The Old & The New In The 2019 BullGuard Antivirus Edition
Back in 2017, BullGuard won the Gold Malware Protection Award. Such a distinction from AV-Comparatives, the reputable antivirus review independent organization, sure meant a lot. Fast forward two years and two antivirus editions later… It looks like its protection features are no longer so conclusive. So, you may be wondering: what is old and what is new in the 2019 version?
To kill the suspense, we must specify from the very beginning: independent lab tests for the BullGuard 2019 Edition showed different protection results.
Also, numerous voices across the web claim that ransomware protection is still far from its maximum potential. The main packages that we will review below clearly leave room for specific improvements. And these are findings at a glance, observations that we can make by comparison with its main competitors.
Even so, many would consider BullGuard an interesting antivirus. Talk about its highly configurable menus and options, all the way to a surprising gaming feature, known as Game Booster… There’s plenty to look at, from a bright-sided perspective. Coming up next in our antivirus review, we will go through each of its tools and utilities. Will you join us?
The Bullguard Antivirus Offer For 2019 – An overall look
Clearly stated on the official website, BullGuard’s commitment is to constant innovation. The 2019 release, however, doesn’t score too many revolutionary additions. In fact, the novelties rather consist of incremental improvements on previously-existing features.
- The Game Booster is the only brand-new appearance, quite a surprising one, yet still a patent-pending technology;
- Then, there is also the enhanced Behavioral Detection, as a part of their anti-malware protection;
- Add a revamped version of the Vulnerability Scanner, and that is pretty much all in terms of innovation.
There are three main packages to choose from, with minimum technical requirements: 1 GB of RAM, 850 MB of hard-drive space, and at least a Dial-up internet connection.
- The basic BullGuard antivirus package;
- Their Internet Security package;
- And the Premium Protection package, recommended for those who need protection on multiple devices.
Speaking of which, the Premium Protection is the only option where one can benefit from extra licenses. The other two cover just one PC on a license, for one year, for an average industry price.
Now, between the three packages and the three types of operating systems, Windows offers are the most attractive.
- The basic Antivirus package – includes 8 basic features:
- Behavioral Engine (enhanced)
- Safe browsing
- Vulnerability Scanner (revamped)
- Game Booster (NEW)
- The Internet Security package – adds 4 extra features:
- Parental Control
- Cloud Integrated Backup
- PC Tune Up
- The Premium Protection package – adds 2 extra features:
- Home Network Scanner
- Identity protection
Coming up next, we will review some of the most important functions included in the BullGuard 2019 Antivirus Edition.
Review Of The Basic Package
The BullGuard antivirus aims to offer protection against viruses and malware, but also ransomware and phishing attacks. For this reason, the Anti-Virus, Anti-Phishing, Anti-Malware and Anti-Ransomware are essentials of the basic package. Now, the 2019 Edition, in particular, is said to offer a next generation of malware protection.
They call it a triple layer of protection, but it is more like a constant evaluation process in three steps:
- By default, the BullGuard antivirus will recognize trusted sites and applications. This means that it will also flag whatever website or app doesn’t match its security filters.
- In the background, it constantly scans code, targeting all kinds of malware-specific signatures and things that shouldn’t be there.
- Once it detects a potential threat, it will automatically lock it down, move it to quarantine, and proceed to neutralize it.
The BullGuard Sentry engine works with the Behavioral Detection function, one that was enhanced in this edition. As it gets daily updates, it is more capable of spotting and blocking the latest threats. Whatever issue it may find, it will also send real-time alerts.
From the main dashboard, within the Antivirus panel, users have a drop-down list with several types of scan:
- Quick Scan
- Full Scan
- Custom Scan
Going to the Settings menu, however, users also have the option to create Antivirus Profiles for custom scans. This option allows you to decide:
- System areas and what files to scan
- What kind of scan to run on it
- What to do if potential threats are detected
Creating custom scanning profiles for specific areas of interest is a major advantage. The antivirus can only review folders where you keep executable files, important documents, network drivers etc. Such specific, focused scanning will rule out areas with lots of data and folders that you’re sure are not at risk. Welcome, improved performances and a speed up evaluation process!
