[Windows] Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is lightweight, provides excellent protection against viruses and malware

2013-04-20_214405A few years back the only viable free anti-virus programs were Avira, Avast, and AVG. However, thanks to the pioneering efforts of those three, other anti-virus companies have felt the pressure to release free anti-viruses and many have done so. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is a relatively new free anti-virus. Let’s see if it is worth your time.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is a free anti-virus/anti-malware program that protects users against all types of malware: viruses, trojans, spyware, adware, rootkits, etc.

Pros

  • Provides real-time protection and on-demand scanning against all types of malware, including viruses, trojans, and rootkits
  • Combines traditional signature-based with non-signature based protection to help detect known and not-yet-known threats
    • Active Virus Control – Looks to detect not-yet-known threats (i.e. threats that don’t have signatures for them)
    • Intrusion Detection System – Stop processes that access the Internet or network that are deemed to participate in questionable behavior too many times
    • B-HAVE – Analyzes the behavior of programs in a “safe environment” to ensure no illicit code is executed
  • Has a web scanner that pro-actively blocks websites (HTTP connections) known to be malicious
    • Note: Web scanner is unable to protect you when you visit websites over HTTPS. This isn’t a problem unique to Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition — the point of HTTPS is so other programs cannot analyze the traffic, and no program can protect against threats over HTTPS. However, I felt this point should be clarified.
      • Note: Even if you download a malicious website over an HTTPS connection, Bitdefender Free Antivirus Edition will still protect you by blocking that file once it is downloaded onto your computer. So don’t worry.
  • Performs “early boot scanning” to try and detect malware while Windows is booting (notably rootkits)
  • Will not (should not) bog down your computer; is relatively lightweight
  • Protects itself from being forced closed
    • Note: You, or malware, cannot force close Bitdefender but you can exit the system tray icon interface by right-clicking it. However, closing the system tray icon does not close Bitdefender — it is still running in the background regardless of if the interface is running or not — and you are still protected.
  • Uses the same database of signatures and engines as the paid version of Bitdefender, so provides similar excellent protection (Bitdefender is one of the most highly rated anti-viruses)
  • Is extremely quick to install (and to uninstall, if it comes to that)
  • Is very easy to setup and use — no real configuration needed
  • Is free to home/non-commercial and business/commercial use
    • Note: Bitdefender does not explicitly state on their website if Antivirus Free Edition is free for everyone or just non-commercial use only. I talked to Bitdefender support who gave me the runaround but more or less told me Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is “intended” for home users but can be used for home and business use.

Cons

  • On-demand scanning is not very user-friendly; no easy way to initiate on-demand scan of whole computer
  • Is very arrogant; won’t let users pick what they want to do when a malicious file or website is detected
  • You must register an account with Bitdefender (registration is free and easy)
  • Occasionally displays ads
  • Is known to sometimes have issues updating

Discussion

2013-04-20_202651Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is the free version of Bitdefender’s paid solutions. Whereas Bitdefender’s paid solutions offer more robust protection, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition focuses on providing users with the basic necessary protection every Windows user should have: real-time and on-demand protection against known and unknown malware threats of all kinds. Plus it throws in a web scanner as a cherry on top.

Generally speaking, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition works very well. Not only does it utilize the same database and engines as Bitdefender’s paid products, which have excellent detection rates as confirmed by many independent anti-virus tests, but it is also fairly lightweight and won’t bog down your computer. For example, during my time testing Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition CPU usage was nearly negligible while idle and RAM usage hovered around 15 MB. (It should be noted that RAM usage was not always around 15 MB. It peaked at roughly 120 MB before cleaning itself up and jumping down to roughly 15 MB; RAM usage then slowly crept up to 50 MB multiple times after which Bitdefender again cleaned itself up and jumped down to roughly 15 MB. Eventually, RAM usage settled at around 15 MB with the occasional spike to 50 MB. This is relatively low RAM usage for a full-featured anti-virus.)

So, good protection, good features, and light on your computer. A winner, right? Not so fast.

2013-04-20_201700There is one major problem I have with Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition: arrogance. When Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition detects what it feels is a malicious website or malicious file, it automatically blocks the file/website — you are given no ability to override the block. I can understand why Bitdefender behaves like this; they don’t want users to be infected because they wrongly overrode Bitdefender and allowed a malicious file to be executed or a malicious website to be loaded. So is a good thing for the average Joe who has no idea what button to press when prompted with a scary “malware has been detected message”. However, all anti-virus programs, including Bitdefender, are prone to have some false positives. Not giving users the ability to override Bitdefender actions or not giving users the ability to select what they want to do with a suspected malicious file means you simply have to live with any false positives Bitdefender detects, which is very poor form on the part of Bitdefender.

