mac option only allows three devices to be connected.

Should you go for the ten device option on windows, it is $79.99 for a one-year plan, $129.99 for the two-year plan, and $179.99 for the three-year plan.

One of the great things about opting for this product is that you can make the most of a 30-day free trial. This is one of the most comprehensive free trial periods on the market today and it will really enable you to get a feel for the security products and whether or not they are right for you.

Summary

All in all, Bitdefender isn’t the best VPN on the market. If you are looking for a suite of security products, you may want to consider Bitdefender, making the most of the VPN as an added benefit.

But I would not say that there is much point in purchasing the entire security suite purely to use the VPN, as there are plenty of other VPN providers offering a better service without requiring you to purchase an anti-virus solution.

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