Bitdefender is known as a leader worldwide for its powerful security software but it doesn’t specialize in VPNs. Honestly, there may be a good reason for that. While it offers powerful cybersecurity software suites like AntiVirus Plus, Total Security, and Internet Security, it was really light on security features for its VPN.
On the other hand, setup was simple for each device I tested it on (Android, iOS, Windows), and the mobile apps even came with a kill switch. One excellent feature of Bitdefender VPN, is that it offers lightning-fast servers powered by Hotspot Shield. I was able to stream buffer-free in HD and even 4K for multiple streaming services.
There were a few things I didn’t like though, like Bitdefender’s logs policy and how difficult it was to contact customer support.
Short on Time? Here Are My Key Findings:
- Unblocks several streaming services: Bitdefender was able to unblock several of the streaming services I tested it with, including Hulu, Netflix US and UK, and BBC iPlayer. Find the full results here.
- Server speeds: High-speed servers for P2P/torrenting activities, in most places. I did have a bit of an issue with lag on the Australian and Hong Kong servers due to high ping. See my full tests here.
- Security: While it does offer a kill switch for mobile apps, the rest of the security is fairly basic. It offers wi-fi protection and Auto-On, as well as industry-standard encryption. See more about these features here.
- Privacy: The HotSpot Shield servers are no-logs as per its policy, but Bitdefender’s VPN app does collect some user information. Check here for more on privacy.
- User-friendly apps: The app was quick to download and install, and just as easy to set up and navigate. I had a bit of an issue finding customer support though. Get more information on that here.
- Money-back guarantee: It offers a 7-day free trial, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Bitdefender VPN Features: Updated in January 2021
|Number of countries with servers||30|
|Number of servers||1300|
|Does VPN keep logs?||No|
|Does VPN include a kill switch?||Yes|
|Number of devices per license||10|
Yes, Bitdefender VPN can unblock Netflix libraries worldwide. Not only was I able to unblock Netflix US, UK, and France. I was also able to access BBC iPlayer and Hulu. Better yet, the lightning-fast servers made it possible for me to stream the services buffer-free in HD (and even 4K).
I was expecting lightning-fast speeds on Bitdefender’s servers since it utilizes Hotspot Shield’s server network and I wasn’t disappointed. Just to give you an idea of why download, upload, and ping are important, here’s a little guide to understanding them:
- Download: The time it takes to download files, photos, video, etc. It has a huge impact on your streaming capability, anything over 5Mbps is good for viewing HD, 25 Mbps or over is better for Ultra HD/4K.
- Upload: The time it takes to send files. This can have a big impact if you like to upload torrents or love putting up your latest selfie or culinary creation on Instagram.
- Ping: This is the signal that travels from your computer to the site. Latency is how quickly the data travels back. A slow ping is a nightmare for gamers, it can cause lag and (if the ping is too long) frequent disconnects.
My speeds were blazing to begin with, but didn’t take too much of a hit once I connected to the VPN. As you can see my base speeds are excellent for streaming, gaming, browsing, torrenting, and anything else I’d like to do on the web. I started out with a download of 125Mbps, a fast ping of 5, and an upload speed of 95.7Mbps.
I connected to a US server first and only had a 34% drop in download speed, and my upload speed barely suffered at all. I expected ping to increase significantly the further I got from my true location, so the steady increase with each new connection wasn’t unusual.
Surprisingly, the Moscow server gave me faster speeds than the L.A. server. The download speed only dropped 30% from my base speed, and once again upload speeds barely dropped at all.
Australia is known for having slower internet speeds, so I was truly interested to find out if I would notice a significant drop. Nope! Again, my speeds were better than the last Bitdefender server I tested. The drop from my base download speed of 125 Mbps was only around 24%, and upload speeds held fairly steady at 76.4 Mbps.
Even the Hong Kong server I connected to offered incredibly-fast download speeds, and upload speeds were consistent with the other available Bitdefender VPN servers I tested.
Is It Fast Enough for Gaming? Yes
The speeds are definitely fast for gaming, however, I did experience a significant amount of lag while playing Fortnite on a couple of the servers. Notably the ping back was high enough on the Australian and Hong Kong servers to cause significant lag.
Since Hotspot Shield provides the servers for Bitdefender VPN, user data is protected with military-grade AES 256-bit encryption. Military-grade 256-bit AES encryption is virtually impossible to decrypt, even super computers haven’t been able to do so. While this is a standard feature with premium VPNs, that’s not always the case with up-and-coming VPNs.
For its part, Bitdefender’s app provides a kill switch for iOS and Android. A kill switch disconnects any apps run through the VPN from the internet, should the VPN fail. That means you won’t need to worry about any potential tracing by your ISP, hackers, or government, due to a server disconnect.
It offers public wi-fi protection, so you can comfortably use your devices on unsecured and undersecured networks like your favorite café or bookstore. You can also use Bitdefender’s auto-on feature to connect to the VPN the moment you start your device, so you never go unprotected.
While these are great basic features, I expected a little more from a company that’s know worldwide for it’s strong security software. I don’t know, maybe the addition of double VPN for twice the encryption or an adblocker for bypassing those pesky ads at the very least.
While connected to the server no logs are kept by Hotspot Shield, but Bitdefender does keep some user logs. Keeping some logs isn’t unusual, most VPNs keep non-personally identifiable data to fix glitches in the system or develop upgrades that benefit users.
Bitdefender itself used to ask for some potentially harmful app permissions. Since the review was published Bitdefender updated its Android app, and removed the read phone status and identity permissions request. I was able to confirm the change has been made and have adjusted the review. However, it’s still important to know why this is an unusual request, and why it’s important they took the complaint seriously.
Apps can use this permission to get your IMEI and a ton of personally identifiable information along with it, including but not limited to: name, phone number, and address. Please note obtaining this information isn’t easy and I don’t want to make it seem easy in any way, but it can be done and we you to be informed of any unusual practices VPNs could be using that put your data at risk.
Torrenting – Allowed On All Servers
With high-speed servers provided by Hotspot Shield, you’re free to torrent on any available server. The kill switch feature is a nice addition to the Bitdefender mobile app and helps protect your true location if the VPN fails.