By behaving like this, basically Bitdefender is saying: We are always right and you are too stupid to make your own decisions. So bend over and take it. I don’t know about you but I ain’t bending over, and it has nothing to do with my wife getting jealous. A much better way for Bitdefender to behave would be to have a default “normal” mode that doesn’t allow user overrides and an “advanced” mode advanced users can manually enable to perform overrides.

Another issue I have is with on-demand scanning. You can perform on-demand scanning of individual files/folders via the right-click context menu but there is no ability to initiate an on-demand scan of your whole computer from Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition, like anti-virus programs traditionally have. Does Bitdefender really think no one will want to occasionally perform an on-demand scan for their whole computer?

Essentially, in their crusade to make Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition lightweight and easy-to-use for the average Joe, Bitdefender has swung the pendulum too far in the opposite direction; so much so that Bitdefender’s “user-friendliness” is making it un-user-friendly for certain users.

Conclusion and download link

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition provides excellent protection, will not slow down your computer, and is free for non-commercial and commercial use. Overall, I have to say it is an excellent program. However, Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is not for everyone.

Because of the way it does not let users pick what to do when a malicious file or website is detected, this program is not of the tech-savvy. Rather, it is for the average Joe who has little to no knowledge about computers; the type of person who would rather let Bitdefender make decisions about what is malicious and what isn’t rather than try to figure it out for themselves. Personally speaking, I am not that type of person so I won’t be getting Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition. If you are in the same boat as me, I recommend you try other free anti-viruses like Avira, Avast, or AVG.

On the other hand, I recommend Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition for less tech-savvy people who will benefit from Bitdefender’s no-user-choice attitude; people who don’t know what to do when an anti-virus alerts them of a potentially malicious file. For example, I plan on installing Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition for my dad, who will be better off if the decisions about what is malicious and what isn’t malicious is left to Bitdefender rather than himself. No, my dad isn’t a moron. He is actually very smart. He just doesn’t understand technology. If you don’t understand technology, or know someone who doesn’t understand technology for whom you can install this for, then Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition is for you.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.0.14.889

Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/Win7/Win8 (32-bit and 64-bit)

Download size: 9 MB not including database download

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/46

Is it portable? No

Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition homepage

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44 comments

  1. R. West

    Comment on be careful what you install is dead on. A lot of free software can’t be totally uninstalled .. then gunks up your computer. No one really warns you about this … except the amateur commentators!

  2. jay

    Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition version 1.0.21.1099

    -Uses “bitdefender engine” ranked as world’s #1 gold (kaspersky #2 silver) (see as proof: http://anti-virus-software-review.toptenreviews.com/windows-7/) or you can test for yourself
    -Unbreachable (even if you try on virus list from websites) confidently
    -Light to your system the fact that it only uses resources you and your system are not using
    -Veeeeeery intelligent: it automatically postpones auto scans when you’re on battery and when on gaming
    -Has a real-time protection which is very strict
    -Scans quietly and immediately at start-up before any other start-up programs
    -Eased on-demand scanner,say, you just right-click the B in the system icon tray then click “Full System Scan”, or just right click the object you want to scan then click “Scan with Bitdefender”
    -You can control the actions on objects quarantined to [open file location] [delete] [restore/exclude]
    -Has an online chat support instantly (http://www.bitdefender.com/support/consumer.html)
    -No nonsense buttons, very simple interface, not bloated one

    To all average techies, I just want to inform you that you should consider the reality of “crab mentality” comments here trying to pull down what’s on topMOST. So, my suggestion would be try it “FREE”, then if you don’t like it, uninstall it. Well, not bad to try the World’s number 1 product. The fact that counts. Get real. Be safe, people, while intrusive-free.

    (The idea of antivirus is to block/clean: Deleting a file could mean that your system is already infected while you are using your previous av, unfortunately BDFE detected it(as what it supposed to do as antivirus) to ensure that your system will not get infected. So, what do you want? a Guard dog or just a pet that anyone can just cuddle? Suit yourself

  3. Johnc

    Good review. You are right about the “arrogant” bit. Try right clicking on the BD tray icon and selecting “full System Scan” for on-demand scan of whole computer. Try right-clicking, selecting “Show” and set Virus Shield to “off” temporarily if you can’t access a page or download a file, then try it again – you can scan the file in the download folder afterwards. I suppose it helps to prevent accidentally accessing a dubious site.

