Bitdefender didn't quite match Windows Defender's performance in recent tests but provides plenty of extra features to help protect your devices, including a full VPN service, as well as cover for non-Windows devices.
- Wide range of features and device support
- Includes VPN
- High renewal costs
- Lower protection rating than Windows Defender in one test
- Review Price: £35
- Clients for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- 3 devices
- Browser link checking
- Webcam protection
- Password manager
- Silent detection mode
- Parental controls
What is Bitdefender Total Security?
Bitdefender’s anti-malware engine is popular and effective, and the company provides plenty of useful extra utilities and features if you subscribe to its higher tiers, including parental controls and a VPN service.
From Bitdefender’s official UK site, a 5-device Total Security 2020 subscription currently costs £29.99, going up to £69.99 (the standard price) after the first year. However, you can buy a physical activation code on Amazon for £19.99, which you can also add to existing subscriptions to the same product, making it a more wallet-friendly way to renew.
Bitdefender Total Security provides a definitive suite of security tools at a very reasonable price. It did well at protecting against malware, but nonetheless put in a worse performance than Windows Defender during the same test period. If you want a security suite with plenty of bells and whistles, Bitdefender is well equipped, but Symantec’s Norton 360 Deluxe performs better and does just as much – sans device management, but with online backups instead.
Bitdefender Total Security – Features, set-up and usability
Unlike some of its rivals, Bitdefender requires you to create an account to use it, as part of its management and deployment interface is cloud-based. You also can’t have multiple products active on a single account.
Its ransomware protection is enabled by default and somewhat aggressive. A number of key folders – Documents, Pictures and Videos – are protected as soon as you install the software and if any program that Bitdefender doesn’t recognise attempts to write to them, it’s blocked and you’re presented with a pop-up warning.
You have to enable write permissions for individual unrecognised applications in the Application Access section of the Protection tab. You can also manually add and remove folders from your Safe Files list for protection.
Its integrated firewall settings aren’t as hardcore as products from rivals such as Kaspersky and Symantec – we were able to RDP to the test machine with its network connection configured as public, for example. The firewall has a conveniently searchable rules list and its user-friendly focus on per-application access rules, although you can still set broad rules based on port or IP address.
Bitdefender’s main dashboard provides recommendations to improve system security and quick access to its on-demand malware scanner, a rebranded Hotspot Shield VPN – included in a Total Security subscription but installed separately. The SafePay sandboxed browser, designed to let you check your bank accounts safely, lets you install quick action widgets.
Most of the software’s core features can be found under the protection tab, including various malware defence modules, vulnerability scanners, an anti-spam tool for local email clients and ransomware remediation tools. Rather than an option to create a bootable rescue disk from within the client, there an option which boots your system to a safe rescue environment. If you need a bootable rescue disc, Bitdefender makes an ISO file available to everyone for free.
Under Privacy, you’ll find password management, secure delete, encryption, webcam protection and parental control tools, the latter of which requires the creation of profiles for your kids on the Bitdefender online cloud-based management system, while extras in the Utilities tab include system optimisation and cleanup tools, plus an anti-theft system that that provides online device management, tracking and wiping via Bitdefender Central.
Related: Best Antivirus 2019
Bitdefender – Performance
|Testing facility||AV-TEST||AV Comparatives||SE Labs|
|Real-World Threat Protection||99.75||100%||N/A|
While it’s not quite as widely tested as ubiquitous rival products from Kaspersky, Symantec and McAfee, we’ve got results from the latest tests by AV-TEST and AV Comparatives. It put in a perfect performance at AV Comparatives, protecting against 100% of malware in real-world settings such as drive-by downloads to a web browser, with no false positives.
It didn’t do quite as well in AV-TEST’s two-month trial: while it scored 100% in all its reference set malware detection scans, it slipped up in one month’s real-world zero-day exposure tests, giving it a 100% protection score in July and 99.5% in June. It also misidentified 7 legitimate programs and websites as potentially malicious from a sample set of almost 1.5 million.
By comparison, Windows Defender protected against 100% of malware in all the reference tests we’re referring to for this review. AV-Test found that the software’s impact on system load was among the lowest in the group and that it’s less resource-intensive than Windows Defender, though.
Both AV-Test and AV Comparatives used Bitdefender Internet Security, which provides the same protection features for Windows as Total Security. Total Security also includes parental controls and covers you for Android, iOS and MacOS installations, while Internet Security is Windows-only.
Should I buy Bitdefender Total Security?
Bitdefender didn’t quite match Windows Defender’s performance in recent tests, but for your money, you get extra features, like the Bitdefender VPN, not to mention cover for other non-Windows platforms. If you’re living in a busy house with lots of laptops, PCs and phones floating about, then Bitdefender Total Security will be a better option than simply relying on the free Windows option.
While the standard, non-offer prices are not as competitive as others – £69.99 a year is not as easy on the wallet as £29.99 a year for Symantec Norton 360 Deluxe – the availability of codes from the likes of Amazon, not to mention discounts offered by Bitdefender itself – the 10-device subscription is currently priced at £34.99, down from the usual £79.99 – mean it can be a good value for money option.
Bitdefender offers excellent protection and is bristling with extra features, like the free VPN, password manager to help protect your devices and family, in or out of the house.