With a name like BitDefender Total Security 2008, you might think that BitDefender might have overdosed a bit on the hyperbole. However, this very-well specified utility bundle does seem to have most threats to your PC covered. Topping out BitDefender Total Security 2008's veritable laundry list of features are a handful of PC tune-up tools that eliminate duplicate files, clean out the Registry and defrag your hard disk. This is more or less the same feature set as Symantec Norton 360 but, since the 3-user version of Total Security sells for about £36, Norton works out as a rather expensive alternative.

As well as having a revised feature set, BitDefender Total Security 2008's other striking difference over the previous release is a much simplified front-end, which has far more in common with Symantec Norton 360. It's split into four large panes that report the status of the four main components Parental Control, Security, Backup and Tune-up. A colour-coded button indicates at a glance what is going on and, as with Norton 360, you want to see four green ticks in order to relax completely. If you see anything else, a click on a ‘Fix all issues' button can automatically sort things out for you. A Quick Tasks panel lets you perform a handful of common tasks while the nitty-gritty settings are tucked away at the bottom of the screen. So BitDefender Total Security 2008 presents a shallow learning curve, a big improvement over last year's model.

BitDefender's AV credentials have been pretty good for the past few years at the very least. In recent time it has won the Virus Bulletin's VB100% award 14 times out of 18 and both ICSA Labs and West Coast Labs certify it for virus detection and removal. It has also earned certification AV-Comparatives and CheckVir. BitDefender Total Security 2008 certainly keeps itself vigorously up to date - it downloads virus signature updates hourly.

BitDefender Total Security 2008 lumps together its antivirus and antispyware scanning and as a result scanning speeds are on a par with, if not better than, its rivals. Virus scans can be scheduled or run manually. BitDefender Total Security 2008's real-time protection additionally scans all files when accessed and all incoming and outgoing email messages. And when BitDefender Total Security 2008 finds some malware it prevents you from accessing the file in any way - you can't even delete it. Spyware protection is much enhanced over its predecessor and BitDefender Total Security 2008 can cope with rootkits and other malware with aplomb. BitDefender Total Security 2008 now performs a preinstall scan to remove any resident spyware during installation.


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