  4. Sputnik

    Thank you for your answer, Alin Vlad.

    May I suggest to you to find a way to facilitate the possibility for the user to send any quarantined file to an external service like VirusTotal or any other one ?

    Also you might think about a facility for the user to send a quarantined file to your own services, after the user have checked it on VirusTotal or else and have been found more probably a false positive than anything else ?

    I think that this would be a good way for your services to be warned easily about the false positives detected by your antivirus.

  5. Alin Vlad

    Hi there,

    In our attempt to design Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition as a minimalistic, set-and-forget solution, we went all the way, and automized the product 100%. But following your feedback, we are now introducing some basic functionalities so you can also tweak security to your needs:

    – The new Threat Control now allows you to add exceptions to items which Bitdefender considers suspect, but which you would still like to use. Simply right-click the file in listed in the Threat Control tab and the option will appear in a menu.

    http://www.hotforsecurity.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Gonzales_quar_EN.png

    – If you want to access a webpage that Bitdefender considers dangerous, you can now continue at your own risk to that page. The option will also be remembered by the product for the current session, to ease your access.

    – Other important updates include additional security levels added, compatibility with Comodo Firewall, and more frequent updates.

    For more details, check this blog post: http://www.hotforsecurity.com/blog/bitdefender-antivirus-free-adds-quarantine-ability-6213.html

    If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us on the HotForSecurity blog.

    Alin Vlad
    Global Social Media Coordinator
    Bitdefender

  6. ovl

    [@chump2010]
    You missed the point. You can use 100000+ (or millions) samples but if you tested merely 3 Free AVs (Avast, Panda, and MSE) and omitted the other important for millions home users free Antimalware shields – it doesn’t hold water. In that case bigger is not better, even 680 times bigger. If AV-Comparatives would full that gap in future, it would have the real evidence base, which is missed now.

  7. chump2010

    Would just like to say, it’s the sheer sample size, the professional way they lay out their method and results that makes me value AV Comparative’s opinion.

    In their latest test (file detection tests):

    http://www.av-comparatives.org/detection-test/

    The Malware sets have been frozen the 22nd February 2013 and consisted of 136,610 sample variants. The products were updated on the 28th February 2013 and tested under Microsoft Windows 7 64-Bit. The following twenty up-to-date products were included in this public test (most current ones available at time of testing):

    Simple statistics state that in order to draw a valid conclusion, sample size must be of a statistically representative size.

    There are millions and millions of different pieces of malware out there at the moment, and to draw any sort of conclusion from 200 samples would be risky statistics at best. Admiteddly there are a much smaller number of malware families (so it may be possible to test only 200 samples and get a good result), but I doubt that is the case.

    The statistics of the tests do not make any sense. If you get 55% out of 200 samples, but 98% on 136,000…well which one do you believe as the general trend?

    As you say its anyone’s choice to believe what they want to believe, but if the method and testing are good, I would be much more likely to believe the one with a sample size that is 680 times bigger .

  8. ovl

    [@Ashraf]

    “To further discredit the test of 200 samples you linked is this simple comparison.

    FYI, the AV tester on the video is “Britec IT Solutions”- a computer repair and networking maintenance company that provides PC repair, upgrades, PC maintenance, networking, data recovery, virus removal, spyware removal, custom built computers and much more. The company has over 20 years experience in the Computer Services sector. For 20 years the company offers a professional computer service to small businesses, home offices, and home users, i.e. to the people like many of your site visitors.

    How you can discredit the AV test done by the such professional company?

    “According to AV-Comparatives’ latest test, Avast Free has a detection rate of 97.8%. According to your tester, Avast Free’s detection rate is 55% (110/200).“

    You don’t get it, again. Britec IT put into the SAME contaminated environment all Well-Known FREE AVs and the results were: Avast 55% (110/200), AVG 53% (107/200), Avira 39% (78/200), Malwarebytes 34% (68/200), Bitdefender 33% (67/200), and MSE 12% (24/200). It’s up to you (or anybody else) to decide if they need thousands more contaminated samples to understand who is who in the world of free AVs. For me to watch how these AVs were struggling against the most nasty & dangerous 200 malware is fair evidence what kind of fighters they (AVs) are.

