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Are you looking for the best protection against internet threats, with a reasonable price, a fluid user interface, and a minimal impact on your computer or phone’s performance?
After extensive testing, we found Bitdefender 2017 to be one of the best and inexpensive antivirus choices for most people.
We like Bitdefender 2017 because you get top of the line protection against malware infections and almost Zero influence on computer speed in daily usage.
Add to that a dedicated active treatment for the ransomware epidemic, and you get a stellar security package with a very attractive price – from my point of view this is my editor’s choice!
My Bitdefender review includes a comparison of Bitdefender’s four security packages, my own test results on an average home PC environment, and information about the full scope of features you get with Bitdefender. I will also add external laboratory results to the mix to give the readers a clear picture of what to expect from this top antivirus provider.
Bitdefender is not a new player in the security software scene. The company's headquarters are located in Europe and it has been developing online protection software since 2001.
Globally, additional offices of Bitdefender are found in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, and even across the pond - in the US.
All in all, the company boasts over 1,500 employees.
Bitdefender's enterprise clients include huge names such as Virgin Media and IBM, and they boast over 500 Million users around the world.
Each of the products, while including different features, runs on Bitdefender’s antivirus protection, which includes anti-malware, anti-phishing, and anti-ransomware protection.
The free version, however, lacks 2 key features - Real time protection and ransomware protection - on top of a few others.
Bitdefender hasn’t forgotten that Android and Mac devices also need protection!
These products benefit from the same first-rate performance as the software for PC, and are also included in our Bitdefender review below.
So, what is the difference between the packages, and which one will I recommend in this extensive Bitdefender review?
Let’s take a look.
I recommend Bitdefender Internet Security 2017 because of the two-way-firewall, which will help you secure your application when you access the internet. If you need more than 3 devices, then go for the Total Security 2017 or Bitdefender Box network appliance.
Our proprietary lab tests calculator displays all the independent lab tests related to Bitdefender over the years in an easy-to-use graph.
The unique aggregator tool's abilities speak for themselves, and I recommend you use this tool for all your antivirus and internet security research and while reading this Bitdefender review and the others on our site.
Disclaimer: The calculator is designed to find more tests on a daily basis as they become available to the public by using an automated web crawler.
Data changes over time, so the score and ranking we refer to both relate to the date we published our Bitdefender review.
Over the last 4 years, Bitdefender has received top ranking in independent lab tests with high scores for protection, performance, and false alerts.
Here's a video showing the hands-on malware protection test we performed in our lab against 1,000 zero-day malware files:
Here's a video of one of our team member's testing the anti-phishing feature:
All our tests in this Bitdefender review, and all our reviews for that matter, are performed with the same hardware. We also use a lower-end setup to amplify the impact of the tested software on the results. If we were to use top-of-the-line hardware with the latest CPU and a very fast SSD, it would be very difficult to measure the difference in performance impact.
I tested on an open bench PC comprised of the following components:
On this hardware platform, I installed Windows 10 Pro 64-bit and applied all critical update patches effective on January 2, 2017.
I ran Bitdefender Total Security 2017 (Ver. 18.104.22.168) on a totally clean windows configuration and then disabled UAC (User Account Control); Windows updates; screen saver and power management settings; Windows system restore; all task and scheduler events; windows notifications and error reporting; and taskbar notifications.
All browsers – Firefox, Chrome, and Edge – were configured to show a blank page on startup / home page.
Finally, I copied 100,000 randomly generated files into a sample data folder for the scan duration test. This made up our "clean" testing image.
Windows only used a single account with no password to ensure automatic login after rebooting. No unknown devices were present or unrecognized in the Device Manager, and I rebooted Windows before doing the tests.
I used a dedicated script (boottimer.exe) to measure time elapse across five looping boot cycles. Our score shows the average time of the five cycles.
|Before BTF 2017||After BTF 2017||Difference|
There was only a 2.8 second boot time increase, which I consider an insignificant delay.
When I compare this to other antivirus vendor tests, Bitdefender gets a perfect score of 100% in this category.
All performance tests include this kind of test.
I included this parameter in my Bitdefender review as some people think it is important seeing that it reflects the software's quality, QA level, and stability of each anti-virus software.
However, you don't need to swear by these results; in today's CPU intensive environment, the modern CPU and SSD disk will probably not feel the difference between one antivirus and another.
I monitor 3 important hardware performance parameters for a duration of 15 minutes with a windows performance monitor. The first parameter is CPU usage, the second one is memory usage, and the last one is disk transfers per second.
