Bitdefender is a Romanian company which has been making Windows anti-virus software since 2001. After an over-zealous makeover last year, the company now claims it has ‘the sharp mind of the wolf and the sleekness of the dragon, the vigilance of the alpha-male and the indestructibility of the snake's body'. It writes software. Actually, it writes rather good software and the Bitdefender Total Security 2012 package is the top product in a range which includes IS and simple AV products further down the line, if you don't have the need or budget for the full thing.

Bitdefender Total Security 2012 adds a file shredder, encryption, PC tune-up and 2GB of online backup to the AV, antispam, firewall, parental control, social network protection and anti-phishing of Bitdefender Internet Security 2012. See also: Group test: what's the best security software?

Bitdefender Total Security 2012's interface is cleanly designed with four big icons in the centre panel. In fact, there are ten big icons, but they won't all fit at once. Instead, you scroll sideways through the control panel. Each leads to a further screen with, for example, a log of scan results or plots of network activity.

There's a separate button for settings, which calls up a multi-tabbed screen where you can fine-tune each element of the suite's protection. Features which go beyond the normal mix of IS applets include virtualising your browser, designed to protect it from web-based threats, and social network protection, which checks any links you receive from busty temptresses called Matthew X3654.

Another good feature of the product is Auto-Pilot, which prevents it from interrupting you with questions like ‘I've just detected Firefox trying to contact the Internet; what should I do?' and instead makes intelligent guesses over the ‘proper' action to take. During testing, Bitdefender Total Security 2012 was nicely quiet and didn't appear to make any silly decisions. Visit: Security Advisor

Running a full scan on our test basket of files took 19 mins 39 secs to examine 98,483 files, giving a rate of 83.5 file/s, the third quickest we've seen.  With the background systems running, our 1GB file copy took just 33 secs, implying very little performance impact, though with a system scan running this rose to 2 min 13 secs. However, scheduled scans only run when the system is idle, so you shouldn't feel that performance hit.

AV Test awarded the Bitdefender engine 16/18, an excellent score. It loses only 0.5 each in the Protection and Repair categories and 1.0 under Usability.

To break this down a bit, the Repair section looks at how well the program spots and removes malware which is already running on your Windows PC. The average of all the products AV Test has tested in the same period as Bitdefender was 97 percent, while Bitdefender scored 100 percent. It's even better than the competitions when it comes to removal of rootkits and stealth malware. The average is 84 percent, but Bitdefender scored 97 percent.

Finally, in correcting system modifications caused by malware, the average is 57 percent, but Bitdefender Total Security 2012 scored 89 percent. Pretty impressive and something the company can be rightly proud of.

Download: Bitdefender Total Security 2012

See also: BitDefender Mobile Security Premium for Android review

Bitdefender Total Security 2012: Specs

  • Windows XP/Vista/7 (XP 32-bit only)
  • 1GHz processor
  • 1GB RAM, 1.8GB drive space
  • Windows XP/Vista/7 (XP 32-bit only)
  • 1GHz processor
  • 1GB RAM, 1.8GB drive space


Judging from the test results, Bitdefender Total Security 2012 has to be one of the best IS products around at the moment. It's thorough and easy to use and puts little strain on a typical PC. While not the cheapest product on the counter, it appears to be a bit of a wolf-dragon; probably its little, wet nose.