    Also, take a close look at the test results on the Britec’s video, and you will see what kind of malware were used for AV tests. Hereto, take a look at the Britec IT Solutions website at http://briteccomputers.co.uk/ and you would find that Britec IT Solutions is specialized on removal of ransomware, rogue malware, rootkits, nasty toolbars and junkware, adware, keylogger trojans, fake professional AVs, and other PUPs. For example, in 2012 Britec removed “Police Central e-crime Unit (PCEU) virus (ransomware)” http://briteccomputers.co.uk/posts/remove-police-central-e-crime-unit-pceu-virus-ransomware-by-britec-3/

    You said: “And if that doesn’t help you see my point, I’m not sure what will.”

    You know, I have the ditto question to you.

  9. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    [@ovl] To further discredit the test of 200 samples you linked is this simple comparison.

    AV-Comparatives tests Avast Free. Your tester tested Avast Free. According to AV-Comparatives’ latest test, Avast Free has a detection rate of 97.8%. According to your tester, Avast Free’s detection rate is 55% (110/200).

    And if that doesn’t help you see my point, I’m not sure what will.

  10. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    [@ovl]

    >>Among 20 tested AVs the only free were tested: Avast, MSE, and Panda. Therefore, the objectiveness of the test of so-called (in that case) comparativeness is very moot, because you cannot correctly compare free AVs with the paid ones – the latest are more powerful antimalware software (that’s why they are paid versions). The free versions and the paid ones of AVs are incomparable during the test. Don’t you get it?

    No, the ability to compare is not very moot. This isn’t 2009 where free AVs only offered half protection against malware (e.g. Avira Free used to only protect against viruses but not spyware). Most all free AVs provide a full-range of protection against malware and viruses. You are right, performance between paid and free AVs will vary but it will not vary significantly enough to dismiss tests done on paid AVs as incomparable for free AVs.

    Don’t believe me? Go back and look at the test results by AV Comparatives for paid Avast (when they used to do paid Avast) and compare to the test results for free Avast (which they test now).

    For the purposes of comparing free AVs, a professional test of a paid AV conducted in a professional setting using a large enough sample is more reliable than an amateur test of a free AV conducted in an amateur setting using a very small sample. I’m not saying the amateur test is bad but rather I’m saying it isn’t as good as the professional one.

    >>In addition to that, read the Disclaimer by “AV Comparatives e.V.” (April 2013), p.10: …”We do not give any guarantee of the correctness, completeness, or suitability for a specific purpose of any of the information/content provided at any given time”. So even this Austrian performer of “the comparative test” is not sure that this test is correct.

    It impossible for *any* tester to proclaim their test is 100% accurate. That is a given that there is a margin of error with any test and any tester that thinks otherwise is naive. The issue at hand is which test is *more* correct. I find it hard to believe you are trying to argue an amateur test of 200 samples is more accurate than a test by an organization who specializes in such tests… even after the amateur tester referred you to said organization.

    >>To me, the Britec’s test video was a very good and informative one like for other 3,283+ youtube viewers. Comparisons like that make it easier to decide what a good Free antivirus would be to use. Yes, Britec used for his basic test of the free AVs “199 Files and 3 additional folders (size: 132MB)”, but he was using the most dangerous malware (viruses, ransomware, worms, trojans, rootkits, keyloggers, dialers, spyware, adware, malicious BHOs, rogue security software). What else do you need for AV test?

    So do you know what 200 samples he used? Where he got them from? If not, how can you proclaim he used “the most dangerous malware (viruses, ransomware, worms, trojans, rootkits, keyloggers, dialers, spyware, adware, malicious BHOs, rogue security software)”?

    Comparisons like these do *not* make it easier to decide between free AVs; comparison like these mislead people who take it too seriously. With the availability of more comprehensive tests, proclaiming an AV better than another based on a test of 200 sample is not only questionable but highly irresponsible.

    I’m not bashing the tester himself; based on what his video description says, he is pretty clear about the amateur nature of the test and how it shouldn’t be used to determine the best free AV. I’m saying: don’t blind yourself by following the results of such a simple test when more comprehensive tests are available, especially when the tester himself is warning you.

    >>Regarding “Predominantly”. From the link I posted – the final conclusion of the tester: “You can choose whatever one (free AV) you like, but I think the numbers speak for themselves”.

