ESET review: summary
ESET is ranked #17 out of 28 antivirus software.
ESET is a versatile antivirus suite. It offers solid protection for Windows and Android, and basic security for Mac. ESET outperforms many competitors in virus detection, catching almost all malware in our tests.
ESET’s features include a firewall, anti-phishing tools, a network monitor, system cleanup, advanced diagnostic tools, a password manager, and parental controls. Its advanced diagnostics stand out, providing a comprehensive overview and the ability to generate security reports.
However, ESET’s parental controls, system cleanup, and secure browser disappoint. Also, the lack of a VPN is notable, given that many top antivirus software include one. Competitors like Norton provide superior features, including robust parental controls and a VPN, at a comparable cost.
Sadly, ESET does not participate in the independent tests by AV-Test, which is not a good sign. Without these tests, we have no benchmark to compare it against. Therefore, we prefer Norton and Bitdefender.
If you want the best protection, we recommend Norton.
|Ranking||#17 of 28|
|Operating systems||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android|
Test score comparison
We’ve compared the 10 most recent test scores of all antivirus brands. The tests were performed by AV-Test, the German anti-malware test lab. They use three factors:
- Protection (1-6): Antivirus protection against malware attacks.
- Performance (1-6): System slowdown caused by the antivirus.
- Usability (1-6): Frequency of false alarms and disruptions.
We used their results, and this formula, to calculate the final score:
Final Score = 60% Protection + 20% Performance + 20% Usability.
Brands not listed in the table haven’t participated in the analysis by AV-Test. This is usually not a good sign. Because most reputable brands, except Panda, ESET, and Sophos, partake in the test.
ESET antivirus review
ESET provides an efficient malware scanner for Windows, Mac, and Android, offering various scanning types including system, custom, and removable device scans. Its system scan probes into deep areas of the device, often overlooked by other antiviruses.
The malware scanner detected nearly all test samples, delivering a performance comparable to top-rated antiviruses such as Norton and Bitdefender. However, ESET lacks a quick scan option and has a cumbersome process to schedule scans.
The software also includes a Host-based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) that successfully identifies and blocks ransomware and rootkits. Its premium feature, LiveGuard Advanced, handles unknown or “zero-day” threats via cloud-based scanning. Still, this feature comes only with the premium plan, unlike some competitors.
ESET’s phishing protection blocks hazardous websites, but it also wrongly flagged some safe ones. Although it provides robust protection, the process to whitelist falsely identified sites is complicated.
Its firewall performed well in tests, blocking unauthorized network activity. While it offers various modes, the automatic one is the most user-friendly. The learning mode, which uses machine learning to create firewall rules, could be challenging for users unfamiliar with network mechanics. The interactive mode, however, could be annoying due to frequent pop-ups.
ESET’s Network Inspector is an effective tool that identifies all connected devices to your home network and examines them for vulnerabilities, including open ports and weak router passwords. Despite its usefulness, it lacks features like a VPN and automated profiles offered by competitors like Bitdefender.
ESET’s advanced diagnostics tools stand out for their ability to monitor and troubleshoot your Windows PC. The features include Running Processes, Security Report, Log Files, Watch Activity, Network Connections, ESET SysInspector, and ESET SysRescue Live. Running Processes cross-references active programs with ESET’s cloud database to identify risks, although it may inaccurately flag some safe apps as dangerous.
Log Files is a useful, searchable database of all ESET activities on your device. Watch Activity monitors real-time data read/write and network data received/sent, useful for identifying slow-downs. ESET SysInspector details all system elements, aiding in troubleshooting computer issues. Network Connections reveals programs with active network connections, helping identify bandwidth hogs. ESET SysRescue Live can create a rescue disk to scan for malware without booting Windows, providing a helpful recovery option.
Despite minor inconsistencies, ESET’s advanced diagnostics tools are among the best in the market, making it a strong choice for users seeking in-depth insight into their computer’s inner workings.
ESET’s System Cleaner tool is rather basic, only offering to reset Windows settings to default, return to a system restore point, or reset wallpaper. It lacks the optimization features offered by competitors like Norton 360, Avira, and TotalAV. Advanced users, though, may appreciate the tool’s ability to restore Windows settings and clear their registry quickly.
ESET’s anti-theft protection offers tools to track and secure lost or stolen Windows and Android devices. These include the ability to send messages, remote screen capture or camera access, a phantom account for Windows devices, and an auto-lock feature for Android devices. However, the phantom account lacks the ability to prevent internet access or file downloads.
ESET’s parental controls are basic and often ineffective in blocking inappropriate content based on a child’s age. Competitors like Norton and Bitdefender offer more reliable parental controls.
ESET’s Password Manager, while basic, offers useful features like multi-device sync, auto-save and auto-fill, leaked password check, password generator, secure notes, credit card and identities storage, and basic 2FA.
However, it lacks advanced identity templates and options for password generation and customization. The tool’s 2FA only offers one option—a code sent to your phone. Despite these limitations, ESET’s Password Manager could still be useful to some users, although there are more full-featured password managers available from other antivirus providers.
