Bitdefender Total Security 2020 full review

Bitdefender's Total Security offering has long been an extensive product, and the 2020 update adds more to an already full basket. Here, we bring your our full review of one of the best antivirus packages around.

Bitdefender Total Security 2020: Price & Availability

Bitdefender Total Security has an RRP of £69.99/$US$89.99, but you'll almost always be able to find it at a much lower price than that.

For example, at time of writing you can get a year's subscription for £35/US$44.99 (note that if you decide to renew after one year, you'll be charged £69.99/$89.99 for the second year). That's for up to five devices, including PC, Mac, Android and iOS.

If you want to commit to a longer time period, for two years it's £119.99/$149.99, and for three years it's £154.99/$199.99. However, that's still more expensive than setting up a new account each year and paying £35/$44.99.

You can buy Total Security 2020 from Bitdefender itself here, or from resellers such as Amazon and Newegg.

There's now another option: if you're looking for the ultimate protection, Bitdefender also makes a security router - the Bitdefender Box 2, reviewed - which includes a year's subscription to Total Security 2020.

Bitdefender Total Security 2020 Features

Protection

Being a security suite and not simply antivirus software, you get the full array of protections for your Windows, macOS, iOS and Android devices, plus a password manager, a parental advisor, and a 200MB per day per device VPN, but this is just the start. (Find out more about the VPN and its upgraded version in our Bitdefender Premium VPN review)

To help flatten out the learning curve of such a big product, there's an “Auto Pilot” switch on the main interface. When on, which it is by default, Bitdefender uses sensible settings for all modules. It also uses the main panel in the Dashboard to offer advice and guidance for using features that might benefit you, such as turning on the Ransomware protection that's off by default.

Bitdefender Total Security review

Along with the usual file and system scans is the dedicated vulnerability scan, which checks your system for outdated software, weak network passwords, and critical Windows updates that need to be applied. There's also a dedicated Wi-Fi scan that checks  you're not using weak encryption or authentication protocols.

As with an increasing number of AV offerings, there's also a boot time scan, called the Rescue Environment, which runs at next boot up. This scans your system before Windows and any stealth malware has a chance to start up.

A Oneclick Optimiser pops up soon after installation to tell you there's disk space to be freed up. The catch to this, though, is that along with temporary files, login cookies also disappear.

Bitdefender Total Security review

Fortunately, after analysing what can be deleted, there's a warning to check the items before doing the optimisation. And you can uncheck cookies and other items that you don't want deleting. Previously, the tool didn't warn you about this, so it's good to see that addressed, except it doesn't specifically advise that you might want to keep your cookies so you still need to know what you're doing. 

Bitdefender Total Security review

Another recommendation from the Auto Pilot the concept of profiles. These kick in automatically when you're watching a movie, or playing a game, for example. The different modes prevent popups, or put off housekeeping events until the software detects that they're appropriate. All you have to do is click the Enable button if you like the sound of it.

The anti-spam module allows you to explicitly whitelist friends and blacklist real spammers. You also have the option of automatically banning any spam written with Asian or Cyrillic character sets, and of submitting any unknown samples to the Bitdefender cloud for analysis before opening them.

Bitdefender has joined the growing group of domestic AV providers that incorporate so-called “next gen” application behaviour monitoring. If a piece of code does something suspicious, Advanced Threat Defense will block it. There's also a whitelist for programs that inadvertently trip this feature.

Allied to this is the Safe Files module, which protects nominated folders from any ransomware designed to run at boot time. So even if you do enable the ransomware protection, you should head into the Safe Files settings and add any folders that you want to protect.

And as long as Ransomware Remediation is engaged, it will automatically roll back any changes made by ransomware to your precious files.

General browsing is protected by the Online Threat Prevention module. This uses machine learning and a global web site reputation database to judge whether any site to which you surf should be considered malicious. Like the Safe Browsing service used in Chrome and other browsers, this is constantly updated, meaning that you're technically getting global real-time protection. This is also now available in iOS (it was already available on Android).

Extra protection on offer with the 2020 version is Microphone Monitor, which lets you see which apps access your device’s microphone and when.

Privacy

Bitdefender Total Security review

New for the 2020 version is Anti-Tracker which blocks data collection from websites. Simply enabling it is not enough, though, because the default is to only apply this protection to Internet Explorer. You have to click on the settings to enable it to work with Chrome and Firefox.

For online security, Bitdefender includes its secure Safepay browser. This should be used when entering payment details on web sites, and will pop up to suggest its use as appropriate. You can also enter trusted bookmarks into Safepay, and use them instead of potentially fraudulent ones apparently sent via email from criminals posing as your bank.

Mentioned already is the VPN. This isn't actually installed as part of Total Security, but it only takes a click or two. What you get is a cut down version of Bitdefender Premium VPN which is fairly useless for streaming region-locked content, but it will hide your data from prying eyes while using public Wi-Fi.

There is a daily data limit, set at 200MB per device per day. Bitdefender Premium VPN has unlimited data, and allows you to select one of about 30 countries for a few pounds or dollars per month. Unfortunately, it isn't a particularly good use of that money: you will find better choices in our roundup of the best VPN services here.

A bundled password manager allows you to set up multiple wallets, each protected by its own master password. Simply enter this master password to have Bitdefender securely log you into sites and services.

The File Vault module allows you to protect sensitive files with strong encryption. Vaults are mounted as virtual disc drives, with a drive letter you select. You simply drop your files and folders onto the drive, and no one can access them without the drive's password.

The Parental Advisor opens a web page at Bitdefender that allows you to silently install the tracking module on your children's mobile devices that are already protected by Bitdefender.

Along with tracking location, apps used, sites visited, and calls made, you can also block unknown numbers, and calls where the number is withheld. Usefully, you can impose a bedtime, and set up email alerts when your child attempts to access content you've banned or if they enter a restricted area.

Completing this rather comprehensive set of facilities is the file shredder, which securely deletes data.

Mobile security

The mobile version of Total Security is available on iOS and Android. The Android version takes cues from the desktop dashboard so you can immediately see if anything is amiss.

Several useful features are included. For example, Account Privacy allows you to enter an email address and have Bitdefender test it to see if the credentials have been harvested or otherwise leaked online.

Bitdefender Total Security review - Android

Web Protection is on by default and protects you from dangerous web pages. Anti-Theft has all the usual features (remote locate, lock, wipe, and scream), and also allows you to automatically take a picture when someone fails to unlock the device three times in a row.

You can also configure Bitdefender to send a text to a trusted number if your SIM is replaced. App Lock is another handy feature that makes it necessary to enter a PIN before running selected apps. VPN is also built in, offering that 200MB of free data per day.

Verdict

Like any antivirus software, Bitdefender's performance does vary from month to month. But its track record is absolutely excellent and the most recent AV-Test results are impressive. Add in all the other protection on offer plus privacy tools ncluding the new anti-track, and Bitdefender Total Security is the gold standard.