The time of the year has arrived when the online security manufacturers swoop on mass to release their latest wares and so it is with BitDefender Total Security 2008, which from the look of the new interface has been designed to go head-to-head with Symantec Norton 360. It’s a slim 41MB download, so even if you’re on dial-up you won’t find it too much of a taxing download.

The interface has been simplified and is built around four keys functions, Security, Parental Control, Tuneup and Backup. To keep things simple, the program checks the status and if thing are fine you should see a row of four ticks across the screen. When an issue arises you’ll find an exclamation mark. To emphasis status, the program uses a traffic light style colour coding. If a problem arises, click Fix It button and the problem will usually be resolved. For the average user this is about as complicated as it gets.

When it comes to checking for viruses, this latest version has grouped antivirus and anti-spyware together, which not only makes more sense but also speeds up the scanning process considerably. BitDefender has always been a powerful package but the 2008 version is even better than we expected. As with similar tools, you can choose to run manually or setup a schedule to best suit you. Updates are automatic and when we were testing it out, seemed to arrive almost daily.

It’s not only the speed of scanning that has been optimised, as the scanning now also handles malware far more effectively and even supports the clearing out of rootkits, something previous packages didn’t. This means even if you’ve installed the program on a PC that is already infected, it will find it and eliminate it. Malware is isolated as it’s found and when found won’t even allow you to open the offending email let alone the file attached.

There is now a Games mode, which will automatically disable updates and popups when you’re playing online. This may not sound like much but if you’ve ever experienced these when gaming online, then you’ll know how infuriating they can be.

An internet security suite wouldn’t be complete these days without adding a little more and just as with Symantec with Norton 360, it’s a range of clean-up tools that add to Total Security. So, you’ll find utilities to clean up your registry entries, clear out duplicate files and generally clean up the system. There is even a defrag tool that works faster and better than the one shipping with Windows, so you’ll find this package really does live up to its name.

Price when reviewed:

BitDefender Total Security 2008 has a lot to live up to, not only in terms of its name but also the rival competition on the market.

In both instances, we found it more than capable. So much so, that this may well our new favourite security product and it doesn’t cost the earth to protect your PC.