Verdict: Recommended for confident users on a tight budget. Bitdefender offers very good protection at a remarkably low price. It runs quite fast on modern PCs, although we don't recommend it for low-power computers. Even though the program design is very good, we wouldn't recommend it for beginners, due to a tendency to nag, and some false positives.
Current version: 2010
Price for Home Version, including VAT, for 1 year: 1 user £16.95; 3 users £19.95; 5 users £32.95
Will it run on my computer? According to the manufacturers, Bitdefender Antivirus runs on Windows XP with an 800 MHz or higher processor, 256 MB of RAM Memory (512 MB recommended), 300 MB available hard disk space; Windows Vista with an 800 MHz or higher processor, 512 MB of RAM Memory (1 GB recommended), and 300 MB available hard disk space. Based on our own tests, we would recommend a dual-core processor, and 2 GB RAM for Windows Vista/Windows 7. If you need help finding the specification of your computer, click here.
Protection: Very good. In 2 tests by AV-Comparatives in 2009, Bitdefender Antivirus detected 97.8% and 98% of some 1.5 million viruses and other dangerous programs, an above-average score. In proactive tests, designed to see how well antivirus programs recognise new, unknown threats, Bitdefender scored 50% and 53%, again above average. To find out more about AV-Comparatives' tests, click here.
Speed: Good on modern PCs. Bitdefender received an Advanced award in AV-Comparatives' performance tests this year. In our own tests to see how much the program increased the startup time of a PC, it was a little below average, adding 15 seconds to the boot time. On older PCs, we have found it slows startup very significantly.
False alarms: Average. Although we have not experienced any false alarms when testing BitDefender, in AV-Comparatives' February/May 2009 tests, Bitdefender's award was reduced from Advanced+ to Advanced because of too many false positives (false alarms).
Ease of use: Fair. In many ways, the program design is outstanding. There are Novice, Intermediate and Expert modes, giving different levels of options, depending on how experienced the user is. We like this idea very much, and wish other software manufacturers would adopt the idea (the screenshot above shows the Intermediate mode). Unfortunately, BitDefender is inclined to nag. It will show you its red warning triangle on the program symbol if you haven't done a full scan in the last few days, or if you are missing any Windows updates, including entirely optional ones. This could lead beginners into simply ignoring the warning, meaning that when a more serious warning comes along, they might ignore it (the "boy who cried wolf" principle).
Telephone support: Good service after a long wait. To find the support telephone number on the website, you have to log in using the username and password set up during program installation (so remember them!). On each of the 3 occasions we have called BitDefender support, we have had to wait about 20 minutes for any response. Once the phone simply went dead at this point, which was of course very frustrating. On the other two occasions, we reached polite, friendly helpful operatives who spoke very good English, and resolved the issues very quickly.
Other information: If you have moved your Windows Documents folder to a different location, BitDefender Setup may fail, giving you the error message "Invalid Drive Z:". If this happens, the secret is to use a different account, in which the user folders have not been moved from their default locations. If you don't have another account, make one for this purpose. It will need to have administrator rights.
Our experience with the program: the program is not well-known or widely used in the UK, so our experience of it has been confined to testing.
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