Product: BitDefender 2011 Beta
The 64-bit version of the software was 258MB in size, while the 32-bit version was 220.3MB. Once downloaded we began the installation process.
Before it installs it runs a scan for malware, which took us just over two minutes to complete. This is pretty handy, as there have been numerous problems reported over the years of infections that occured before antivirus programs were installed not being detected in virus scans or even hindering the installation of the program in the first place. Thankfully enough it did not find any security threats on our test laptop, which we hope is because there are none and not that it failed to detect them.
It then asked us to uninstall our current antivirus software, Avast, and turn off the Windows Firewall and Windows Defender. The “Uninstall” button was blocked by the bottom frame of the installation wizard, however, making it difficult to do what BitDefender recommended. It took several minutes for it to remove the current antivirus software and disable the firewalls.
We were then given a choice between entering a product key, obviously not available in the beta, or using the 30 day trial. We selected the latter, which required us to log into the BitDefender website. From here we could also set up an online backup service of 2GB.
The next step is to choose a view for the product. Only two are currently available in the beta, Basic and Intermediate. Basic hides a lot of the technical stuff and is more suited for people who want the program to do most of the work. Intermediate is customizable and provides a lot more info for those who want to fiddle about with the settings. The name suggests there should be an Advanced view, but none was available in the beta.
You can then choose further configurations, including parental control, game mode, and laptop mode. Because our test computer is a laptop it automatically selected the latter.
A help and support feature is available on the next panel that allows users to display tooltips and get customer support via e-mail.
The final part of the installation process gave a run-down of our chosen settings and allowed us to set up a regular security check-up. We decided to tick the full system scan after installation box to see what it came up with and how long it took. We also set up a regular scan for every Sunday at 2:00am, the default date and time selected.
Finally it began to actually install the product. This is a pretty long installation process that may irritate the casual customer, and all of this is happening while our previous antivirus software is being removed and our firewalls are taken down, leaving a window of exposure that is much longer than necessary. The actual installation itself took only a few seconds and the program immediately started the full system scan.
BitDefender displayed a rather distressing estimated time of 174 hours to go at first, dropping to 61 hours after four minutes and then only 18 minutes left after six minutes. How it calculates these things and comes up with such varying figures is beyond us, but customers may feel inclined to cancel the scan when first faced with such long estimated scan times. Initially it was scanning 15 files a second, but this jumped to between 32 and 230 files a second when it finally realised it should be doing a little better.
While the scan was completing we got a message from the BitDefender Firewall about “Bonjour Service”. We ignored this for several minutes, but BitDefender decided to flash the Firewall popup every minute or so as a reminder, which was really annoying, as we were busy trying to figure out what the heck Bonjour Service actually is. After a quick search we realised it is an Apple service for recognising IP networks. We were tempted to say “bon voyage” and click Block, but BitDefender assured us that the service was both clean and legitimate.
After we sorted out the Apple invasion we checked the scan again and were dismayed to find the scanned files per second had dropped from its previous number in the 200s to a paltry one file. It did not stay long here, jumping to 7 and then 18 after about half a minute, but we were left puzzled as to why some more consistency cannot be maintained in the scan process. Hey, that’s software.
Our supposedly uninstalled Avast antivirus software forced BitDefender Firewall to give us a popup about an update procedure. Perhaps that was Avast trying to lure us back, but we decided to block that update process for now.
The full scan took just over 42 minutes, which is not bad and certainly much better than its initial estimates. It found no threats. What was annoying, however, was that it did not keep the total scan time on the screen. As soon as the scan was finished everything reset to 00:00:00, which is not good if you went out for a bit and left it at work and wanted to find out later just how long it had been slaving away. It also only had Pause, Stop, and Cancel buttons, even though the scan was complete. Surely that Pause button should have changed to Finish or Close. We decided to click Stop and it warned us about interrupting the scan process, a process that BitDefender couldn’t seem to realise was finished. We clicked Yes on the warning screen, but it failed to do anything, so we ended up just clicking the X in the top right-hander corner to get out of that window.
We loaded up the general client from our taskbar to mess about with the new user interface. Since we opted for the Intermediate view we had tabs for Dashboard, Security, Tune-up, and File Storage.
The Dashboard showed Status Details on the left-hand panel which mostly repeated the buttons of the tabs across the top. In the main screen there were several empty boxes under the heading of My Tools. We clicked this and it brought up a menu to add tasks like a full or quick scan. These effectively became shortcut buttons to our most used features. We added Full System Scan, Quick Scan, Registry Cleaner, Backup Online, and Update now, but it can be customised for the individual. Beneath these boxes was a Smart Tips tab since we enabled it in the configuration earlier.
The Security tab gave a run-down of the active protections in BitDefender, including Antivirus, Update status, Firewall status, Antispam status, and Antiphishing status. We could choose a standard virus scan from here, but there is also an option for a vulnerability scan, which is basically a quick search to see how up to date your operating system is. It found seven critical updates and told us to click Next, but unfortunately there was no Next button, no matter how hard we tried to find it. Clearly the normal Windows Update service is a bit more efficient at this process.
The Tune-up tab gave several options for optimising system performance, including a Registry Cleaner, PC Clean-up, Duplicate Finder, and Disk Defragmenter. There was also a Registry Recovery and File Shredder feature available from the left-hand panel. We gave the Registry Cleaner a go. This was much faster than the scan, taking arund two minutes to complete. It found a few dozen registry keys that it believed should be deleted.
The Back-up tab allowed us to backup our files locally as well as to the 2GB of storage space online that we set up in the installation. There were also several options for adding, removing, and locking files in the BitDefender Vault.
As a final test we decided to give the Quick Scan a whirl. The tooltip said this “in-the-cloud scanning” often takes less than 60 seconds, but our scan took two and half minutes.
BitDefender 2011 has a slew of interesting features and lots of potential, but it definitely needs to iron outa lot of creases in this beta. The program itself loads quickly and has no visible lag moving between the interface screens, but it really needs to tune-up its virus scan speeds.