Tough like McGruff, but puts leash on system performance
When you first install BullGuard, you’re prompted to select a notification level. One of the two choices clamps a muzzle on BullGuard, stifling alerts the program can figure out on its own. The other promises more notifications so you’ll always know what the mutt is up to. We say mutt because BullGuard is another security suite that builds on top of someone else’s scan engine. We saw this with ZoneAlarm, which chose to go with Kaspersky, while BullGuard fetched BitDefender’s scan engine, another solid choice.
Don’t pay any attention to BullGuard’s password strength meter, which gives all eight-character passwords a maximum strength rating.
Initially, however, we feared BullGuard’s bark would be worse than its bite. During the final stage of installation, you’re asked to create a username and password. The password shows up in plain view unless you uncheck the “Show password” box, but more disconcerting is the so-called “strength meter.” All this does is evaluate how many characters you’ve entered. We typed “Password” and registered a full five bars on the strength meter, even though that’s arguably the weakest eight-character password you could possibly choose. It’s a minor gripe, but the feature could give greenhorn users a false sense of security.
Surfing the web was another story. BullGuard went into attack mode and sank its teeth into malicious downloads, a credit to its behavioral-based scanning. And when we chucked our own collection of malware onto the desktop, we might as well have thrown BullGuard a meaty bone, because the outcome was the same.
We paid a heavy price for all this protection, and we’re not talking about skrilla. Startup time never seemed to settle down after several reboots, taking an additional 32 seconds over a clean install. BullGuard was one of the few AV programs to noticeably affect file transfers, and the low PCMark score is a concern. These issues drag down an otherwise well-trained security companion.