I conduct the same test twice: first on a clean Windows 10 installation, and second after I install Bitdefender Total Security 2017 (Ver. 22.214.171.124) making sure I apply all software updates and reboot the system.
Bitdefender Total Security 2017 (Ver. 126.96.36.199) passed the performance test with brilliant results!!
The increase in resources is tiny, which is no wonder that Bitdefender comes out on top as one of the best antivirus providers.
The software packs many extra features in the product bundle, and yet I didn't observe any major influence on the computer's resources.
In this benchmark I measure the execution time of 3 major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, and Edge).
Once again, I conduct the test on a clean Windows 10 installation and repeat the test after I install Bitdefender Total Security 2017 (Ver. 188.8.131.52).
This test is important because most antivirus software monitors the browser internet connection in order to block phishing attempts and scans file downloads.
Each browser was executed 3 times, so I used the average value to represent the increase in execution time in the graph above.
When I work out an average value for all browser tests together, there is an increase of 0.10 Seconds for opening a browser window. This result is excellent for this industry although most users will not feel any difference on day-to-day use.
The reason it isn't a perfect score is because of the Firefox integration which increases execution by 0.16 seconds (double the amount of other browsers).
Please bear in mind that Firefox is also the slowest executed browser on a clean Windows installation, so the increase is more noticeable.
I used Chrome developer tools to measure two key parameters:
I repeated this test on three commonly-used, legitimate websites to measure the impact of Bitdefender installation.
Note: A lot of variables can influence the test (network latency and load on the web server, or even the time of day), so it is important to consider all three test result sets together.
|Before BTF 2017||After BTF 2017||Difference|
|fatsecurity.com||1.73 sec \ 235ms TTFB||1.86 sec \ 243ms TTFB||0.13 sec \ 8ms|
|google.com||0.91 sec \ 153ms TTFB||0.98 sec \ 189ms TTFB||0.07 sec \ 36ms|
|facebook.com||0.78 sec \ 167ms TTFB||1.02 sec \ 187ms TTFB||0.24 sec \ 20ms|
|Average||1.14 sec \ 370ms TTFB||1.29 sec \ 370ms TTFB||0.15 sec \ 21ms|
Unlike Google and Facebook, not all sites are fast and distributed globally over a large content delivery network (CDN), so if you consider the results of browsing to fatsecurity.com as well as to those sites, you get a more realistic set of results.
If you look at the average loading time of all three sites, you get the point.
Bitdefender does a great job with browser integration that even on a slow computer, you wouldn’t notice any difference .
On average, Bitdefender does not take long until the page is fully loaded, so much so, that if I were to only look at the page load time increase, I would award Bitdefender 100%.
But I noticed something strange: the page size increased dramatically (40-50%) because of Bitdefender's integration.
Fatsecurity.com's test page increased in size from 913KB to 1.5M.
Bitdefender might do this intentionally by manipulating page file compression in order to improve detection of security hazards.
I will ask Bitdefender for official answers and update this section when I gain more information.
This is a very popular benchmark performed on antivirus software by many independent testing labs.
However, if this scan is performed once a day out of active hours, at a time that no one is using the computer, why would anyone care if it takes a few minutes more or less?
Some antivirus software uses a snapshot mechanism that will make sure it scans a file only once; only if this file was changed or altered, the software re-scans it which means this scan should only be performed on new files or files that were edited.
Bitdefender uses this snapshot technology, and therefore our first lab scan shows a duration of 116 Seconds, while the second scan duration was only 14 Seconds!!!
The test benchmark is performed on a folder with 100,000 randomly generated files that contain random characters.
The test scan is performed on the test folder after a definition update and a system reboot.
The full scan duration was 116 Seconds (1:56 min), an average speed of 862 files per second.
The graph depicts that during the full scan, the CPU utilization averages on 60%.
If you take the low performance toll and the very high scan speed of files per second into consideration, and you add the snapshot optimization to that (which changed it to 14 seconds), you get one of the best combinations of performance and speed.
An antivirus software should perform this way!
Bitdefender has the fastest scanner we have tested so far! The CPU does not go through the roof when combined with the Snapshot mechanism, which definitely makes Bitdefender a winner in this section of testing!
Regardless, why would someone be concerned about how long a full scan takes?
Well for one, most people would want to be aware of the fact that during a scan most intensive activities need to be paused and wait until the scan process is complete.
If you want to schedule scans when no one is on the PC, that's also fine.
There’s no arguing about the quality of Bitdefender’s features, but what happens if something goes wrong?
Bitdefender’s unique Support Tool collects your contact information and information about the problem, and sends this to tech support.
