The fundamental tasks of an antivirus application are straightforward. It must protect your pc and data in real time from attack by all types of malware, and it also should run a full system scan when you tell it to, or on a schedule. Most also make an effort to guide you away from harmful or fraudulent websites. The 2018 edition of BullGuard Antivirus sticks to those basics, for the most part. It no longer includes the spam filter found in previous editions, but the BullGuard vulnerability scan now has the standalone antivirus, as does a new Game Booster component. It earned good scores in several independent lab tests, however, many of the scores in our hands-on tests weren’t so great, and it also completely missed a nasty ransomware attack in testing.

At $29.95, an annual BullGuard subscription costs less than many competing products. Bitdefender, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Norton, and Webroot all cost 10 dollars more. McAfee seems more costly, at $59.99 per year, but a McAfee subscription enables you to install protection on every device you own, so it’s not truly comparable.

As noted, with this edition you lose the spam filter, but you will acquire a new malware engine. BullGuard’s website touts the 2018 edition’s next generation anti-malware. It promises that “any malware it detects is locked down in quarantine then neutralized before infection may take place,” and describes the engine as “a sentry who never sleeps, constantly on the alert for intruders.” As I’ll explain, I did not see proof of this sentry’s tirelessness. Some malware samples were able to place executable files on the test system, and one ransomware sample completely took over.

A modern, attractive installer displays information regarding this system while it’s doing its job. Once it finishes, you create or log on for your online BullGuard account. I like the reality that it automatically downloads the most recent antivirus definitions, instead of setting that being a job for an individual.

BullGuard’s main window contains seven square panels, but only the Bulldog Antivirus, Vulnerabilities, and Game Booster panels are enabled. The other four (Firewall, Backup, PC Tune-up, and Parental Control) require an upgrade to BullGuard’s full security suite. In a nice design touch, BullGuard does as far as possible without leaving this main window. As an example, when you run a full scan, the progress bar appears within the Antivirus panel. In testing, a full scan took 55 minutes, slightly less than the existing average. Within my testing in the previous edition, a repeat scan finished in 5 minutes. This time, the repeat scan wasn’t significantly faster.

I look to four independent antivirus testing labs around the globe for evidence the antivirus I’m tests are (or isn’t) effective. BullGuard participates with 2 of these, with a mixture of is a result of decent to excellent.

Researchers at AV-Comparatives regularly report on numerous security product tests. I closely follow four of those. A product that does sufficiently to pass an exam receives Standard certification, while the ones that rise above the necessary minimum can reach Advanced or Advanced certification. In the latest of these tests, BullGuard got two Advanced and 2 Advanced certifications.

Accurate detection of malware is very important, but an antivirus also must avoid quarantining valid programs, and should not put a drag on system performance. Experts at AV-Test Institute assign antivirus programs as much as six points each for protection, performance, and usability (meaning leaving valid programs alone). BullGuard earned 5.5 points each for protection and performance, however some false positive detections brought its usability score as a result of five, for a total of 16 points.

The big testing labs have resources far beyond my own, having said that i also love to get a hands-on experience with each product’s malware blocking abilities. I use a selection of several dozen malware samples that I’ve dguvfr analyzed, so I can confirm that this antivirus really has blocked the malware’s installation.

When I opened my folder full of samples, BullGuard’s on-access scanner started checking them, displaying a small pop-up alert when it detected something amiss. If additional alerts occurred, each of them shared exactly the same pop-up, using a note indicating the number of more were pending. You can click to view and close them one at a time, or check a box to close them at one time. BullGuard detected about three quarters of the samples at this point.