Bitdefender Premium VPN Review – Tech Advisor

Bitdefender Premium VPN Review – Tech Advisor

At a GlanceExpert’s Rating
ProsAffordable one-year planAd-blocker and anti-trackerCan use 10 devices at the same timeConsNo smart TV supportNo live chat tech supportGenerally below-par speedsOur Verdict

Bitdefender is strong on antivirus, but even though its VPN is improved, it’s still not as good as it could be. It wouldn’t unblock UK-based streaming services, doesn’t offer any apps for Firesticks or smart TVs, delivered inconsistent speeds and hasn’t been independently audited.

Price When Reviewed

From $2.50 per month

Best Prices Today: Bitdefender Premium VPN

Bitdefender is best known for its antivirus, but branched out into VPNs by partnering with Hotspot Shield. Since it originally launched the service, as part of its Total Security suite, it has made the VPN a completely standalone service, with separate apps and the option to pay just for the VPN.

There are other changes and improvements, too, such as the addition of a kill switch, more options to automatically connect to the VPN, split tunnelling and support for popular streaming services, allowing you to watch them if you’re in a different region.

Its network has also expanded considerably, with over 4000 servers now covering 53 countries.

The low monthly cost for the one-year subscription looks tempting, too, but is Bitdefender a worthy rival to NordVPN and others? Let’s find out.

Features and apps

You can get Bitdefender Premium VPN for Windows, Android, iOS and macOS. Unfortunately, there are no apps for smart TVs or streamers such as the Amazon Firestick. Neither are there any browser extensions or option to run the VPN on your router to protect all your devices.

Features vary between operating systems. Windows and Android, as usual with VPNs, get the most. That means ‘proper’ split tunnelling where you can choose which apps do or don’t use the VPN, but on iOS and macOS, you can only pick which websites bypass the encrypted connection.

Similarly, although you get a basic ‘Auto-connect on public Wi-Fi’ option on iPhone, on Windows there’s much more control. You can choose to connect whenever you launch a peer-to-peer app, or even set your own list of apps and websites.

In the main, the apps will use Hotspot Shield’s proprietary encryption protocol, Hydra, but there is the option of WireGuard and OpenVPN on Android. On iOS you can choose the outdated IPsec protocol, but on Windows there’s no choice at all. Bitdefender says it will roll out WireGuard to all apps “very soon”.

The apps have a slightly updated interface and are simple to use. You can just tap the “power” button to connect to the optimal server, or you can choose a country from the list.

Only Canada, UK and US have multiple locations: three in Canada, two in the UK and 15 in the US.

Jim Martin / Foundry

There’s no way to favourite locations, but the last-used one will be selected next time you go to connect. Even in the Windows app where there’s a new Dashboard view, you can only see your “Top connected locations”.

Jim Martin / Foundry

The apps keep things simple, and don’t show how busy each location is, or its ping. And that’s mainly because you can’t see individual servers: pick a country and the server is chosen for you automatically.

Another new feature is an ad blocker and anti-tracker. You can enable these individually and you’ll find them in all apps.

Jim Martin / Foundry

The ‘Powered by Hotspot Shield’ wording has been moved from the home screen and hidden in the About section of the settings, and that’s because Bitdefender is simply using Hotspot Shield’s service and making it available through its own app.

Jim Martin / Foundry

Amazingly, Bitdefender Premium VPN works out a lot cheaper than you can buy the standalone VPN service from Hotspot Shield.

It’s worth noting, though, that Bitdefender doesn’t offer a live chat service like a lot of other VPN services. So if you need some tech support, prepare to wait for an answer via email if you can’t find a solution in the online support articles.


One of the biggest concerns with any VPN service is the privacy policy. This outlines exactly how much – if any – information it logs about you and your use of the service. Bitdefender says it collects only enough information to provide the service such as device IDs and hashed IP addresses.

These days Hotspot Shield is owned by Pango (formerly AnchorFree), which itself is owned by Aura. Exactly who does what with your data isn’t amazingly clear from Bitdefender’s privacy policy, but in any case, Aura is a US-based company. The US doesn’t have privacy-friendly laws for data retention and HotSpot Shield hasn’t had a recent audit to confirm that it doesn’t log your data.

Ultimately, it means that while Bitdefender Premium VPN might be safe to use, it’s still much less reassuring compared to using a VPN that has been audited recently.

Of course, you might not care too much about privacy. Which leads us to performance.


We used a gigabit broadband connection that has the same upload and download speeds to test Bitdefender. As usual, we tested using the Windows app and Ookla Speedtest. The results aren’t pretty.

Although the speeds may be fast enough for you, and potentially faster than your own broadband connection, they’re considerably slower than the fastest services offer. Upload speeds were particularly poor, with even the relatively close New York server slowing our connection from around 900Mbps to under 60Mbps.

Using the automatic selection improved things dramatically, with a much closer server in San Jose delivering over 750Mbps down and 680Mbps up. So Bitdefender is capable of great speed, but the chances are that you won’t get these if you need to pick a server that’s far away.

Jim Martin / Foundry

We found no problems when checking for IP and DNS leaks, which is good.

There was a problem, though. Although Bitdefender told us that it is now able to unblock popular streaming services, we couldn’t watch BBC iPlayer or other UK-based video services when connected to any of the the UK servers. Neither would it allow us to sign into and watch shows on the Australian 9Now service.

But if you’re only interested in Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max and other US-based services, you should be ok, as Bitdefender unblocked those with no issues.

Price & availability

Upgrading to Premium VPN costs £2.50 / $2.50 per month and you only have to commit for a year, which is half (or even a third) of the time that a lot of VPNs want you to pay for up front. You do still have to pay the £29.99 / $29.99 all in one go, and it doubles when your subscription renews starting from month 13.

Likewise, it’s nice to see a more affordable one-month subscription: most VPNs charge a lot more in order to persuade you to instead go for a year or two.

Jim Martin / Foundry

There are no anonymous payment options, only the usual card and PayPal methods, plus bank transfer.


Bitdefender Premium VPN has certainly improved since we first looked at it, but still isn’t the best choice, even if it is reasonably priced. If you’re willing to pay more up front and don’t mind a two-year subscription, there are a good few alternatives (NordVPN, Surfshark and Private Internet Access) which offer better overall speeds, a bigger selection of apps (which also have more features such as double-VPN), more servers in more places, and better unblocking of streaming services.

Plus, quite a few of those rivals (including the three mentioned) also have recent independent audits that provide reassurance that they don’t log anything, something HotspotShield (and Bitdefender) lacks.

If you already have Bitdefender Total Security, you might benefit from the free VPN service when using public Wi-Fi. It’s simple to use and no hassle.

The big question is whether it’s worth paying for the Premium version. Put simply, if you just want a VPN for online privacy and anonymity, it’s perfectly fine and reasonably priced. But if you’re more demanding, want to unblock streaming services and have a greater level of security and more settings, you’d be better off with
PureVPN or 

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