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Bitdefender Total Security 2014 review

SoftwareReviews
9/10
by Simon Williams, 06 Aug 2013Reviews
Bitdefender Total Security 2014 review
Best Buy

There’s a trend with Internet Security (IS) suites to offer more and more in the one package, but rival companies will have to go some way to better Bitdefender’s Total Security 2014. It contains a huge array of tools to protect your security, your privacy and your key information.

The company lists antivirus, anti-malware, anti-spam, two-way firewall, parental control, a protected browser, online backup, PC tune-up, anti-theft, identity protection and file encryption among its features, but we’re not sure that includes everything.

Once you’ve installed and activated the program, you’re given two ways into it, if you’re running Windows 7. As well as the main interface, there’s a neat desktop widget which gives status info and shortcuts to basic functions. This shows antivirus settings, an events flag and a shortcut to the online dashboard. It can also be used to drag files or folders to, when you want a quick contextual scan.

The main control panel looks straightforward, until you realise you’re only looking at 4 of 11 sub-panels which lead through to controls for particular features of the suite. There’s a slider below to reveal the others.

Each sub-panel offers configuration settings, but one of the features of the 2014 suite is what Bitdefender calls Autopilot. This is the software’s attempt to make intelligent decisions, so you can set and forget it. In use, we found it worked pretty well, bothering us with few of the pop-ups other suites produce.

More and more IS suites are incorporating backup into their feature sets, which has to be a good thing. Bitdefender only goes some way towards this. File backup is managed by syncing files or folders with the Cloud. You’re provided with 2GB of Safebox space, which holds copies of synced data from selected sources on Bitdefender’s servers. Extra space is available at £32 for 30GB per year and the Safebox can be shared between devices or even with specified third parties.

You can’t sync to local backups, though, such as an external hard drive or a network store, and there’s no conventional backup or task scheduler. It’s not clear whether files are synced every time they’re changed or on some pre-defined schedule of Bitdefender’s.

Safe banking is provided by Safepay, a secure browser which optionally takes over when you browse to a bank site. It’s linked to a virtual keyboard, to defeat keyloggers, and is also linked to the Bitdefender Wallet, which stores your passwords and card numbers in encrypted form to help protect them.

The Wallet can be used as a safe house for all your confidential info, to save having to keep a password book, or indeed to save using the same password for every site that needs one – though nobody does that, do they?

If you’ve installed Bitdefender Total Security 2014 on a mobile device, a Windows laptop or tablet, you can switch on Anti-Theft, which can locate the device – assuming it’s within range of a Wi-Fi hotspot – lock it down remotely or wipe its hard drive. It can’t get an on-board camera to take a pic of its new “owner” though, as Norton Mobile Security can.

Bitdefender loves to label its new technologies, a bit like hair products in a way, and claims its Photon Technology speeds scans by gradually adapting to your PC. It appears to have nothing to do with a quantum of light.

In practice, we found the product took rather longer for its initial scan of our 30GB test basket of files, looking at 713,938 files in 1 hour and 17 minutes – its predecessor Total Security 2013 dealt with 50,844 in just over 20 minutes. The scan rate, however, was three times as high, at 154 files per second.

Repeating the same scan, the program checked just 6,101 files in 5 seconds, so a good deal of file fingerprinting has gone on to actively avoid rescanning unchanged files.

In our file copy test, copying two 1GB files with and without a scan running, the program added 10 per cent to the overall copy time. This places it fifth in terms of light system resource usage compared to the other AV products we’ve tested.

AV-Test (www.av-test.org) has yet to test the 2014 version of the Bitdefender engine, but the 2013 version won its 2012 award for Best Repair in the home software category. The engine scored a total of 16.5/18.0, one of the best overall scores yet seen.

Breaking down the overall score, the product produced a perfect 6.0/6.0 in its ability to protect against zero-day, recent and established threats, and 5.5/6.0 for repair, where it detected 100 per cent of widespread malware. It achieved 98 per cent and 86 per cent in terms of removing active components and repairing critical systems. This was against group averages of 91 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively.

Finally, the usability score came through at 5.0/6.0, with only three false positives during the two months of testing, half the group average.

Verdict

Bitdefender Total Security 2014 is a comprehensive IS suite, built on a powerful antivirus engine which is among the best on the market. It has so many bells and whistles, it’s hard to list them all. The only niggles we had were the lack of any Android or iOS coverage (though other Bitdefender products are available for this) and the rather measly 2GB of online storage, with rivals offering up to 25GB in their top-of-the-range equivalents.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Product

Bitdefender Total Security 2014

Antivirus protection

Yes

Antimalware protection

Yes

Antispam protection

Yes

Browser protection

Yes, includes Safepay secure browser

Two-way firewall

Yes

Parental control

Yes

Multi-platform support

PC only. There are other Bitdefender products for Mac, iOS and Android

Online storage

2GB

PC tune-up

Cleans caches, temp files, defragments disks and cleans registry

Extra features

Anti-theft, identity protection, social network protection, online storage, password protection, file encryption

Number of PCs covered

3

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