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ESET Antivirus Review | What Level of Network and Data Protection Can You Expect?

People think that inbuilt virus protection is adequate to keep their machines safe from malicious software activity. I know that because I've been there - until my computer got submerged in viruses and tempering's with the registry log.

You probably don’t want ransomware asking for money to decrypt your data, or it’ll be cast irrevocably into oblivion. Luckily, ESET Anti-virus was the savior that ended this dilemma, especially with its HIPS, which has become almost indispensable, and why VSS Monitoring ranked it high in this list. It didn't make it to our antivirus software with VPN reviews, though.

In this ESET Antivirus review, we’ll delve into how this ESET app works. Also, check out how ESET Anti-virus compares with other ESET alternatives anti-virus software:

Our recommendation: McAfee

With so many antivirus products in the market, there is none that’s like McAfee. With over 18.9 billion devices protected on a consistent basis, McAfee’s ability to deal with malware attacks come unmatched! McAfee has a dedicated database that is adept to deal with all sorts of virus attacks whether they may be online or offline. To browse their programs, check out their programs here!

ESET Antivirus Review: Protection Features and Pricing

ESET Anti-virus is available in 3 versions for Windows OS, Android devices, and Linux devices. Since Apple’s security chips aren’t always immune to 0-day viruses, this antivirus suites multiplatform compatibility is guaranteed with ESET for Mac laptop and mobile devices security solution and network protection.

I personally favor ESET’s essential antivirus solution, NOD32, which boasts a world-class UEFI-scanner that neutralizes viruses threats before your device even boots up. Moreover, it’s the cheapest ESET package.

The high-end ESET Smart Security Premium packs the most advanced protection. Among the top and advanced features are a ransomware protection shield, a password manager, and a mode for encrypting your precious files against unauthorized data transfer. This is why we included ESET in our business antivirus software suites lineup. 

Bear in mind that with an ESET Smart Security Premium multiple-device license, you can use one license on a Windows PC to access all of the package's advanced capabilities and another license on a Mac user to access ESET Cyber Security Pro.

In the middle of the pricing spectrum, ESET Internet Security presents its improved anti-phishing protection, botnet protection against viruses, and impervious payment or banking protection.

My final verdict on pricing: on-point. ESET products pricing is on the better average when considering other products like Kaspersky. Subscriptions are available in plans for up to 3 years, depending on the number of machines involved.

ESET pricing plans

How We Evaluated ESET NOD32 Antivirus

If looking at an unintelligible spec sheet leaves you dizzy, you’re not alone! Our approach to evaluating ESET NOD32 Antivirus depends on around-the-clock usage. We thoroughly tested every aspect of ESET NOD32 promises on the spec sheet.

Checking every meticulous detail the user interface of this ESET software offers was also part of the process. We even tested the cloud-powered scanning to see whether ESET LiveGrid’s viruses samples are up to scratch, including how snappy it matches the viruses example with the one existing on the computer.

Although ESET has a pride history of 30 years in IT security, we made sure that our evaluation is on par with the insights of renowned cybersecurity experts and the confirmed ESET Antivirus reviews of the users who monitored NOD32’s performance.

Top-Grade Internet Security Tools

I often prioritized checking how efficient offline protection is in antivirus software, while web protection always came second. However, ESET Ant-virus offers an abundance of internet security tools for worry-free web surfing.

I liked how ESET integrates both the online and offline protection mechanisms through its Live Grid. Continuously updated, ESET LiveGrid contains countless viruses samples so that the ESET internet security antivirus can detect any malicious activity based on the reliable cloud-based system.

We're all familiar with the AES-256 encryption  used by the military. That's the standard ESET incorporates in their ESET's Password Manager; the password managers feature an excellent call for ciphering your credentials on-demand and preventing keyloggers from stealing them. This encryption tool is very secure; it enables password sync across all your devices, as long as they have the ESET software installed. Additionally, it is available as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge on the desktop. But, again, the features you can't get from any other antivirus solution.

Talking about eavesdropping, check out our keylogger detector reviews.

