Auto-renew Unasked

bitdefender-total-security-2018Auto-renew Unasked: a reader asks…

I’m perplexed, my subscription to Bitdefender Total Security renewed automatically, but I didn’t click any buttons or make any changes. Not sure how that happened but, oh well. I read your latest recommendation on Windows 10 security (at https://positek.net/windows-10-protection/) but my subscription to Bitdefender is currently active. Should I switch or wait till the subscription ends?

The answer to your question (switch now or later) isn’t for me to say. If you’re a frugal sort, then you may want to wait till your current subscription is ending, then switch. If your subscription renewed within the last 30 days you may be able to cancel it and get a refund (contact Bitdefender through your subscription/device manager at https://central.bitdefender.com, and then switch. When you do make the switch, first make sure that Bitdefender’s auto-renew isn’t turned on so you don’t get charged (again). Then uninstall Bitdefender completely from your system and restart. Then make sure that Windows Defender is turned on and working. Finally, purchase and install Malwarebytes Premium on your system.

When you purchase most subscription-based software services online, they are set by default to auto-renew. That’s probably what happened. Check your credit card or bank activity to see if there’s a charge from Avantgate, who handles Bitdefender sales. For many of these service providers, they make the auto-renew option checked by default, and make the option to NOT auto-renew very small and unobtrusive, so many people miss it when completing the initial purchase. I should also complain that the auto-renewal fees can often be just as much as a new purchase, and sometimes more (especially when their new products go on sale). If you think it’s worth it, you can haggle with the folks at Bitdefender to get a better renewal price.

bitdefender-central-screenshot

If you’d like to turn off the auto-renew, you can either contact Bitdefender support or log into your Avantgate account (if you have one) to turn it off. Bitdefender provides instructions at https://www.bitdefender.com/support/bitdefenders-auto-renewal-service-1723.html. You can also log into your Bitdefender account at https://central.bitdefender.com and use the chat feature (at the bottom-right of the screen) to request your auto-renew be turned off. I wish that managing the auto-renewal feature on subscription-based software services was easier, but then these companies are motivated to keep you as a paying customer.

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If you plan on continuing to use Bitdefender, one other thing you should check is that your installed Bitdefender product is the latest version. Bitdefender (the company) is very lax about telling their subscribers when a new version is released, and new versions of software don’t automatically install themselves. The current version is 2018 and if you’re using any earlier version, your protection is compromised. Log into your Bitdefender Central account and install Bitdefender on your computer. It’ll uninstall the old version, restart your system and then install the new version semi-automatically.

malwarebytes-free-download-screenshotThis is true for any software you use. For example, Malwarebytes’ current version is 3.3.1, if you’re running an older version you’re at risk. Malwarebytes’ record of notifying clients about new versions is somewhat spotty, your installed version may notify you, or may not. To get the latest version of Malwarebytes, visit their website and use the free download feature. Install it and your program will update using your existing license key. To be safe, first open Malwarebytes, look in your account and copy the license key somewhere (just in case).

Fortunately, Windows Defender is kept up-to-date along with Windows 10 in the automatic updates. Just to be sure, click the Start button, then the gear icon, then select Update & Security. Click the Check for Updates button to check for and install any available updates from Microsoft. While this generally works automatically, you should make it a practice to do this at least once a month, just in case an update didn’t get automatically installed.

Windows-Defender-and-malwarebytes-iconsIf your Bitdefender subscription was auto-renewed and you are sure you didn’t pay for it (checking credit card and bank accounts), then it’s possible you’re using someone else’s subscription. You can’t count on that or them, so I recommend you uninstall Bitdefender completely from your system, restart, make sure Windows Defender is running, and then purchase, install, and activate a Malwarebytes Premium subscription. Malwarebytes will cost you $40/year to protect one computer (discounts for multiple computers). In my opinion, this combination provides the strongest Windows 10 protection you can get at a reasonable price. But don’t ignore other security concerns, always practice safe computing (see my guide at https://positek.net/safe-computing-practices-2/).

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