Bitdefender Total Security Review

Find out why we recommend Bitdefender Total Security for Windows devices.

In any discussion about top-notch antivirus software, the name Bitdefender is likely to pop up more than once. With more than 500 million users, this Bucharest-based firm produces software that performs consistently well in tests, intercepting nearly all forms of malware it's exposed to.

Bitdefender Total Security is a suite that builds on this very successful antivirus software by adding some unique and highly useful features. It operates on Windows as well as macOS, iOS, and Android-based mobile devices.

But is it equally effective for all devices? Do you get the same features on each? Let's take a look.

Features

First, the Windows version of Bitdefender Total Security has the most features, including:

  • Protection against Ransomware
  • Ransomware Shield keeps protected files from being modified without authorization - good for preventing zero-day attacks
  • "OneClick Optimizer" promises to clean up your Windows hard drive and optimize performance
  • Two-way firewall
  • Antispam that keeps annoying e-mails out of your inbox
  • Rescue Environment allows you to remove any malware that does get through and restore your system
  • Webcam protection that'll shut down unauthorized access attempts
  • Anti-theft features that help you locate a stolen laptop
  • Anti-tracker that keeps sites from collecting information about your online behavior for advertising purposes (available for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer)
  • A VPN for more secure and anonymous web browsing
  • On a Mac system, you'll get:

  • Solid protection through Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac, a separate program with many of the features listed above
  • Excellent anti-phishing protection
  • Features specific to Android include:

  • Protection against malware
  • Anti-theft alarm is just as useful if you've simply misplaced your phone
  • App lock that'll take a picture of anyone trying to input your PIN
  • Finally, on iOS, Bitdefender gives you access to:

  • Web protection
  • iPad-specific support
  • A VPN
  • Installation and setup

    You can download Bitdefender Total Security here.

    Open the .exe file and, after a bit of loading, you'll come to your first installation screen.

    Read and accept the subscription agreement.

    Here you can also check or uncheck the "Product reports" option - this will allow data from the software on your PC to be sent to Bitdefender so it can be better optimized.

    Finally, press Install, and the process will begin.

    During the installation, both the main software and Bitdefender VPN will be installed.

    Once this is complete, you'll be brought to a new screen with a "Start Device Assessment" button. Pressing this will begin a first time scan for malware.

    If you're in a bit of a hurry or otherwise don't want to start a scan, press the "Skip" option instead to get right into the main menu.

    Either way, you'll have to create a Bitdefender account. You can do this within the software - just enter your name, e-mail address, and desired password.

    You'll then be asked for your activation code - this will be in your e-mail if you bought the product. If you did and it isn't, contact Bitdefender for another e-mail.

    There's also an option to start a free trial.

    Once you enter your activation code or opt for the free trial, click next, and you'll finally be in the program proper.

    To install on Android, send yourself an email from Bitdefender Central. This is the main program from which you can manage all your devices. You open the email on Google Play, and the software will download and install.

    To install on an iOS-based phone, follow the same process.

    User interface

    The first thing you'll see is the Dashboard - the "main page" of the software. You navigate the program by clicking the tabs on the left side of the window.

    On the Dashboard page, you can execute a quick scan or a more in-depth system scan to find and eliminate malware

    The vulnerability scan will inform you of certain vulnerabilities like weak passwords or certain system settings.

    From the Dashboard, you can access the VPN as well as "Safepay," a protected browser that promises to ensure financial transactions are completely secure.

    You can add more options to your Dashboard by clicking the "Add a quick action" button, or modify which ones are there by hovering over the option you wish to change and clicking the little pen in the upper right corner. Feel free to customize as you wish so that you can access certain features more quickly.

    Under the Protection tab, you can tweak the antivirus settings (recommended only for advanced users) or create custom scans.

    Here you can also access Advanced Threat Defense, modify Online Threat Protection, modify your Ransomware protections, access the Firewall, and tweak Antispam settings.

    The Privacy tab gives you access to the Password Manager, Video & Audio Protection settings, the Anti-Tracker, along with a Parental Advisor you can use to monitor your kids' online activity.

    Finally, under your Utilities tab, you'll find the Anti-Theft, OneClick Optimizer, and File Shredder.

    Obviously, the UI will be a bit different on Android and iPhone, but still have the same tabs, this time along the bottom of the screen.

    What Bitdefender Total Security offers

    Bitdefender Total Security provides users with real-time protection against a range of malware - it has access to a database that's constantly updated.

    If your computer does become infected, the Rescue Environment feature allows you to scan the affected hard drive.

    The program will also protect you as you're browsing the web, especially from phishing attempts.

    One very cool feature - one which could potentially prove invaluable - is Bitdefender's anti-theft protection. Say your laptop is stolen. If the thief connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, you'll be able to locate where they are.

    That being said, things will be a bit more difficult if they connect directly to the Internet via an ethernet cable.

    To access Anti-Theft, you'll have to go to the Utilities section and then click Go to Central.

    In Bitdefender Central, you can track - or even wipe all the information on - your laptop.

    Try using Safepay next time you make a purchase or send money - this will keep your information secure, and you can even change the settings under the Privacy tab so that Safepay will launch automatically when you need it.

    What Bitdefender Total Security does not offer

    Bitdefender Total Security really doesn't lack features, at least on Windows - the only real issue is that the VPN is a bit lackluster, with a bandwidth limit of 200 MB/daily. You'll be able to make payments and such, but you wouldn't want to use it as your main browser because you're very limited in what you can do. To upgrade, you'll have to pay an additional fee.

    iOS is really where Bitdefender Total Security falls short. Since it doesn't block specific web pages, and only domain names, it's very vulnerable, especially to phishing attempts.

    Lab results

    Fortunately, Bitdefender software receives perfect or near-perfect lab results from several major independent testing firms.

    AV-Test found it had a 100 % detection rate for known threats, as well as a 100 % detection rate for zero-day (brand new) threats.

    AV-Comparatives reported a detection rate of 99.6 % for Bitdefender, which is just s 0.1 percentage point behind industry leader Kaspersky's software.

    As for the Mac version, AV-Comparatives found that it protected against 100 % of Mac-specific malware.

    The one drawback here is that, in AV-Test's evaluation, Bitdefender reported 12 false positives, more than other antivirus software.

    Pros

    • Solid anti-malware software with nearly a 100 % detection rate for both recognized and novel threats
    • Includes all the extra features you'd want in a security suite - with a firewall, VPN, webcam protection, anti-theft, and more, the software lives up to its name
    • $89.99 a year for 5 devices, and $99.99 a year for 10 devices - the more devices you use, the more money you'll save
    • Available on multiple devices

    Cons

    • Great on Windows, but fewer features on Android and iOS
    • The hard disk cleanup isn't as effective as some free software, such as CCleaner
    • VPN has only a 200 MB daily bandwidth - to get a usage increase, you'll have to pay extra
    • A relatively high number of false positives

    Final verdict

    For Windows, Bitdefender Total Security is a 10/10 product, easily. For Mac, it's more like 8/10 while for Android it's 7/10. Solid protection for both, but Windows is really where it shines.

    When it comes to iOS, you should completely forgo Bitdefender.

    Overall, if you're looking to defend your Windows system, you can't go wrong with Bitdefender. It also tests incredibly well on Mac, and the unique Android features are useful.