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ESET Antivirus Review

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Joseph Steinberg

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    ESET Antivirus

    Our Verdict

    ESET has been in the market for quite some time now. Based on our testing, the available features, AV-Test ratings, and price tag, ESET Smart Security Premium is a good choice for security. But, to keep up with the competition, they do show room for improvement and could work on adding some extra features.

    This antivirus offers decent malware protection and can quickly detect known malware, however, the performance against unknown malware varies between 99.1% to 100%. Moreover, security features are limited, and it works best for individual users. Finally, while ESET’s baseline product, NOD32 Antivirus, misses out on some of the advanced security features and tools, it does an exceptional job covering other areas like protection and performance.

    Pros

    • Minimal performance impact
    • One of a kind UEFI firmware protection
    • Hardened browser
    • Webcam security
    • Real-time scanning
    • Gaming mode

    Cons

    • Extra tools are limited
    • The cost of covering multiple devices is expensive
    • Malware detection isn’t flawless

    See It at ESET Antivirus

    ESET Antivirus Overview

    ESET has been protecting devices globally since 1987. It is one of the oldest antivirus companies that exist and boasts more than 110 million users. It offers multi-layered security from over 390,000+ new viruses daily and works effectively across Windows, Mac, and Android devices.

    Headquartered in Bratislava, Slovakia, this internet security company plays a significant role in global cybersecurity with branch offices in the US, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Czech Republic, Poland, Singapore, and Australia. Plus, the company’s antivirus products are available via distributors in more than 180 countries.

    ESET offers proactive endpoint security solutions that are highly performant and it goes above and beyond to add value to its complete array of products.

    How to Setup and Uninstall ESET

    Getting started with ESET is fairly easy. Remember to uninstall any existing antivirus software before installing ESET. Then, do the following:

    1. Visit the official website to download the installer file. You can choose from NOD32, Internet Security, and Smart Security Premium plans. You can give it a free trial for 30-days before committing.
    2. Once the download is completed, double click to start the installation.
    3. On the new window that opens, click Continue.

    Continue

      4. Review the End User License Agreement (EULA), and click on Accept.

      5. In the next window, enter the Purchased License Key or Skip Activation (if you’re on Trial).

    6.  Click Continue (make the necessary tweaks in Settings in the next screens)

    7. Click Done to complete the installation.

    Uninstalling ESET is a fairly straightforward process as well. Just handle the following to remove ESET from your device.

    • Open Control Panel > Programs & Features
    • Select ESET > Uninstall

    Features

    ESET NOD32 offers essential protection against malware and hackers. It is a simple antivirus, yet reliable. It is a smart antivirus that blends in the perfect balance of usability, detection, and speed. Best of all, you can access a 30-day zero-commitment trial with no credit card details required.

    You will gain real-time protection from viruses, ransomware, worms, and spyware. Though ESET runs in the background, it has the lowest impact on your system, with absolutely no lag whatsoever, really helping this solution stand out from a crowded field.

    ESET scored a low impact score of 1.3 and an ADVANCED+ rating in the Performance Test category, while Bitdefender ($39.99 at Bitdefender) scored 3.5 from AV-Comparatives Testing.

    General

    Money-back GuaranteeYes, up to 30 days from the date after purchase
    Free VersionYes
    PlatformWindows, MacOS, Android
    Parental ControlsYes
    Email ProtectionYes
    ChatYes
    VPN ServiceNo
    Smartphone OptimizerNo
    USB Virus ScansYes
    Automated Virus ScansYes
    Game ModeYes
    Safe BrowserYes
    Passive ModeNo

    Threat Protection 

    Anti-SpywareYes
    Anti-WormYes
    Anti-TrojanYes
    Anti-RootkitYes
    Anti-PhishingYes
    Anti-SpamYes
    Adware PreventionNo

    Scanning

    ESET offers 4 scanning options – boot sector, memory, external drive, and internal drive. However, there is no quick scan option unlike Norton Security ($59.99 at Norton). In any case, the on-demand scan feature is pivotal to ESET Endpoint security and is highly recommended to scan files and folders on your computer.