ESET provides several added features on Windows plans such as a basic gamer mode, device control, webcam protection, a secure browser for banking & payment, and a spam filter. However, these features are considerably more simplistic compared to other antivirus software.
ESET offers three principal pricing plans categorized as Essential, Advanced, and Premium Security. Each plan is predominantly compatible with Windows, though they claim compatibility with different operating systems. The software’s functionality varies depending on the OS used.
The mid-range plan, Advanced Security, offers an excellent balance of value and features. However, it is slightly pricier than TotalAV’s comparable plan. All ESET’s plans cover one device, with an additional cost for each extra device up to a total of five devices, which makes it less ideal for large families or groups.
The Essential Security is ESET’s basic package offering anti-malware scanner, anti-phishing protection, ransomware detection, and gaming mode, starting at €29.16 per year. The Advanced Security, priced at €40.84 per year, comes with several additional features like a firewall, antispam, secure browser, parental controls, webcam protection, advanced diagnostic tools, system cleaner, network monitor, and anti-theft protection.
ESET’s Premium Security plan, only available for Windows, starts at €52.52 per year and includes everything from the Advanced Security package plus a password manager, device encryption, and LiveGuard Advanced. However, the additional features in the Premium plan don’t provide sufficient value for the higher cost. Those seeking a comprehensive antivirus suite might consider alternatives like Norton 360 or Bitdefender.
While ESET is a competent antivirus program, it cant’ compete with Norton and Bitdefender. These rivals provide better malware protection along with a broader array of security features, including superior parental controls, a secure VPN, and efficient clean-up tools, all for a comparable price.
How do we test antivirus software?
The best antivirus software offer virus protection, identity theft protection, and privacy protection for Windows, macOS, and Android. Some also offer security features for iOS and Linus.
To evaluate which providers are worth your money, we run 11 tests:
> Test 1: Anti-malware protection test
We analyze antivirus software’s capability to detect and eliminate known and unknown malware, using heuristic analysis for behavior monitoring.
We conduct in-house tests and analyze those from labs like AV-Test, SE Labs, and AV-Comparatives to determine the best malware protection.
Malware includes adware, keyloggers, ransomware, rootkits, spyware, trojans, viruses, worms, and more. Other cyber threats, usually not classified as malware, are (zero-day) exploits, hacks, identity theft, phishing attacks, scams, and social engineering.
> Test 2: False positives test
False positives occur when antivirus software misidentifies legitimate software, files, or websites as malicious. We rely on AV-Test’s large-scale analysis of false positives in its usability test to guide our evaluations.
> Test 3: System performance test
We measure the CPU load during antivirus software system scans and consider AV-Test’s performance results on the slowdown caused by antivirus software when opening websites and handling software.
> Test 4: Firewall test
We evaluate two-way firewalls that filter incoming and outgoing data and allow users to set rules to regulate data streams. We use the ShieldsUP! test to determine if the antivirus software blocks all ports.
> Test 5: Password manager test
We assess password managers’ ability to create, store, and autofill secure passwords, as well as additional features like two-factor authentication and biometric login.
> Test 6: Virtual Private Network (VPN) test
We evaluate built-in VPNs on their security, privacy, speed, compatibility with streaming services, unlimited data access, and support for peer-to-peer networks and torrent clients.
> Test 7: Parental control test
We examine parental control features, such as screen time rules, website/app blocking, and real-world location tracking. We test these features on a device and attempt to circumvent them, checking if the activity is accurately reported in the parental control admin.
> Test 8: Anti-phishing protection test
We evaluate antivirus browser extensions that block phishing sites by installing them and attempting to visit dangerous URLs.
> Test 9: Ransomware protection test
We assess security suites’ ability to prevent data encryption through exploit prevention and behavioral detection during ransomware attacks.
> Test 10: Bonus features test
We test any additional cybersecurity tools such as:
- Ad Blocker
- Dark web monitoring (identity protection)
- Email protection
- File encryption
- File shredder
- Gaming mode
- Microphone protection
- PC maintenance features
- Secure browser (hardened browser to protect your online banking)
- Secure cloud storage (cloud backup)
- Spam filter
- Startup optimizer
- Tune up tools
- Virtual keyboard
- Webcam protection
> Test 11: Operating system and multiple devices test
Operating system and multiple devices: We test antivirus software on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices and award bonus points for unlimited device protection.
> Test 12: Ownership and reputation test
We analyze the trustworthiness of antivirus companies, especially concerning customer data. We read press releases, news articles, and privacy policies to determine their reputation.
Sources and tools
Below are the sources and tools we’ve used to test the antivirus software:
- Apple Platform Security
- AV-Comparatives Consumer
- AV-Test Android
- AV-Test macOS
- AV-Test Windows
- GRC Firewall Test
- Microsoft Defender
- SpeedTest VPN
- Trustpilot Security Software
Author: Tibor Moes
Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab
Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.
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