Microsoft's OneCare (2006-2009, may it rest in peace) was among the first to enhance protection with backup and system tune-up components. Now, many security companies distinguish a feature-rich mega-suite from their entry-level suite by adding those two components. BullGuard marches to a different drummer, putting backup and tune-up in the entry-level suite, BullGuard Internet Security. BullGuard Premium Protection adds social media tracking and identity protection. At present, however, it actually costs less than the entry-level suite. On the negative side, the social media tracking feature wasn't working when I tested it. I found myself seriously confused by BullGuard's pricing.
BullGuard Premium Protection costs $99.95 per year for 10 licenses, the same as (though Norton gives you 25GB of storage for your online backup along with those 10 licenses). For $139.95 per year, you get 15 licenses.
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But the list price for a 10-license subscription to BullGuard's entry-level suite is $140.95. In addition, you can make a separate purchase of BullGuard Identity Protection, which includes both identity protection and social media tracking, for $39.95 per year. $140.95 + $39.95 = $99.95? How does that math work out? My BullGuard contact explained that this pricing is temporary, but didn't spell out what the price might be going forward. Logically, BullGuard Premium Protection will wind up costing more than the entry-level suite, whose 10-license price is significantly more than that of other, better suites. As with Norton,, and others, you can use your licenses on Windows, macOS, or Android devices.
Do protect all of your Windows devices first, as the licenses aren't worth nearly as much on the other platforms. For Android, BullGuard offers antivirus, parental control, and backup.
On a macOS box, it's strictly antivirus. This software's main window features nine square panels representing nine major feature areas, with all panels enabled. It's almost identical to the entry-level suite's main window, which has the same panels, though in a different order. In the entry-level suite, the panels representing social media tracking and identity protection don't do anything, except exhort you to upgrade. Blocking Malware and Other Shared Features Every feature of is naturally present in this suite as well. Please read my review of the antivirus for a full rundown of my findings. I'll summarize briefly here.
Lab Test Results Chart Malware Blocking Results Chart Antiphishing Results Chart Performance Results Chart Three of the five independent antivirus labs that I follow include BullGuard in their roster of tested products. Its scores ranged from excellent to just passing, with most of them in the middle, for an aggregate lab score of 8.4 points. Norton, also tested by three labs, managed a perfect 10 points. All five labs included in their latest tests, and its aggregate lab score is a respectable 9.8 points. In my own hands-on malware blocking test, BullGuard's score of 9.0 points squarely hit the middle, with as many higher scores as lower ones.
Tested with the same malware collection,, PC Matic, and Comodo earned a perfect 10 points. The best way to fend off malware attacks is to ensure that the malicious program never reaches your system. My malicious URL blocking test uses very new malware-hosting URLs to evaluate how well antivirus products handle this task. Of 100 active malicious URLs, BullGuard blocked 88 percent, mostly by keeping the browser from ever reaching the dangerous site. That's decent, but Norton scored 98 percent in this test, and Avira managed 95 percent.
Phishing websites don't contain any malware. They're just clever frauds that imitate sensitive websites, hoping to trick you into giving away your login credentials. In my antiphishing test, BullGuard's detection rate came in 35 percentage points lower than Norton's. It also did worse than the protection built into Firefox and Chrome. That's not good. The Safe Browsing component that handles blocking malicious and fraudulent URLs also marks safe and unsafe links in Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Facebook.
In a somewhat unusual move, BullGuard includes spam filtering in the basic antivirus. For supported email clients (Microsoft Outlook, Windows Live Mail, and Mozilla Thunderbird, and IncrediMail) it can filter any type of email account, be it POP3, IMAP, or even Exchange. But it does nothing for unsupported clients. Shared Suite Features In testing, I found that had a very low impact on system performance. The added features in BullGuard Premium Protection don't run locally, so they wouldn't add any performance drag. Of recent products, only adaware and Webroot have exhibited a smaller impact on performance. BullGuard's simple firewall fended off port scan attacks, and explicitly notified me of one attack.
