BullGuard Premium Protection full review

BullGuard Premium Protection is designed to beef up protection for home networks. The heuristic detection of unknown malware, active identity protection, and a home network scanner are all good, but there are niggles and some notable omissions.  

Although a separate app, Bullguard also offers a VPN service now meaning you can get even more protection. Find out more in our Bullguard VPN review.

How much does BullGuard Premium Protection cost?

BullGuard Premium Protection 2019 ordinarily costs £69.95/$99.95 per year for a whopping 10 devices including Mac, PC and Android, which should be plenty for even the largest family. But at time of writing, there's a big discount, bringing the price right down to £20.98/$29.98. You can save more by committing to two or three years at checkout, too.

The next tier down is BullGuard Internet Security for £24.97/$29.97 (three devices, one year). This omits the Home Network Scanner and Identity Protection modules, but provides everything else. At the current price, it's actually cheaper to go for the Premium option.

At the bottom of the pile, there's also BullGuard Antivirus for £19.96/$23.96 (one device, one year), which further omits PC Tuneup and backup modules.

The Premium version sits well with other AV solutions for the price and features it provides. The nearest rival is probably AVG Ultimate, which also contains a trial version of a VPN, and comes with unlimited installs.

For antivirus buying advice, visit our round-up of the best antivirus.

Features and interface

Like last year's offering, the BullGuard Premium Protection user interface has a slightly technical feel. Pull down lists for each category select the required functionality. For example, under Antivirus, you can select three types of scan, examine what's in quarantine, and access settings.

Along with the antivirus module, which features advanced heuristic detection of unknown malware (including ransomware), there's a useful vulnerability scanner. This alerts you to missing security updates, insecure connections, and incorrect digital signatures contained within downloaded packages. Signatures prove that a piece of software is what it says it is, so checking them is vital.

Noticeable by its omission is the lack of a dedicated anti-ransomware module. As mentioned above, such protection is integrated into the antivirus module, but the ability to nominate folders that should explicitly be protected from changes would be good to see.

Clicking identity protection takes you to your online BullGuard account. Here, you can enter details such as your name, email address, bank and credit card account details, and so on. BullGuard will then search the web for those details so that you know if your data has been leaked. You'll receive advice about what to do next if there's a problem, which is a genuinely useful function.

The Parental Control module allows you to watch your children's use of mobile devices. You can see all the phone calls, messages, and pictures sent and received on a protected device, as well as track its location. At a time when kids have more digital freedom than ever, this should set parental minds at rest.

For gamers, there's nothing worse than popups at the critical moment. The Game Booster blocks these and optimises CPU performance. Running on a new gaming laptop, you may notice no difference when playing demanding games on a PC equipped with a beefy GPU, but older machines may receive a noticeable performance boost.

There's also a very useful PC tune up facility that will defragment your registry, clear browser caches, clean up temporary files, and keep your PC starting up and running as fast as possible. Unlike some other products, this doesn't also delete your browser cookies and log you out of all your accounts.

Bullguard Premium Protection review

From an end user perspective, the real star of the show is the Home Network Scanner. This examines your connected devices (including connected thermostats, baby monitors, and other IoT devices) for vulnerabilities.

The last time we reviewed BullGuard we reported that we received alarming popups from the BullGuard firewall about an attempted intrusion from a local IP address. The offending IP address turned out to be the computer on which we'd installed BullGuard. We discovered we could force an intrusion alert at will simply by running a full network scan. We are happy to report that this issue seems to have been fixed. 

Safe links in search results are indicated with a green tick logo appearing next to them. A niggle here, like last time, is that if your mouse pointer brushes the logo as you try to click a result, a BullGuard popup appears and obscures the search result just as you try to click it, so you actually click the BullGuard popup, which sends you to the BullGuard web site. Maybe it's just us, but we kept doing that.

The BullGuard website says the product has received a 100% effective rating from AV Comparatives and AV Test, but says nothing about the other big AV testing authority, SE Labs. In fact, BullGuard does not appear in the latest report from SE Labs.

Overall, compared to its contemporaries, BullGuard Premium Protection 2019 feels slightly sparse in its capabilities. Ransomware detection may be covered by its heuristic scanner, but something explicit, like the data vault of Kaspersky Total Security or the Folder Shield of Trend Micro, would give it a definite advantage, given the the generous number of permitted installs.

When we originally looked at this package, Bullguard didn't offer any kind of VPN service. But it has addressed that now in the form of a separate app. If that sounds inconvenient, it's not really. VPNs can be set up to connect automatically, so like antivirus they can run in the background without you having to do anything. Read our review of the new VPN service to find out more.

BullGuard mobile app

The BullGuard app runs on Android and iOS. The Android version is a non-nonsense offering, and is as simple to set up as installing it and logging into your account. All the usual facilities are here: antivirus, parental control, antitheft and cloud backup.

The antitheft module allows you to locate the device, perform a remote backup of all data, wipe it and even make it "scream" that it's stolen.  The call manager is still included, but tapping it results in a message that changes to Android mean that non-system apps cannot manage call functionality.