Far too many software suites need to go on a diet. Software houses try to pack in feature after seldom-used feature in order to convince the customer to buy their product over others. While customers may technically be “getting more for their money,” they may end up actually losing in the long run if they use only a small percentage of the features, as the package takes up disk space that could be better applied to other things. BitDefender doesn’t suffer from feature bloat. It is a targeted package that does a few things but does them well. The package includes a virus scanner and an anti-spyware scanner that both offer a deep set of features wrapped around a clean and accessible user interface. With a relatively small disk and memory footprint, BitDefender is the package of choice for those who want a compact package that does its job well.
Price to Value (4 out of 5)
Installation & Setup (4 out of 5)
Product Features (4 out of 5)
This version of BitDefender does not include a firewall, so users will have to depend on Windows’ adequate firewall or purchase a separate product.
I really like the fact that BitDefender exposes the work its doing. Applications that work in the background but directly affect other work being done on the computer should give users a way to view those background processes in case of issues. BitDefender does that well both with the application-based audit system and the scan activity bar. Scheduled scans can be done easily and with plenty of customization through the task scheduler. [bitdefender_scheduler.JPG]
User Interface (5 out of 5)
I’ll discuss BitDefender’s user interface in terms of two main components: first, the main application, which is the primary component of BitDefender and where most of the modifications and activity are done. Second, the taskbar icon provides another view into the security suite and offers some healthy right-click functionality. I’ll also mention that BitDefender has a unique “activity bar” that graphically shows the current scanning state of the files on your system. This unobtrusively sits on your desktop and can help you monitor activity spikes and alert you to potential issues.
The main application interface is not flashy but well laid out and very accessible. It’s a custom interface (it doesn’t appear to use standard Windows dialog boxes), which probably provides consistency across versions of Windows and custom user desktops. I prefer the clean, approachable design to other security packages I’ve tested. [bitdefender_user_interface_main.JPG]
The interface uses a tab metaphor and the designers made it very easy to determine where you are at any place in application. Like other modern security suites, the BitDefender UI places the most-used features at the entry point of the UI. When the application is opened, users can perform a system scan, update the software, and modify the security level without having to click to another screen.
Each section has plenty of help text as well, so you know what you’re looking at and what each item does. Additionally, the product provides a sidebar for each section with more help information and a link at the bottom of each sidebar that opens the BitDefender help file with even more assistance. The help system is built on the older CHM-style help, which means it’s available offline and fully searchable. The downside is that the content isn’t dynamically updated.
The UI is divided into four main sections accessed by tabs along the left-hand side: General, Antivirus, Antispyware, and Update. Clicking these tabs accesses features related to those functional areas. Sub-features are available by way of tabs located along the top of the section interface. The interface doesn’t create new dialog boxes for most items, so its difficult to get lost and lose track of what you’re doing or where you are.
The colors used in the interface are near-perfect. The designers used high contrast so that the tabs stand out. The colors are pleasant and create a very nice layering effect that is easy on the eyes. Kudos to the designers! This is a model of fine UI design that other packages should study.
I was pleased to see BitDefender implement a strong use of the taskbar. Right-clicking the taskbar icon provides quick access to the main features of the four sections noted above in the main application. Users can turn off realtime scanning or initiate a system scan from the tray icon. The only feature the icon lacks is the ability to pause all scanning for a limited duration with a single click. Realtime scanning has to be turned off for each scanner (virus and spyware) separately, and has to be re-enabled manually. BitDefender can be closed or shut down from the taskbar and help is available from the icon as well.
BitDefender uses pop-ups located near the system tray to alert users to issues. Because it doesn’t contain a firewall, I wasn’t alerted nearly as often as I am in other products. The pop-up window is large and clear and isn’t accompanied by any audible cues. I would prefer the option of including an audio cue, but the lack of one isn’t an issue for my preferences.
Performance (4 out of 5)
Without scanners: average transfer time of 15942ms.
With scanners: average transfer time of 16043ms.
Test 2 – Small files.
Without scanners: average transfer time of 4721ms.
With scanners: average transfer time of 7964ms.
Test 3 – Web sites
Without scanners: average transfer time of 7061ms.
With scanners: average transfer time of 4968ms.
Given the variability of network conditions and operating system processes, the differences in the first and last tests are statistically insignificant (in fact, the web browsing test actually showed an increase in performance). The differences in the small files test raised some concern, though. On average, it took almost two times longer to transfer many smaller files with the scanners on than it did with them off. I had a similar experience earlier in the year with BitDefender on my Windows Vista machine. I had to uninstall the product due to performance problems mainly with web browsing but also with general file transfers. Of course, this may or may not represent real-world behavior, but the purpose of my tests was to see if the scanners would cause an immediate and obvious drop in performance doing some basic tasks. Due to the potential performance hit, interested readers may want to download a trial version and do some real-world testing before committing to a purchase.
Security & Privacy (4 out of 5)
Help & Support (4 out of 5)
BitDefender AntiVirus should provide a way for users to turn off all scanners with a single mouse click from the tray icon. Another welcome addition would be the ability to have the scanners automatically re-enabled after a specific time has elapsed. I’d also like to see more integration with online services.
Overall, BitDefender Antivirus version 10 is a modest but solid package sporting one of the better user interfaces of the security suites I’ve looked at. Its overall performance is acceptable and the software delivers on what it promises. I recommend it for users who are looking for straightforward, richly apportioned tools that do their job well without a lot of extras.
Norton Antivirus, McAfee Antivirus, Microsoft OneCare, Trend Micro Internet Security, Computer Associates Internet Security