ESET is one of the top security vendors in the world, and many organizations have endorsed their products. Their most complete security solution for consumers is ESET Smart Security Premium. Besides the usual antivirus engine, firewall module, or web shield, it also bundles tools like 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 and 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 solid 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. If you do not have a subscription to LastPass or other similar password management 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. If you also take into consideration the rather 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:
- 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 that could enhance your privacy and security when using public WiFi networks.
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 it is also easy to use and understand. We like the abundance of advanced settings that you can work with, and appreciate the minimal adverse 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 service too.
ESET Smart Security Premium is one of the best security products that we have tested, and we are confident that it won’t let you down. 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 55 MB of files from ESET’s servers.
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 trial version. If you only want to test the product, you must provide a valid email address. No other personal details are required.
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. It allows 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 enable the detection of PUPs (potentially unwanted applications). They may not be actual viruses, but they can be just as annoying.
The installation takes its course. When done, ESET loads its user interface, and it 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 you to create an ESET account.
ESET Smart Security Premium automatically updates its virus signature database and runs a full computer scan. That is a good thing because it means that the system 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, and we like that the only information you have to provide to activate the trial version, is your email address. We also 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 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, is the fact that the firewall module actively monitors the network profile you set in Windows and automatically adjusts its protection accordingly. This is a good approach.
Regarding web protection, ESET Smart Security Premium chooses to scan all the internet traffic that goes on your computer, and it does not install web browser extensions. This means that you are protected just as well in any web browser that you use.
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 about whether the security suite slows down your PC, worry not. On our test laptop, ESET Smart Security Premium used around 100 MB of RAM, and the boot time we measured with BootRacer before and after installing the suite was almost the same (a difference of less than one second).
To check whether the internet or local network speeds are affected by ESET Smart Security Premium, we also ran a few tests with Speedtest.net and with LAN Speed Test. The tests that we ran showed that 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, and we appreciated the almost nonexistent negative effect it had on our test PC and on network performance.
Ease of use and 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 see a large message about the current state of security. If it is green, things are OK, but if it is red, there are urgent issues that you need to take care of.
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.
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.
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. If that is still not enough and you need even more support, ESET Smart Security Premium includes plenty of Help information and a 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 displays short and clear notifications on your desktop.
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.
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.