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.

Another of BitDefender Total Security 2008's modules that has benefited from a makeover is the BitDefender firewall. As is common, it can stealth all of your ports, meaning that they won't respond when scanned by a port-scanner. Like its rivals, BitDefender Total Security 2008 detects any unsolicited outgoing traffic and prompts you for permission to proceed. BitDefender Total Security 2008 has a list of about 1000 ‘safe' programs and so automatically creates firewall rules to permit IE and Outlook to access the net when you launch them.

Network control is just as easy to get on with. For example, when BitDefender Total Security 2008 detects an insecure Wi-Fi network, it puts it into the ‘Untrusted' zone, until you turn on encryption. BitDefender Total Security 2008 also alerts you when a new computer connects to the network. Another nice touch is the Games mode, which disables updates, pop-ups and alerts. It offers slightly reduced levels of protection, which is better than none - a common and very useful approach for gamers.

BitDefender Total Security 2008 uses a range of techniques to keep the bane of the internet, spam, under control. BitDefender Total Security 2008's NeuNet filter analyses message content to identify spam while a Bayesian learning engine analyses messages that you mark as spam or not spam (along with your outgoing mail) to hone its spam detection abilities. BitDefender Total Security 2008's ability to detect spam is very good however by default, it moves spam messages directly to the Deleted Items folder, which means you really ought to check this before emptying it - just in case.

The huge popularity of digital photos has brought with it a resurgence of interest in backing up data and in common with its other modules, BitDefender Total Security 2008 makes it very simple to back up your data to a variety of media. You can simply give BitDefender Total Security 2008 a generic instruction to back up your music, documents, photos and so on. Or you can backup specific folders or drives, manually or by automatic schedule. All in all, BitDefender Total Security 2008 is a very capable and easy to use backup system.

BitDefender Total Security 2008: Specs

  • Windows XP SP2/Vista/2000
  • 1GHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon
  • 512MB of DDR RAM
  • 65MB hard drive space
  • Windows XP SP2/Vista/2000
  • 1GHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon
  • 512MB of DDR RAM
  • 65MB hard drive space

OUR VERDICT

There are utility bundles and there are utility bundles, but BitDefender Total Security 2008 is definitely up there with the best of them. If you want high levels of security, excellent ease of use plus great VFM you should definitely try BitDefender Total Security 2008 - or at the very least the 30 day trial version. You won't be disappointed.

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