    So you are telling me the guy is saying one thing in the video but another in the fine print (aka video description)? Yep, sounds like a test who’s results I want to take to heart.

    >>“Thank you but try again.” – you’re talking like the “arrogant” BitDefender Free addition.

    You are right. That statement did nothing to help my argument and came off like a prick. I apologize.

  11. Sputnik

    [@PixelWizard]

    Thank you !

    I would also suggest to you to add another layer of security to Avira : consider to add an anti-spyware or an anti-malware with an active shield.

    Personnally I have bought Malwarebytes Pro which is a very good addition to Avira Free.

    I have also bought SUPERAntiSpyware Pro, lifetime license, which works very well with Avira Free and Malwarebytes Pro : no conflict at all between these softwares and no slown down.

    You can wait to buy Malwarebytes until it will be discounted on BitsDuJour :
    http://www.bitsdujour.com/software/malwarebytes-anti-malware
    From time to time you get it at 50% reduction. The big plus with Malwarebytes is that it is a lifetime license…

    If you don’t want to pay, you may search for a free protection with an active shield, but there is not many : Spyware Terminator, SpyBot – Search & Destroy are the first names which come to my mind, but there are maybe others.

    Think also about a very good firewall like COMODO Firewall Free, Online Armor Free, Private Firewall Free or Outpost Firewall Free.

    You may complete your security with anti-malware scans only (no active protection) with Malwarebytes Free and Emsisoft Anti-Malware or any other good scan of your choice and there are many.

  12. PixelWizard

    [@Sputnik]

    Appreciated. It was reading some of your previous posts on this subject,and Ashraf’s that convinced me Avira will do the job well enough for my needs. Thanks!

    @Jennifer Yates… though I have an older Windows, I’m pretty sure the writer meant this, quoting Microsoft itself: “In Windows 8, Windows Defender replaces Microsoft Security Essentials…” So that means, like its predecessor Microsoft Security Essentials, it’s a multi-featured antimalware/antivirus, and it comes with Win8 as standard equipment, already up and running. You aren’t obliged to hunt around for a replacement if you don’t want to. [I'm not qualified to comment on how this Windows Defender software compares to other-similars.]

  13. jaiyen42

    [@Jennifer Yates] Hello. I don’t know the answer as I use Win7 x64. But the person who said that was Allen above, #4 posting. Let’s try to wake them all up and get an answer for you:

    [@Allen] Can you confirm what you are saying that Win8 ‘takes care of itself’ sensibly? Or is there a need for extra AVs+ ? Does anybody know out there?

  14. Jennifer Yates

    I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on the guy that said Windows 8 has its OWN built in protection against viruses and malware? I am using Windows 8 too and would like to know.

  15. ovl

    [@Ashraf]

    Yep, I am serious and you’re evidently not.

    On AV Comparatives e.V. test.

    Among 20 tested AVs the only free were tested: Avast, MSE, and Panda. Therefore, the objectiveness of the test of so-called (in that case) comparativeness is very moot, because you cannot correctly compare free AVs with the paid ones – the latest are more powerful antimalware software (that’s why they are paid versions). The free versions and the paid ones of AVs are incomparable during the test. Don’t you get it?

    In addition to that, read the Disclaimer by “AV Comparatives e.V.” (April 2013), p.10: …”We do not give any guarantee of the correctness, completeness, or suitability for a specific purpose of any of the information/content provided at any given time”.

    So even this Austrian performer of “the comparative test” is not sure that this test is correct.

    To me, the Britec’s test video was a very good and informative one like for other 3,283+ youtube viewers. Comparisons like that make it easier to decide what a good Free antivirus would be to use. Yes, Britec used for his basic test of the free AVs “199 Files and 3 additional folders (size: 132MB)”, but he was using the most dangerous malware (viruses, ransomware, worms, trojans, rootkits, keyloggers, dialers, spyware, adware, malicious BHOs, rogue security software). What else do you need for AV test?

    Regarding “Predominantly”. From the link I posted – the final conclusion of the tester: “You can choose whatever one (free AV) you like, but I think the numbers speak for themselves”.

    “Thank you but try again.” – you’re talking like the “arrogant” BitDefender Free addition.