Since online meetings are on the rise, another function I found precious is the Webcam Protection, keeping track of the background processes that surreptitiously acquire the permission to use your webcam.

ESET Features

I deemed ESET virus protection to be a cut above other antivirus software because of its low-power operation. When you’re gaming or basically running any program in full-screen, ESET cycles off to direct the processor’s power to the high-priority tasks.

I appreciated how ESET implements the out-of-home network alerts. ESET Anti-virus marks the first network you connect to as the home network. So, when you connect to an unknown one, it activates the Strict Protection mode, rendering your device invisible to other machines hinging on the network.

Besides anti-theft feature, location tracking, and payment protection, I believe that the basic antivirus protection ESET Anti-virus boasts is why it outshines other competitors in the realm of cybersecurity. Below, we jump into an in-depth overview of each functionality.

UEFI Scanner Detects Threats Before System Boot

When UEFI replaced BIOS in organizing the boot-up process, nobody thought it'd be prone to hackers' toolkits or virus infestations. Bear in mind that UEFI's problem lies in the inability of any antivirus programs to detect malicious activity if a virus seizes the chance of gaining access during system boot.

That's where ESET's UEFI-Scanner kicks in. It performs a quick scan in the firmware file system and assesses the health of the system components before booting up. Then, it terminates any foreign process that the virus may manifest itself in.

Granular Scanning Controls Put You in Control

There’s much going on in the background that you won’t notice. When the operating system boots up, ESET Anti-virus initiates its real-time scans on every running process, while the intuitive scanning controls are still at your disposal.

One look at the UI, and you’ll find the “Computer Scan” tab, comprising only two options. ESET Anti-virus takes up to 60 minutes to finish the whole system scanning, which you can deem ineffective until you know it’s normal for the first-time full scans.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t feature a Quick Scan function. However, you can start a  custom scan for any local drive. 

Script-Based Threat Detection

Though I despise every aspect of this cyber warfare, I admit that script-based attacks are intelligent for exploiting most people’s ignorance about the built-in Command Prompt of their devices. Do you know what I admire more? ESET’s ability to conquer these threats as efficiently as file-based ones!

ESET shows competence in dealing with malicious scripts that utilize Windows PowerShell to execute themselves and wreak havoc on your computer. Moreover, it keeps its guards up in the scripts that your browser loads, and blocks all the malign JavaScripts it stumbles upon.

ESET also collaborates with web browsers' developers to enhance the compatibility of the antivirus so that it destroys any script-based threats, no matter which browser you use.

Host-Based Intrusion Prevention System

We were scratching the surface when we tested the basic scan processes that ESET Anti-virus carries out. Let me tell you that malware-infected files are, in most cases, undetectable. Left unchecked, they may cling on the system registry and start making destructive modifications, leaving no changelog behind.

Integrated into ESET anti-virus, the Host-Based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) takes system monitoring the extra mile, not by detecting viruses, but by confirming the abnormal behavior they show. Then, it informs you of the actions you should take to improve the overall system integrity using interactive pop-ups.

Since most widespread malware files are relentless enough to launch a counterattack, ESET’s HIPS is reinforced with a self-defense technology that makes it virtually invincible to viruses.

ESET features

Scan During Idle State

Idle scans are exceptionally crucial for me as I leave my device on battery power when I’m away. By default, ESET Antivirus doesn’t run processes that consume considerable power. Instead, it starts a sneaky idle scan to anticipate potential file infection.

You can customize the idle-state scan settings from the "Advanced Setup" menu. You can even prompt ESET to run idle scans when your device is on battery power and have multiple options for scanning while the computer is on the screensaver, locked, or logged off.

I carried out a test to determine whether the idle-state scan is up to par. I left my laptop idle for 30 minutes, and I was greeted with a full, detailed report on the threats, directories, and the recommended actions I should take.

Scan During Download

Something I’ve been questioning since I started experimenting with antivirus software is the mindset behind waiting for an infected file to download. It doesn’t make sense since viruses won’t hold back to ask for your permission to lay waste to your device.

