Overall Score 94%

ESET Security Software Review

The Case for ESET

  • Same virus protection as ESET Antivirus plus extra security
  • In business 23 years (1992)
  • Solid virus and malware protection
  • Strong firewall protection
  • Free technical support
  • Won't slow down your PC
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Made in the Slovak Republic
  • American phone tech support
Editor's Choice
(1-PC / 1-Year)
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by Josh Christofferson, Co-Editor
Virus & Spyware Protection: 95%

ESET did well in our virus and malware protection tests.

While there were some issues, ESET managed to block and clean the majority of malware during our tests. Curiously, it got all of the most vicious threats but missed some of the low-threat (but highly irritating) adware we tested.

For our first set of tests, we heavily infected our testing PCs with real threats: viruses, trojans, rogueware, rootkits, keyloggers, spyware, adware, etc.

We then enable ESET Smart Security and see what happens.

For the most serious threats, ESET found and either cleaned or deleted them.

What was puzzling that even though it nailed these things—consistently—it missed some of the easy stuff, in some cases leaving our testing browsers still laden with annoying adware.

Equally puzzling was that there was were still several adware desktop items remaining that ESET wouldn't block when we opened them.

  • ESET Smart Security
    ESET Box
  • SCORE: 94%
On the plus side, ESET was one of the few Internet Security software that actually removed some of the peskiest foreign adware infections that other brands couldn't deal with. Nice job.

For our real-time malware protection tests, we installed a fresh, updated copy of ESET, then attempted to download and install some of the newest malware.

For the most part, ESET Smart Security did really well.

Our malware samples were quickly deleted by ESET before we could even open them, much less install them. As for the malware samples we could open, ESET blocked the majority of these, too.

While this is typical performance for the top products we tested this year, ESET also correctly reported that the actions were happening. Something that some products, strangely miss altogether.

What were we able to get through? Mostly, it was annoying adware that snuck past, though in our very last set of tests, we also saw one lowly program lurking in the background.

As for its antiphishing capabilities, ESET was one of the few Internet Security suites to nail a perfect score of 100%. Nice job again.

Firewall Protection: 90%

At the risk of sounding overly enthusiastic about it, ESET's firewall is one of the best, most flexible, and highly configurable firewalls we tested this year.

Like VIPRE, in the default settings ESET completely and automatically locks down your PC from the outside, making it inaccessible to hackers and worms (automated viruses that crawl the Internet looking for and attacking vulnerable PCs.)

Once we test access from the outside, we then turn our attention to the inside.

We begin this test by cranking the firewall software's setting up their most aggressive.

This is to see one thing: in its most protective mode, does ESET block malicious traffic (while still allowing legitimate traffic), or are we able to go undetected and sneak data (like passwords or bank details or other personal information) off the machine like a hacker, trojan, or worm might?

ESET did admirably in these tests, too, missing just one of our sneakiest attacks. All other attempts to secretly get data off our test PCs were clearly and instantly blocked.

Were it not for our extreme sneakiness here, ESET would have scored a perfect 100%.

Because we're also looking for good usability in our tests—not just does it work or not—ESET earns a very impressive 95% in our firewall tests.

Resource Usage: 90%

ESET Smart Security performed well in our resource usage tests. When running idle in the background, there was no discernible system drag.

We also run a series of scans and measure the overall system impact while ESET is doing some heavy work. We found only a 9% drain on system resources. Well within the expected range. Also, normal web surfing and file downloading were not adversely affected.

Boot up time was slightly slower than the competition, but only by a few seconds, something that shouldn't affect most users.

User Interface: 90%

Click images to enlarge

ESET's user interface is easy to like. It's got the right blend of at-a-glance information and advanced settings.

The only real downside is text that's fairly small, which may make it less than ideal for some users.

Other than that, everything is well laid out and straight forward.

We especially liked that there were few external pop-ups. Nearly everything is contained within one window.

Those competitors that rely on needlessly complex pop-ups and drill-downs would do well to take a look at ESET's layout.

Technical Support: 95%

One area where ESET consistently beats the pants off most competitors is support.

If you've never had a virus infection, you may not realize how important good tech support is or why we put such scrutiny here in our tests.

Our experience—and that of our readers—tells us a different story: tech support can be as important as the product itself, sometimes more so.

Here's what you get with ESET: 100% free, U.S.-based technical support for the entire length of your license.

This means if you get a virus while you're running ESET, they'll help you get rid of it for free. Nearly every other antivirus company charges anywhere from $75-$400 for this service. ESET does't.

And, if you don't need anything as complex as virus removal, that's free too.

One caveat: if you're infected beforeem> you're an ESET customer, they levy a one-time $50 fee. After that, support is always free and always U.S.-based.

Conclusion - Overall Score: 94%

  • ESET Smart Security
    ESET Box
  • SCORE: 94%
  • Excellent virus and malware protection
  • Outstanding antiphishing
  • Free, U.S.-based tech support
  • Strong firewall
ESET Smart Security is an effective, easy-to-use product that performed well in all categories, missing just a few annoying but otherwise harmless pieces of adware.

Unlike most competitors it offers free U.S.-based tech support and stands behind its product without up-sell shenanigans.

Impressively defeating 100% of our phishing threats and all of the most harmful viruses and other malware we tested with, there's little to dislike.

We'd like to see larger text in the interface and better performance against adware, but on balance it's an effective product.

Verdict: Editor's Choice Runner-Up

Software Version 2019
Supported Operating System (OS) Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP
Minimum RAM Required 1 GB
Minimum Space Required 320 MB
Required Processor Speed 1 GHz
Money-back Guarantee 30 Days
Software Manufacturer ESET
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