There are security suites that contain every feature you can think of, and then there are suites that contain way, way more components than you'd expect. Bitdefender Total Security Multi-Device 2017 falls into the latter category; it's what I like to call a mega-suite. On top of that, you can install Bitdefender protection on your Mac and Android devices as well. This suite has just about every security feature you could imagine, and they all work well.
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For $89.99 per year, you get five licenses; kick in another $10 and that number goes up to 10. Kaspersky Total Security is a bit more expensive, at $99.99 for five licenses, and Norton costs a bit less, 10 licenses for $89.99. McAfee breaks the mold, offering unlimited licenses for that same price. Of course, at any given moment, some or all of these prices may be discounted.
This suite is identical in appearance to Bitdefender's entry-level suite, with a dark gray color scheme and a new left-side menu of icons. You won't see any difference until you click the Tools icon, which reveals a page of useful tools instead of an invitation to upgrade from the entry-level suite. Like the other Bitdefender products, this suite defaults to running in Autopilot mode. That means that, as much as possible, it quietly takes care of your security concerns without asking anything of you.
The online Bitdefender Central console becomes even more important in this cross-platform multi-device suite. From the console you can see the devices currently protected by your subscription and click a button to either download Bitdefender to the current device or send an email with a download link.
Clicking a device lets you see its status, either indicating that it's protected or that it has one or more issues needing your attention. If there are issues, you can use the console to view details and remotely fix problems. You can also remotely launch a quick, full, optimization, or vulnerability scan.
This is also the spot to manage Bitdefender's anti-theft features; more about those later. In addition, if you make use of the parental control feature (for Windows and Android), you define child profiles in Bitdefender Central and associate them with the devices where they should be applied.
Shared Antivirus Features
Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2017 is an Editors' Choice for standalone antivirus, and includes quite a bit more than just basic antivirus. Read that review for a full understanding of the features this suite shares with the antivirus.
Bitdefender routinely aces tests by independent labs. Along with Kaspersky and Trend Micro, it took a perfect 18 points in the latest test reported by AV-Test Institute. And it earned the top score in all five of the tests I follow from AV-Comparatives. Its score according to my lab test aggregate algorithm is 9.3 of 10 possible points, beaten only by Kaspersky Total Security and Norton.
Bitdefender's score in my own hands-on malware blocking test didn't come up to its lab results, but when I encounter such a discrepancy I give significantly more weight to the labs. Bitdefender earned 8.8 of 10 possible points in this test, while Webroot got a perfect 10 against the same samples.
When challenged to protect a test system from 100 malware-hosting URLs, Bitdefender blocked 90 percent, almost all of them by keeping the browser from visiting the dangerous URL. Only a few products have scored higher in this test, among them Norton, with 98 percent, and Avira Antivirus Pro 2016, with 99 percent.
My antiphishing test always uses the newest-possible phishing URLs, ones that have been reported as frauds but not yet analyzed and blacklisted. Symantec Norton Security Deluxe has long been my touchstone for this test, due to its consistently high detection rate. Very few products can outperform Norton, but Bitdefender is one of them. In fact, with a score 5 percentage points better than Norton's, it's the current antiphishing champion. In addition to detecting phishing, Bitdefender's browser extension specifically identifies over a dozen other fraud types, among them escrow scams, dating scams, and piracy sites.
A vulnerability scanner looks for missing updates both for Windows and for browsers and other major apps. It also flags weak Windows passwords and unsecured Wi-Fi connections. The ransomware protection component prevents unauthorized programs from making any changes to the Documents and Pictures folders for all users, or any other folders you add.
That's not all. Bitdefender Wallet serves as a basic password manager, capturing and replaying credentials, filling Web forms with personal data, and storing a variety of other security-related data. SafePay is a separate, secure desktop that's invoked automatically when you try to visit a sensitive website. Wi-Fi Advisor both flags unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots and checks the security settings of your own wireless network. And the File Shredder securely deletes sensitive files without any chance of forensic recovery.
Shared Suite Features
Even though the standalone antivirus offers a ton of features, Bitdefender Internet Security 2017 brings plenty of additional security goodness. My review of this entry-level suite contains the full details.
