Although BullGuard as a company was only founded in 2001, its security suite is already up to version 8. Not much has changed from the previous version, though: there are no major new features here, just refinements.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. BullGuard was always an appealingly nimble program, and it’s good to see it hasn’t yet succumbed to bloat.
It was also always notable for including remote backup, and that’s still here, too: the price includes 5GB of storage, which you can expand (to a maximum of 50GB) for $11 per extra gigabyte per year. You can access your remote storage via the web, or browse it as a virtual drive within Windows Explorer, although it doesn’t have a drive letter.
The spam filter has reportedly been improved since the last version, although since the precise formula’s kept secret that’s hard to verify. We do know though it uses a collaborative system, basing its decisions on which messages other users have marked as unwanted. It’s a neat idea, but it’s wholly reliant on users reporting spam, rather than just deleting or ignoring it. Call us old-fashioned, but we like software to work for us, rather than vice versa.
The antivirus/antispyware module is effective enough. In this month’s test, BullGuard identified 21 out of 24 current threats – the same score as BitDefender (see opposite) – although, also like BitDefender, it missed the three-month- old RightOnAdz.
|The Price includes 5GB of remote backup storage, which is a good deal if that's what you're after.|
When BullGuard finds malware, it first tries to disinfect the rogue files, then ‘turns up the heat’ to delete or quarantine those it can’t fix. It’s a smart approach for a heavily infected system, but it’s a little overcomplicated for everyday use. And, annoyingly, you have to go through this process each time something’s found: you can’t change its behaviour or set defaults in advance.
The firewall engine has supposedly been overhauled, but we weren’t impressed when it asked us whether explorer.exe and iexplore.exe should be allowed to access the network. ‘BullGuard recommendation: not available’, it added, unhelpfully. If you don’t authorise a connection within 15 seconds it’s automatically denied, which is maddening if you’re away from your computer at the time. There’s no way to change this behaviour, either.
This inflexibility reflects a desire to keep BullGuard simple for less-experienced users, which is also evident in the software’s final module: integrated support. You can contact BullGuard’s tech team from directly within the program, or initiate a live chat session. You may not need this sort of service, but it makes BullGuard a tempting recommendation for friends or family members.
If you’re at all technical, though, we’d hesitate to recommend BullGuard. It covers the basics, but it’s far from versatile, and the $90 licence only covers a single PC. Of course, you could pay that much for the online storage alone, so if you’re into remote backup it’s a good price. But most PC Authority readers will find another package more appropriate.