BitDefender Free AV Review

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Offline joe53

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BitDefender Free AV Review
« on: October 11, 2013, 03:10:47 PM »
BitDefender AV has an excellent reputation, and the paid version consistently scores well at independent test sites in al areas. Thus when a free "cloud-based" BD version was released about 6 months ago, I was intrigued, but waited until now to test it, figuring it would take a while to work out the bugs.

Among the claimed benefits of the BD free version are:
- Early Boot Scanning, improving boot time
- Scans all the links you are accessing from your browser, checking them for various scams or credit card phishing attempts and blocking them when they are unsafe.
- B-Have, a pro-active behavioural module
- An Anti-rootkit - This technology is used to scan and block rootkits
- Very light on resources, and no need to update
- Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/Win7/Win8 (32-bit and 64-bit)

Test bed:  Windows7 Professional
Version tested: 1.0.16.1023

My results:
Downloaded the installer from here:
http://www.bitdefender.com/solutions/free.html
It's a 158 kb download that takes only a few seconds.

Installation:
Straightforward and quick, wth no bundled software.
Registration including an email address is required.
Reboot required.

Usability:
Well, this is certainly a simple and unobtrusive AV. Minimal configuration is required, or even possible. When you open the program from its tray icon, the only choices are to enable/disable its resident Virus Shield, and its Auto Scan. To run an "on-demand" scan, a right-click of the tray icon offers you only the option of a "Full System Scan".  On my system, this took about  24-40 minutes.

BD Free performs an "Autoscan" periodically by default, either a "Deep Sweep" or a "Quick Sweep". This can be disabled.

When I attempted to download the "EICAR" test file, it was immediately blocked, and quarantined. The Quarantine page seems to only offer the option to delete, not to restore. This does not bode well for the detection/investigation of possible false positive files.

I could not confirm that boot-up time was quicker than when I used MSE as my AV. Both seemed quick to load. Boot to desktop with no AV installed took about 75 seconds, which was similar to when MSE or  BD Free were installed.

Efficacy:
As always, I cannot comment on the ability of any AV to block or remove viruses/malware on my systems.

Support forum:
http://forum.bitdefender.com/index.php?showforum=356

Ads:
Some have complained that ads were popping up occasionally. I did not see this, although my experience was brief (~2 days).

Uninstallation:
For those not satisfied with this AV, there is a removal tool here:
http://www.bitdefender.com/site/Downloads/uninstallIntro/uninstall_consumer_trial.html
Note: Uninstalling/changing one's AV is not a trivial process. I reccomend you you follow the procedures here:
https://goretsky.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/the-secret-guide-to-uninstalling-any-anti-virus-software/
Using these instructions, I had no problem uninstalling BD Free, and re-installing MSE.

Impressions:

This is certainly an AV that is light on resources, simple to install and use, and gave me no grief. It played well with my other resident programs (MBAM Pro and WinPatrol PLUS) and on-demand scanners.  It comes from a vendor that gets top marks for its paid version.

Whilst I liked what I saw, I had some reservations:
- This free version has yet to be evaluated by independent tests (unlike avast! Free, or MSE, both of which I have used for years). I would not assume that the protection it provides is equal to what the paid version of BD offers.
- It concerns me that detected files are automatically quarantined, with no option to restore and investigate them. All AVs have false positive detections.
- I worry about entrusting my security to the "cloud".  It relies on an internet connection. If your internet crashes, your AV protection is compromised.
- For my money, this AV is too simple, and reserves too much control to itself. I was happy to re-install MSE.