Bitdefender Dumps Its Free Antivirus

Bitdefender will no longer be distributing or supporting the free version of its antivirus software for Windows as of 31st December 2021. Existing Bitdefender Free users will continue to be supported until the middle of next year (30th June 2022), giving those current users plenty of time to consider an alternative. The company will also be offering existing Bitdefender Free users a special discounted price on its premium Bitdefender Total Security via private email.

We are focusing product development around multi-platform protection and as a result, we are retiring Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition for Windows. Current users will be supported through June 30, 2022. Bitdefender values its customers and user base, all our Bitdefender Antivirus Free users will receive privately (via email) a special discounted offer for Bitdefender Total Security ~ source

Microsoft Defender vs Bitdefender Free

At first, I thought this decision might have been motivated by the increasing popularity of Microsoft Defender. The free antivirus that’s built into Windows has improved greatly in recent years and is now at least equal to any third-party alternatives and, according to lab test results, on a par with most premium antivirus offerings. However, there are two factors that raise doubts over whether that might be the case or not:

  1. I can’t see that it would cost much more, if anything, for an antivirus vendor to support a free version when it is already maintaining premium solutions. Assuming the free and premium versions both share the same definition database.
  2. Most antivirus vendors utilize the free version to encourage users to upgrade and, let’s face it, that system represents a comparatively inexpensive form of advertising.

So, at this stage anyway, I cannot see other antivirus vendors following suit. Of course, I could be proven wrong, I often am… just ask my wife. 🙂

For Bitdefender Free users who do not want to go the Microsoft Defender route, here are a couple of free third-party alternatives that are lightweight, simple, and effective:

Both are cloud-based which means the definition database is maintained in the cloud rather than locally on the PC. This system has the advantage of always being up-to-date. Users can leave the PC turned off for several or more days and, when it’s turned back on again, the antivirus is completely up-to-date with no new definition updates required to download.

What do you think — is Microsoft Defender’s popularity forcing other developers out of the free antivirus marketplace?


5 thoughts on “Bitdefender Dumps Its Free Antivirus”

  1. Jim. I am not a fan of Microsoft Defender and do not believe other companies will follow. The ability of providing a free version is the best way of recruiting people to their full version. It is much better than the try but pay in advance for 30 days and get a refund policy if not satisfied. Very often, when paying with a credit card, there are losses due to changes in exchange rates, Mindblower!

  2. Peter Thompson

    I use Eset and they have never offered a free version, just trial versions. I’m sure I also read that some free AVs have been known to steal private information. It’s that old saying, there’s no such thing as a free pack lunch.

    I’ve heard Kaspersky has quite a few protection options, but like others, I’ve avoided it due to the bad press it had had I.e. Russian government involvement. Whether this is just the US and other governments overreacting, it isn’t good press.

    As for BitDefender, I used to use it years ago and was also a regular Beta tester. However during one Beta I reported an issue that seemed to block my Internet, that was ignored and then the issue appeared for lots of users in the final stable public release. Bitdefenders response for what seemed like months, was to just keep asking for logs. Wasn’t keen that they released something that unstable and I’d often witnessed crashes so I moved to Eset and I’ve never looked back

  3. Microsoft Defender is definitely killing off the free AV offerings. It’s really all the home user needs on Windows 10 or 11. Bitdefender is the latest casualty. I have used it in the past and it was very basic with no configurable options. It did do the job though.

    Now that Avast, Avira, and AVG have all been acquired by Norton, it will be interesting to see if those free offerings continue or disappear. I guess it’s also possible that Norton will come up with a new free product that uses the best from the other 3.

  4. Hard to know what the real motivation was behind Bitdefender’s decision. I wasn’t a fan of their free offering as it didn’t work for me the couple times I tried it. That said, as decent security solutions disappear, particularly the free offerings, that can’t be good for competition in the long term.

    1. Peter Thompson

      I think the scary thing is a lot of AV’s seem to be getting bought out. I worry it will be like VPN’s soon – you’ll have an issue and leave your current AV for a competitor without even realising both are owned by the same company

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