ESET is one of the top security vendors in the world and their products have been validated by plenty of IT security organisations over the years. Their latest complete security solution is called ESET Smart Security Premium and besides the usual antivirus engine, firewall module, or web shield, it also bundles a few additional tools that should make the product even more attractive. As we were curious to see everything ESET Smart Security Premium has to offer and how good it is at protecting our computers and devices, we decided to use and test it for a while. Now, after a week of doing so, we are ready to share with you everything we know about it, so make sure you read this review from top to bottom. By the end of it, you’ll know whether ESET Smart Security Premium is right antivirus product for you:
The download and installation experience
Getting ESET Smart Security Premium on your PC starts with downloading a small executable file called eset_smart_security_live_installer_us.exe. It has a size of only 3MB but during the installation, it will download another 153MB of files from ESET’s servers.
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The installation wizard will start by asking you to accept the EULA (End-User License Agreement), to choose whether you want to “Enable ESET LiveGrid feedback system” and to enable or disable the “detection of potentially unwanted applications”. We recommend that you enable the ESET LiveGrid feature, as it will allow ESET’s engineers to collect information about suspicious items and process them as quickly as possible. That will make ESET’s security products react faster to new threats. We also believe it’s a good idea for you to enable the detection of PUPs (potentially unwanted applications). They may not be actual viruses, but they can be just as annoying.
Then the installation will take its course and, when done, ESET Smart Security Premium will ask you to activate the product. If you have a license key, all you have to do is enter it. But, if you want to use a free trial of the product, although ESET promises that you only need an email address, the truth is different. For the free trial, you will have to provide a lot of personal details, like your name, your phone number, your email address, your address, city and postal code.
After you activate your copy of ESET Smart Security Premium , the security suite will ask if you also want to enable some of the additional security tools it offers: Password Manager, Secure Data, Parental Control and the Anti-Theft module. Some of these tools, like the Anti-Theft module, will require you to also create an ESET account.
Then, ESET Smart Security Premium loads its user interface which, as you can see below, is rather alarming at this point. However, by the time the security suite finishes its first update for the virus signature database, everything will settle. If there are no threats found on your Windows system, the user interface will simply turn from alarming reds to smooth greens.
Downloading ESET Smart Security Premium on your computer is easy to perform. However, we didn’t like the way ESET forces you to provide lots of personal information when you want to use their trial version. An email address would have been OK, but to have to give them your home address and your phone number is too much in our opinion.
Integration with Windows, web browsers and universal Windows platform apps
ESET Smart Security Premium disables both the Windows Firewall and Windows Defender during its installation. This ensures that you won’t encounter performance issues or software conflicts because of similar security products running at the same time.
The product is also well integrated with Windows and its networking features. We didn’t encounter any issues in accessing the shared folders on our local network or when downloading, installing or updating universal Windows platform apps. One thing that we noticed when we first installed ESET Smart Security Premium , and which we liked a lot, is that the firewall module actively monitors the network profile you set in Windows and automatically adjusts its protection, accordingly. That’s a very good thing.
In terms of web protection, ESET Smart Security Premium chooses to filter the entire internet traffic that goes on your computer. It doesn’t include any web browser extensions and that’s a good thing. Because it scans all the internet traffic, it means that you will be protected just as well in any web browser you prefer using.
Next, we checked whether all the processes run by ESET Smart Security Premium are protected against unwanted termination. We’re happy to say that they are, so nasty malware will have a very hard time disabling your security suite.
If you’re worried that the security suite will slow down your PC, worry not. On our test laptop, ESET Smart Security Premium used around 90MB of RAM memory while scanning the file system, and the boot time we measured with BootRacer before and after installing the suite was the same. Even the Home accelerated tests that we ran with the well-known benchmarking app PCMark 8 showed that ESET Smart Security Premium had no impact on the overall performance of our test computer and that’s very good!
ESET Smart Security Premium is a security suite that’s well integrated with Windows and its networking features. We like the fact that the firewall module is able to automatically adjust its protection level according to the network profile you set in Windows, and we appreciated the almost nonexistent negative effect the security suite had on the performance of our test computer.
Ease of use & configuration
The user interface offered by ESET Smart Security Premium mixes traditional and modern design and the end result is very pleasant. You get a user interface that’s generously spaced, with large sections and buttons. You also have switches controlling everything in and about. The most important tools and options are arranged into a few main sections on the left side of the window, while the details from the current section are shown on the right side of the window. On the dashboard, you get to see a large message about the current state of security on your Windows computer. If it’s green, things are OK, but if it’s red, there are urgent issues that need your attention.
As the user interface relies on using large buttons, tiles and switches for most of the important tools and settings, it will be easy to use ESET even on touchscreen devices.
Although most protection modules and tools can be configured by accessing each of them, if you want to get quick and easy access to all the advanced settings and configuration options, you can do that with a click or tap on the Advanced setup button from the bottom right corner of the Setup section. Inside the Advanced setup , you can change the way ESET Smart Security Premium works in every little detail.
Although ESET Smart Security Premium has settings and features that are well explained in context, if you encounter any that you don’t understand, there’s a big chance that it will have a small i button on its right side. Clicking or tapping on it will give you additional details. And if that’s still not enough and you need additional support, you’ll be pleased to know that ESET Smart Security Premium includes plenty of help information and a good Customer Care section too.
When something important is taking place on your computer, or when your input or decision is required, ESET Smart Security Premium will display short and clear notifications on your desktop. As we found out on our test computer, these notifications are not very frequent.
If you enjoy getting statistics and detailed reports about the stuff happening on your computer, you’ll like ESET Smart Security Premium. It offers everything you might want to see: log files, visual protection statistics, lists with processes running on your computer and their reputation, details about the network connections present on your device and so on.
The user interface of ESET Smart Security Premium is very well designed and it’s easy to use and understand by experienced users or beginners alike. We like the way traditional and modern design meets and how simplicity and details intertwine.
Read the second page of this review and see how effective ESET is in protecting your computer from network attacks and malware. You will also see our final verdict for this product.