Rather than offer just an antivirus and a security suite, many security vendors add backup, system tuneup, and other features to create a “mega-suite.” However, BullGuard’s entry-level suite already includes backup and tuneup. BullGuard Premium Protection (2014) ($99.95 direct for three licenses) quintuples the amount of online backup storage, which is nice. It also adds identity protection and a Facebook privacy tool that you can use for the whole family.
Compare Similar Products
I’ve commented on the somewhat odd appearance of BullGuard’s entry-level suite. Its main window has seven panels, in two rows, representing seven major security components, but the one farthest to the right is only halfway visible. A slider along the bottom lets you bring that final panel fully into view. My BullGuard contact explained that the half-visible button helps the user realize it’s possible to slide the window back and forth.
That explanation makes a lot more sense in the Premium suite, which has nine buttons. If the main window displayed, say, two rows of three whole panels, you might not realize there are three more panels waiting to slide into view.
Antivirus, firewall, spam filter, parental control—all of the basic suite features are exactly the same as what you get in BullGuard Internet Security (2014). Please read that review for a full run-down on those features. I’ll summarize my findings here.
Antivirus Liked by Labs
BullGuard participates in testing by most of the labs that I follow, and gets good marks overall. AV-Comparatives in particular rated it ADVANCED+ (the top rating) in two malware detection tests and ADVANCED in a dynamic whole-product test. For a full explanation of how I boil down many tests into the categories shown in the chart below, see How We Interpret Antivirus Lab Tests.
In my own hands-on testing, BullGuard’s score was a decent 8.9, but others have done much better. In fact, five products are tied for top score, with 9.4 points each. With perfect cleanup of the malware it found, BullGuard could have joined them, as it detected 94 percent of the samples.
I tested the product’s ability to block malware downloads using extremely new URLs supplied by MRG-Effitas. Out of 100 URLs leading to malicious executables, BullGuard blocked 10 percent at the URL level and quarantined another 20 percent during download. Top score of the seven products that have gone through this test goes to avast! Premier 2014 with a blocking rate of 79 percent. For more about my hands-on testing, see How We Test Malware Blocking.
Antiphishing and Antispam
Because phishing websites are so ephemeral, I can never use the same collection twice. For scoring purposes, I compare each product’s detection rate with that of Norton 360 (2014) in simultaneous testing. Most product come in way, way below Norton. Lagging Norton by just 12 percentage points means BullGuard did pretty well. The article How We Test Antiphishing explains how I perform and score this test.
BullGuard’s spam filter can’t keep up with incoming email, so it keeps working after the email download finishes. Counting both the time to download and the time to finish scanning for spam, downloading mail under BullGuard’s protection took over four times as long as with no spam filter. In addition, the majority of legitimate bulk mail (along with a fair amount of spam) went into a somewhat confusing “bulk mail folder.”
BullGuard caught all but 4.3 percent of undeniable spam, which is good, but it also threw away 1.2 percent of valid personal mail. The best spam filters do their job without accidentally tossing any valid mail. To learn how I rate antispam accuracy, see How We Test Antispam.