Apart from keeping your PC safe online, a good Internet security package will be easy to use and remain firmly in the background while you use your computer.
Various past incarnations of leading packages, such as Norton, have bombarded users with unnecessary pop-ups and warnings, and been dogged by pretty messy uninstalls. BullGuard Internet Security 7.0 is a great example of a clean program that keeps you safe with minimum input from yourself.
The program aims to cater for all of your online safety needs by providing anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall and spam filtering in one package. The suite also includes an upgradeable 1GB of online storage that can be used to safeguard data on your PC against loss.
BullGuard employs pattern recognition to monitor potential malware that hasn't yet been identified as a virus. This is fairly standard these days, but protection for IM and P2P applications is a welcome inclusion.
New to version 7.0 is the anti-spyware element. This eliminates adware and keyloggers, cleans Registry keys and cookies, and protects personal data. BullGuard's firewall does a good job of securing your PC, monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic that might compromise your system.
There's also an anti-phishing tool that uses a regularly updated database to prevent you accessing known malicious sites. Even if you're using Firefox or IE's phishing filter, BullGuard won't conflict with them.
We also found that BullGuard had little impact on system performance, which is perhaps surprising considering the level of monitoring that's taking place. Each of the various components of the suite performed well, but backing up online can be a slow process.
Scanning the PC or other storage devices is of average speed compared with other leading security packages, and the firewall rule creator on initial install is a little slow to sift through all your apps that require Web access. These are minor quibbles, however.
An intuitive program
The best thing about using the program is that, in practice, very little configuration is required. Automatic updates ensure protection against the latest spyware and virus threats, while scheduled scans can be quickly created. Firewall rules can be added on the fly so no prior configuration is required, while the spam filter does an excellent job of deciding which emails should be filed as junk.
BullGuard's online back-up tool isn't speedy and will depend of your broadband package in part, because it saves data to a server. However backups to local devices is pretty speedy. As an all-in-one solution to safe Web surfing and PC protection, BullGuard is highly recommended. The built-in chat and email contact to the program's support team means that you can obtain help straight from the program, too.
The extended subscription model will frustrate users with hefty back-up demands, however. The one-year subscription on the standard Bronze package (tested here) gives 1GB at £35. Doubling the storage will cost you slightly more at £45, but 6GB storage jumps to £85 - way more than you'd want to pay for.