The speed with which an unprotected PC picks up malware from the Internet can be truly scary, hence the rise in popularity of security bundles that combine antivirus, firewall and spam protection.
BitDefender's award-winning antivirus side is its strongest feature. It filters all the vectors viruses use to infect your system, checking downloads, email, peer-to-peer exchanges, network connections, CDs, ZIPs and USB keys.
The program can scan files on access, on demand or on schedule - BitDefender creates a tiny desktop window called the File Zone that indicates how many files have recently been scanned.
You can drag and drop things in there if you want them checked out.
Email virus attachments that can't be cleaned are quarantined and one click sends them to BitDefender for analysis.
The Live Update feature checks for new nasties either manually or at user-defined intervals. The antispam module filters all POP3 accounts and integrates with Outlook and Outlook Express.
Besides choosing from five tolerance levels, you can also opt to block emails containing Asian or Cyrillic characters or dodgy URLs. Unfortunately, we found that it proved no more effective at blocking spam than many freeware alternatives.
BitDefender's firewall monitors only outbound Internet traffic, controls cookies and blocks Registry hacks, malicious scripts and rogue diallers. It also alerts users when an application tries to access the Internet.