Bitdefender's firewall stays in the background, taking care of business without bothering you. It configures network permissions for a vast number of known good programs automatically, and makes its own decisions about unknowns. In testing, it fended off port scans and other Web-based attacks, and it actively blocked 44 percent of exploit attacks (none of the attacks penetrated security). I couldn't find any way a malware coder could programmatically disable protection.
Bitdefender's parental control system accounts for the fact that modern kids use a variety of devices. You configure child profiles online, in the Bitdefender Central portal, then connect that profile with the devices used by the child. You can enable content filtering for 42 distinct content categories and define a sleep time for weekdays and weekends, during which the child can't log in to Windows and can't use the Internet on Android devices. Other features include geofencing, reporting on too-public Facebook settings, and call blocking on Android devices. It's a full-featured parental control system, more than the average suite offers.
Bitdefender filters spam from POP3 email accounts, with additional focus on ransomware and malware in email. It integrates with Microsoft Outlook and Thunderbird, but can be used with other email clients. You can blacklist or whitelist individual addresses or whole domains. And presuming you don't send or receive mail using Cyrillic or Asian characters, you can block messages using those character sets.
The File Shredder included with the antivirus becomes especially useful in combination with the suite's Vault feature. After copying a file or folder into the encrypted Vault, you ensure privacy by shredding the unprotected originals.
I tested this suite's performance separately from the entry-level suite, but got very similar results. It had no measurable effect on my file move and copy or zip and unzip tests. However, it seemed to increase boot time by 45 percent. My company contacts speculate that the product's delayed launch of non-essential components may have interacted negatively with the boot time test. In any case, most of us don't reboot every day, or even every week.
See How We Test Security Software
Clicking the Tools icon in the entry-level suite just takes you to a page advertising the glorious benefits of upgrading to Total Security. In the top-tier suite, all four are fully functional. Three of these tools aim to streamline your system's performance, always a good idea.
When you launch the OneClick Optimizer, it quickly scans for junk files, Registry issues, and privacy issues, meaning traces of your browser and computer use. On my test system, it reported that over 700MB of disk space could be freed up. You can, if you wish, just click Optimize immediately, but the tool itself recommends reviewing its findings.
When you dig in for detail about disk issues, you don't get slammed with a list of every junk file. Rather, it breaks down the list into file types such as Windows Cache and Windows Debug files. Under Privacy, you can see the Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer data that would be wiped, and optionally prevent Bitdefender from clearing, say, the cookies in Chrome. After the quick optimization step, you can view a very detailed log of what the optimizer did.
The Startup Optimizer actually tracks how fast Windows starts and how much time is taken by programs that launch at startup. Naturally it's not fully functional until you reboot at least once after installation. Armed with information about how much of the boot process is just the system booting, and how much is due to startup programs, you can choose to delay or reversibly disable launching any of those startup programs. Norton and Trend Micro Maximum Security 2016 also let you disable or delay startup programs.
Disk Cleanup sounds like it would overlap the function of OneClick Optimizer, but it has a different purpose. It specifically seeks large files and folders that you may not need. It doesn't scan quite as quickly as the OneClick Optimizer, but it still finished in about a minute. When done, it displays a double pie chart. The inner ring breaks down disk usage by categories such as Windows Apps and Common Files. Clicking one of these populates the outer ring with detail. Just drag files or folders to a target area to delete them. But be careful or you might delete something important.
Anti-Theft is also displayed on the Tools page. However, clicking it simply takes you to the Bitdefender Central page where you can manage this feature. I'll cover Anti-Theft shortly.
If you log in to the Bitdefender Central page from a Mac, you can download Bitdefender's Mac antivirus product. If it's more convenient, you can send an email with the download link to the address you use on your Mac.
Protection on a Mac isn't nearly as extensive as what you get under Windows. It's little more than basic antivirus. It scans files on access, on demand, and on schedule, and remediates all kinds of Mac malware as well as any PC-targeted malware that passes through your Mac. The main window is dominated by buttons to launch a Quick, Full, or Custom scan. And as with the Windows edition, Autopilot is turned on by default. A browser extension helps steer you away from dangerous websites.
Perhaps the most important Mac bonus feature relates to ransomware. This type of threat definitely exists in Mac versions, and the latest twist is that Mac ransomware encrypts not only your files, but their backups stored with Time Machine. Much like the anti-ransomware feature under Windows, Bitdefender on the Mac prevents unauthorized programs from making any changes to your Time Machine backups.