ESET security features make a new epoch in this department since it detects harmful software while it’s in the download process, then stops the download until you give it the action to delete the infected directory.

I tried this built-in option by downloading keygens, a breeding ground for the most insidious Trojan viruses, and the results were fruitful—ESET completely destroyed them all!

Very Good Lab Results

Being obsessed with cybersecurity, I’ve been an avid subscriber to newsletters like AV-Test, where a ton of antivirus software come head-to-head for the big trophy.

So, I conducted a quick research to see whether I’m the only one pleased with how ESET Antivirus functions, and it’s safe to say that ESET has nailed all the tests with remarkable success!

ESET hits a 100% accuracy when it comes to imperviousness to 0-day threats, while the industry average stands at 98.8%. We're speaking about infallible tamper protection here. Moreover, it achieves a glorious 0 regarding the number of false positives compared to an industry standard of 16.

We all know how valuable AV-Comparatives’ certifications are to antivirus software. Adding more to the plus side, ESET Antivirus has earned the 3-star ADVANCED+ certification with a whopping 98.8% accuracy in real-world protection tests.

Scan Choices

Many people find it hard to go around the problem of having no quick scan option. Yet, the variety of ESET’s scan options makes quick scans seem useless. 

Like all antivirus software, ESET has an option for a full system scan. Alternatively, it features a section for custom scans, where you can choose a specific directory for the process or even the system’s deep components like the registry or the boot sectors.

ESET reinforces its scan procedures with added layers of detection through the in-depth scan option, which catches the culprits that the generic real-time protection fails to define.

Furthermore, you get a smart scan option for detecting infected directories and removing them without your intervention, more of a hands-off approach.

ESET features

Very Good Malware Protection

Amid all the perks ESET Antivirus provides, I find malware protection the most intriguing functionality I’ve tested so far. When I exposed ESET to a folder crammed with handpicked file-based malware, it rapidly detected the malicious activity going on, yet removed nearly half of them. We covered a more specialized anti-malware software in our Hitman Pro review.

I won’t regard it as a downside. The reason for this is that ESET prioritizes malware detection over removal. I noticed how it behaved when I decided to open every infected file individually, and the result was that it prevented the launch altogether.

With ESET, I’ve never come across false alarms of legitimate software mistaken for viruses during system scans, considering that the industry standard scores 16 for false detections.

Average Phishing Protection

Who hasn’t fallen prey once to the phishing websites scam? Eset's anti-phishing techniques are increasingly improving with emails that look almost identical to those of the original entities they mimic.

ESET Antivirus features an onboard anti-phishing sites line of defense against fraudulent attempts that ask for sensitive credentials.

I’m glad that ESET has even gone to great lengths beyond, thanks to the added layer of protection against homoglyph attacks, which are common among fake domains where the domain’s name is altered with different characters from the Latin ones.

However, I couldn’t entirely rely on ESET in the anti-phishing department because it tends to skip some of the flagged websites by other antivirus software and PhishTank when I gave it a shot.

ESET features

HIPS to Block Exploits

Exploits are the vulnerabilities your system integrity suffers from, leading to a successful intrusion attempt by hackers or malware infections. Luckily, ESET Antivirus either resolves or alerts you to missing data encryption or authentication through HIPS.

Not only does ESET’s HIPS protect your local directories, but it’s also competent when it comes to internet security. I tweaked HIPS here to see how heavy-duty it holds by insanely cyber-attacking my system with a pen-testing tool.

In the test’s aftermath, ESET Antivirus never disappointed in tracing back the source of these attacks, and it even blocked nearly half of the exploits I threw at it.

Elaborate Device Control

ESET’s Device Control is the absolute go-to feature if you frequently plug storage drives. I’m impressed with how ESET antivirus integrates its Secure Data function, safeguarding your files from data theft.

For starters, Device Control is disabled by default when you install ESET since it’s more of an enterprise-grade module. So, don’t expect it to be user-friendly.