    It offers two options for scanning your device – scan your computer does a full scan, and Custom Scan allows you defined scan parameters. The full scan does take some time, but it makes sure to detect and delete viruses that might have not been captured by real-time protection for any reason.

    Overall, ESET does a commendable job in scanning your computer in-depth and clearing out malicious files.

    Pricing

    PlanPriceNumber Of DevicesTop Features
    ESET NOD32 Antivirus$39.99 per year1Protection against virus, ransomware, malware, easy to set-up, customizable
    ESET Internet Security$49.99 per year3Safe browsing and webcam protection along with safeguard against hackers
    ESET Smart Security Premium$59.99 per year1

    Encrypted transactions, password manager,

    file & photos encryption

    Discounts

    Pricing is one of the concerns when it comes to ESET. The costs stack up quite high depending on the features. Even the most-premium plan for 1 device at $59.99 seems heavier on the wallet when compared to brands like Kaspersky ($59.95 at Kaspersky) or Avira Antivirus Pro ($35.99 at Avira).

    As for discounts, ESET isn’t currently running any offers, so you will pay the same price as listed on their website. However, if you subscribe for more than 1 year, you will save $20.

    Additionally, if you want to add a new device, you will pay $10/year for each additional device. Some competitors, like Trend Micro ($39.95 at Trend Micro), offer more affordable pricing options for comparable features.

    Privacy and Security

    Privacy

    A real-time cloud-powered scanner, ESET LiveGrid continuously evaluates malware-related data from global user-base round the clock to find the

    latest threats. With over 13 R&D centers worldwide, ESET has done a commendable job of offering great levels of privacy. The Webcam Protection feature constantly monitors all processes and applications to help block spyware.

    It also features a robust firewall that prevents unauthorized access. With a dedicated password manager to store and manage all of your passwords securely and dedicated file/photo encryption, ESET is a strong competitor when it comes to privacy. Anti-phishing, out of home network settings, and device control are other great features for enhanced privacy.

    Security

    ESET allows you to encrypt files in your system and removable media. It provides complete security in case of theft and allows secure data

    sharing as well as collaboration. The Password Manager helps auto-fill forms and generates extra-strong passwords. One of the best things is that this password manager can be used on all platforms. It also comes with a secure browser for encrypted online transactions.

    The state-of-the-art core antivirus engine encrypts your keyboard and browser communication, thus securing you from keyloggers. The Anti-Spam feature stops unnecessary and malicious emails, and an added layer of botnet security gives you better protection from malware.

    Performance and Protection

    ESET is an ADVANCED+ rated antivirus when it comes to the AV-Comparatives Performance Test. It consumes very little system power and not only extends the hardware’s lifetime but also helps maintain high system performance. A great feature of ESET that we loved was that it rolls out extremely small update packages that help save a lot of system bandwidth.

    It doubles-up as a good antivirus technology that protects your device from malware and other ransomware while providing near-perfect online security.

    Malware Protection

    Although ESET offers a good-level of malware protection, it can do better. In the recent AV-Comparatives Real-World Protection Test, ESET earned the second-best ADVANCED rating which is good but not as much as ADVANCED+, while Avast ($69.99 at Avast) bagged the ADVANCED+ rating. In the

    Malware Protection Test, ESET returned a protection rate of 99.82%, while Bitdefender ($39.99 at Bitdefender) returned a perfect 100.00%, leaving ESET with some room for improvement.

    Malware

    Ransomware Detection

    ESET brings in a multi-layered technology to protect your computer from ransomware. ESET LiveGrid Reputation System, Exploit Blocker, and Advanced Memory Scanner provides advanced ransomware and botnet detection that protects all possible communication between the ransomware and C&C (command and control) servers. It works in real-time to detect infected files and prevents all threats.

    Ransomware

    Phishing Detection

    ESET has always been at the forefront of devising new ways to detect malicious URLs. The anti-phishing technology protects you by comparing the URL you’re trying to visit with their constantly updated database in real-time.

    If a match is found, the connection is terminated and the system pops-up a warning message. You will receive updates about new phishing threats very regularly.

