Bitdefender Review

by Christo Petrov

It’s hard for an antivirus vendor to keep its clients happy. 

Some of them want a light and speedy solution. Others want tons of features. All of them want effective protection. 

It’s not easy to find a balance between everything the user might want. 

Bitdefender might have found a way to do it, though.  

In this Bitdefender review, I’ll make a point that many may not agree with: it is one of the most balanced antivirus products out there. 

It’s neither too expensive, nor too heavy or bare bones. Chances are if you’re looking for an antivirus product, you’ve already heard about the brand. It has about 10.2% market share, making it one of the top 5 antimalware vendors.

We’re going to take a look at Total Security: Bitdefender’s most popular home product. We’ll discuss what this program has in store, what technologies it uses, and thus try to answer the question that made you read this article in the first place: is Bitdefender good?

Price 

A 1-year license for up to 5 devices will cost you $44.99, which is a good deal considering all the tools you get with the suite. Make that a 3-year license for up to 10 devices, and the price rises to $160.99. 

The $44.99 price tag applies for the first payment only. The second payment will be costlier.

Free Version

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is a good choice if you’re looking for a free cybersecurity solution. While it’s no match for Total Security, the Bitdefender free edition is armed with antivirus protection, antiphishing, antifraud, and harmful websites defense. Not to mention protection against web threats, including ransomware. 

We all know there’s no such thing as free lunch. However, Bitdefender’s offer is one sweet piece of dessert free of charge!

And that’s not all. If you’d like to test Bitdefender, you can go for a free 30-day trial version before purchasing a license.

Requirements

To run this computer security software, you’ll need a device with Windows 7 with Service Pack 1, a dual-core 1.6 GHz processor, at least 1GB of RAM and around 2 GB of free disk space. 

Installation

The installation of Bitdefender starts by downloading a 472 MB file. Once the installation is complete (it took just over 2 minutes for me), you are prompted to create a My Bitdefender account. When you’re done with that, you are ready to use the software. 

User Interface

Built with internet security in mind, Bitdefender’s UI is simple, yet providing easy access to all the features it’s loaded with. Most of the software’s functions are divided between Protection (threat prevention), and Privacy (data protection). Once you get the hang of it, you can find most of Bitdefender’s features with 2 or 3 clicks. 

The Dashboard is where you get shortcuts to some recommended actions such as ransomware protection or the VPN

You can also add custom actions. For example, you can add a quick action button to test the security of the Wi-Fi network you’re connected to. 

For the purpose of this Bitdefender review, I tested different functions by adding them to the quick action button list. It’s kind of annoying you can only add a limited amount of buttons. Some users (like myself!) prefer having more options available in front of them. Oh, well.

The Protection tab shows off Bitdefender’s arsenal at its finest: from the antivirus features, through the online threat prevention, and right down to the ransomware protection. 

From here you can also scan the software on your device for vulnerabilities, and toughen up Bitdefender’s firewall. All in one place, nice and slick.

The Privacy tab will let you filter all the data you share with the world. Bitdefender VPN, webcam access, file encryption, password managing, payment protection: it’s all tucked in here. 

Features

Bitdefender is fairly rich in features. It has almost everything you need to keep the home network – and all devices connected to it – safe from online threats. But what exactly does Total Security have that makes it one of the most widely used cybersecurity solutions?

Scanning 

Is Bitdefender’s scanning good? Well, I did some tests, and I’ll share the results later in this article. 

Like any antivirus software, Bitdefender will let you perform a quick scan and a full system scan. Full scans last longer and might cause disruptions in system performance.

One cool tidbit is you can set up custom scans for certain folders or partitions. It helps you keep your machine clean without having to wait for a full scan of the whole hard drive. You can also scan files by simply right-clicking on them. Nice touch, Bitdefender Total Security!

Ransomware Protection

In recent years, ransomware has become one of the most damaging (and to hackers – profitable) cyber threats. It is a malicious code that encrypts your files and will only decrypt them back if you pay a certain amount of money (usually in cryptocurrencies). 

Ransomware targets mainly organizations, but individuals can become victims too. Your files may end up encrypted, or your screen may flash a your-computer-is-locked warning from the FBI (it’s not really the FBI, hackers just want you to think that way). 

What is Bitdefender doing to prevent such events from happening? It uses the Ransomware Remediation feature, which tries to identify ransomware attacks before they happen. Once a threat is detected, the software creates a backup of the targeted files. That data can later be restored when the attack is blocked. 

In addition, Total Protection has the Safe Files feature. It protects the files in certain folders on your hard drive from being deleted or changed. You can choose which folders to protect. 

VPN

This isn’t a Bitdefender VPN review, so this part will be short. Yes, Bitdefender has a built-in VPN service. Yes, it’s built on Hotspot Shield’s VPN technology. 

But the free version that’s included in Total Security will only get you a daily allowance of 200 MB of free traffic. You won’t be able to choose the location of the server you are connecting to; the service will pick it out for you. 

Antitheft 

One thing I like about Bitdefender Total Security is its antitheft feature. While other security solutions may have a similar feature, Bitdefender’s antitheft function is easy to operate, making it more user-friendly. 

