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.
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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.
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Bitdefender VPN Features — Updated in February 2023
Money Back Guarantee
Does VPN keep logs?
Number of servers
Number of devices per license
Based in country
Can It Unblock Netflix? Yes
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).
Bitdefender was able to unblock BBC iPlayer, Netflix US, and Hulu.
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.
A chart comparing the variation in download, upload, and ping speeds for each of the Bitdefender servers I tested.
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.
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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.
Just to show how unusual it is for a VPN app to request access to this information, I checked the app permissions for ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, IPVanish, and Hotspot Shield. Not one of these providers requested the ability to read phone status and identity, even if a free version of the service was used.
I also performed a DNS/IP leak test. I connected to a nearby server in Chicago and performed the test, I was happy to see that Bitdefender VPN didn't leak my DNS requests or true IP address.
Bitdefender VPN didn't leak my true IP address or DNS requests.
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.
Installation & Apps
Setup for Android was simple, just download the app and connect. You can choose between the free VPN at that point or sign up for a 7-day free trial of Bitdefender VPN premium. Bitdefender VPN's main user interface is easy to use, it offers the option of Automatic connection or the ability to choose a server location.
Once you connect to a server the Virtual Location information will change. I found that connecting to the server was fast and easy, just a couple of clicks and I was connected to a US server. You may also notice that Bitdefender VPN has a convenient free-trial countdown indicator in the upper left-hand corner of the user interface. That way there's no guessing how many days you have left on your trial!
Bitdefender's main interface and settings.
From the settings interface, you can choose to turn on the kill switch and auto-connect options. The app also allows you to choose light or dark mode, which is a nice added feature.
For Android and iOS, free users are allowed one device connection. Users on any of the premium plans can have up to 10 simultaneous connections. The one exception is Bitdefender's Family Pack plan, which offers 15 simultaneous connections.
Bitdefender VPN offers its free VPN built-in to its security software for Mac and Windows users. Users can upgrade to premium for unlimited use, and to bypass the 200MB per day data cap of the free plan.
The VPN used to be available exclusively through Bitdefender's security software like its line of suites, but that isn't the case anymore. Android and iOS users can download the VPN from their designated app store, and get all of the same benefits that Mac and Windows users enjoy.
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Reliability & Support
Don't expect any help for the free version, it only offers chat and email support for paid subscriptions. I just took advantage of its 7-day free trial to get around that.
The second issue I had was actually getting ahold of customer support. The Bitdefender site offers scant information on how to contact them about VPN issues, most of the FAQs and information are for their security suites.
I was finally able to get a hold of a representative via email and ask them why I couldn't connect to Netflix UK, as their site claims. I got an answer after about 24 hours, but by then I had already figured it out (my firewall interfering with the VPN, oops).
It took less than 48-hours for customer support to respond to my inquiry.
The representative was personable and explained as nicely as they could, that there are no guarantees with streaming services and VPNs. Again, I was able to access Netflix UK, but it might be worth noting that firewalls may interfere with this VPN. This is the first time I've had that issue while testing a VPN, so I was a bit surprised even though I knew it was possible for other security software to interfere with VPNs.
Another tiny hiccup is you'll need to search for information on the VPN using the search bar on the Support page, since no information about the VPN shows up automatically.