Ecler Sclat 8 Manual. It configures network permissions for known programs, but relies on the user to deny or allow access for unknowns. While it doesn't attempt to block exploit attacks at the network level, the antivirus component eliminated the payload for one third of the exploits I used in testing. I couldn't find any way a malware coder could disable it programmatically. Advanced users can access extremely fine-grained settings; fortunately, these are hidden from the average user.
BullGuard's can store your backups on any local, removable, or network drive. You can also use your own online storage (DropBox, Google Drive, or OneDrive) to hold backups.
Last time I reviewed BullGuard Premium, it offered 5GB of hosted online storage, called BullGuard Online Drive, but that feature reached end-of-life last November. This disappearance means you can no longer securely share files from your backup. Norton and Webroot also dropped secure sharing in recent years; is one of the few products that still offers this feature. Parental control in BullGuard goes beyond the bare minimum. In addition to filtering out inappropriate web content and controlling your child's online time, it blocks access to chat programs, optionally blocks whatever programs you choose, and prevents transmission of parent-defined private information. However, I found that I could get around internet time limits by tweaking the system date and time.
And it presents some of its limitations to the child in an awkward and confusing way., Bitdefender, and a few others enhance your security by scanning for programs that are vulnerable because they don't have the latest security patches. BullGuard's vulnerability scan works differently. It scans instead for problems with system configuration that leave you open to attack.
Many suites offer a simple level of PC optimization, deleting junk files and useless Registry entries, as well as wiping out traces of browsing and computer usage. BullGuard goes way beyond this basic tune-up.
It can locate and delete duplicate files, remove unnecessary System Restore Points, identify the files and folders that occupy the most space on your drives, and even analyze impact of startup programs on boot time. Social Media Tracking Traditional parental control systems, including BullGuard's own, filter out objectionable content and control when and how much the kids can go online. Other common features include chat monitoring, program control, and game control based on ratings.
Those all have their uses, but for some parents, social media can be the real worry. Some products expressly handle tracking social media. For example, keeps track of children's activity on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and even LinkedIn.
BullGuard's Social Media Protection lets parents monitor Facebook activity for up to three children. The aim of this feature is to alert parents when anyone makes a post on your child's Facebook wall that contains bad language or a malicious link.
It also sends an alert when someone tags your child in a photo whose description is iffy. At least, that's how it's supposed to work. When I logged in to the, I did see leftover alerts from when I reviewed this product's earlier edition.
But nothing newer showed up. I tried reinstalling the plug-in, and got a dismal message. 'As a result of recent Facebook changes, the Social Media Protection app features will not be availableWe will notify you once the Social Media Protection app is back to normal service.' I checked in with my contact at BullGuard, asking how long this had been the case, and when the feature would be restored. He explained that Facebook has been tweaking the API used by this feature since 2015, causing trouble off and on since then. A major BullGuard update that's planned for 'the upcoming months' should fix the problem.
Identity Protection If black marketers sold your information on the you'd certainly want to know about it. Identity protection is a useful adjunct to computer-side security. But most companies offer this service by teaming up with specialists. For example, ZoneAlarm works with Identity Guard to offer protection across its product line, from the free firewall to.
BullGuard is no exception. The identity protection you get with BullGuard is a branded version of DataPatrol, from Garlik, a UK subsidiary of Experian.
I found this alarming clause: 'DataPatrol and DataAlert are provided only for residents of the Republic of Ireland who are 18 years of age or older.' I'm of age, but I'm definitely not Irish. My BullGuard contact confirmed that this information is incorrect, and submitted a ticket to have it corrected. In fact, the identity protection feature is available in these countries: Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, UK, and US.
