January 17, 2012
- Silent firewall protection
- Above average protection ratings
- Anti-phishing & privacy protection
- Intrusion detection is disabled by default
Bitdefender Total Security 2012 is a full security software suite that offers an antivirus, firewall, online backup, parental control and more. It has a lightweight profile despite being a very complete program, which is really important because it won't slow down your computer. The protection offered by this program was rated to be above average in our tests and by AVTest.org.
The interface of Bitdefender Total Security 2012 is fairly straightforward. There's four panels across the bottom half of the interface that give you one-click access to each component of the program. We do wish, however, that more of these panels could be shown at once, perhaps in a tile-like fashion. As it shows, you have to slide horizontally to view more of the panels, which can be cumbersome at times.
Across the top, there's an at-a-glance status indicator to quickly see if your computer is protected or needs attention. There's also an events button that will show notifications of any issues that have come up. Next to that is a settings button, which brings you to the area to configure all aspects of the program. Lastly, the Auto Pilot toggle lets you set the program to run completely on its own and handle any security issues both automatically and silently. Most users will want to use this option and it is turned on by default.
The settings area of Bitdefender Total Security 2012 is very comprehensive and easy to navigate. Here you can adjust the level of security for each component of the program individually. For example, the antivirus is set as "normal" for both on-access scanning and active virus control. Changing this is done by a simple slider and each setting is accompanied by a short explanation, which is always helpful.
One area worth mentioning is the firewall settings, which seemed to have a much-needed feature turned off by default. The intrusion detection system, which blocks the installation of malware drivers as well as malicious software that try to circumvent the Bitdefender software, should be enabled by default, but it isn't.
The software's privacy protection includes a Bitdefender toolbar, which works to protect you from suspicious websites, including those pesky phishing scams. It does this by verifying each website that you visit and shows its status in a small toolbar that worked with both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox in our testing. Also, if you visit a site that you believe to be suspicious, you can activate a "sandbox" mode, which will prevent the site from accessing or saving anything to your computer's files.
Another privacy protection is the identity theft protection, which monitors databases that look for suspicious activity and looks for changes in your online information. This service is turned on by default and only available in the United States.
In our testing, we found the firewall to be very unobtrusive, which is a must because users (as well as us) hate to be overloaded with notifications. Silent protection is something that Bitdefender Total Security 2012 does really well. The firewall also protects against port scans and can monitor your Wi-Fi connections if you let it.
According to the very respectable AV-Test.org, Bitdefender Total Security 2012 was above average in every protection category when scored against other similar security software. It earned a 100% rating in all three categories (real-world testing, recent malware, common malware), which was either at or above the average in each category. It was also highly-rated when it came to cleaning and repair of an infected computer. You can view the whole report for this software at AV-Test.org.
In our testing of the software with some malicious software of our choosing, the software was able to detect, block and fix each file. It was also able to install successfully despite the computer being infected with malware, which can sometimes throw-off other security software. Before the installation, it does run a system scan to prevent this problem.
The parental controls work with the Windows accounts that exist on your computer, so you must use this as a way for the software to know who is using the computer. Bitdefender makes it easy by allowing you to choose their age range to set it up or you can dig into the custom settings for more control. You can block or allow categories of online content and is browser-independent, which is always a must. You may also setup computer usage times as well as application controls.
Bitdefender provides you with 2GB of secure online backup/storage space with your subscription via the SafeBox feature. This 2GB of space is available for each of the three licenses that the software comes with. The software lets you select folders on your computer to backup to the Internet, but no way to control it beyond that, so there's no file or file-type selection. You may also use this feature to synchronize files across your Bitdefender-installed computers. Bitdefender offers an upgrade to 25GB of storage space for $50/year.
A system tune-up feature is also included, which lets you clean your Windows registry, file duplicate files, clean-up cache and defragment your hard drive. It's a handy feature to have, but it offers nothing special in the end.
In the end, Bitdefender Total Security 2012 didn't have much of a performance hit on our HP Pavilion laptop running Windows 7 Ultimate. It took up 241MB of hard drive space and had no detectable impact on the system's boot-up time. There was one curiosity, however, in the way the software changed the way our laptop logs into Windows. Previously, it utilized a biometric fingerprint scan to log in, but after the install, Windows only allowed us to log in by password.