Bitdefender Internet Security 2013: Excellent protection, user-friendly interface

Bitdefender's user-friendly interface will appeal to all user levels.

Bitdefender Internet Security 2013 ($70 for one year and three PCs, as of 12/19/12) may just be everything that you'd want in a security suite. This program, which earned the highest rating in both our real-world attack test and our system cleanup test, has a user-friendly interface that will appeal to both regular and advanced users. It also comes with several extra services, such as antitheft protection for various mobile devices.

In our real-world attack test (which indicates how well a suite will be able to block new malware attacks as it encounters them), Bitdefender completely blocked 100 percent of attacks. (Four other tested security suites also put up perfect scores in this test: F-Secure, G Data, Norton, and Trend Micro.) Bitdefender was also able to detect 98.8 percent of known malware samples in our malware-zoo detection test. That's not a bad detection rate, but five of the nine security suites in this year's roundup had detection rates of 99.0 percent or higher.

Bitdefender managed to detect and disable 100 percent of the infections in our system cleanup test, and it successfully cleaned up all traces of infections 90 percent of the time. This result is the best full-cleanup rate of any of the suites we tested--only F-Secure Internet Security 2013 had a similar cleanup rate (90 percent). Bitdefender flagged just one file (out of over 250,000) as malicious, which gives it a very low false-positive percentage compared with its competition.

The program adds just a little extra weight to your system--in other words, its slowdowns are tolerable. It added 3.5 seconds to startup time (compared to a PC with no antivirus program installed), which puts it in the lower half of the suites we tested. It also added a second or so to shutdown time. Bitdefender has the longest on-demand scanning time (2 minutes, 1 second) of the programs we tested, and the fourth-longest on-access scanning time (5 minutes, 41 seconds).

Bitdefender's installation process is a little tedious. It has only six screens to click through, but a couple of those screens re­­quire user input (such as choosing whether to turn on certain features), and the last screen requires you to log in to, or create, a Bitdefender account. Bitdefender does not come with a browser toolbar, but it does install a widget that sits on your desktop and displays protection status and notifications.

Bitdefender's user interface is attractive and nicely laid out, with a large banner that shows protection status and smaller modules for specific areas of protection. It's easy to find things on the main screen: A big settings button, for example, takes you to a comprehensive list of settings, to a notifications area, and to smaller modules (for antivirus functions, online privacy, the firewall, program updates, and so on) that allow you to quickly access and configure those features.

Settings and options are abundant, but not overwhelming. Bitdefender does a good job of keeping things simple, unless you want to see more-advanced options. If you do start to get a little confused, you can always click the help button in the bottom-right corner of each screen to see pop-up messages that describe what the settings do.

Bitdefender also lets you manage your services, apps, and mobile devices from a Web portal called MyBitdefender. This portal, which you sign up for when you install the program, lets you configure online parental controls, manage Facebook and Twitter protection, set up antitheft protection for your devices, activate identity theft protection, and access Bitdefender's Safebox cloud backup storage (you get 2GB for free).

Overall, Bitdefender's 2013 Internet security suite is an excellent, user-friendly program. It does have some mild scanning-speed issues, but otherwise it's an easy-to-use suite that gives you several nice extra services.

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