Security for everyone - Review ESET Smart Security Premium


ESET develops many security products, both for consumers and businesses, from one of the friendliest antiviruses for home users, to large corporate security products designed to stop complex cyber-security attacks. Their most complete security solution for consumers is ESET Smart Security Premium. On top of the usual antivirus engine, firewall module, and web shield, it also bundles tools such as a password manager and data encryption. We were curious to see what it has to offer and how good it is for protecting Windows computers and devices. Read this review to see whether ESET Smart Security Premium is the best security product for you:

ESET Smart Security Premium: Who is it good for?

ESET Smart Security Premium is an excellent security solution for those who:

  • Want to be safe from malware in all its forms, including ransomware
  • Prefer security products that are easy to use
  • Need reliable protection against network attacks
  • Prefer a security suite that can help them increase the security of their whole home network, including their wireless router
  • 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. Suppose you do not have a subscription to LastPass or other similar password management services. In that case, ESET’s Password Manager is a must-have. If you work with sensitive files, encrypting them is an excellent way of keeping them safe. And when you also consider the relatively small price difference, we believe that 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:

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  • 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 to their users

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

Product rating 5/5


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 has a user interface that looks good and is also easy to use and understand. We like the abundance of advanced settings you can work with and appreciate the minimal adverse effect on your computer’s performance and speed. ESET Smart Security Premium offers many extra tools you probably want: banking protection, parental controls, and a password manager. We are confident that it won’t let you down, and 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 only 6 MB, but it downloads another 57 MB of files from ESET’s servers during the installation.

The installation wizard starts by asking you to select the language you prefer to use and accept the EULA (End-User License Agreement). You can then enter your license details, purchase a new license, or activate the free trial version. If you only want to test the product, you must provide 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 allow the ESET LiveGrid feature. It enables ESET to collect information about suspicious items and process it 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 detect 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 and, when done, ESET loads its user interface. It then asks if you also want to enable some of the additional security tools that it offers: Password Manager, Secure Data, Parental Control, and the Anti-Theft module. Some of them require the creation of an ESET account.

Choosing the additional ESET security tools to enable

ESET Smart Security Premium automatically updates its virus signature database (about 160 MB of data).

ESET Smart Security Premium updates its malware database

Then, it runs a full computer scan. That is a good thing because it means that the system’s health is checked as soon as possible. However, you should know that the first full system scan takes quite a long time to finish, especially if your Windows PC has a lot of data or if its hardware is older. All subsequent scans are going to be a lot faster than the first scan.

Downloading ESET Smart Security Premium on your computer is easy. We like that the only information you have to provide to activate the trial version is your email address. Furthermore, we appreciate that it automatically updates and runs a full system 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 Defender Firewall and Microsoft Defender Antivirus during its installation. This ensures that you do not encounter performance issues or software conflicts because of similar security products running simultaneously.

Windows Security sharing the status of ESET Security

The product is also well integrated with Windows and its networking features. We did not encounter any issues accessing our local network’s shared resources or installing/running apps from the Microsoft Store. When we first installed ESET Smart Security Premium, we noticed that the firewall module actively monitors the network profile you set in Windows and automatically adjusts its protection accordingly. This is the right approach.

ESET firewall options for the network protection type

Regarding web protection, ESET Smart Security Premium chooses to scan all the internet traffic that goes on your computer. It doesn’t need to install web browser extensions, and that means that you are protected just as well in any web browser you’re using.

Web protection settings

We checked whether all the processes run by ESET Smart Security Premium are protected against unwanted termination. They are, and nasty malware should have a tough time disabling this security suite. If you are worried that the security suite might slow down your PC, you can relax: on our test laptop, ESET Smart Security Premium used 220 MB of RAM at most when running malware scans, which is not a lot by any means. The boot time we measured with BootRacer before and after installing the suite was almost the same (less than a second impact).

To check whether the internet or local network speeds are affected by ESET Smart Security Premium, we also ran a few tests with and LAN Speed Test. Neither the upload speed nor the download speed went down when using this security product.

ESET Smart Security Premium is a security suite that is well integrated with Windows and its networking features. We like that the firewall module can automatically adjust its protection level according to the network profile you set in Windows. We also appreciated the almost nonexistent negative effect it had on our test PC and network performance.

Ease of use and configuration

ESET Smart Security Premium’s user interface 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 you want. The essential tools and options are arranged into a few main areas on the left side of the window, while the details from the current section are shown on the window’s right side. On the dashboard, you see a large message about the current state of security. If it is green, things are OK, but there are urgent issues that need to be taken care of when it is red.

The ESET Smart Security Premium user interface

ESET’s interface uses a lot of buttons and switches. That’s a good thing because it means that all the essential tools and settings are easy to configure, even on tablets or laptops 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 access 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 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 something you don’t understand, there’s a good chance that it has a small i (info) button on its right side. Clicking on it gives you additional tips and details. Suppose that is still not enough, and you need even more support. In that case, ESET Smart Security Premium includes plenty of Help information and a Customer Care section.

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.

Notification displayed by ESET Smart Security Premium

ESET Smart Security Premium also offers other valuable data, like 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 casual users. Still, it is also full of advanced settings and detailed security information, which technical 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 the settings you should adjust.

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