Reviews -> Software -> Security
ESET Smart Security 4
Anand Tuliani | 26 July 2011
For : Very easy to use, ranked high by independent test labs.
Against : Slow scan speed, no parental control, online storage would have added value.
ESET Smart Security 4
Verdict: An effective and affordable security suite.Cybercriminals and crackers are finding newer and more intelligent means to spread malware and compromise security. Security vendors track these newer attack methods and continually improve their antivirus and security suites. ESET Smart Security 4 is built on the NOD32 antivirus and antispyware engine. In addition to the features offered by NOD21 Antivirus, this all-round suite offers a personal firewall and spam filter.
ESET has decided to keep this suite simple, without too many functions that may bog a beginner. It doesn’t offer parental control, system tuning utilities or online storage like other security suites. Many users consider these parameters while going in for a security suite, but these are functions that add value to the suite and don’t contribute to beefing up security. So, in a way, it’s good that ESET has stuck to the basics. We have used tuning utilities offered by security suites, but we’ve found freeware tools like CCleaner more effective. However, we feel that the inclusion of online storage would have added good value. It would have been useful for backing up critical documents and priceless photos.
The main UI is clean. ESET hasn’t spruced up the visual elements, but has instead kept it simple so that it’s easy to use. There are no menu bars and shortcut buttons. The left side has the main functions – Protection status, Computer scan, Update, Setup and Help and support. Click any of these and the status/options get displayed in the right pane. The antivirus, antispyware protection, personal firewall, and anti-spam protection are enabled by default and work straight out of the box without having to set any parameters, unless you need to specify proxy settings. Computer scan can be run in two modes. Smart scan scans the local disk on which the operating system is installed, and Custom scan allows creating profiles wherein you can specify scan targets, file types, extensions, and so on. You can also specify whether or not to clean the infected files while scanning.
The Setup section has options to temporarily disable the antivirus and personal firewall, and toggle Advanced mode, which adds sub-elements to the functions in the left panel. For example, under Protection status, you get options to watch network and file system activity and view statistics reported by the various modules of the suite. The Setup section offers options to configure the antivirus, personal firewall and anti-spam module in great detail. On clicking the configure link, you get a dialog box with a tree view of the setup with all the parameters that can be configured. If you aren’t well-versed with the parameters, you can refer to the built-in help, which explains everything in detail. If you wish to replicate the settings on another PC, the settings can be backed up to an XML file.
It took under a minute to install the suite on our test machine, which was an entry-level laptop powered by the Intel Pentium P6200 CPU and 3 GB of RAM. The license has to be activated online, after which you immediately get the username and password for updates. We measured the boot speed, file transfer speeds (using a 2.5-inch hard drive) and scanning speed. The boot time took a slight hit (around 5 seconds or so), which is normal. Prior to installing Smart Security 4, the read and write speeds were 23 MB/s and 18 MB/s respectively. After installation and updates, read and write speeds stood at around 12 MB/s due to the delay caused by the real-time protection. The scan speed is slow compared to other suites. It took 24 minutes to scan a 180 GB partition with 30 GB occupied. However, the successive scans took almost the same amount of time. On the bright side, Dennis Technology Labs has rated ESET Smart Security 4 among the top five in overall protection. AV-Comparatives.org has also rated this suite highly in the detection tests.
For its price, ESET Smart Security 4 is an excellent package. It’s easy to use and its overall protection is excellent. Norton 360, which is the best overall performer, costs a few hundred Rupees more, but offers parental controls, 2 GB of online storage, and system tuning tools. Whether to go in for the best or buy this suite is your choice. If you want top-notch protection without spending much, this suite is great value for money.
- Anand Tuliani