    Phishing

    Spyware Detection

    ESET has an Online Scanner that scans your computer for malware. The advanced spyware detection feature proactively detects and removes threats specifically designed to steal important personal information.

    It also offers a secure browser for online transactions, and good firewall protection to let you control apps and programs from sending/receiving data.

    Spyware detection is included with all of the ESET products.

    Firewall Protection

    While not as good as Bitdefender, ESET does a decent with the firewall and manages to get the job done. The ESET firewall is included in the Smart Security Premium plan, and it disables the Windows firewall when you install the package. It allows you to capably control apps and programs and oversee sending and receiving data packets. Internet security is definitely top-notch when it comes to ESET.

    Lab Test Results

    If it has to deal with well-known malware, ESET shows great scores of 99.7-99.9%. The performance against unknown malware varies considerably from 99.1% to the perfect 100% depending on the test period. Our own testing was readily able to confirm similar results.

    In the AV-Comparatives Real-World Protection Test, ESET blocked 99.6% malware with just one false positive. In the same test, BullGuard ($29.99 at BullGuard) blocked 100% threats and returned two false positives. SE Labs, London, awarded ESET a 99% overall score in all of the 2018 quarterly evaluations, thus placing it ahead of brands like McAfee (96% average) and Trend Micro (97% average). ESET did, however, rank behind Kaspersky and Windows Defender gave both scored a perfect 100%.

    When it comes to performance, ESET is hands-down the lightest antivirus. The latest AV-Comparatives Performance Test conducted in April 2019 pointed out ESET as the best-performer. Based on multiple factors, ESET’s impact score was 0.3. Avast scored 6.2, Panda ($58.99 at Panda) scored 6.6, F-Secure scored 10.4 ($35.99 at F-Secure), and Avira led from the bottom with a score of 16.1.

    The initial system scan does take up a lot of time, but that is acceptable as ESET runs an in-depth scan comparing signatures to their constantly updated malware database. It supports Windows Home Server 2011-64 bit, and Windows 7 SP1 and above. The minimum configuration required to run ESET smoothly is 32-bit (x86) processor or 64 bit (x64) processor, 1GHz or higher.

    Ease of Use and Interface

    Among all the antivirus tools and security suites that we have tested, ESET has the simplest user interface. Although they redesigned the interface, it still has its signature robot mascot and the cool gray-blue palette. A great feature is that ESET is probably the only antivirus interface that is resizable. Initiating a full system scan needs just a couple of clicks. Plus, it also offers a drag-and-drop medium to examine any object.

    Like many other antivirus solutions, ESET displays a green bar with a checkmark when everything is secure. It turns yellow when an error is detected, and red if it detects an attack. The left side of the dashboard has nicely lined-up features like Computer Scan, Update, Tools, Setup, Help, and Support.

    Recommended updates are neatly highlighted with a black dot next to the category as it bounces up and down. To top it all, the Tray icon, lets you easily access and tweak the most-common settings and features.

    ESET’s interface is clean and crisp and you won’t encounter any difficulty navigating it. Still, it does miss out on customizable features like those available from Bitdefender or Avira.

    Customer Support

    One of the areas where ESET really shines is its focus on customer education thanks to an exhaustive knowledge base. It offers US-based customer service for premium customers and tech-support is available between 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM PST on weekdays. Additionally, you can always connect via Live Chat or email and you can also drop a message using the Contact Form on their website.

    Under the dashboard, ESET offers a direct link to Help and Support. The online resources are full of in-depth articles, user guides, troubleshooting tips and fixes, how-to articles and videos.

    On top of that, you will also find an extensive Q&A section, with a perfectly maintained Top Solutions section. ESET has been around for more than 30 years now, and there isn’t much that their online resource is missing, thanks to a 110 million+ user community.

    ESET has received an A+ rating in customer service from the Better Business Bureau while rating aggregator Consumer Affairs granted ESET a score of 4/5, whereas serious competitor like Avast has an average rating of 2/5. Based on these reviews and my own experience approaching ESET with inquiries, we can assure that ESET is a leading contender in the area of customer satisfaction and service.