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BitDefender Free AntiVirus

VERSION:  Windows 7 / Vista / XP, Single User

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Information Below:  Review, Screenshots

Review of BitDefender Free Edition (2009):

BitDefender BitDefender, developed by Romanian-based software company Softwin, has proven itself to be an excellent antivirus program in recent years. But BitDefender's Free Edition hasn't been updated since 2009 (besides daily virus signatures), and is beginning to show signs of its age.

1) Installation:  2.5/5

Installation Of BitDefender Free 2009 on our reference system* took 63 seconds, and required a single reboot. Upon rebooting, BitDefender prompts you to create a "mandatory" account, without which it will refuse to keep your virus definitions up to date. (See Installation Time Comparison Graph)

*Reference Computer: Windows 7 Home Premium running on a Toshiba Pentium Dual-Core T4200, with 3GB of RAM and a 210GB hard drive.

2) Features & Ease of Use:  5/10

When you first start BitDefender free after reboot, it displays a warning bar of "pending issues." At the very least, BitDefender will warn you that a deep scan hasn't been performed, and that you need to update the virus definition database. This is different than most free antivirus applications, which automatically perform the correct series of steps to ensure your computer is secure and up to date.

Unfortunately, if you hit the Fix All Issues button, BitDefender attempts to fix them out of order: it launches a deep virus scan before updating its definitions. You must manually stop the scan (right-click on the BitDefender icon in your System Try and click Stop) before you can update the virus database.

The BitDefender Free 2009 Dashboard has a Basic View and an Advanced View. The Basic View is the simplified Dashboard look and feel you find in most antivirus applications. You can launch virus scans from this screen, and also request a manual update of the virus database. A bare-bones Settings dialog, available from a button on the top right of the Dashboard, supports toggling automatic updates, startup behavior, and notifications from BitDefender.

BitDefender Dashboard:

View Larger BitDefender Screenshots

Additional features, such as scan scheduling, are available by switching to Advanced View. BitDefender appears to lack most of the features you'd find in more recent antivirus applications, including e-mail scanning and zero-day virus outbreak detection.

Nag Factor: BitDefender Free is decent with its upgrade pitches. Only after installation and system reboots does BitDefender suggest you upgrade to its full protection suite.

3) Virus Scanner:  3.5/5

BitDefender Free Edition supports several scan types. The Deep System Scan and Full System Scan are almost identical, except that a Deep System scan includes archives while a Full System Scan excludes them. The My Documents Scan looks only at your My Documents folder. A Quick Scan option is also available from the Antivirus->Virus Scan menu in Advanced View; this scan only examines the Windows, Program Files, and All Users folders.

BitDefender Virus Scanner:

View Larger BitDefender Screenshots

Speed: On our reference machine (see above), BitDefender Free 2009 scans at an average pace of 19.2MB per second, and churns through our 1GB of test files in 53 seconds. This puts it in the middle of the pack in terms of sheer execution speed. (See Scan Speed Comparison Graph)

Updates: BitDefender Free updates itself an average of 22 times daily - an impressive number compared to most free antivirus programs, which only perform between 2 and 4 updates every 24 hours. (See Updates Per Day Comparison Graph)

4) Performance Testing:  5.5/10

A good antivirus program should not only prevent viruses and malware from infecting your computer but also not impact the Performance of your computer too much. We run each free antivirus program through a series of Performance Tests to see the impact it has on a standard computer. The results of our testing for BitDefender Free Edition 2009 are below:

Memory Use: BitDefender Free AntiVirus uses 5.7 MB of system memory. #2 rated of the 12 antivirus programs we tested.

Reboot Time: BitDefender added 8.2 seconds to our test computer's reboot time. #2 rated program we tested this year.

Installation Size: BitDefender Free AntiVirus requires 327 MB of hard-drive space for installation. #9 rated program we tested.

Initial Scan Speed: BitDefender scans files the first time at a speed of 19.2 MB/s. #7 rated program we tested.

Subsequent Scan Speed: BitDefender performs subsequent scans at a speed of 58.5 MB/s. #4 rated program we tested.

Initial Application Launch: BitDefender Free AntiVirus added 1.249s to launch a web browser for the first time after a reboot. #9 rated program we tested.

Subsequent Application Launch: BitDefender added 0.235s on average for subsequent web browser launches. This was the #11 rated program we tested.

File Conversion Time: BitDefender added 0.68s on average to convert a MP3 file to four other file types. #11 rated program we tested.

System Impact Score: The "System Impact Score" is a comparative score tallied from the above 8 Antivirus tests. BitDefender Free AntiVirus scored a total of 49 out of 96 points when compared to the other antivirus programs tested. This ranked BitDefender as the #8 rated free antivirus program we tested this year - about what we'd expect considering the software version is from 2009.

View graphs of the above Free Antivirus Performance Tests.

5) Effectiveness: (Virus/Malware Detection)  12.5/15

The most important function of an antivirus program is to keep your computer free from Viruses and other Malware. Below we'll take a look at some of the industry's top Virus/Malware Detection testing and certification.

a) AV Comparatives is an independent antivirus testing lab in Austria
providing some of the most trusted virus detection tests in the industry. They have 2 major virus/malware tests that they perform. In the most recent test in November, the Proactive Test, BitDefender was rated 3 out of 3 Stars. In the 2nd test last August, the On Demand Detection Test, BitDefender also received top marks with a 3-Star rating.


b) AV-Test is another major antivirus testing lab which is located in Germany. In their recent antivirus testing in 2010, BitDefender received a 14 / 18 score on the Windows 7 platform. In the 2nd set of tests run on Windows XP, BitDefender received a 12 / 18 score. While on the 3rd test run on Windows Vista, BitDefender received a 15.5 / 18 score. All 3 of these scores were good enough to receive AV-Test's Certification level (12 points needed on each test for Certification). Despite these tests being run on BitDefender's Internet Security software, they are useful when evaluating BitDefender's more basic antivirus program since they test the software's Protection and Repair capabilities against Viruses and Malware.

Win 7: Win XP: Win Vista:
c) Virus Bulletin's VB 100% Certified. BitDefender Antivirus passed the most recent VB100 test (April/2011), but BitDefender has failed 2 of the previous 10 tests its been in. The VB 100% award is given to antivirus software that detects all viruses "in the wild."

6) Help & Support:  3/5

BitDefender offers a local Help file that is decently organized and well written. The Support link at the bottom right of the Dashboard opens BitDefender's Support Center page. The Support Center contains little content specific to BitDefender Free.

BitDefender also runs a set of forums for its products, with discussion available in five different languages.

»Quick Support Links:

     • Support Center
     • BitDefender Community Forums
     • BitDefender 2009 Products Forum


Unlike its competitors, BitDefender doesn't offer an updated version of its free antivirus program. Not updated since 2009, the application is showing its age: BitDefender Free's cumbersome configuration process and lack of new features make it a less attractive option than its more up-to-date counterparts. A great free alternative in 2009... but it's 2011 now, and those 2 years make this program badly outdated when you think how quickly viruses and malware evolve and spread.

Overall Rating: Fair    (Total Score: 32 / 50 = 3 Stars)

Misc Info:

    • Version Tested:
    • Release Date:
    • Review Date:
    • Last Updated:
May 5, 2011
    • Previous Version:
    • Other BitDefender Software:
BitDefender AntiVirus Pro 2011 (Commercial Version)

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