It isn’t fresh or innovative, but BullGuard Internet Security 2021 is a solid choice for tinkerers with multiple devices to protect
- Cost-effective for multiple devices
- Exceptional protection
- Good parental controls
- Tune-up tool doesn't do much
- UI looks clunky
As well as protecting you from viruses, BullGuard includes a spread of additional security features, including a custom firewall, a backup module and parental controls.
It’s temptingly priced, too. Although the suite costs £50 if you buy direct from the BullGuard website, you can get it for just £17 from Amazon, providing a year’s protection for up to five devices. There’s also a simpler BullGuard Antivirus package on offer for the knockdown price of just £6, although this only covers three Windows PCs.
While those prices are hard to beat, the question remains: when you can get great protection absolutely free from the likes of Avast, is there any need to pay even such small sums?
BullGuard Internet Security review: What do you get for the money?
BullGuard Internet Security opens up with a spread of no fewer than nine modules. Actually, only eight of these are fully functional, as the VPN function is an optional extra; that’s not too annoying, though, as it’s clearly greyed out and marked as a trial.
The core antivirus component is as straightforward as it gets. There are no specific tools for blocking ransomware or webcam exploits, but the suite’s malware detection capabilities are sharp enough to cut off such attacks at the source.
The rest of the features are nice to have but hardly revolutionary. The firewall is easy to configure, although perhaps a bit superfluous since there’s nothing wrong with Windows’ built-in firewall. Likewise, the backup module is a perfectly good way to protect selected files and folders, but you can achieve the same thing using Windows’ built-in Backup and Restore tool, or any number of other free solutions.
For those with kids, the parental controls are a highlight. These work on both Windows and Android and support time limits, application control and category-based web filtering. A clever privacy filter can be turned on, too, which prevents the sharing of things such as credit card numbers or children’s email addresses.
BullGuard Internet Security review: Does it keep you safe?
In the most recent tests by independent experts at AV-Comparatives.org (March 2021) and AV-Test.org (February 2021), BullGuard Internet Security achieved an average protection rating of 99.8%. That’s jolly good but it doesn’t quite take the crown. In the same tests, several competitors managed to rack up impeccable 100% scores, including F-Secure, Kaspersky and Norton.
BullGuard can be proud of its false-positive record, however. Across all those tests it wrongly blocked only one non-harmful sample: only Eset and F-Secure did better for accuracy. Overall, we’re happy to recommend Bullguard as a safe choice for virus protection.
BullGuard Internet Security review: What’s it like to use?
BullGuard’s front end hasn’t been spruced up since 2013, and it appears chunky and pixellated on a modern high-DPI screen. It won’t ruin your PC’s performance, though. AV-Comparatives and AV-Test both put the software through a barrage of timed tests and measured a modest average slowdown of 8.5%.
For comparison, Windows Defender incurred a 12.5% performance hit, so switching that off and installing BullGuard instead should make your PC slightly faster overall.
BullGuard also includes a PC Tune-Up tool, which in theory could make your system faster and more stable. Don’t expect too much, though, as this merely defragments your hard drive, cleans up caches and fixes invalid shortcuts. Perhaps more useful is the Game Booster feature, which dials down resource usage for the suite and other processes when you’re running a game in full-screen mode.
BullGuard Internet Security review: Should I buy it?
BullGuard doesn’t exactly inspire with out-of-the-box ideas but it’s a respectable security solution that brings together lots of features, some of them useful and others at least fun to tinker with.
If you’re focused on zero-fuss protection then something like F-Secure SAFE might suit you better, but for families wanting to protect multiple computers and kids’ devices, five licences for £17 is a good deal.