When looking at PC antivirus programs to download, it's hard not to bump into Bitdefender at every turn. It has become the de facto standard for everyday Windows antivirus protection, and with good reason.
We used Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2015 on a Windows 8.1 PC, which is the first of three premium products available. The license costs $39.95/year for one PC. Internet Security 2015 adds two-way firewall, parental control, and cloud antispam for an extra $20/year. Total Security 2015 includes secure cloud storage, device anti-theft, and file encryption on top of that for an additional $30/year. Take a look at the full Bitdefender comparison chart here to see how the features across versions stack up.
Out of the box, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2015 has low-profile, always-on detection that they call Autopilot. The desktop presence is very subdued; if a threat is threat is detected, it's quietly taken care of without harassing you with pop-ups in this mode. A single removable desktop widget shows your PC's health at a glance and the notification count. You can drop files right onto that widget for a quick scan, though Bitdefender actions are also baked into the right-click contextual menu. Various versions of Bitdefender are available in the Windows Store, and one is built specifically for Windows 8 and 8.1, which integrates with Windows Security Center, and scans new Windows 8 apps as they're installed.
If you use Safepay, Bitdefender's private browser, a toggle in the top-right is available for quick access. Safepay is great. You can't alt-tab away from it, or even capture a screenshot. This might make it less functional for day-to-day browsing, but perfect for occasionally browsing transaction-related sites like your bank, Amazon, or eBay. Bitdefender Antivirus 2015 includes a wallet plug-in for your existing browser that can securely remember private information, like credit card numbers and website passwords. A handful of other free extensions can scan Facebook links for phishing scams, check Google search results for malware. As helpful as this can be, it's visually annoying to have a billion green checkmarks littering your view.
A web-based console provides access to additional tools, such as anti-theft, so you can located, lock down, or wipe lost PCs. The Bitdefender Dashboard lets you monitor issues across devices, including parental controls for mobile devices and PCs.
In terms of pure virus protection, Bitdefender is widely recognized by security specialists. In proactive and reactive detection, Virus Bulletin puts Bitdefender ahead of Avira Pro, Avast, and Kaspersky. AV-comparatives ranks Bitdefender third in real-world protection tests, behind only Trend Micro and Qihoo. AV-Test gives Bitdefender top marks in protection, performance, and usability. These guys have pelted Bitdefender with more viruses and malware than we could ever hope to on our own, and considering the broad agreement in results, it's safe to say Bitdefender offers as comprehensive virus protection as you could hope to find. In my personal experience, a full scan took about 20 minutes, detected a Trojan I didn't know about, and otherwise didn't noticeably affect system performance while in Autopilot.
Quick and full system scans are available. Scans can be scheduled and tweaked with all sorts of preferences, like whether or not you want to scan the registry, conduct a light background scan, or do a deep scrub and shut down the computer afterwards. With options like this, it's easy to maintain deep, consistent protection without it impacting your day-to-day activities on your PC. Customized profiles kick in when it detects you're doing something like working, playing games, or watching movies, and adjusts its activity accordingly.
Beyond protection, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2015 includes a whole array of tools to make sure everything runs at tip-top shape. A start-up optimizer, disk defragmenter, and registry analyzer can all help you get more out of your PC. There's even a file shredder included if you want to make extra sure something gets deleted. I like to think I run a pretty tight ship, but Bitdefender was able to find lots to fix.
The bottom line is that Bitdefender offers a fantastic, hassle-free antivirus experience with plenty of robustness. The interface is simple and easy to navigate a wealth of features, but it can just as easily hum away in the background, catching digital threats and taking care of them without you having to know or worry about it.
$39.95/year - Buy Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2015 now