Tighten Up Your Com­puter Se­cu­rity

Maximum PC - - R&D - –DAN GRABHAM

EVER SINCE WIN­DOWS 8, Win­dows De­fender has been provided as a built-in com­po­nent of the op­er­at­ing sys­tem, pro­tect­ing against mal­ware. How­ever, there’s a lot to be said for get­ting ad­don third-party pro­tec­tion for your com­puter. This doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be paid for, be­cause there are some good free op­tions around. Nat­u­rally, the com­pa­nies in­volved hope you’ll like the prod­uct so much that you’ll up­grade to the paid-for ver­sion.

One of the top free pack­ages is by Bitdefender, and it’s this that we’re look­ing at right here. While the free edi­tion of Bitdefender is more than ad­e­quate with an­tivirus scan­ning, anti-phish­ing tech­nol­ogy, and ran­somware pro­tec­tion, the paid-for ver­sion of Bitdefender—called An­tivirus Plus—also in­cludes a VPN, a pass­word man­ager, and dif­fer­ent modes for dif­fer­ent pur­poses, such as re­duc­ing the num­ber of no­ti­fi­ca­tions you re­ceive when work­ing or watch­ing movies. It’s the free ver­sion we’re look­ing at here.

1 DOWNLOAD BITDEFENDER The free ver­sion of Bitdefender will pro­tect you against all the key on­line threats, and it’s easy to download, in­stall, and use. Go to www.bitdefender.com/so­lu­tions/free.html to get hold of it, and click the “Free Download” but­ton [ Im­age A]. Bitdefender An­tivirus Free will stay up­dated, so you’ll al­ways have pro­tec­tion against the lat­est threats—up­dates hap­pen au­to­mat­i­cally in the back­ground. 2 DO YOU WANT TO UP­GRADE? Should you wish to, you can up­grade to the paid ver­sion of Bitdefender an­tivirus at this point. This in­cludes a VPN, so you can en­crypt all your web brows­ing, as well as a use­ful pass­word man­ager. For ba­sic use, Bitdefender An­tivirus Free of­fers more than enough pro­tec­tion. If you’re a gamer, it may well be worth con­sid­er­ing the paid-for ver­sion, be­cause there is a game mode. 3 DOWNLOAD AND RUN The Bitdefender in­stal­la­tion file will download [ Im­age B]. If you’re in Mi­crosoft Edge, you’re shown the dia­log at the bot­tom of this win­dow that en­ables you to run the in­stal­la­tion file as soon as it has down­loaded. If you’re us­ing Chrome, you need to click the file in the bar at the bot­tom of your browser win­dow to start the in­stall (or click on the file it­self in your Down­loads folder). 4 IN­STALL BITDEFENDER The file you down­loaded is just the in­staller. Be­fore it can fully in­stall, Bitdefender down­loads a much larger in­stall file that may take a while. Ours was 354MB. If you have a very slow con­nec­tion, we rec­om­mend do­ing this part overnight. If you have a fast con­nec­tion, it should be no prob­lem, how­ever, and the app tells you how far through the process it is. 5 SCAN FOR THE FIRST TIME As it in­stalls, Bitdefender scans your sys­tem for the first time [ Im­age C]. This is to en­sure there are no big iden­ti­fi­able is­sues with your sys­tem. Af­ter all, many peo­ple only download soft­ware like Bitdefender An­tivirus Free when they ac­tu­ally have a prob­lem with their PC, so it makes sense for the pro­gram to check that all is well with your com­puter from the get-go. 6 CRE­ATE OR SIGN IN TO YOUR AC­COUNT To use Bitdefender An­tivirus Free, you need to have a Bitdefender ac­count. En­ter your name and email ad­dress, and cre­ate a pass­word if you don’t al­ready have an ac­count [ Im­age D]— don’t en­ter false de­tails, be­cause Bitdefender emails you to con­firm your email ad­dress is le­git­i­mate. You need to click the link in the email to con­firm your ac­count, and prove your email ad­dress is yours. 7 YOU’RE PRO­TECTED! If you don’t see the main win­dow for Bitdefender An­tivirus Free [ Im­age E], check for the “B” icon in your no­ti­fi­ca­tions area, on the right of your Taskbar—it may be hid­den be­hind the drop-down ar­row. Once you see the icon, click it to open the Bitdefender win­dow. As you can see, you’re now pro­tected from any threats. You can click to start a sys­tem scan should you want to check your PC. 8 FIN­ISHED SCAN­NING When the scan has fin­ished, you’ll see this in the sta­tus area be­low. You can drag and drop any file to the Bitdefender win­dow to man­u­ally check it [ Im­age F]. As you can see, the app has also per­formed an up­date. Bitdefender won’t nec­es­sar­ily let you know when it’s do­ing things like this, but no­ti­fi­ca­tions ap­pear in the sta­tus area. Se­cu­rity apps like Bitdefender are de­signed to run in the back­ground. 9 GO TO SET­TINGS Click the cog icon in the top-right of the win­dow to ac­cess Bitdefender’s set­tings. From here, you can view all the “events” that have oc­curred. You can also choose whether to turn the Pro­tec­tion Shield on or off [ Im­age G]— this au­to­mat­i­cally blocks ma­li­cious files. You can turn it off if it iden­ti­fies a prob­lem with some­thing that you know is le­git­i­mate. 10 HELP AND MORE If you have an is­sue with Bitdefender An­tivirus Free, you can search the help pages at the Bitdefender web­site, al­though most things should be fairly self-ex­plana­tory. You will need to up­grade the soft­ware should you need more in-depth sup­port. You’re also able to send in any feed­back you want to re­lay us­ing the handy link [ Im­age H]. Again, this win­dow is ac­cessed via Bitdefender’s “Set­tings” menu.

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