  16. Harry44Callahan

    Just one comment. I was interested in this particular review because I have been using their “boot” AV rescue disk for sometime, as it is one of the best out their. A lot of rescue disk don’t want to “Web update” which is a must for this kind of thing. Bitdeffender boot disk seems to carry the right drivers for most ethernet adapters to do this. Surprised to see the cons. I will continue to use Avast for my Win 7 enviroment.

  17. Sputnik

    [@PixelWizard]

    Your choice is a good one.

    Personnally I use Avira Free since about 6 years without any major problem.

    Numerous times I had the occasion to get for free 1 year of commercial antivirus, and I am talking here about very good antiviruses. I finally never installed them because I felt very confident with Avira Free.

    There is one very important thing to consider about the antiviruses : sometimes these softwares are difficult to remove, there is often some files or registry keys that you just can’t delete and that causes you big problems to install a new antivirus which refuse to install itself because of the remnants of your former antivirus. Sometimes that may lead you to the necessity to reinstall your whole OS…

    That’s why when you find a good antivirus which has generally a good detection rate, a relatively good behavior blocker and that has a minor negative impact on your computer’s resources, well just keep it and don’t look for anything else.

    That is he reason why I have used Avira Free for so long. But take note that if Avira Free would have lost all of its good qualitys through the years, I would have changed it for a better one.

  18. PixelWizard

    [@Sputnik]

    Thank you – good to point readers to those places (which I know very well). Problem that day was, every old-version Avast link downloaded the version 8 installer, no matter what the link said. True story! That happened over and over, on site after site (not just FileHippo, always my first choice for archived older versions).

    I have seen this occasionally before… users get forced, basically, to update to the current version of something.

    So that’s why I have a hunch that keeping Avast version 7 – which eventually I did find someplace (can’t recall where) – will become a problem at some point, such as the updates might stop working.

    Avira seems good so far. System performance most definitely is speedier. No more Firefox freezes while an antivirus scan proceeds. Preliminarily (one day into testing), I’m happy I switched.

  19. jaiyen42

    [@Sputnik] Will do, if/when I have something to post.

    I’m still trying to look up dendogram in my dictionary, but then I find out it should be dendrogram! Interesting report.

    [@nico-las] YES, too true. I don’t know about Bitdefender but I have used two AVs and they both stopped me from restoring the system (one was Zonealarm; the other I can’t remember).

  20. jaiyen42

    [@Sputnik] Thanks a lot. I have quickly skimmed it and note the note on page 9. (Mind you Symantec didn’t do too well on the missed samples!)

    I will now study the report with more vigour but, again, thanks Sputnik.
    John

  21. Sputnik

    [@jaiyen42]

    Hi jaiyen42.

    Take a look at the latest pdf report from AV-Comparatives for the month of March 2013 :

    http://www.av-comparatives.org/images/docs/avc_fdt_201303_en.pdf

    You will see that Microsoft has a detection rate of 92% and 0% of false positives.

    Microsoft doesn’t appear in the awards table because of this reason given by them in the footnote #6 at page 9 of their report :

    Microsoft security products are no longer included in the awards page, as their out-of-box detection is included in the operating system and therefore out-of-competition.

  22. jaiyen42

    Thanks Ashraf. Very useful review. I have two points. First, as with you and other posters, the “arrogant” auto-blocking of files/sites is totally unacceptable to me. I frequently use Returnil to check exactly just what a ‘dangerous’ download/file is trying to do. Sure, I have to neutralize my AV – which I also understand is not easily possible with Bitdefender – then find out what’s happened. (And of course after that, remove the entire works.) So Bitdefender is a no-go on two counts.

    Second, slightly off message, I have looked at AV-Comparatives. An excellent site. What I don’t understand is why MSE is not there. I have searched their info and cannot find anything for the omission. Surely, it can’t be the ‘out of box MS’ horizontal white line?

    All the best.
    John

  23. Mr.Dave

    [@Ashraf] Thanks for pointing out that it’s not just the detection rate, and that testing the detection rate is not something to take lightly. These programs protect us from hundreds of thousands of nasties, and a small sampling of 200 is simply not an accurate picture. Thanks!

  24. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    [@ovl] Are you serious? You are really going to proclaim an AV good/bad based on a test of 200 samples? I’d understand if there were no alternative tests available, but there are. AV Comparatives? AV-Test? I understand that AV Comparatives/AV-Test may not necessarily test the free versions of AV (aside from Avast and MSE) and performance will differ from free and paid versions but their tests are significantly more reliable than a test done with 200 samples and provide better indicators as to the quality of their free counterparts.

