Security for everyone – ESET NOD32 Antivirus review


No matter what Windows version you’re using, it is essential to have an antivirus installed if you don’t want to become an easy victim of malware. Although you can do pretty well with Windows Defender, some antivirus engines are superior, and ESET NOD32 Antivirus is one of them. We wanted to see what it has to offer and how well this antivirus can protect its users. After using it and testing it for a while, here is our opinion about this product:

ESET NOD32 Antivirus: Who is it good for?

ESET NOD32 Antivirus is a security product that we recommend to users who want:

  • Antivirus software at an affordable price
  • Efficient protection against online and offline threats
  • An antivirus with an intuitive interface but also with access to advanced settings

Pros and cons

There are many positives about ESET NOD32 Antivirus:

  • The antivirus engine is excellent and protects you effectively against malware
  • The web protection module works in any web browser you choose to use
  • It has no meaningful adverse effect on your computer's performance
  • The user interface has an efficient design
  • There are also many advanced configuration options for power users

Because it is an entry-level antivirus product it lacks some useful protection modules found only in ESET Internet Security and ESET Smart Security Premium, such as the firewall, webcam protection, anti-theft, and antispam.

Product rating 5/5


ESET NOD32 Antivirus is a good quality antivirus, which can protect you efficiently against any major types of threats. The antivirus blocks any malware coming from portable storage units, such as USB memory sticks or SD cards. Furthermore, the web shield can stop you from visiting websites with malicious content, such as ransomware or phishing scams. If you want one of the best antiviruses for Windows, get ESET NOD32 Antivirus, and you won't regret it. However, for complete protection against more types of threats, we recommend ESET Internet Security.

The download and installation experience

To get ESET NOD32 Antivirus on your PC, you must first download an installation file called eset_nod32_antivirus_live_installer.exe. It has a size of only 6.04 MB, but it downloads another 58 MB of data during the installation.

The wizard downloads the files necessary to install ESET NOD32 Antivirus

The first step of the installation wizard is to choose the language you prefer. After accepting the terms of use, you can enter the license details, buy a new license, or activate the trial version. Fortunately, if you only want to test the product, it is enough to provide a valid email address and select your country of residence. You are not required to provide any other personal details, which is good.

Choosing how to activate ESET NOD32 Antivirus

Then, you can choose if you want to contribute to ESET LiveGrid and enable or disable the detection of potentially unwanted applications. We recommend that you enable both options. LiveGrid helps ESET collect information about suspicious items and react faster to new threats. While they are not viruses in the real sense of the word, potentially unwanted apps can be as annoying and harmful as regular malware.

Enabling ESET LiveGrid and the detection of potentially unwanted programs

Once the antivirus finishes installing itself, it starts an automatic update process of its malware definitions.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus updates its malware database

Next, ESET NOD32 Antivirus launches a full system scan. This initial complete system scan takes quite a long time. Still, the good news is that its results are used to substantially increase the speed of subsequent antivirus scans.

Initial antivirus system scan run by ESET NOD32 Antivirus

Downloading and installing ESET NOD32 Antivirus is easy and fast. Although the initial system scan takes a long time to finish, the positive is that it speeds up the next antivirus scans.

Integration with Windows, web browsers, and apps from the Microsoft Store

During its installation, ESET NOD32 Antivirus disables Microsoft Defender Antivirus, which is excellent, as it eliminates potential conflicts or performance issues. It also scans the internet traffic on your computer, protecting you regardless of what web browser you like to use. ESET also secures its running processes, so viruses shouldn't be able to stop your antivirus from working correctly. As for the resources it needs to run, ESET NOD32 Antivirus consumes about 200 MB of RAM even when it runs a system scan, which is not a lot by today’s standards.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus needs roughly 200 MB of RAM

We have also checked the effect of ESET NOD32 Antivirus on the boot times of our test computer. BootRacer told us that, on average, the antivirus increased the boot time by less than one second.

To check if the internet or network transfer speeds are affected by ESET NOD32 Antivirus, we ran a few tests with and LAN Speed ​​Test. The speeds we got were roughly the same before and after installing the antivirus.

This antivirus is well integrated with Windows 10. Its influence is minimal on your computer performance.

Ease of use and configuration

ESET NOD32 Antivirus's user interface relies on the same design as other products from the company: ESET Internet Security and ESET Smart Security Premium. It’s easy to use, and it looks good. It has extensive sections, big buttons, and plenty of switches, making it practical on devices with touchscreens. The main tools and options are split into a few main sections, which you access from the window's left side, while the current section's content is shown on the right. On the homepage, you can see the current state of security on your Windows device. If it's colored green, everything is OK, but if it's red, then there are urgent issues that you need to take care of.