A Closer Look At The BullGuard Vulnerability Scanner
Any antivirus out there isn’t supposed to just sit around and wait for viruses to knock on the system’s door. It is also supposed to run preventive scanning processes. So, in an attempt to spot system vulnerabilities and suggest appropriate fixes, BullGuard has its own Vulnerability Scanner.
As mentioned, this isn’t a brand-new feature, but rather a redesigned one. From the its dedicated panel, users can see all the security problems at a glance. Necessary Windows security updates and Autorun settings requiring reconfiguration are all mentioned in there. But how does it get to those suggestions? What it scans and what it does, specifically?
- Essential security features: it triggers alerts when it spots missing security updates;
- Network activities: it warns you when trying to connect to insecure Wi-Fi networks;
- Installed apps & drivers: it notifies you when one of them lacks the digital signature;
- Apps during installation: it blocks the process when detecting malware-containing apps.
A Short Intro To The Much-Coveted, NEW BullGuard Game Booster
So, the Game Booster may be the last feature from the list of the basic antivirus package. But it is certainly not the least and, judging by its role, it is a one of a kind tool. As the only feature truly new in the 2019 BullGuard offer, the technology behind it is still waiting to get its patent.
In a few words, the Game Booster monitors the device’s activity. Whenever it spots a game running, it tries to improve the system performance. And it does so by allocating more resources to that particular game. Needless to say, this is quite unusual for an antivirus.
Anyway, for avid gamers, the Game Booster does more than just redistributing system resources for optimal performances:
- Blocks pop-ups or other kinds of interruptions that may occur during play time;
- Provides a smoother gaming performance, without lags;
- Works with both user and system processes.
Why a game-focused feature within an antivirus package, you wonder? Perhaps they wanted to bust the myth that an antivirus will slow down the device and decided to do the opposite. All in all, the game booster allows users to enjoy security without worrying at all about performances.
The Internet Security Package
Following the entire above, the question you probably have in mind is perfectly entitled. To pay or not to pay for even more features? The answer is obvious, though not necessarily specific: it depends on your needs.
As seen in the beginning of this review, BullGuard considers its second package, Internet Security, to provide the best value for the money. In addition to the eight basic functions, it raises the stakes in four other directions…
Before hoping for a proprietary firewall, hold your horses. The BullGuard firewall protection is actually a shortcut to the operating system’s built-in firewall. So, if you check this option from the antivirus dashboard, you will see the standard list of installed software, with basic Allow/Block options. One button will take you to the Advanced Security panel of the Windows Firewall. And, if necessary, you can limit connection ports or look into other available (and limited) options from there.
Cloud integrated backup
In terms of cloud backup integration, the options are, again, pretty straightforward. This utility supports some of the most popular cloud storage providers. Think of Google Drive, OneDrive, and, of course, Dropbox. Additionally, it supports external storage devices (USBs or hard drives), network storage devices, or extra internal hard drives.
The backup can be initiated automatically, following a previously set schedule, or on demand, with manual initiation. And users can create multiple profiles, specifying, for each one, which files they want to be copied to the cloud.
All parents need some sort of parental control tool on the devices used by their children. But the type of parental control provided by BullGuard is not necessarily the most advanced. It works hand in hand with web filtering and it comes with common sense feature:
- First, it automatically imports all the user accounts that it can find associated with the operating system.
- Then, the user can go through the filtering terms, making manual adjustments, or use some available templates.
- Those templates take the user’s age into account and provide a standard option of setting up whitelists and blacklist.
- The scheduled access control program is yet another standard option, along with the option to set up maximum usage periods.
- It also flags chat programs, by default, with the purpose of blocking them.
- And the administrator can manually add programs to the list of programs that must be blocked.
PC Tune Up
The PC Tune Up is supposed to help the device run smoother. It does so by cleaning and optimizing the performances of the operating system. Among standard processes, it will:
- Defragment Windows registry;
- Clear browser caches;
- Remove temporary files;
- Make the PC start up as fast as possible.