    When I say in my review “Bitdefender is one of the most highly rated anti-viruses”, I’m talking about independent tests done by organizations like AV Comparatives and AV-Test. Not someone who decides to conduct a test using a measly 200 samples.

    The kicker? The person who’s video you link says in this description: “A full test has been done by AV-Comparatives.” and links to AV-Comparatives.

    Furthermore, your own link destroys your theory of “Predominantly, it’s about the detection rate by free AVs”. From the link you just posted: “Finding out what the best anti-virus is isn’t easy, I have just done a basic scan of 200 infections, this is by no means the best way to find out what the best AV is and there is a lot of other points to consider when trying to find the best FREE AV. For instance.. things like, effectiveness when browsing, resources, scan times and lots more.”

    Thank you but try again.

  25. ovl

    Ashraf, when you review free AVs, it’s not about your dad who “isn’t a moron”. Predominantly, it’s about the detection rate by free AVs which will SYA.

    So, check out the link at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mp6ytxMgckg and take a look at the “Best FREE Antivirus Test 2013 by Britec” posted on YouTube recently – on 04/16/13. Britec tested almost all available for us Free AVs by using the same infected folder, and the test results are:

    Comodo AV – 114 detections
    Avast -110
    AVG – 107
    Avira – 78
    Malwarebytes – 68
    BD – 67
    MSE – 24

    Chosen by you (recently) Avira has poor detection/protection rate among the aforementioned free AVs/Anti-Malware programs.

  26. carbotec

    Bit defender 2013
    My mate sent me an e-mail with information for a chance to try this
    So I have been lucky enough to get this full version for one year free
    It has user or autopilot mode.
    Has a scan now button once clicked you can choose from 4 types of scan quick-system-vulnerability-custom or rescue mode.
    You can adjust on access scanning and active virus control.
    In antivirus you can exclude file-folder-extensions and processes.
    Quarantined items you can choose to restore – submit files for analysis – and rescan after definitions update
    The firewall has settings and advanced tabs with various adjustments.
    There may be other settings I haven’t mentioned.
    I have been using this for just over two months without any problems and am very satisfied.
    So I hope they can incorporate more settings in the free version update.

  27. PixelWizard

    [@PixelWizard]

    Changed my mind today, will be trying out Avira since Ashraf says it’s sufficient. I used it years ago, pre-Avast, but had to abandon it when their virus definition updates became completely inoperable. Obviously that’s not a problem nowadays, and slimming down the antivirus software’s systemwide load is looking very attractive.

  28. Jeanjean

    I abandonned it for the reasons you point out (version 2012) + could not prevent it opens a window on every boot on XP (which need perforce to be closed), even with the help of their support.
    I opt finally for the last version of Kingsoft Antivirus 2012 Cheetah (based on Avira lib) recently update to version 5.6. It does not cause me any trouble and provide sufficient protection for me.
    Thanks for the review.

  29. Mr.Dave

    The “arrogance” factor will keep me far away from BitDefender, but I have friends who would probably prefer it. My question: when BitDefender decides a file is bad, does it quarantine it where you can restore & whitelist it, or is the file (and it’s parent application) no longer allowed to run? I quit using Trend Micro because its Quarantine capabilities were inconsistent — it found far too many false positives and only some files could be recovered. I had to remove Trend Micro (impossible without their customer support) and then reinstall many programs. I hope Trend Micro has improved (this was about 5 years ago) but does anyone know how BitDefender works in this area?

  30. Sputnik

    Thank you Ashraf for this well balanced article which says all someone has to know about this new version of BitDefender Free Antivirus.

    I think that you already know that I have the almost exact point of view about this antivirus…

  31. PixelWizard

    [@Druid]

    Likewise – this was an excellent job of reviewing.

    For years I’ve used and admired Avast Free. A few weeks ago, Avast’s update to version 8 was an unmitigated disaster for my system, however.

    I went back to Avast version 7 – *very* hard to find the installer on the web (why????) – and otherwise restored the system satisfactorily in about an hour. But I have been looking at replacement candidates. I have little confidence that future Avast versions will be any more usable than 8, and who knows how long version 7 will be supported with virus definition updates etc.

    My point: I’m with Ashraf in that the arrogance factor of this Bitdefender kills it for me. Would you be so kind as to report to us if its functionality improves?

