There was a time when installing a new application involved slotting a program CD into a drive and entering a keycode off the back of the manual. To get BullGuard Premium Protection set up, you have to download and keycode the app, but then you need to open an online account and create a separate passcode for the add-on identity protection supplied by Experian. It’s all a bit longwinded.
It’s these extras which differentiate Premium Protection from BullGuard Internet Security 2013, though, and the product includes Identity Protection, Social Media Protection and extra online storage.
It may seem a bit counter-intuitive to enter details such as your National Insurance and bank account numbers online to prevent identity fraud, but Experian uses them to watch for misuse and to alert you at an early stage if anybody tries to appropriate them.
Social Media Protection is an extension of parental control and, if fully used, seems quite intrusive. You can enter up to three of your children’s Facebook accounts, and you’re then shown all their friends, messages, photos and links.
The child has to agree to your “invitation,” but may have little choice but to comply with parental pressure. It only appears to work with Facebook, though, so kids on Twitter, for example, get a free ride.
You’d think in a premium product like this, cover for your mobile might be included. BullGuard makes both mobile security and mobile backup products for a good range of platforms, but neither type of cover is included in this licence, even though a Mobile Security Manager tab shows in the online accounts manager.
There is increased online storage, up from 5GB to 25GB over BullGuard Internet Security 2013. Even shared between the three PCs provided for by the licence, this is a good allowance.
The wizard on the BullGuard home screen takes you through setting up a backup by category, backup destination – you can use it for local and network backups as well as online – scheduling and choices such as compression and encryption.
You can monitor the backups from up to three Windows devices in the account manager, which automatically takes the local PC names to organise the backup folders for you.
These extra facilities are added to a core of Internet Security (IS) modules you would expect in a modern suite. There’s a virus scanner, which scans as necessary in real-time. You can also perform quick and full scans on demand, and scan individual folders or files from their right-click menu.
Although you wouldn’t think it from the home page, which only includes icons labelled Status, Scan, Backup and Premium, there’s plenty more in there. The better start screen is the Dashboard, which provides access to the other modules.
There’s a two-way firewall, tougher than the default Windows offering, a spam filter and a vulnerability scanner. This last feature looks for known security holes in the software you may have on your PC and links to update sites to get them fixed.
Alongside these, there’s Parental Control, which limits the sites your children can reach according to profiles you set up. Categories of site can be blocked – such as sex, chat, cults and advertisements.
There’s even one for plagiarism, to prevent cribbed school work, but that would have to be pretty wide-sweeping. You can add individual sites to safe and unsafe lists, too.
PC tune-up goes a bit further than some, with recommendations for the applications you may not need to load at start-up, as well as registry cleaning and temporary file removal.
BullGuard Premium Protection uses the same antivirus engine as seen in Internet Security 2013, which we’ve already covered, but incremental changes to the version number over the six months since then indicate further marginal improvements. We saw it search 860,790 files in an hour and a minute, giving a scan rate of 232 files per second.
This is fast, beaten only by Kaspersky Internet Security 2013 in the products we’ve examined. When we repeated the test, it showed the BullGuard engine is intelligent, too, as it only re-examined 5,495 files, which took it a mere 19 seconds. Once it’s scanned your system, it won’t rescan unchanged files unnecessarily.
The system scanner footprint sits roughly in the middle of the field, still only slowing our test PC by around 12 per cent. This was reflected in the results AV-Test saw it its recent round of benchmarking, too.
The Usability score, which covers system slowdown and the number of false warnings the IS suite generates, scored 5.0/6.0 – that’s pretty good. The slowdown scored 8 against an average of 10 and only three false positives showed up during all the testing, with a group average of 6.
The protection tests also revealed perfect detection performance on widespread malware, with 100 per cent found. It only dropped one per cent on two to three month old threats, and on zero-day malware it averaged 98 per cent.
This resulted in an overall score of 14.5/18.0, not up to Bitdefender’s winning 16.5, but better than AVG, McAfee or Panda.
The £70 price tag on BullGuard Premium Protection – which is £20 more than BullGuard Internet Security 2013 – offers 20GB of extra storage, protection against somebody lifting your electronic identity, and a way of closely monitoring the Facebook accounts of three of your children. That’s pretty inexpensive, even if you don’t need all three of the extras.
This suite boasts a better than average antivirus and anti-malware engine, so you end up with a good level of protection against most of the risks of using a PC on the Internet.
Manufacturer and Product
BullGuard Premium Protection 2013
File, registry, start apps clean-up
Vulnerability scanner, identity protection, social media protection
Number of PCs covered