Bitdefender Total Security 2019 review: This AV suite builds a better autopilot

Bitdefender recently rolled out its consumer antivirus suites for 2019, including an upgrade to its top-level offering, Bitdefender Total Security. At first glance, Total Security 2019 looks quite different from its 2018 predecessor.  The dark theme is gone, and there’s a new centralized Dashboard. Still, there are quite a lot of similarities here, with enough changes to satisfy users looking for improvements.

The most noticeable difference is in the left rail with the new Dashboard menu option (pictured above). It gives users a central and customizable hub to interact with the antivirus suite.

By default, it houses some key options in a tiled interface, including a quick scan, a VPN (another new feature), Safepay, and the option to install Total Security on another device. If you’d like to remove any of these from your dashboard, hover over the tile, click the “edit” pencil icon, and change it in the options window that pops up.

If you want to add more tiles to the interface there’s also an Add a Quick Action tile. The Dashboard takes a maximum of five tiles, so you can only add one extra tile, and then you’ll have to modify the others.

Note: This review is part of our best antivirus roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.

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Bitdefender’s Autopilot suggests actions to keep your PC safe.

The very top of the Dashboard is dedicated solely to Bitdefender’s Autopilot. I wasn’t a big fan of this feature in the 2018 version, because it seemed to me it was just doing what every antivirus suite does, such as carrying out real-time antivirus and firewall protection.

In 2019, Autopilot makes a little more sense. Instead of handling everything for you, it’s acting more like an automated assistant—Bitdefender calls it your “personal security advisor”—suggesting actions you should take to protect and maintain your computer, such as running the one-click optimizer or updating Windows.

That’s much better than before. It’s still something that other suites also do, but the nice thing here is that your recommendations are centralized in one place. If you’re wondering whether you should take any actions to protect your PC, just head over to the Dashboard.

Autopilot doesn’t mean Bitdefender won’t offer suggestions via pop-ups (it will), but if you miss them, they all can be found in the Autopilot section of the Dashboard. You can also disable the Autopilot pop-ups under Settings > General if you prefer.

The one drawback to the 2019 version of Autopilot is that it’s not as smart as I would like. After running Bitdefender’s Oneclick Optimizer, for example, I decided not to erase my cookies and history in Chrome and Firefox. It wasn’t long before Autopilot suggested running the Optimizer again to clean up the items I’d left untouched.

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The Protection menu in Bitdefender Total Security 2019.

Protection is still the meat and potatoes of Bitdefender with all its various scans and real-time protection features. New to the 2019 edition is Network Threat Prevention—you can find it under Protection > Online Threat Prevention > Settings > Network threat prevention. This automated system is supposed to watch out for brute-force entry attempts to your PC, botnet attacks, and threats to your sensitive information.

There’s also a new Ransomware Remediation feature, which attempts to revert any files that were encrypted due to ransomware. Everything else is pretty much the same: antispam, antivirus scans, firewall, Advanced Threat Defense, and Safe Files.

With Safe Files I noticed an annoyance that I don’t recall from 2018. The feature is supposed to stop unauthorized access to critical files. But in my experience it would interfere with my ability to save new files or modify old ones with common programs such as Firefox. Eventually, this would work itself out, but I don’t have the patience for that and just turned off the feature.

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Bitdefender Total Security 2019’s privacy features.

The Privacy section has the usual features you’d expect from a top-flight suite, including a password manager, file encryption, parental controls, SafePay for secure and sandboxed online transactions, and a file shredder.

There’s also webcam protection, which only allows access to your webcam under certain restrictions. I’d still advise covering or unplugging your webcams when not in use, but this is nonetheless a great and useful feature.