BullGuard Internet Security 8.5 isn't so much an overhaul of the version launched at the start of 2008, but is instead more a system upgrade.

Installation is quick and the interface clean and easy to navigate. As with the other suites here, the main screen is broken down into separate tools, including anti-virus and anti-spyware protection and a new email spam filter feature.

The spam filter works with all the leading email clients, including Mozilla Thunderbird and Microsoft Outlook, and there is an active protection program that shares spam information between users, so limiting its impact.

Improved firewall

Perhaps the biggest change is with the firewall, which has been improved to be less demanding on system resources, but still delivers two-way protection.

The scanning engine hasn't been greatly improved in this version, but BullGuard's emphasis has been on streamlining overall performance, so the software runs on a smaller footprint. Changes have also been made to the way it scans for threats.

In the same way that Norton's Pulse technology looks for updates every five to 15 minutes, BullGuard's own signature database works in real time, but has a far more modest two-hour update cycle instead.

BullGuard also heavily promotes its online back-up solution. Users get 5GB of free online storage. This is great for the mobile user, as they don't need to worry about the location of their files and home users can back up their more valuable memories. Extra space is available, with prices starting at less than £6 (inc. VAT) per GB a year.

Other improvements include an updated rootkit, which can help clear systems already infected with viruses prior to security software being installed.

BullGuard is a great choice for older or entry-level laptops, as the system resources are light. We found that when scanning was running in the background we could still continue working with little impact on performance.