One particular feature relates to the unfortunate event where your device might get lost or stolen. In such a case, you can lock it remotely with a PIN code from the Bitdefender Central dashboard. That way no one would be able to access the data on the hard drive. And if someone does try to access the device, you will receive webcam snapshots of their faces.

From the Bitdefender Central, you can also see the approximate location of the device, and you have the option to wipe out all the data on it. It’s an excellent opportunity to protect your sensitive information. 

All in all, it’s no wonder Bitdefender is considered one of the best internet security solutions out there. 

Data Protection & Encryption

Encryption is a crucial precautionary measure, and you should use it every time you get the chance. As with any good antivirus software, Bitdefender will let you encrypt folders with sensitive data. 

Unfortunately, it won’t let you encrypt the entire hard drive. You can only go as far as encrypting partitions.

The File Shredder does the job when you need to permanently destroy files and folders. It’s a feature every cybersecurity solution should have. Otherwise, you run the risk of exposing your sensitive data to whoever gets physical access to your device.

Payments Protection

Safepay is a secured browser for online banking and e-commerce. The best internet security solutions all have a secured browser by default, as banking malware and fraudulent websites abound. It aims to isolate your transactions from any potential threats, such as phishing, keylogging, MITM attacks, etc. 

Safepay claims to automatically open all banking websites in a secured browser. However, this function didn’t work for me. Whenever I tried to open a banking website in a regular browser, it just loaded there – and not in the secured browser.

I reacted by asking customer support for help. After giving them information about the product’s version, they recognized there is a problem and said they are working on a solution. It turns out this Bitdefender review found some flaws that are yet to be resolved!

Safepay comes with a virtual keyboard to protect you from keylogging. This feature also blocks any attempts to take snapshots of your screen. Its built-in hotspot protection will guard your transactions in case you’re using an unsecured public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi is never safe, but if you really have to use one – Bitdefender can minimize the risk.

Scanning for Viruses

Bitdefender brags about its Photon scanning technology which adjusts to the user’s behavior and makes scans run faster as time passes by. Photon is cloud-based, so you’ll need an internet connection to take advantage of it. 

A full scan with Bitdefender took under 51 minutes to complete. That’s not unheard of for security software, but it certainly is impressive. The program was quietly running in the background, not causing any visible slowdowns. I kept using the laptop as usual and saw no impact on performance. 

A quick scan lasted less than 2 minutes. You can schedule quick and full scans on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, as well as on system startup. There isn’t, however, an option to schedule a scan on a particular date. 

Real-Time Protection

OK, it’s time to separate the men from the boys. Let’s see how Bitdefender is doing in terms of threat detection.

Phishing protection: 10/10

Bitdefender scored a perfect 10 when tested against valid phishing webpages. It recognized and blocked all the phishing sites available online at the time of writing. 

Phishing accounts for at least 90% of all cyber attacks, according to data from IRONSCALES. Therefore, having good protection against it is crucial. A good internet security software should be able to provide it. 

Parental Control: 8/10

Parental Control is not perfect in Bitdefender. It didn’t prevent a site with graphic videos from loading. It also let me visit a page about MMA. While this is a sport, it is a violent one. Parental control filters of competitive products block such websites from loading. One such example is Kaspersky Total Security.

But this is a Bitdefender review, so let’s move on. 

In order to use Parental control, you’ll have to setup a profile for your child at Bitdefender Central. Once you’re done with that, you can collect all kinds of information about your child’s activity: location, websites visited, apps open, social media activity, phone number contacts, time spent on the device, and others. 

Even if it has some flaws, it’s safe to say Bitdefender Total Security has done a decent job in creating a full-range parental control filter.

Downloading the Eicar Test File

Testing Bitdefender with the EICAR Antimalware Testfile showed no disturbing signs. The software instantly detected the threat. A popup informed me about the detection, while a more detailed explanation was waiting for me in the Notifications menu. 

Independent Lab Test

In their April 2019 report independent antivirus lab AV-Test assigned a 6/6 score to Bitdefender Internet Security, Total Security’s little brother. They are pretty much identical in terms of features, but Internet Security doesn’t have antitheft protection and OneClick Optimizer. 

Bitdefender scored a 100% success rate in AV Test’s checkup for detecting zero-day malware threats. It also slammed an excellent 100% in fighting widespread malware samples. 

Customer Support

Customer care is timely and polite. You can choose between email, chat, and phone support; as with all the best computer security solutions.

An email query took approximately two hours to get a response. It was followed by another query which got an answer within the hour.

I also tried the chat support. Within 5 minutes I had two questions answered. While it isn’t anything mind-blowing, it certainly shows effort in terms of customer care.

Conclusion

Bitdefender is a force to be reckoned with. It strikes a great balance between what the average home user looks for, and what they really should have in order to stay protected. (Those can be surprisingly different things.)

It’s easy to use, it has powerful malware-fighting technology behind it, it’s loaded with all kinds of features, and it works on all the popular OSs. 

Which doesn’t mean it’s perfect. But then again, no antivirus software is. I hope this Bitdefender review comes in handy and helps you choose the solution that best fits your needs. 

Pros: 

  • Great balance between features and performance
  • Good customer support

Cons: 

  • You can only encrypt folders, but not the entire hard drive
  • The secured browser feature has some unresolved (as of the time of writing) issues

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