The Total Security label is normally given to top-of-the-range security products and that's certainly the case with Bitdefender Total Security 2014. It has more modules and facets than most suites and combines these with a strong core anti-virus engine. See all software reviews.
As well as AV, malware and spam filtering, the Bitdefender suite includes a two-way firewall, parental control, a separate secure browser, online storage, PC tune-up, anti-theft, identity protection, file encryption and data shredding. Take a look at Security software.
All these elements are controlled from a rather busy single window with a total of 11 panels scrolling through it. Each panel offers configuration options or ways to start scans and updates. It takes a bit of practice to work round them, but Bitdefender's AutoPilot sets sensible defaults, so you only need to tweak things if you want. Take a look at Group test: what's the best security software?
Those with Windows 7 also get a screen gadget which shows when the program is scanning or updating, and highlights any outstanding alerts. (Editor's note: Microsoft no longer endorses the use of third-party gadgets, ironically enough because they present a Windows security risk.) Files and folders can also be dragged there for quick, contextual scans.
Three of the extras are worth a bit more exploration. The secure browser opens when the program detects you've moved to an online banking site and can be used in place of your regular browser, along with a virtual keyboard to foil keyloggers. Your day-to-day passwords can be stored in Bitdefender's Wallet, too, which is an encrypted safebox, which avoids keeping a physical password book.
Online backup takes the form of 2GB of storage on Bitdefender's servers. Rather than offering a conventional scheduled backup, the suite uses a sync regime to mirror selected files and folders and keep them up to date in the cloud. 2GB is quite a small allowance these days, though, when competitors offer up to 25GB.
The Anti-Theft provision is for customers with Windows tablets or laptops and comes into play if the device is stolen. Then from a remote PC, any that has access to the Bitdefender site, you might locate the machine when it's within wireless range, lock it down and if necessary erase its hard drive. Certain government departments will no doubt be impressed. There's no provision to take a picture of the thief though.
Our usage tests show that Bitdefender Total Security 2014 scans virtually every file in a bundle the first time it's used. It looked at 1,390,387 files in our 50GB basket, which took 2 hours 20 minutes, giving a good scan rate of 166 files/sec. A repeat scan checked just 10,172, in 7 seconds, so it's intelligent enough not to repeat-scan unchanged files.
We saw a 17 percent increase in the copy time of 2GB of files when there was a scan running, so the scanner doesn't produce too heavy a resource load. AV-Test also scored it very highly, at 16.5/18.0 and it won the best Repair award for home use in 2012, using the 3013 version of the engine. The 2014 product is too new to have been tested yet.
The three sub categories in AV-Test evaluation gave a perfect 6.0/6.0 for Performance, 5.5/6.0 for Repair and 5.0/6.0 for Usability.