The essential tasks of an antivirus utility are straightforward. It should protect your computer and data in real time from attack by all sorts of malware, and it also should run a full system scan when you tell it to, or on a schedule. Most also try to drive you away from malicious 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 comes with the standalone antivirus, as does a brand new Game Booster component. It earned good scores in a number of independent lab tests, however, many of its scores in our hands-on tests weren’t so excellent, plus it completely missed a nasty ransomware attack in testing.

At $29.95, a yearly BullGuard subscription is less expensive 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 allows you to install protection on every device you possess, so it’s not truly comparable.

As noted, with this edition you lose the spam filter, but you will gain 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 and then neutralized before infection will take place,” and describes the engine as “a sentry who never sleeps, constantly on the alert for intruders.” As I’ll explain, I have done not see evidence of this sentry’s tirelessness. Some malware samples was able to place executable files on the test system, and one ransomware sample completely took over.

A modern day, attractive installer displays details about the program while it’s doing its job. Once it finishes, you create or log on for your online BullGuard account. I love the fact that it automatically downloads the most recent antivirus definitions, as opposed to setting that as a task for an individual.

BullGuard’s main window contains seven square panels, but only the Bull Guard, 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 much as possible without leaving this main window. As an example, when you run a full scan, the progress bar appears inside the Antivirus panel. In testing, a complete scan took 55 minutes, slightly under the current average. Inside my testing of the previous edition, a repeat scan finished in 5 minutes. Now, the repeat scan wasn’t significantly faster.

I look to four independent antivirus testing labs around the globe for evidence that the antivirus I’m testing is (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 a wide variety of security product tests. I closely follow four of such. A product or service that does sufficiently to move an exam receives Standard certification, while people who go beyond the required 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 essential, 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 approximately six points each for protection, performance, and usability (meaning leaving valid programs alone). BullGuard earned 5.5 points each for protection and satisfaction, but some false positive detections brought its usability score right down to five, to get a total of 16 points.

The big testing labs have resources far beyond my own, however i like to get a hands-on experience with each product’s malware blocking abilities. I prefer a selection of several dozen malware samples that I’ve dguvfr analyzed, in order to confirm that this antivirus really has blocked the malware’s installation.

After I opened my folder filled with samples, BullGuard’s on-access scanner started checking them, displaying a tiny pop-up alert if it detected something amiss. If additional alerts occurred, they all shared exactly the same pop-up, with a note indicating the amount of more were pending. You are able to click to view and close them one at a time, or check a box to seal them all at once. BullGuard detected about three quarters in the samples at this point.