Anti-Theft for Windows and Android
Quite often, anti-theft is reserved for Android devices, but Bitdefender's extends to Windows devices as well. On either platform, you can locate, lock, or wipe the device, though the details are slightly different by platform. For Android devices, you can also trigger a loud alarm, helpful when you've simply misplaced the device around the house.
You access anti-theft features by logging in to Bitdefender Central online. As an alternative for Android smartphones, you can send coded SMS messages to activate anti-theft features. If a phone thief changes out the SIM card, Bitdefender sends a text with the new phone number to a trusted friend that you specify during setup. That way you can use SMS codes even after a SIM card change.
Bitdefender locates a lost or stolen device using Wi-Fi triangulation. In the unusual event that the missing device is physically connected to a network, it falls back on the less-accurate technique of IP geolocation.
Remotely locking a Windows device simply logs off the Windows user account, which means it's important that your account have a strong password. If you don't have a password, or if you're locking an Android device, you specify an unlock code. This changes the Android device's lockscreen to use the specified code. Once you unlock it using the code, your lockscreen settings go back to what they were before.
If it's clear you're not going to get the device back, as a last resort you can wipe it. You must confirm that you understand the process is irreversible. On an Android device, it performs a factory reset; of course, after the reset you have no more control over the device. If it's Windows, the device reboots and begins the process of wiping the hard drive. For safety, the SMS wipe command is only accepted from the trusted phone number you specified.
A couple of features are Android-only. You can enable the Snap Photo feature, which will silently snap a photo after three failed unlock attempts. A similar feature in Norton's Android edition automatically snaps a photo every 10 minutes if you've remotely locked the device. And the WearON app for your Android Wear watch warns if you get to far from your phone. It also lets you trigger the alarm to locate a misplaced phone.
As a standalone Android security product, Bitdefender Mobile Security and Antivirus is an Editors' Choice, sharing that honor with Norton Security and Antivirus. The easiest way to install Bitdefender on an Android device is to send an email link from Bitdfender Central. On the device, one tap takes you to the Google Play store. Initially you get the feature-limited free edition, but once you log in to your Bitdefender account all features become available.
Bitdefender runs a scan right away, to be sure your device is clean. It then prompts you to activate anti-theft, activate App Lock, and turn on the Snap Photo feature. The app's main screen is dominated by a status panel that's green if all is well, yellow or red if something needs attention. As on other platforms, Web security protects you from malicious and phishing websites, at least if you're using Chrome or the default browser.
App Lock puts any apps you specify behind a four-digit PIN code, separate from the lockscreen PIN. Initially, it recommended that I protect Camera, Chrome, and Contacts. Privacy Advisor checks the permissions required by all of your apps and generates a privacy score. If you install an app that could be dangerous to your privacy, Bitdefender displays a warning and offers to uninstall it. You can also tap any app in the report to see clues about that app's potential impact on privacy.
On my test Android, the Contacts app had the most clues, because it necessarily works with your private information. It can read your texts, make phone calls, access your list of contacts, and so forth. That's why Bitdefender suggested securing this app with App Lock.
Taken with the powerful anti-theft system, these features make an impressive Android security suite.
All This and More
Bitdefender Total Security Multi-Device 2017 offers a truly staggering collection of security-specific features. Sure, it has award-winning antivirus, no-hassle firewall, cross-platform parental control, and easy-to-use spam filter. But the list goes on, including encryption, secure deletion, system optimization, password management, and more.
This wealth of features makes Bitdefender Total Security an Editors' Choice for security mega-suite, sharing that honor with Kaspersky Total Security. If you want a full slate of effective security features, either is a great choice.
These two also qualify as cross-platform suites, but they aren't our top choices in that particular area. Symantec Norton Security Premium protects up to ten Windows, Android, macOS, or iOS devices and includes 25GB of hosted online backup. McAfee LiveSafe doesn't quite match Symantec's test scores, but your McAfee subscription lets you install protection on every device in your household. These two are Editors' Choice for cross-platform multi-device suite.
Note: These sub-ratings contribute to a product's overall star rating, as do other factors, including ease of use in real-world testing, bonus features, and overall integration of features.