ESET Smart Security is, arguably, the best virus detection Software available for PCs. I don’t like to review paid software on Windows guides because this site is all about free stuff; I save the paid software for Windows Forums. However, the reason I am reviewing ESET Smart Security 4.0 is twofold: this program is simply excellent and worth every penny and because I’m giving away six fully licensed copies, in conjunction with ESET, in a competition that starts on Sunday, April 26, 2009.
In this review, I will explain the basic functionality of the software and show why I think it is such an excellent antivirus solution.
The Main Menu
Please note: throughout this guide, you’ll see that the screenshots are taken from the Business Edition of ESET Smart Security 4. The competition is for the home edition; in this guide, I will only review the home system features.
When you first start the program, you will be presented with the simple menu. You can enable the advanced menu by clicking at the bottom of the main menu. The interface for this program is simple and intuitive with a clean dashboard that shows you the most recent statistics from the program. From the main menu, you can see the status of the different modules of ESET Smart Security. If you are going to use this program, I highly recommend running all the modules together. This way, you do not need a separate firewall, antispam, or anti-spyware program running in the background.
The system scanning is both quick and efficient and in, in my opinion, quicker than any other virus program I’ve ever used. You are shown a simple interface while the system scans your files, which is an improvement over many programs which show an elaborate display when checking your computer.
I always like my computer to run a schedule so that tasks are taken care of without my intervention. Virus scanning is no exception to this rule and ESET comeswith a built in scheduler so you don’t have to worry about setting up a schedule tasks via Windows control panel. in the following example, I’ll demonstrate how to set up a daily virus scan, which runs a smart scan on your machine, and a weekly full system scan.
As mentioned above, some options are only available from the advanced menu–the scheduler is one of these advanced options.
By clicking on the scheduler/planner, you will see the current schedule tasks. Add a task by clicking the Add… button on the scheduler screen.
Setting up a system scan is easy and begins by selecting On-demand computer scan
Give the task name and choose Daily as the frequency. this program is installed on my laptop and even if I’m running on battery I like to still run a scheduled scan; hence, Do not run the task at the computer is running on battery remains unchecked.
I leave my laptop on at night so a 2 AM schedule scan is ideal.
If the task is not run (i.e. if ESET is not running or your computer is turned off), you can instruct ESET to run a scan at the next available time.
As mentioned above, I’ve opted to run a smart scan every day and then a deep scan once a week.
You are shown a summary and can confirm the schedule by clicking Finish.
You can repeat the above process to schedule a weekly, deep system scan.
Protection against viruses is great but prevention is even better and ESET constantly update their virus definitions to ensure that the even the newest viruses are well protected against. Virus updates do not consume unnecessary system resources and do not fail–other antivirus programs I have used have issues with updating and sometimes need a manual fix.
To ensure ESET is doing its job, I created a fake virus, which is an Eicar test file, to make sure the real-time protection was working.
ESET picked up on the test file instantly and quarantined it. Test successful.
Now we’ve seen the real-time protection works, most viruses should not slip through the cracks and should be caught immediately. However, if a virus is detected during a scan, it will also be quarantined where you can review it and delete it if necessary.
You can even submit the file to ESET for further analysis. This will help you identify if the file is malicious and also help ESET protect other users who may have the same file on their machine.
Using the SysInspector
The SysInspector takes a real-time snapshot your PC with all the services, processes, and threads running on your system and helps you determine if any of these are risky. Some files may show up as false positives because viruses have been known to mimic them. Even if you are sure a file is something you are aware of and is safe, you should keep an eye on it to ensure no suspicious activity. In the example below, we see that QuickBooks is being flagged as a medium to high risk program and service. Further investigation of this matter showed that many viruses attempt to mimic QuickBooks; thus, a flag is raised for further investigation.
To run SysInspector, simply click create and give your snapshot a name. By giving a snapshot names, you can easily compare them against each other later point to see any changes taken place.
Once Snapshot name is created, right-click and select Show
As you can see, QuickBooks is being flagged but further investigation showed this is a false positive.
An analysis of the running processes on my computer showed a few processes which may be risky. If you see a process on here that you do not recognize, there is not an immediate need for concern, but further investigation should be made.
Virus checkers are a notoriously bloated and slow your system down to a halt when I running a scan. Many people who use ESET hold it high because it uses such low system resources. I’ve never completely tested this rely on the fact my computer still runs just fine when the scans are running. For this review, I decided to run a deep system scan and monitor system resources. The results of this experiment are shown below (click to enlarge):
As you can see from the enlarged screenshot: even with a full system scan running, system resources are at 22% on a 2 GHz dual core processor (T7250.) RAM usage is also very low but this is not usually a problem with most virus scanners.
So far, I’ve shown you some of the basic options that come with the program. There are many other options that allow full customize Asian. These options can be an extremely useful the other day: I am running ESET on my home server; I use Internet Connection Sharing on this machine and by upgrading to version 4.0 of this program, ICS no longer worked. A few customizations later and ICS was up and running again.
You can’t really get into some deep customizations as shown in the example below where you can choose different subnets and different rules for each subnet.
The final aspect of ESET I want to cover is the virus radar. While this may not be useful to you, it’s nice to see that ESET are monitoring current threats and sharing them with you so you can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity on your PC.
Win a Copy of ESET Smart Security 4.0
In conjunction with ESET, I am giving away six (6) copies of ESET away in a competition that begins this sunday. Subscribe to ensure you get in on the competition.