Bitdefender’s 2020 lineup has it all, from a basic free version to a super-premium package that includes unlimited VPN service and priority tech support.
Even the cheapest paid Bitdefender program has a hardened browser, ransomware protection and easy customization. The Bitdefender malware engine scanned our computer in record time without slowing down the system much. With five versions and several unlimited plans, Bitdefender offers lots of choices for every Windows user.
Bitdefender Total Security 2019 is a top-of-the-range security suite which includes just about everything you need to protect Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices.
Installing the Windows build, for instance, gets you antivirus, a firewall, spam filter, malicious website blocking, online banking protection, parental controls, a limited VPN, a password manager, file encryption, secure file deletion, PC clean-up and optimization, and more.
BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition for US$0 per month
The versions for other platforms aren’t as powerful, but still deliver all the functionality you might expect. For example, the Android app filters dangerous websites, locks apps, includes privacy tools and anti-theft features, and usage can be monitored and secured remotely via Bitdefender’s parental controls.
Total Security 2020 also comes with the Hotspot Shield-powered ‘Bitdefender VPN’. The free edition doesn’t allow you to choose your location and only gives you 200MB of data per device per day (around 6GB a month), making it suitable only for email and very light browsing. For comparison, Windscribe’s excellent free VPN plan gives you 10GB of data a month, so no annoying daily limits, and gives you more than 10 locations to choose from.
New for 2020: Parental Controls
Bitdefender’s new Parental Controls are by far the most interesting part of the new security suite. As part of Total Security 2020 you get the usual controls such as the ability to set time limits on screen time. These are accumulated across devices where Bitdefender is present. This can include Mac and Windows PCs, as well as mobile. The parental controls can also block certain types of websites, as well as restrict access to certain programs, apps, and games.
On top of the usual controls, Bitdefender is offering Parental Control Premium for $45 per year. This new add-on features anti-predatory monitoring. Using artificial intelligence, Bitdefender scans your child’s communications over IM, text messaging apps, and social to flag concerning activity.
Even though the content of communications are not shared with parents, the company does upload text conversations to the cloud where they are analyzed for signs such as intent to harm and imbalance of power. Photos, however, always remain on the originating device and do not end up on Bitdefender’s cloud or on the parent’s device.
The big concern here is whether parents feel comfortable using this technology to monitor their children. A full-time monitor for all the communications of your child may not seem like a good idea, but for a child at risk of bullying it may be appropriate. Ultimately, it’s a question that parents must answer for themselves.
In addition to the new privacy extensions and parental controls, Bitdefender also added a microphone monitor that alerts you when apps want to use your mic.
Bitdefender’s malware detection starts with a scanner that hunts for known threats, supplemented by a heuristic monitor that looks for behavioral signs of an infection.
Potential new dangerous threats get uploaded to Bitdefender’s servers for a fix. Malware-definition updates are sent several times a day to 500 million systems running Bitdefender software. If having items collected from your computer seems a little creepy, you can opt out. You’ll still get all the security updates.
We checked results on the usual testing platforms. In A-V Test’s 0-day, web, and email threats test, Bitdefender Internet Security 23 scored 100 percent in May and 98.8 percent in June. Internet Security 23 is the lower-tier suite from Total Security using the same detection engine. Bitdefender released its new product in July, but we expect the latest versions to have similar results to its predecessor. In AV-Test’s widespread and prevalent malware test using nearly 2,500 samples Bitdefender scored 100 percent in May and June.
AV-Comparatives tested Bitdefender from February through May 2019 in its real-world protection test. From 752 test cases, Bitdefender blocked 99.9 percent of threats and had two false positives.
For our in-house performance test, after a full scan with Bitdefender running, the test PC scored 2,459 on the PCMark 8 work conventional test. That’s about the same as the 2,461 we saw without Bitdefender installed.
For our second test, where the PC encodes a 4GB MKV HD video file to the Android tablet preset, it took nearly one hour and 16 minutes. That’s about the same score as we saw when Bitdefender wasn’t installed.
Overall, Bitdefender shouldn’t impact performance too much.
Bitdefender is as good as it was last time around, and if you’re interested in the parental controls, the new system offers a potential solution for those needs.