I was glad to hear that this was the case, but this lack of attention to detail doesn't inspire confidence. Having passed that hurdle, I clicked the box to accept the termsand got the response 'An error has occurred,' nothing more. My contact confirmed that this sometimes happens, and quickly fixed it on the server side. Once I created a password for my identity protection account, I was in. The Summary tab listed a collection of personal, financial, and contact details, each with a circled-i information icon.
Clicking the icon displayed an explanation of why tracking that particular data item is useful. Three other tabs let you fill those fields with data. On a tab labeled Protect Personal Details, I learned how to fill in personal data such as name, SSN, passport number, and security answers. The process was cumbersome. To add an item, I had to scroll down in a window within the browser window and locate the Add more details button at the bottom. This opened a window that let me choose from a drop-down list of available personal data items.
Choosing from that list brought up data fields appropriate to the type of data. When I clicked Add, the system took a surprising amount of time before returning to the main Personal Details tab. AndI was ready to go through the process again for another data field.
This user interface does make it possible to add multiple instances of each field type. However, I've seen that task accomplished in a much more seamless fashion.
On the Protect Financial Details tab, I added a bank account number and a couple of credit cards. The identity protection system only wants the first six and last four digits of each card number. That's smart—keeps it from becoming a possible security leak itself. And on the Protect Personal Details, I added a few instances of Address, Email, and Phone number.
With all data entry accomplished, I returned to the Summary tab, and found a big green image indicating that none of my data items seemed to be compromised, with a green icon next to each individual item. But how could I actually test the service without compromising my own information? I went back into the system and added the well-known test Visa number, 4242-4242-4242-4242. That did the job! BullGuard reported a possible online threat, and asked for the remaining digits of the card number. When I filled them in, it explained that 'Unfortunately, we can confirm that the card number supplied matches one being illegally traded online,' and offered steps to remediate the problem.
It also sent an email notification. I can see this service as being valuable; the sooner you know your information has been compromised, the sooner you can take steps to limit the damage. Plusses and Minuses. BullGuard's entry-level suite has a collection of features that rival some mega-suites. In particular, it offers straightforward backup and a comprehensive set of tune-up tools. However, the effectiveness of its components varies quite a lot.
On top of that, BullGuard Premium Protection adds two very specific services. It tracks social media activity for up to three Facebook accounts, and it watches for signs that your identity has been compromised. The identity protection service seems worthwhile, if awkward at times.
As of this writing, though, social media tracking isn't working at all. On the other hand, as of this writing, this top-tier suite costs less than BullGuard Internet Security.
Even with one feature dead in the water and a lack of polish elsewhere, I can't give it a lower star rating than that entry-level suite. But really, if you want a feature-packed security mega-suite, you should look elsewhere. Our Editors' Choice products in that realm are Bitdefender Total Security and Kaspersky Total Security. If what you're really after is powerful protection for your Windows boxes plus protection for devices on other platforms, consider Symantec Norton Security Premium or McAfee LiveSafe. Norton protects up to 10 devices, offers an excellent Windows suite, and gives you 25GB of storage for your backups. McAfee doesn't score quite as high in testing, but a McAfee subscription protects unlimited devices.
Those two are our Editors' Choice products for cross-platform multidevice suite. Sub-Ratings: Note: These sub-ratings contribute to a product's overall star rating, as do other factors, including ease of use in real-world testing, bonus features, and overall integration of features. Firewall: Antivirus: Performance: Privacy: Parental Control. Neil Rubenking served as vice president and president of the San Francisco PC User Group for three years when the IBM PC was brand new.
He was present at the formation of the Association of Shareware Professionals, and served on its board of directors. In 1986, PC Magazine brought Neil on board to handle the torrent of Turbo Pascal tips submitted by readers. By 1990, he had become PC Magazine's technical editor, and a coast-to-coast telecommuter. His 'User to User' column supplied readers with tips and solutions on using DOS and Windows, his technical columns clarified fine points in programming and operating systems, and his utility articles (over forty of.
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