It is time to resume our series of reviews and we would like to start by taking a look at Bitdefender Internet Security 2014. This company had a great year in 2013, receiving accolades after accolades and for good reason - they had some great products. But what about their 2014 version of products? Are they still top-notch and worthy of prizes? Let's find out from this review.
Downloading Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 starts by being asked to provide your e-mail address. Unfortunately, after I typed my email and I hit Submit, I was told there was an error with the processing of my request. I tried another email address and I encountered the same issue. Luckily the email was sent with the download link, so the process worked fine. Also, the download link was sent to both addresses. This is a bug Bitdefender should consider addressing.
If you want to avoid this problem, you can also download the trial from Softpedia.
First, you download a file that acts as a light antivirus scanning tool and downloader for the whole suite. In total, you will download about 380MB of files in order to install the full suite. It is quite a large product so arm yourself with some patience.
When the installation is about to start, you are informed that you are about to install the Product of the Year. It is a very bold statement and it is based on the many awards Bitdefender has received recently. As usual with Bitdefender, you can go for a quick install or a slightly more customized process. Unfortunately, the customization is very shallow: you can only change the installation folder and a couple of other things but you can't decide which modules to install or not.
Once the installation process is over, you start configuring the product behavior. For casual users, I recommend sticking to the defaults, as they are very good.
Then you have to activate the product and create an account with Bitdefender. If you don't have an account, you can't fully utilize the product and all its features.
Once that is over, you are welcomed to the MyBitdefender portal and given a brief tour of what you can do on this website. Even though you might be annoyed about this tour, please go through it carefully. MyBitdefender is a web control panel revealing what's going on with the security of the PCs, smartphones and devices that are protected by Bitdefender solutions. Using it is a key part of the whole Bitdefender experience.
Once that is over, you can finally resume using your computer and you can launch Bitdefender Internet Security 2014.
One of the first things I noticed is that Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 feels very snappy and responsive from the moment you start the installation process. In the past, there was a small lag between the time you clicked on something and the time it replied. This time everything feels really fast no matter what you are trying to do.
You are not told to reboot your computer but this doesn't mean a reboot is not required. Unfortunately, I noticed that the product waits quite a lot of time before it starts updating itself to the latest version. If you want to make sure that you use the latest version, with the latest definitions, as soon as possible, you have to press the Update now button and then restart your computer, so that the update is applied.
The download and installation process is slightly longer for Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 than for other products. Except the fact that Bitdefender forces you to provide your email in order to download this product, I did not feel like there were any unnecessary steps for me to go through.
Integration with Windows 8.1 & Modern Apps
In terms of integration with Windows 8.1, its modern apps and networking features, there's not much to say except the fact that Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 works great. It automatically disables both the Windows Firewall and Windows Defender when you install it. Networking and network sharing work well if you set the correct network type in the Firewall module. Updating apps from the Windows Store or playing online games works just as well..
In terms of integration with web browsers, Bitdefender does a good job by automatically scanning all your HTTP traffic. This means that you are protected not matter which browser you are using. It also installs a Wallet extension in Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox, if you want to use and set up this feature. But more about it later in this review.
In terms of performance impact, I first measured how much RAM memory Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 requires in order to run - in normal conditions it used about 38 MB of RAM, which is very good.
Then, I used BootRacer to measure how fast the test computer boots and what impact Bitdefender had on boot timings. Before installing this security suite, my test system booted in 36 seconds. After installing Bitdefender, the system booted in 47 seconds - it was 27% slower.
To measure the impact the suite had on general system performance, I ran PCMark Vantage before the suite was installed and after. The average performance score obtained prior to installing Bitdefender was 9028. After it was 8668 - a 4% impact. I looked at each of the subscores of this benchmark and I noticed that the biggest impact was noticed in the Productivity and HDD tests. As expected, the security suite impacted the speed at which Windows 8.1 interacted with files, the start time for apps and web page rendering.
Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 is well integrated with Windows 8.1 and all its features. It scans your HTTP traffic meaning that it works well with all web browsers. In terms of performance impact, it tends to slow down the boot process quite a bit.
Ease of Use & Configuration
The interface in the 2014 version of this product looks and works almost the same as in previous versions. Some minor visual changes have been made and the product responds faster to your commands, which is great.
I appreciate the fact that Bitdefender improved a bit the way its features are integrated into the core product. Except Bitdefender Safepay, you can launch the configuration of all modules from the main interface of the product.
However, extra-features like Parental Controls or Safego require you to use the browser, which might be confusing at first.
Working with the main modules of Bitdefender is anything but hard. Finding your way it is generally easy and so is the accessing of each module's settings. Help and support are easily accessible and, in case of issues, you can even raise a ticket straight from the suite itself.
Advanced users have access to advanced configuration settings for almost anything they want, plus plenty of scanning options.
