BullGuard Internet Security: Low cost protection that’s worth every penny
BullGuard Internet Security is a low-cost suite that we’ve often seen preinstalled on custom-built PCs. Indeed, it might already be lurking on your hard disk, in which case you’re probably wondering whether it’s any good. Spoiler alert: while not the best suite we’ve seen, we’re happy to say it isn’t bad at all.
Let’s look at antivirus performance first, because if a suite lets you down here then its other qualities are irrelevant. In AV-Test’s zero-day tests, BullGuard couldn’t quite match the 100% scores achieved by Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Norton and Trend Micro – but with a 97.6% protection rate, it wasn’t a million miles behind. In the general malware test BullGuard achieved a clean sheet, correctly blocking every single threat. In all, it’s a package we’d be happy to entrust with our safety.
Similarly, BullGuard Internet Security doesn’t take the crown for its effects on system performance, but its 15% impact on website loading times was actually the lowest of any package this month, and a 12% slowdown when launching applications is quick enough to pass unnoticed.
What about BullGuard’s other capabilities? The suite’s most distinctive feature is an integrated cloud backup service. This includes both a simple backup module and a “Cloud Drive” in Windows Explorer, which lets you access your files as if they were on a regular network drive. The 5GB of included storage isn’t exactly generous, however, and if you need more space then the price ramps up quickly: the maximum 100GB will set you back an extra £90 per year. If you don’t already have a backup plan in place then the included 5GB gives you somewhere to keep critical files, but a cloud-sync service such as Dropbox or OneDrive will get you more bytes for your buck.
The rest of the settings, as exposed in the slightly retro-looking interface, are pretty much as you’d expect. The Antivirus module lets you launch a variety of scans, and configure settings such as which file types to skip, as well as how many process threads to use while a scan is in progress – an interesting touch for those who like to ensure their security software isn’t soaking up resources. You can also tweak the overall “Security level” up or down – but in truth, we weren’t sure why we’d be expected to do this. The concern that we might get it wrong left us feeling less secure, not more.
Next in line is BullGuard’s own firewall, which includes features to recognise when an attack is underway, and to detect when a program that would ordinarily be allowed to access the network has been modified. For those who don’t like to be troubled, there’s an option – enabled by default – to “show only very important notifications”.
The Vulnerabilities scanner is a simple module that checks OS settings, verifies that your drivers have been signed, confirms that your wireless network is secure, and so forth. It warned us that a few pending Windows updates hadn’t yet been installed, but didn’t press us to do anything about it. The PC TuneUp tool, meanwhile, includes tools to track down wasted space, duplicate files and invalid shortcuts. It also offers to defragment your Registry – an option that made us slightly suspicious, as we’ve seen no evidence to suggest this does any good.
A final point of interest is BullGuard’s parental controls, which provide more finely-grained control over website blocking than Windows’ own family filters. The scheduling tool is slightly smarter, too: you can disallow use of the PC entirely, or merely close off internet access at certain times – although, weirdly, you can’t use both types of schedule in combination. You can also specify bits of personal information that will be blocked if your child tries to share them online, and view reports on kids’ activity from within the main program.
BullGuard Internet Security review: Verdict
While this is all decent stuff, it doesn’t quite propel BullGuard to the top of the list. The Backup module could have been an interesting addition, but it isn’t cheap enough to excite us. All the same, BullGuard Internet Security offers decent protection and a modest impact on performance at a very low price. Our biggest caveat is this: if you do decide to go with BullGuard, don’t buy your licence via the BullGuard website – doing it that way will cost you £50. Hop onto a third-party retailer instead and a brand-new three-PC pack can be had for as little as £15.