    P.S. I did re-examine AVG and Avira in detail and find them both rather lacking vs. the idea of keeping Avast 7.

  32. Seamus McSeamus

    I had read some good things about BD Free so tried it out for a while earlier this year. Ultimately, I uninstalled it in favor of returning to avast! precisely because of the “arrogance” issue. There is not nearly enough end user input for my taste, and like Ed says, a/v programs occasionally throw false positives and it would be nice to have a review option before something is deleted.

    Other than this, I was pleased with BD and would probably still be using it if more user input was allowed. I never had any problems updating that I am aware of (I used it for a month), and don’t recall seeing any ads. I didn’t mind registering – avast! has pretty much the same model, with a license renewal each year, even though the product is free.

    My only other real complaint would be that on-demand scans of files seemed to take a long time compared to avast!

    It was light on resources and I often forgot it was there, which in the end is why I removed it. I like that it runs smoothly and doesn’t chew up system resources, but I don’t like not knowing it’s there because then I don’t know what it might be doing.

  33. Ed

    Although I nothing but good things and I actually am still using Bitdefender 2012, On the other hand I hear their free addition is kind of crappy, I mean you noted them in your cons above …

    1.) Is very arrogant; won’t let users pick what they want to do when a malicious file or website is detected : We all know that an antivirus program will pick up false positives from time to time, so what are we supposed to do, just delete a completely legit file without any choice?

    2.) You must register an account with Bitdefender (registration is free and easy): Not too big a deal, already have one.
    3.) Occasionally displays ads
    Is known to sometimes have issues updating: I guess this is how they pay for the software, but with the sales of their other products doing so well …… why? that right there steers me away from the product.

    Bitdefender free needs to go back to the drawing board.

  34. Allen

    Having a Windows 8 machine, I have read several places that Win 8 “takes care of itself”, both in anti-virus and malware.
    This protection is built into the “core” of Windows 8 , so no need for a 3rd party to protect it.

  35. yrralrellim

    Thanks much for an excellent review. This is right on the money from my point of view!! I actually purchase Bitdefender multiple licenses a couple of months ago and have had absolutely no problems other than the arrogance Ashraf mentioned with my 32-bit Win7 Ultimate machines BUT, on my 64-bit Win7 Home Premium laptop it has been a totally different story. I experienced random, sometimes daily BSOD’s that occurred usually when I was not actively performing any tasks. Of course email and browser software were open when the BSOD’s occurred. After living with this for too long, I got help and was able to isolate the cause as vsserv.exe, a part of the Bitdefender anti-virus. I have had zero BSOD’s since uninstalling Bitdefender!

  36. nico-las

    Thanks for the article Ashraf. Has anyone successfully done a System Restore when using BD ??

    I used to be a paid BD IS 2012 user. But I dumped it for AVG AV 2013 (paid version) – along with a 3rd party front-end app for Windows firewall. I’m not a fan of too much security – I don’t have a Bank vault at home which needs protection. The major reason I dumped BD is because its way too tight on security. So tight, that it even made it difficult to do a windows system restore. Even though system restore doesn’t always work 100% time in the first place, most of the times, as long as your security software isn’t so “an-L”, then it will work effectively for you 99% of the time. If I ever needed to use a system restore point while I was a BD user, I had to boot into safe mode and also end a particular BD process while I was in safe mode (as per the BD customer support instructions). Otherwise, just merely disabling BD in windows was not enough when I needed to run a system restore. My other gripes – it never uninstalled cleanly – even with their removal tool – BD crap was scattered all over my hard-drive. I even had bad experiences installing it – the first time, although minor and I thought it could happen with any program, it didn’t install successfully. Another thing I didn’t like about BD is that they installed a few files into the “System Reserved” partition and this caused Windows 7 image backup to no longer work. Note, Windows 7 backup requires you to have at least 40MB free in your system reserved partition, otherwise it can’t launch VSS to work. This was only solved by increasing the size of the system reserved partition by using a partitioning tool – I used Easeus.

    The problems caused by BitDefender outweighed the benefits provided by strong security. Having said all of the above, the last time I used BD was when it was still in version 2012. It is possible that these problems were ironed-out in future versions.

    Cheers,

  37. Druid

    Thank you Ashraf for another excellent review.
    I used to use the Bitdefender pro years ago, but like many Antivirus programs as you already mentioned “ does not let users pick what to do when a malicious file or website is detected” That’s why I am still using Avast Free.