When tech support has then analyzed the problem and found a solution, they’ll get in touch with you.
But wait, there's more:
They also have all users covered with an excellent support center site that hosts a useful wiki that addresses common questions and problems.
Their site even hosts malware and rootkit removal utilities.
And, if that isn’t enough, Bitdefender’s got your back:
Bitdefender users can contact customer support 24/7 through email, online chat, and phone – a level of responsiveness unmatched by competitors.df
When checking the customer service of a company, we conduct at least 2 separate customer support tests.
For Bitdefender we checked their online chat support and also called the US customer support number.
We always conduct these tests on a Monday morning to make sure it reflects the customer service workload / ticket queue that accumulated over the weekend.
Live Chat Support
As you can see in the following screenshot, the representative did answer my questions promptly although I would expect to see more thorough answers.
A support specialist answered the phone within 3 seconds (not more) – this is amazing and very impressive!
At this point of this Bitdefender review, I'd like to go over the most important features which home users usually look for in their antivirus and security products.
One important thing I'd like to mention is the first thing you’ll notice – or not – upon installing this antivirus software:
Its user-friendly fluid interface, Autopilot mode, and excellent performance mean that you almost won’t even notice that Bitdefender is quietly doing its job as you go about business on your PC or Mac.
If you're new to Bitdefender, it might take you a short while to get used to this interface because it might appear a bit complicated at the beginning.
Bitdefender notices what type of activity you’re doing.
If you’re playing a game, Bitdefender will make sure to suppress any notifications, allowing for a completely uninterrupted gaming experience.
If you’re watching a movie, it will put any pop-ups on hold and make sure to devote resources to the media player.
For users who would like to be more hands-on in the management of their antivirus software, it is of course possible to turn off the Autopilot mode and manually switch the profile between standard, work, game, or movie modes.
The entire dashboard is accessible via a desktop widget which gives you critical security information at a glance.
Antivirus scanning is the main focus of each of Bitdefender’s products, from the free Bitdefender to Bitdefender Total Security.
Like a lot of competing antivirus software products, you have three antivirus scan options.
Quick Scan: This scan checks the key areas of a system to check if there is common malware hiding in obscure spots.
System Scan: A full system scan detects all kinds of malware and security threats by sweeping the entire system.
Custom Scan: Advanced users can also define a tailored scan that will check only specific locations.
Keep in mind:
For the most part, Bitdefender’s antivirus scanner will do its job in auto-pilot mode, quietly scanning in the background as you work, game, or watch a movie on your device.
This is the first thing independent labs inspect when testing malware protection scores, and Bitdefender has received one of the best protection scores in this category over the last few years.
Bitdefender is sure to detect and block known malware with its signature based malware detection.
Our hands-on test video shows that the proof is in the pudding with our 95% detection score.
This is the unique attribute of malware protection, and I found strong protection that uses heuristic and behavioral detection patterns in the internal lab tests I ran.
A software's ability to detect zero-day malware is even more essential. The reason for this is because the antivirus software will not have recognized or cataloged a zero-day virus.
Recently, many antivirus providers boast that their software is "Next Gen" and the only way to prevent zero-day malware because of its antivirus and malware protection attributes.
The suggestion is that behavioral blocking has an advantage because it can prevent zero-day malware that has not been filed and documented in a traditional signature database.
What this means is that an anti-malware software will be able to detect and terminate malware that tries to delete or alter an important system file.
Behavioral blocking is as excellent as it sounds, but with it comes the risk of lots of false positive alerts.
Bitdefender, however, does not have this problem.
Bitdefender matches characteristics of its code with existing malware to detect malware, and also evaluates the malware's behavior to see if it works in potentially suspicious ways, like accessing areas of a system when it has no reason to be there.
If users opt for a strong antivirus software that blocks malware from the start, one would assume that there is no need for a malware removal option.
This assumption is correct, but sometimes a user can install Bitdefender onto a previously infected system, or signature based protection and behavioral blocking might not pick up on zero-day malware.
This means a user would need malware removal capabilities.
Several independent labs have tested the removal functionality of the Bitdefender removal engine, and the tests proved it to be a top tier malware removal software.
While many browsers have anti-phishing protection built in, they don’t come close to matching Bitdefender’s anti-phishing performance.
When you navigate to a potentially dangerous site, Bitdefender’s anti-phishing blocker will initially block you from visiting the page, explaining the reasons for blocking the page and the risks should you choose to continue.
They have a 24/7 center that makes sure the URL blocking database is up to date.
