Bitdefender Internet Security 2012 ($89.95 for one year and three PCs) comes in third in our 2012 roundup of security suites. But although it earned the bronze overall, it captured the highest rating in our malware detection, blocking, and removal tests. Those fantastic results, combined with the software's excellent interface, make it a great choice.
The Bitdefender suite found and blocked 96 percent of samples in our real-world malware tests (which help to show how well antivirus software can stop brand-new malware), and it spotted 99.96 percent of known malware samples. Both of those results are very good--the latter was the third-best result in that particular test that we saw this year. False positives were almost nonexistent, as the suite misidentified only one safe file as being malicious. And the Bitdefender software was the best of the test group in cleanup, too: It detected and disabled all active sample infections, and removed every last trace of malware 90 percent of the time.
Bitdefender’s revamped interface is our favorite. Last year we criticized BitDefender's old approach: The previous version of the suite had three different modes tailored to beginners, intermediate users, and experts. We found that this setup overcomplicated matters, since the basic mode was a little too simplistic, but the advanced mode was an overwhelming mix of tabs and toggles.
Its new design, though, should be easy for beginners to understand, but it still maintains plenty of flexibility for advanced users. Screens are laid out nicely, and at no point did I feel overwhelmed by the settings panes. At the top of the main window is a status indicator that lets you know whether you're protected; below that is a side-scrolling panel that allows you to turn various suite components on or off, or to drill down deeper to toggle more settings.
The individual settings panes have lots of controls, but they're arranged nicely. Clicking the help button in each one (denoted with a question mark) produces pop-up messages that describe what the settings do. And the program’s new “Auto Pilot” mode puts protection levels at their recommended settings; you can toggle it with a simple on/off switch located on the main control panel.
Bitdefender could stand to improve its suite's impact on overall PC performance, though. The Bitdefender package slowed startup times more than any other suite we looked at, adding over 10 seconds to our test PC's boot time as compared to a fresh install of Windows. It also dragged our PC down significantly when we copied files over a network, completing that test in 5 minutes, 37 seconds. (By comparison, our test machine finished the copying operation in 60 seconds without antivirus software installed.)
Its scan speeds are respectable: Bitdefender's on-demand (manual) scanner checked 4.5GB of data for malware in 1 minute, 56 seconds, placing around the middle of the pack. The on-access scanner (which runs whenever you open or save a file) completed its check of 4.5GB in 4 minutes, 25 seconds; although that's a slightly better-than-average result, it still ranked seventh among the 14 suites we looked at.
That said, if you can tolerate such system performance issues, Bitdefender Internet Security 2012 is an excellent suite for novice and advanced users alike.