Bitdefender has just released a free edition of Bitdefender Antivirus for Windows, that’s designed to be extremely light-weight and extremely minimalist without compromising on malware detection and removal capabilities of Bitdefender’s paid products.
The most striking thing about Bitdefender Antivirus Free is how little there is to call an interface. Click on the program icon in the taskbar, and it opens a small vertical window no bigger than a instant messenger chatbox. Only three buttons are visible – one lets you toggle state of the “Virus shield” from ON to OFF, another one lets you toggle the ON/OFF switch for “Auto Scan”, and the last one is a login button “My Bitdefender” and it tells me that I have 29 days left to login. So it’s likely to stop working or stop updating unless I login within the stipulated number of days.
And that's it. There are no configuration boxes, no pages after pages of settings, absolutely nothing. It’s forget and install. It doesn’t even bother you with alerts and status messages, as it resolves all issues itself. For instance, if you initiate an on-demand scan, which you will have to do from Windows Explorer context menu, the antivirus informs you of the result of the scan via balloon notification, which you can totally dismiss. I have no idea how the antivirus will react when it finds an infection, but I guess it will silently kill or quarantine it and then notify you with another balloon notification.
You can, however, later open the antivirus program window and see detailed results of the scan.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free is available only as a web installer. You have to download and run a ~158KB file which will then download the necessary program files from the Internet and install the same on the computer. After this, the program will start updating virus definition files. This means that you cannot install this antivirus program on a non-networked computer, but isolated and Internet connectivity-less PCs are rare these days.
Under the hood of Bitdefender Antivirus Free, there is:
- Real-time Shield - The real time shield is designed to protect access to the entire system. It automatically scans all files as they are accessed or copied or downloaded.
- Active Virus Control - Active Virus Control is Bitdefender’s proactive detection technology which uses advanced heuristic methods to detect new potential threats in real time and provides a layer of protection against new threats for which signatures have not yet been released. It monitors each program running on your PC, as it executes, and notes malware-like actions. If enough such actions are detected, the program which performed them is declared harmful.
- Intrusion Detection System - This technology represents the heuristic monitoring of the applications trying to access network services or the Internet. What it means is that the application running on the computer receives a score whenever they perform an action on the computer. The software is evaluated from a malware point of view and if it reaches a certain level, then it is topped as being a malware.
- B-Have – The B-HAVE technology reduces dependency on virus signatures through proactive detection of unknown threats. B-HAVE checks for characteristics known to be associated with malware. A program may be deemed to be malicious if it attempts to modify certain files, read from or write to a sensitive area of the memory or create a file that is a product of a known virus. If no malicious actions are detected, B-HAVE starts the program normally; if a suspect conduct is present, B-HAVE automatically quarantines or deletes the application.
- HTTP Scanning - Analyzes and blocks websites that support various scams or credit card phishing attempts.
- Anti-rootkit - This technology is used to scan for hidden malware also known as rootkits. A rootkit is a stealthy type of software, often malicious, designed to hide the existence of certain processes or programs from normal methods of detection and enable continued privileged access to a computer.
- Periodic Updates - Bitdefender Antivirus Essential periodically updates itself without any user intervention, ensuring an optimal level of protection against new threats.
- Early Boot Scanning - This technology ensures that the system is being scanned at boot time as soon as all critical services are loaded. The scope of early boot is to improve virus detection at system startup, while improving boot time also.
- Empty Slots Scanning - The Empty Slots technology is used for detecting short time intervals when the system usage is low, in order to perform other actions, useful to the product and the user. System resource usage is calculated considering the CPU and HDD usage.
- Smart Scan - The files that have been scanned in the past will not be scanned again, using a smart skipping engine.