The choice of possible guard-dogs for your PC is certainly wide ranging. Some security suites are more effective than others, some are more comprehensive, and BitDefender’s effort definitely has the latter base covered.
It offers the expected virus and spyware protection, firewall and anti-spam, as well as some more in-depth features such as phishing protection and even some system tune-up facilities. So there’s plenty of program for your money, but in practice, is BitDefender’s bark worse than its byte? (It sure as Hell can’t be worse than that pun).
We were certainly impressed with the anti-virus coverage. A slider lets the user pick from several levels of anti-virus security: the standard mode provides the usual protection expected, but when notched up to ‘aggressive’ the program scans not only new files and e-mails in real-time, but also all Web traffic. Naturally, this does slow your system down somewhat, but it’s a welcome option for the extra-cautious folk out there.
The virus definitions are updated very regularly – we’re talking every couple of hours here – and they seemed thorough, performing well on our test scans. The process is speedy as well, which makes it doubly impressive.
BitDefender’s firewall keeps your online connection secure with its stealth mode that makes the PC effectively invisible to probing port scans. It also has a slider offering several different security levels, the most interesting one being a new addition for this year. The low security “gamer mode” can be switched on to temporarily ensure pop-up alerts are disabled, and it sets anti-virus security to low alongside switching off automatic updates. This trims down system and bandwidth usage to an absolute minimum when playing games.
This suite contains some clever measures to make Web surfing a more secure experience, such as anti-phishing technology that’s integrated with Internet Explorer. Then there are identity control settings; these allow you to block specific sensitive information from ever being transmitted online. For example, you can enter part of your credit card number, and BitDefender will always pull up any Net traffic that involves this. Sites that you actually need to use your card with can be put on an exceptions list.
Rounding off the Net security features is a solid anti-spam module, complete with Bayesian filter which can be trained for greater accuracy in sifting out your junk mail, and a thorough range of parental control options. The latter includes a timer function to only allow surfing for specific periods, plus there’s an intelligent Web filter that can be set to either child, teenager or adult levels of access. About the only weak spot we found in this suite was that this filter didn’t block all dodgy content, but not many can.
Finally, Total Security 2008 has some useful extra trimmings in the form of temp file and registry cleaners, a secure file shredder and a data backup management utility. There are more strings to BitDefender’s bow than the English army at Agincourt, and it’s not just quantity here; the quality of the various modules shines through.
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