The homepage of the user interface of ESET NOD32 Antivirus

You can configure the tools and options in ESET NOD32 Antivirus individually by accessing each of them, one at a time. However, for quick and easy access to all the advanced settings and options, you need to go into Advanced setup by pressing the button with the same name in the lower-right corner of the Setup page.

The Advanced setup settings from ESET NOD32 Antivirus

ESET NOD32 Antivirus explains well, in context, most of the actions and settings available. However, what if you need more help or support? In that case, you can open the "Help and support" section, where you can access documentation and contact customer service.

The Help and support options offered by ESET NOD32 Antivirus

ESET NOD32 Antivirus also creates statistics and reports about your computer. They are easy to understand but also detailed: you get text logs and visual statistics.

Security report from ESET NOD32 Antivirus

When something significant occurs on your computer or when you have to make a decision regarding your security, ESET NOD32 Antivirus displays notifications on your desktop.

The user interface offered by ESET NOD32 Antivirus looks good and is easy to use. It's designed for both non-technical users and power users.

Antivirus and antispyware protection

To evaluate ESET NOD32 Antivirus's effectiveness while protecting you from online threats, we have used the most popular web browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Opera) to visit websites with malicious content. ESET NOD32 Antivirus blocked all of them in all the tested web browsers. It is an excellent result.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus blocking a phishing website

We then checked ESET NOD32 Antivirus's reaction when dealing with an infected memory stick. It asked whether we wanted to scan the stick, so we chose to scan it. After a few moments, the antivirus identified and cleaned all the malware-infected files found on the USB memory stick, which is an excellent result.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus cleaning a USB memory stick

For our last test, we installed Windows 10 on a laptop, which we infected with several dangerous viruses, including some ransomware samples. Then, we installed ESET NOD32 Antivirus. It immediately detected some of the infected files and processes. After the initial scan of the system, the laptop was completely clean of malware. It is an excellent result that confirms the quality of the antivirus engine.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus detecting and removing malware infections

Another critical factor in assessing the performance of an antivirus engine is the scanning speed. We measured the speed with which ESET NOD32 Antivirus scanned our 256 GB SSD with approximately 37 GB of files on it. The average scan time was about two minutes, which is fast.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus full system scan time

Last but not least, we also looked at what other independent security organizations had to say about ESET:

  • AV-Test tested ESET Internet Security and gave it their top verdict of 6.0 points out of 6 for protection and usability. For performance, ESET received a score of 5.5 points out of 6.
  • AV-Comparatives also evaluated ESET Internet Security. In 2020, they gave it the maximum rating of Advanced+ for both Malware Protection, Performance, and Real-World Protection.
  • Virus Bulletin rated ESET Internet Security with their VB100 Passed verdict and measured a WildList detection of 100%, a false positive rate of 0%, and a Diversity test rate of 100%.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus has one of the best antivirus engines in the world. It delivers top-notch protection against all types of malware threats.

Default settings you may want to adjust

ESET NOD32 Antivirus is configured well by default, but there are still a few things you may want to improve:

  • Tune how ESET Real-Time & Machine Learning Protection works. By default, ESET uses Balanced levels for both Reporting and Protection against malware threats, potentially unwanted, suspicious, and unsafe applications. If you need an even more alert antivirus, you can make ESET NOD32 Antivirus behave more Aggressively. However, if you work in a safe environment and want a less strict antivirus, you might want to set it to Cautious. You can adjust these settings in "Setup -> Advanced setup -> Detection Engine -> Real-Time & Machine Learning Protection."
  • Enable scanning when the system is idle. You can enable this option in "Setup -> Advanced setup -> Detection Engine -> Malware scans -> Idle-state scan -> Enable Idle-state scanning."
  • Although ESET recommends that we run antivirus scans regularly, ESET NOD32 Antivirus is not set to run any antivirus scans by default. For a higher level of security, you might want to schedule such a scan. You can do it in "Tools -> Scheduler."

ESET NOD32 Antivirus: Real-Time & Machine Learning Protection

ESET NOD32 Antivirus has an exemplary default configuration, so there aren't many things we recommend changing. However, there are a few settings that you can improve nonetheless.

What is your opinion about ESET NOD32 Antivirus?

Now that you've finished reading this review, you know that we have a good opinion about ESET NOD32 Antivirus. Before leaving, we would love to read your thoughts and impressions. Do not hesitate to leave a comment below and share your experience or opinion about ESET's antivirus products.

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