Security for everyone - Review ESET Smart Security Premium

5 out of 5 stars

ESET is one of the top security vendors in the world, and many IT security organizations have endorsed their products. Their most complete security solution is called ESET Smart Security Premium and, besides the usual antivirus engine, firewall module, or web shield, it also bundles additional tools like a password manager and data encryption. We were curious to see what ESET Smart Security Premium 2019 Edition has to offer and how good it is for protecting Windows computers and devices. After testing it for some time, we are ready to share everything that we know about this product. Read this review and see whether ESET Smart Security Premium is the right security product for you:

NOTE: Readers of Digital Citizen can purchase ESET products with a discount of 30%. Purchase ESET Internet Security and ESET NOD32 Antivirus with 30% off, here.

ESET Smart Security Premium: Who is it good for?

ESET Smart Security Premium is an antivirus product that is excellent for users who:

  • Want to be safe from malware in all its forms, including ransomware
  • Desire security products that are easy to use
  • Want solid protection against network attacks
  • Desire a security suite that can help them increase the security of their whole home network
  • Want advanced settings and complete control over their antivirus

ESET Smart Security Premium vs. ESET Internet Security

ESET Smart Security Premium is the most feature-rich security product offered by the company. Compared to ESET Internet Security, it also includes the Password Manager and the Secure Data tools. If you do not have a subscription to LastPass or other similar password managing services, then ESET's Password Manager is a must-have. If you work with sensitive files, encrypting them is a good way of keeping them safe. In the end, if you also take into consideration the rather small price difference, we believe that the ESET Smart Security Premium is the better buying choice.

Pros and cons

Here are some of the most positive features of ESET Smart Security Premium:

  • The antivirus engine is efficient and can protect you against any malware threats
  • The antivirus engine is fast when scanning for malware
  • ESET has almost no negative impact on your computer's performance
  • The user interface is easy to use and understand
  • The firewall module is highly efficient in protecting you against network attacks
  • Most of the bundled security tools provide real value for their users

The only less positive aspect of ESET Smart Security Premium is that it does not bundle a VPN service that could enhance your privacy and security when using public WiFi networks.

Product Rated


ESET Smart Security Premium is a robust security suite, offering you a powerful antivirus engine and a highly efficient firewall. To control what is under the hood, ESET Smart Security Premium offers a user interface that looks good, and it is also easy to use and understand. We like the abundance of advanced settings that you can work with, and appreciate the minimal negative effect it has on your computer's performance and speed. ESET Smart Security Premium offers many extra tools which you probably want: banking protection, parental controls, and a password manager. The only thing that we wished is for ESET to have had a VPN solution bundled. Even so, ESET Smart Security Premium is one of the best security products that we have tested, and we are confident that it will not let you down either. We highly recommend it to all our readers.

The download and installation experience

Getting ESET Smart Security Premium on your PC starts with downloading a small executable file called eset_smart_security_premium_live_installer.exe. It has a size of only 5.20 MB but, during the installation, it downloads another 102 MB of files from ESET's servers.

The ESET installation wizard

The installation wizard starts by asking you to select the language you prefer to use and to accept the EULA (End-User License Agreement). Then, you can enter your license details, purchase a new license or activate the free 30 days trial version. If you only want to test the product, you must provide the company with a valid email address. No other personal details are required.

The ESET activation options

The installation wizard allows you 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 allows ESET's engineers to collect information about suspicious items and process them as quickly as possible.

That can help make ESET's security products react faster to new threats. We also believe that it is a good idea to enable the detection of PUPs (potentially unwanted applications). They may not be actual viruses, but they can be just as annoying.

Enable ESET LiveGrid and the detection of PUPs

The installation takes its course. When done, ESET loads its user interface, and the first thing it does is 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, require you to create an ESET account.