In terms of reports, Bitdefender provides detailed logs and also a new security report that's available only once a week.
It is unfortunate that this report is not available on a daily basis for users that want to use it.
In terms of alerts, Bitdefender is a quiet product when set on Autopilot. It makes mostly good decisions by itself and it nags you only if something important is going on.
A very nice touch is that when you uninstall Bitdefender Internet Security 2014, it recommends that you install a free light-weight cloud scanner that alerts you only when it detects an infection on your computer.
Obviously, you can choose to uninstall the suite without installing this free scanner.
The core modules of Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 are easy to use by novices and advanced users alike. Its interface is snappier than that of previous versions and slightly improved in terms of usability. However, when working with its web-based features, things might start to get confusing for some users.
The Bitdefender firewall is the quietest module in the whole suite. Even though I scanned the test PC with several tools and network scanners, it promptly blocked everything without saying a word.
The only downside about its functioning is that you need to manually set the Network Type, so that it filters network traffic accordingly.
Unfortunately it doesn't read the network profile assigned in Windows, in order to adapt its settings.
What's interesting about Bitdefender's firewall is that its default settings are very good. Casual users don't need to fiddle with it, excepting making the change I just mentioned.
The Bitdefender firewall delivers quiet and effective protection from most threats, without annoying its users with prompts and warnings.
Antivirus and Antispyware
The antivirus engine developed by Bitdefender is the most famous part of the whole suite and for good reason. When browsing the web, it managed to block all the malicious pages and downloads I tried to access.
Also, it promptly scans any removable media you plug into your computer. I also installed the suite on a system that was previously infected with malware and, after its installation, it was able to promptly delete all malware.
Dealing with malware is very easy when using Bitdefender. Their disinfection wizard is well made and allows the user to set an action for all malware items or set different actions for each item.
In terms of scanning speed, its performance was also good. It scanned a 38 GB system drive with 26.5 GB of files on it, in 7 minutes and 41 seconds. This is faster than most antivirus scanning engines.
As always, I also checked what other independent organizations had to say about Bitdefender: AV-Comparatives awarded Bitdefnder their top Advanced+ rating, AV-Test gave it a rating of 6 out of 6 for protection, 5.5 for repair and 6 for usability, while Virus Bulletin gave it their top VB100 badge which means Bitdefender was able to deal with all malware they have thrown at it.
As expected, Bitdefender continues to deliver great antimalware protection.
Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 packs a good number of additional features:
- File Shredder - it is a simple tool that allows you to permanently delete files and folders so that they can never be recovered with specialized tools.
- Vulnerability Scanner - it is available alongside other scanning options. It checks for Windows Updates that are not yet installed, the strength of your Windows accounts passwords and for updates to popular applications like Skype, Adobe Reader, Yahoo Messenger and so on.
- Wallet - this is a new feature included in the 2014 version that stores the login credentials you use in your browsers and messaging apps, as well as your wireless passwords, in a safe manner. It is very similar to LastPass and other products of this type. In order to use it, you must set a master password so that only you have access to the information it stores.
- Parental Controls - is a feature that you don't get access to if you are using the trial version of this suite. It can only be used after you register your copy of Bitdefender Internet Security 2014. While testing this product I learned that its default blacklists are rather weak and they don't block too much stuff. I was able to access plenty of inappropriate websites using a test Child account. If you want to get good results, you should manually configure the blacklists used by this product and actively monitor the daily reports it has to offer.
- Bitdefender Safego - is a security app for Facebook that protects your account from malware. You can learn more about it from this review: Reviewing Bitdefender Safego for Facebook.
- Bitdefender Safepay - is a secure browser that you should use when performing financial transactions online or when doing online banking.
Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 packs plenty of additional features that may provide value to users. I recommend that you test them all and use those that work best for you.
Default Settings You Might Want to Improve
While testing Bitdefender Internet Security 2014, I noticed that it is a generally well configured product, with one exception: it lacks any scheduled scans, even though users can define as many scheduled tasks as they need.
I recommend that users improve the following settings:
- Manage Scan Tasks - it is very unfortunate that Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 doesn't have any default scheduled scans. I strongly recommend that you set Bitdefender to perform at least a regular quick scan after the system starts up or at a set interval and a system scan once every two to three weeks.
- Firewall Settings - you may want to enable the monitoring of Wi-Fi connections if you are using a laptop.
- Wallet Settings - you should configure the Wallet to ask for your password when you open your browsers and apps, not when you log in to your PC. This feature will be extremely annoying otherwise.
Except the lack of scheduled scans, I did not find any other major shortcomings in the way Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 is configured by default.
Bitdefender Internet Security 2014 is a worthy successor to the Bitdefender product lineup. It delivers plenty of small improvements, some new features and a slightly improved interface. I was happy with the way it performed in my testing and I recommend it to all our readers.