Our Review of BullGuard Internet Security 2015
Paid Anti-virus Programs
Founded by Morten Lund and Theis Sondergaard in 2002, BullGuard is one of the younger companies in the anti-virus industry. Unlike other AV suites that began as stand-alone anti-virus programs and evolved into all-in-one products, BullGuard has been a total security solution since its inception. BullGuard is still a relatively small player in the AV space when compared to companies like Avast, Norton and Microsoft. However, BullGuard users are faithful and vocal in their praise of BullGuard Internet Security and its ability to protect computers and mobile phones alike. The BullGuard approach to security software is different to say the least, and in this review we check out just what sets this AV suite apart from others.
Cost and Value
Unlike most of their competitors, BullGuard does not offer a single-PC subscription option with Internet Security 2015. However, if you have multiple PCs and devices you want to protect, BullGuard is an outstanding value at only $59.95 for one year of coverage. If you need only to protect one PC, and need only basic anti-virus coverage, BullGuard does offer a one-year subscription for the standalone BullGuard Antivirus program for only $29.95. Additionally, BullGuard offers multiyear and other multi-PC subscription options that are also reasonably priced. In addition to BullGuard's excellent anti-virus component, Internet Security 2015 ships with a strong firewall, system backup tools, a vulnerability scanner, PC Tune Up tools and Parental Controls. When you consider all of the extra features BullGuard offers, $59.95 is a steal to cover three devices.
Downloading BullGuard and installing it on a PC is super-fast. In fact, the complete download of both the online installer and main setup files is less than 20 megabytes. The complete BullGuard installation is roughly 80 to 90 percent smaller than every other AV suite we have tested. BullGuard does need to download additional virus pattern files during the installation, but then so do other security applications. How BullGuard is able to pack so much functionality in such a small package is nothing short of extraordinary.
Installing BullGuard is relatively straightforward. After you download the online installer, click "Run" and launch the setup wizard, installation requires just a few clicks and completes in about 5 to 7 minutes depending on your Internet connection speed. Once you install BullGuard, you must restart the computer to complete the installation and the process of configuring the firewall component. You should also note that you must register a BullGuard account during the installation process.
After you reboot your computer, BullGuard launches and performs a quick scan of the system automatically. The scan takes roughly one to three minutes depending on the number files and programs installed on the computer. Once the scan completes, BullGuard displays the main dashboard, which is a bright, well-laid-out user interface with seven easy to read tiles that are suitable for both mouse and touchscreen users. As far UIs go, BullGuard Internet Security 2015 has one of the cleanest and easiest to navigate we have seen. The main window contains seven large tiles aptly labeled: Antivirus, Firewall, Backup, Vulnerabilities, Spamfilter, PC Tune Up and Parental Controls. With the tiles, you get exactly what you see and nothing else. The only other labels on the main screen of the UI are "Update" and "Settings," and again they lead to exactly where you would expect. In short, in a day when complex, overly distracting UIs seem to be the norm, it's nice to see one that is simple, direct and uncomplicated.
Clicking any of the seven tiles on the main screen leads exactly to where you would expect. If you click the "Firewall" tile, a new window opens and displays the current network security settings for the PC. Likewise, clicking "Backup," "Spamfilter" or "Parental Control" enables you to configure options for those specific functions. If you click the "Vulnerabilities," "PC Tune Up" or "Antivirus" tiles, though, those applications launch and run immediately. Each tile also has a drop-down list also, which enables you to select run options or access settings. This is an especially nice feature because it negates the need to sift through many options in the Settings window.
Initial Scans and System Performance
With the default settings intact, we ran both quick and full-system scans on our test machine (which runs Windows 7, has 2GB of RAM and an Intel dual-core processor.) When you start running a scan with BullGuard Internet Security 2015, the first thing you notice is how incredibly fast the application blitzes through files and archives when looking for threats. Initial scan times on our test system were incredibly fast. During a quick scan, BullGuard sorted through 25976 crucial files in just 1 minute 15 seconds and completed a full-system scan of more than 121,000 files in just under three minutes. In the running-scan window, there is an option to lower resource usage. During our tests, though, enabling the option slowed the scans only by about 10 percent.
When we noticed the super-small size of the BullGuard installation file, we expected a lot from the application in terms of a small footprint and low resource utilization - we were not disappointed. While performing scans with BullGuard, the test system showed no noticeable signs of slowing and all applications opened almost instantly or normally. If fact, we noticed almost no slowdown at all with BullGuard running. This cannot be said of any other AV suite reviewed here.
Virus, Malware and False Positive Detection
After testing scan and multitasking performance with BullGuard Internet Security 2015, it was time to get down to the tests that matter the most - detection and neutralization. To that end, we closed down BullGuard and then transferred a set of both infected and safe files to the test machine. The test sets consisted of nine known virus/malware files and a group of 16 safe "false positive" files that resemble infected files in one respect or another. However, none of the false positive files are actually dangerous or a threat in anyway, and all should be ignored by the AV scanner.
As fast as BullGuard scans the system, it is reasonable to worry that the program might not be able to detect threats consistently. However, this is far from the case with BullGuard, as it identified and removed all nine of the test viruses in under three minutes, earning a perfect 100-perecent score in detection and neutralization. Likewise, and during the same scan, BullGuard breezed right past our set of 16 false positive files and never once flagged one as a potential threat or recommended removal. This phase of the testing is just as important as virus/malware detection, as flagging safe files as threats could lead to system or program instability.
BullGuard received perfect 100% ratings in both detection and neutralization and false positive testing. At the time of publication, the only other program reviewed here to perform as well is Avira Internet Security.
Below is a screenshot of the files used in the false positive test.
Overall, BullGuard is definitely one of the best security suites we have tested and reviewed. When it comes to protection, BullGuard Internet Security 2015 excels in all areas we tested. Virus/Malware detection and removal with BullGuard is as good as it gets. Couple that with excellent safe-file filtering and you have an outstanding total-security package. If that isn't enough, the firewall and web-protection tools included with BullGuard are also outstanding. While not covered in detailed above, BullGuard resisted all attacks on the firewall and scored a perfect 10/10 in our malicious and phishing website site tests.
PC optimization, backup and parental control tools are all easy to use and effective and the clean BullGuard user interface makes accessing them a snap. The vulnerability test makes keeping your operating system up to date relatively painless, and the SPAM filter is first rate.
Finally, BullGuard is unbelievably fast during scans and utilizes almost no resources when compared to other AV suites we have reviewed. If you are looking for top-notch protection and system usability, you won't go wrong with BullGuard.
During our review of BullGuard Internet Security 2015, it was difficult to find something about the suite we didn't like. That being said, the SPAM filter is a little slow and may cause slight delays when downloading email messages - but only a few seconds or so. Besides that, the only other thing we could find wrong with BullGuard Internet Security 2015 is the company's lack of a single-PC subscription option. While many users now have multiple machines or devices, the suite is a bit expensive for users who need only to protect a single computer.