Sometimes one can see sites blocked just a few minutes after a domain goes live.
Ransomware is a real and growing internet security threat that blocks your access to your files by encrypting them, forcing you to pay a ransom to regain access to your information.
Bitdefender’s program includes active ransomware protection and detection.
This means that your dear family albums, videos, and documents are protected from being encrypted and held at ransom.
No antivirus software is 100% impenetrable and a backup policy is a must!
But how does it work?
Any time a non-approved program tries to modify a file in a protected folder, Bitdefender denies it access and generates a warning. Bitdefender is also blocking access to your important files while your PC is booting and the operation system isn’t online yet.
Unfortunately, this protection is not enabled by default and you have to enable it from the control panel.
Make sure you also add the folders you want to protect. Once the module is set to ON, folders such as My Documents and My Pictures are automatically protected.
If additional applications such as cloud sync folders like Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive are installed on the device, they will be protected.
I would expect Bitdefender to use at least one of these five methods for active ransomware protection:
Trapping Ransomware: This is an active function that detects ransomware activity which can be divided into several sub approaches:
It Monitors the high risk folders (my documents / Desktop), so that when a process that alters files in an unnatural rate (read or write too many files too quickly), the process will be blocked / flagged immediately.
Entropy values: When a file is encrypted it has a more uniform distribution of byte values (their contents are more uniform). If a modified file has a higher entropy, it might have been encrypted and the process should be blocked / flagged immediately.
Honeypot files: This involves placing randomly hidden and visible decoy files in high-risk folders and monitoring access to these files. If a process tries to alter the file, it will be blocked and quarantined.
Sacrificial disk / network path: This creates a local or remote folder with millions of random generated files that will slow down the ransomware process and create alerts.
Infinitely-recursive directories: This creates a sinkhole in the Windows file system so that when ransomware attempts to traverse the file structure to create the list of files it needs to encrypt, it will get stuck.
Like its competitors, Bitdefender provides a firewall that blocks outside attacks and controls how programs can use your internet connection, as well as what protocol are allowed or blocked.
In keeping with Bitdefender’s user interface and hands-off approach, the firewall runs in the background and is already pre-configured, making its own choices – no pop-ups and no interruptions!
When the firewall detects a new application or a file that tries to access the Internet, it will immediately ask for specific permissions from the user.
This feature serves as an added layer of protection for online transactions, ensuring the privacy of your sensitive information.
When you open sensitive site – such as your bank’s online portal – a notification will pop up suggesting that you switch to Bitdefender Safepay’s interface.
Opening Safepay initiates a separate browser, completely isolated from all other processes on your computer.
The browser and a virtual keyboard for password entry, and it blocks any screenshot attempts.
This is a virtual environment that will be terminated when you exit the Safepay browser.
The vulnerability scanner continuously scans for weaknesses, hidden backdoors, and management ports with weak or default passwords that are inadequately secured.
It also scans for poorly encrypted communications.
When this scanner finds something it will spring right into action by correlating the information it gathered from the devices it is protecting with online vulnerability databases.
It sends a thorough report with tips on how to solve the problem and secure your network based on the specific issue identified.
There are quite a bit of additional features in the higher-tiered packages that provide that extra bit of security.
Users can enjoy Bitdefender's anti-spam tool which stops unwanted email from reaching your inbox without any noticeable drag on system performance, a file shredder, a multi-device license, and rootkit detection.
Now, let's get into more detail in this Bitdefender review about the most significant additional features.
Bitdefender’s Parental Control provides you with control over your kids’ devices by matching each of your Windows and Android devices to the child that uses it.
You could also choose to filter inappropriate websites and even optionally monitor your child’s social media activity.
But on an Android device Parental Control does even more:
Should you choose, Parental Control for Android allows you to block unwanted calls and get notifications if the phone reports back as being in an area that you’ve designated as “restricted.”
Bitdefender’s Optimizer function automatically speeds up your device’s performance by running optimization tasks on your operating system.
The OneClick Optimizer can free up space and speed up the system along with the Disk Cleanup, Registry Cleanup, and Privacy Cleanup.
There is an interface to see how many junk files, registry issues, and privacy issues are found.
Nice crowd wisdom feature:
Optimize your start-up performance through the Startup Optimizer, which monitors how each process contributes to your startup time and displays this in a chart alongside information about how many other Bitdefender users chose to enable, delay, or disable that process.
Bitdefender knows that it can be challenging to keep track of your passwords in an organized and secure way.
That’s where Bitdefender Wallet steps in, generating strong passwords, storing them, protecting your privacy, and providing a secure browsing experience.