Choosing additional ESET security tools to enable

At the same time, ESET Smart Security Premium automatically updates its virus signature database and runs a full computer scan. That is a good thing because it means the system health is checked as soon as possible. However, you should know that the full system scan takes quite a long time to finish, especially if your Windows PC has a lot of data on it or if its hardware resources are limited. On our test laptop, this scan took 30 minutes and 8 seconds.

Downloading ESET Smart Security Premium on your computer is easy, and we like the fact that the only information you have to provide to activate the trial version, is your email address. We also appreciate the fact that it automatically updates and runs a full system antivirus scan as soon as it finishes installing.

Integration with Windows, web browsers and universal Windows platform apps

ESET Smart Security Premium takes control and disables both the Windows Firewall and Windows Defender during its installation. This ensures that you do not 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 did not encounter any issues in accessing the shared resources on our local network or when installing or running apps from the Microsoft Store.

One thing that we noticed when we first installed ESET Smart Security Premium, and which we appreciate as positive, is the fact that the firewall module actively monitors the network profile you set in Windows and automatically adjusts its protection accordingly.

ESET firewall options for the network protection type

Regarding web protection, ESET Smart Security Premium chooses to filter all the internet traffic that goes on your computer. It does not include any web browser extensions. Because it scans all the internet traffic, it means that you are protected just as well in any web browser you use.

Next, we checked whether all the processes run by ESET Smart Security Premium are protected against unwanted termination. We are happy to say that they are, so nasty malware should have a tough time disabling this security suite.

If you are worried about whether the security suite slows down your PC, worry not. On our test laptop, ESET Smart Security Premium used around 107MB of RAM, and the boot time we measured with BootRacer before and after installing the suite was the same.

To check whether the internet or local network speeds are affected by ESET Smart Security Premium, we also ran a few tests with and with LAN Speed Test. The tests that we ran with showed that the upload speed decreased by less than 2 percent, while the download speed went down by 6 percent. The tests we ran with LAN Speed Test showed that copying a file through the local network was just as fast as before installing ESET Smart Security Premium, which means that the security suite has no negative effect on network transfer speeds and only a tiny influence on internet data transfers.

ESET Smart Security Premium is a security suite that is well integrated with Windows and its networking features. We like the fact that the firewall module can 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 system and network performance.

Ease of use & configuration

The user interface offered by ESET Smart Security Premium mixes traditional and modern design, and the result is positive. You get a user interface that is generously spaced, with large sections and buttons. You also have switches controlling everything in and about. The essential 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 is green, things are OK, but if it is red, there are urgent issues that you need to take care of.

The ESET Smart Security Premium user interface

As the user interface relies on using large buttons, tiles, and switches for most of the critical tools and settings, it is easy to use ESET Smart Security Premium even on devices with touchscreens.

ESET Smart Security Premium setup options

Although most protection modules and tools can be configured by accessing each individually, if you want to get 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.

The advanced settings available in ESET Smart Security Premium

Although ESET Smart Security Premium has settings and features that are well explained in context, if you encounter anything that you do not understand, there is a significant chance that it has a small i button on its right side. Clicking on it gives you additional tips and details. And if that is still not enough and you need even more support, ESET Smart Security Premium includes plenty of Help information and a good Customer Care section too.

The Help and Support options available in ESET Smart Security Premium

When something important is taking place on your computer, or when your input or decision is required, ESET Smart Security Premium displays short and clear notifications on your desktop.

A notification displayed by ESET Smart Security Premium

ESET Smart Security Premium also offers 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.

Security reports and logs available in ESET Smart Security Premium

The user interface of ESET Smart Security Premium is well designed. It is easy to use and understand by beginners, but it is also full of advanced settings and detailed security information, which experienced users appreciate. We like the way traditional and modern design meet and how simplicity and details intertwine.

On the next page of this review, you can see how capable ESET Smart Security Premium is to protect your computer from network attacks and malware. You can also see what additional features are included in this security suite, and check our recommendations for what settings you should adjust.