January 03, 2011, 9:07 PM — Are you a casual computer user who wants a streamlined security software experience? Or are you a dyed-in-the-wool computer pro who wants access to every configuration option, security alert, and log- file entry?
With BitDefender Internet Security 2011 ($50 for a one-year, three-PC license as of 12/2/2010), BitDefender's goal is to cover you either way: Unique among security applications, it offers three different user interface views, one showing the absolute basics, another an intermediate view with a moderate amount of information, and third, an expert view with everything laid bare.
We expect most users will find the basic view too basic, while true novices may have difficulty finding the option to immediately scan their PC (it lurks beneath a large box labeled "Security"). The intermediate view is unique, reminiscent of an icon-based smartphone interface, with a series of boxes where various "tools" ("Update Now," "Configure Firewall," and so on) can be arranged by the user, much like app icons on an iPhone. And then there's the overwhelming expert mode, where I spent most of my time, if only because it offered the best access to advanced configuration options.
Organization could be better here--if nothing else, we'd appreciate the option to run a scan from the main dashboard without digging into the tabs--but on the whole, it isn't too much trouble to find what you need.
BitDefender's overall protection levels are very good, but short of the topmost tier of products we reviewed. In our examination, the suite stopped 22 of 25 real-world attacks and turned away 97.5% of known malware in traditional detection tests. Those figures sound good, but top products blocked 24 real-world attacks, and hit 99% or higher on the latter measure.
BitDefender excels in the realm of avoiding false positives: It had absolutely none in our tests, and it tied with PC Tools Internet Security as having the best overall success at fixing infected PCs, removing active malware components in 80% of infections, and removing all traces of malware 70% of the time. Unfortunately, BitDefender has a serious sore spot when it comes to system speed: While on-demand and on-access scan speeds were acceptable, simply having BitDefender installed slows your computer down considerably: Of the 13 products we tested, BitDefender was third to last when it came to its impact on our test PC's performance.