This is a new and improved privacy tool that notifies users about WiFi profiles and whether they are trusted or not.
Basically, there is a list of all the available public networks that display buttons under each entry to indicate if its trusted or untrusted.
This tool activates itself automatically every time a user connects to an unsafe public WiFi network so that that maximum protection is configured for all protected devices.
A warning message will appear saying that connecting to an unsecured WiFi network poses major risks to the user's privacy, and then Bitdefender recommends using the VPN secured browser to surf online.
While common for mobile security products, it isn’t often that you see anti-theft protection in a security program designed for PCs.
Despite that, don’t you want to protect your laptop against theft, just as you would protect your phone?
You can access the anti-theft interface from any internet-connected device, locate your PC, and choose to lock or wipe it.
Bitdefender provides top-of-the-line web protection via an extension called TrafficLight installed in your web browser of choice – Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.
Once installed, it blocks suspicious content, adds indicators next to search engine results to indicate which links are safe, and lets you know if the site you are visiting is tracking your activity.
Additionally, TrafficLight includes anti-adware which helps you block and remove intrusive and annoying adware from your system.
Available only in the US at this stage, the Bitdefender Box protects all your internet-connected devices.
Whether it's your smart TV, your gaming console of choice, or even your remotely-controlled light switches, the Box notifies you of vulnerabilities in your home network with a network vulnerability assessment mechanism, includes a convenient app to manage all of your devices, provides identity protection, and acts as a buffer between you and potential threats by intercepting all internet traffic and filtering out malicious elements with loT devices protection.
It even integrates the management of your PC Bitdefender installation, so you can manage and schedule scans from one location.
The biggest advantage of the Bitdefender Box is that it acts like a real network firewall like one you would typically find in high-end networks. This unique position gives this appliance a real advantage in protecting and monitoring your network.
Note: The Box supports the iOS operating system.
Bitdefender's recommended system requirements are pretty reasonable for this day and age.
PC users need a Windows 7 SP1 / 8 / 8.1 / 10, an Intel CORE 2 Duo (2GHz) processor, 2 GB of RAM and 2 GB of free disk space.
The minimum requirements are slightly more lax, but I prefer to stay on the safe side and recommend a system stronger than the bare minimum.
Mac users need 1 GB of RAM and 1 GB of free disk space, and OS X 10.8.x or a later version.
For Android users version 2.3.3 or higher is enough to run Bitdefender for Android.
When you evaluate anti-malware endpoint solutions or an antivirus, you have to take everything into consideration in order to determine if it can serve protection suite by itself.
Bitdefender has mostly everything I would want from a top antivirus provider.
However, I'd like to see Bitdefender offer a backup solution, VPN, and a virtual desktop to make it that much more perfect.
The business products Bitdefender offers are just as impressive in the possibilities they offer as their products for home users.
These plans are scalable and can be adjusted to any size of business, from small offices to large Enterprises.
They offer protection across operating systems, physical and virtual machines, and devices (including servers).
The business can choose to host the software locally, or to let Bitdefender host it on their side.
All in all:
GravityZone is a top-notch protection solution for all your business needs.
The Bitdefender Mobile Security App comes with features to ensure that your device remains protected.
Downloadable from the Google Play Store and coming in at only $14.95 for the paid version.
You can also acquire a license by purchasing one of Bitdefender's multi-device product bundles.
It’s true that it’s easier to stay protected on a Mac than on a PC but my Bitdefender review wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t mention this:
Mac malware does exist, and it is possible that your computer could become endangered by malicious software targeting Macs, and even viruses and malware that target PCs.
Bitdefender’s first line of defense against internet threats is its Continuous Scan, which runs in the background and continuously tests any new or changed file.
In third party testing, this antivirus testing performed extremely well, detecting at least 99 percent of all Mac-specific threats.
What happens if you purchase a subscription to Bitdefender antivirus software but then decide that it isn’t for you?
Bitdefender offers a no questions asked 30-day money-back guarantee.
So, if you’d like to try Bitdefender but aren’t sure that you’ll love it – just take advantage of the 30 days!
Bitdefender antivirus provides the best antivirus solutions on the market, with impressive anti-virus and anti-malware and active ransomware protection.
It performed very well and consistently so, in independent test results over the last 4 years.
But, there’s much more to it than that:
Tack on the additional features and the fact that Bitdefender manages to add all this protection to your PC or mobile device without any noticeable decline in performance, and we’ve got a winner.
It is no wonder that many computer security enthusiasts recommend Bitdefender on many online forums and social groups.
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