All these actions, however, result after a scan. Once the scan initiated, it returns a report with files to inspect. You can choose to let it free up all the space that it suggests or manually interfere and remove certain files from being deleted. Moreover, you can save a cleanup process for future reference. That way, if it will bump into similar files in the future, it will know what to do with it without waiting for your approval.
The Premium Protection Package
Looking for protection on more than one device? Or you simply want more protection features? Considering the BullGuard 2019 Premium package is the next step. What you’ll get, on top of everything discussed in this review, are the Home Network Scanner and the Identity Protection.
The price tag difference between the Internet Security and the Premium Protection packages may or may not be justified. At least if you look at the following two extra features that BullGuard tucks inside the Premium offer. But one undeniable benefit is that this offer includes licenses for more than one device. Now, back to the specific tools…
Home Network Scanner
The name is more than obvious, which means that this module will permanently scan the devices connected to the local network. As soon as a new device joins the network, it pushes a popup notification. In terms of customization, it allows users to set custom names for each device, to see MAC and IP addresses for each device, and to associate each device with a specific category.
It has the benefit that it also accesses whatever devices are connected to the network, not just PCs, tablets or smartphones. By whatever, we mean thermostats or baby monitors and anything else. Plus, any time a new device connects to your network, it automatically detects it and runs a scan.
This one doesn’t scan the device, it scans the internet, searching for your personal details. Do you have usernames, phone numbers, email addresses, credit card details or passwords associated with your BullGuard account? If it finds any of it posted online, it will send you an alert and advice you on how to proceed. You can tweak the identity protection settings from your online BullGuard account, by clicking on this feature within the antivirus dashboard.
Accessibility & Performances – Is BullGuard Right For You?
If we were to choose just one word that would describe the BullGuard interface, it would be – cluttered. As opposed to Avast, Avira or, for instance, Bitdefender, an antivirus that we have recently received… This one feels like it puts too much onto the dashboard.
The classic design with a side-column menu and a large chunk of the window dedicated to current status and quick options? Nowhere to be found…
- Instead, there are no less than 7 different panels, for: Antivirus, Vulnerability Scanning, Game Booster, Firewall, Backup, PC Tune-up and Parental Control. Of course, only the ones that are available within your activated antivirus version can be edited. The others are grayed out.
- Clicking on the active panels, drop-down lists with available options will expand. But the panels take up so much space that it is still required to carefully go through each menu to discover your options.
Long story short, this is not the most user-friendly interface one can get. At the same time, it doesn’t take rocket science to get the grasp of it, either. Just have a little patience to go through the menus.
Now, as far as performances are concerned…The Game Booster tool was proved, in practice, to significantly improve the system performances. And the option to customize Antivirus Scans for certain areas of interest? It clearly improves the effectiveness of the scanning while reducing the duration.
Effectiveness, however, as shown by different, independent laboratory websites, is somewhere a little above average. The lack of a dedicated anti-ransomware module is also considered a shortage of the 2019 BullGuard Edition.
Sure, the basic antivirus package claims to offer this kind of support. Yet users cannot particularly indicate what folders must be protected against ransomware attacks. Which means that, even though some kind of ransomware protection is available, it still revolves around the average…
On the plus side, we’ve seen that the antivirus is available for a moderate price tag. The Game Booster is not only a unique feature among other antiviruses, but also proved to be very effective. The wide range of scanning options is a welcomed feature. And so is the opportunity of scanning the entire home network, with every single device connected to it.
The drawbacks would sum up to the above-mentioned cluttered interface. And to the fact that a single license covers a single PC. Adding the somewhat contradictory recent lab tests, the conclusions of our BullGuard antivirus review will revolve around the label of “average”.
To be fully honest, BullGuard is somewhere above the average. While it isn’t a bad antivirus in itself, it has the disadvantage that many of its competitors are offering more features. Even for the features that are common, other antiviruses might provide higher results.
So, BullGuard may not be the sharpest tool in the box. Still, it’s a tool that is well worth being kept in the box and taken into account.