It allows you to devise a “whitelist” of the devices often connected to your computer, like Bluetooth devices, disk storages, and modems. Based on the list, Device Control nullifies any external device’s attempt to elevate permissions to gain access to copy or remove your data.

ESET features

Useful Security Tools

Saying that ESET is an antivirus software is quite inaccurate. Owing to the wide array of add-ons it offers, I’d consider it an antivirus suite.

You’ll find a “More Tools” option displaying additional security tools. At the end of the day, you might want to look at the log files to see the infected directories color-coded according to the threat level: yellow for PUAs and red for viruses.

Moreover, there’s an option for determining the reputation of the processes running in the background by comparing them to the samples in ESET’s LiveGrid database. I checked this module and found many malicious running processes, which ESET asked me to terminate.

Another perk I found related to HIPS is ESET SysRescue Live, dedicated software to USBs or CD/DVDs. On restarting the system, it boots up using this module to wipe any tenacious viruses activity undetected by real-time protection.

ESET features

Good for Techies

If you live in a tech-heavy house, ESET NOD32 will quench your thirst for privacy, given its Home Protection Network, which lets you detect vulnerabilities across your home network, and even outdated router firmware!

Even if you haven’t fetched a cybersecurity jargon buster before, rest assured that ESET runs on the lowest power requirements you'll ever see in an antivirus. Thanks to the Gamer Mode, ESET hibernates every time you launch a power-hungry process.

So far, it has has been a package worthy of investment. While you may regard the HIPS, UEFI-Scanner, and the script-based threat detection engines as passive, you get substantial and easy-to-use controls for day-to-day privacy, especially when you master the advanced Device Control.


  • Reasonable pricing
  • Powerful HIPS & UEFI-Scanner
  • Advanced scan options
  • Low-power operation
  • Risk assessment based on the up-to-date LiveGrid
  • Virtually no false positives
  • SysRescue Live defeats viruses at a deeper level


  • No quick scan option
  • Mediocre anti-phishing engine
  • Persistent pop-up windows

Final Verdict

A predator is a predator, no matter the environment. Concluding our ESET Antivirus review, we can agree on how reliable, secure, and operational all the features of ESET Antivirus is. 

Regarding usability, ESET antivirus package offers equally convenient packages for power, average, and enterprise-grade users, all while maintaining a firm grip on the system’s security in every variation.

Our recommendation: McAfee

Although the product we talked about are notable in the market, it doesn’t come close to McAfee. McAfee is a leading antivirus company in the cybersecurity industry due to its unique line-up of programs catered to dealing with malware and antivirus attacks. No wonder over 18.9 billion devices are protected using McAfee! Check out their security programs here!


1. Is Eset a good antivirus software?

As per our ESET review above, ESET anti-virus software is extremely effective at detecting, recognizing, and resolving cyber threats, as seen by its high rating in our rating. Along with its highly-rated anti-virus software, the ESET Internet Security and Smart Security Premium subscriptions provide anti-theft protection.

2. Is ESET free?

No, Eset is not free, however, you can download a 30-day free trial or the free version of this anti-virus tool to determine whether it is right for you.

3. How good is the ESET mobile security app?

While I was testing the ESET's mobile app, I was rather impressed with how effectively it stopped malware threats and identified any dubious apps I attempted to download from the Google Play store. Additionally, it allows you to filter calls based on the caller's ID and the time of day. The connected devices enable you to monitor all of them to your Home Wi-Fi network and perform vulnerability scans on your router. Security Audit allows you to analyze and modify your device's and app's settings and permissions.

4. Can ESET remove malware?

The ESET Online Scanner is a web-based application that scans for and optionally removes malware. ESET Smart Security and NOD32 Anti-virus are ESET's configurable antimalware products. They provide numerous levels of protection against malware and can help prevent infection.

5. Does ESET have a firewall?

ESET Smart Security Premium and ESET Internet Security contain the ESET firewall. Additionally, ESET Internet Security protects online financial transactions by including a spam filter, parental controls, and a secure browser, but the spam filtering wasn't as helpful as it sounds. In addition, it only works on Microsoft Outlook.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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