BitDefender Antivirus 2008 review: BitDefender Antivirus 2008

BitDefender Antivirus 2008 covers a lot of ground, protecting your system from viruses, spyware, privacy breaches, phishing attacks, and rootkits. And BitDefender is the only antivirus product we've seen that advertises a Gamer mode, minimizing protection alerts and resources while you're off playing games.

For out-of-the-box protection, for the most part, we agree with BitDefender's default settings. For instance, with antivirus scans, the default setting scans files during boot, recently accessed files, packed files (although not archived files), incoming and outgoing e-mails--so far so good. The only difference with the more aggressive setting available is the addition of scanning activity on port 80 and port 443. BitDefender's HTTP scan blocks malicious ActiveX and JavaScript, and is part of the antivirus and antispyware protection. Do you need that? Again, there is not enough guidance within the program to help users make that decision; most browsers offer add-ons that will also screen for these scripts.

As for the default privacy protection, BitDefender will look for instances of private information leaving the computer and guard against spyware attempting to install on the machine. The more aggressive setting adds cookie control and script protection, which most browsers will also allow you to control. Do you need this protection if your browser already provides similar protection? Again, BitDefender doesn't offer enough guidance within the program to help users make that decision. Most browsers offer free add-ons that will screen for these scripts as well.

BitDefender Antivirus 2008 scored well in both our CNET Labs' performance tests and in one third-party, independent antivirus test using live viruses. On our iTunes test, BitDefender Antivirus 2008 was tied for first, completing in a fast 270 seconds, just 2 seconds above our test system. On our Microsoft Office test, BitDefender Antivirus 2008 came in near the middle at 1,426 seconds. For scanning a single folder with files, BitDefender Antivirus 2008 came in second requiring 163 seconds. And in boot speed, BitDefender Antivirus 2008 came in first, with a respectable 28 seconds. To find out how we test, see CNET Labs' How we test: software: antivirus page.

In terms of protecting your PC, we cite results from two leading independent antivirus testing organizations. In the latest test results from, for on-demand scans, the previous version, BitDefender Professional 10+, earned an Advanced (second-highest) rating, catching 96 percent of all malware tested; and for the Retrospective/Proactive test, BitDefender Professional 10+ also earned a Standard (middle) rating, detecting almost half the backdoors, Trojans, and other malware sampled. BitDefender was not tested by, our second choice for test results.

BitDefender provides a fairly complete package of technical support for its antivirus product. Greatly improved from last year is the built-in help file, although it would be nice if it were also context sensitive so that when we have a question about the Identity Pirvacy feature, the help file opens on that section immediately. BitDefender also offers an online Getting Started document, but we found its intended audience to be the Internet security suite users, not those starting out with just the antivirus product. BitDefender also delivers an adequate online FAQ, and there are several active user forums. Finally, you can e-mail or call a toll-free number, 888-868-1873, for live technical support.

While we like many features of BitDefender Antivirus 2008 and recognize that it has greatly improved since last year, we were disappointed by the overall feeling we get when using the application. In particular, the configuration settings could be more nuanced beyond just enable and disable. And the settings that are available could be better explained. Often we were left changing settings without being given enough context to make the right decisions.