Table of Contents
Throughout my Panda Antivirus review, we will explore together why it’s one of the best free options out there, and what extra services you get for a reasonable subscription fee.
Check out how Panda Antivirus compares with other antivirus 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!
Panda Antivirus Review: Features and Pricing Plans Overview
Windows users are in luck, as Panda offers its core anti-malware features free of charge. You get an excellent track record of virus detection with minimal impact on your valuable system resources. This is possible thanks to Panda’s unique approach to doing all the heavy lifting on the cloud.
Panda cloud antivirus ensures that all its malware library definitions are always up to date without you having to constantly install updates on your device. This frees up all your system resources to get your workflow going without any hiccups and at the same time be protected.
Panda also protects your ports from any exploits as hackers target your connection weaknesses to gain access to your computer. The free version also entitles you to use Panda’s rescue kit, which rebuilds your system’s database, allowing you to boot computers that won’t even start before.
If you want to get even more from your Panda experience, you can choose between a variety of reasonable subscriptions. Depending on the plan you opt for, you can get Mac and mobile support, unlimited VPN access, parental controls, cleanup tools for your computer, password manager, and much more. We covered AV software for business purposes here and also other antivirus software with VPN.
During my testing, I was surprised by how much Panda is offering for free. The basic anti-malware features, in addition to 150MB per day of free VPN usage, are the highlights of the Panda Antivirus free version. Such a solid foundation encourages you to invest even more in the service to get the most out of your Panda Antivirus experience.
You also get access to Panda’s data shield, which acts as a vault where you can encrypt and store your most sensitive files. This goes hand in hand with the dedicated anti-ransomware features to ensure hackers won’t mess with your data or gain access to your computer.
I was intrigued to specifically test Panda’s identity protection features since competitors with similar services charge substantially more. I do appreciate the extra layer of security while shopping or using online banking as Panda’s multi-factor authentication guarantees that only you can have access to your credit cards and bank accounts. You can compare Panda's features with ByteFence which we reviewed here as well as features in our Sophos review.
Panda Antivirus Features
Panda grew over the years to have a broad umbrella of diverse services, offering users more value through its feature-rich packages. With your subscription, you get a password manager that keeps all your credentials in one secure place.
Using its advanced algorithm, it helps you create strong passwords that are difficult to decrypt. You can also store all your existing passwords so that you never forget any of them again.
Starting as a service exclusive to Windows, Panda expanded to give Mac users the same high-standard virus protection. I have been going back and forth between Windows and macOS for years now, and I used to believe that my Macbooks were invincible.
However, with the increased popularity of macOS, cybercriminals started writing malicious code specifically for Mac. That’s why Panda’s recent support for Mac devices makes much sense.
With such complementary features, in addition to a credible foundation of regularly updated anti-malware cloud services, Panda offers an enticing package that puts user experience front and center with its user-friendly, intuitive interface much like the Total AV software.
Reliability and Security
In order to provide you with the most comprehensive picture of how the antivirus actually performs on the user’s end, I reviewed AV-Test results and used their data in conjunction with my own testing. AV-Comparatives is an independent organization that tests the antivirus software available to consumers and assigns scores according to the outcome.
AV-Tests found that Panda Antivirus shows 100% accuracy against zero-day threats, which is an impressive feat. Such attacks exploit vulnerabilities initially engineered by the cybercriminal before the app developers are aware of their existence and start patching them.
The antivirus hits a 99.8% accuracy in detecting newly discovered and widespread malware. In my experience with Panda, I occasionally received false positive alerts, which shows that the antivirus can be inconsistent at times. Nevertheless, the results still make it a reliable antivirus that users can trust, considering they can occasionally put up with some of the rough edges.
Additional Protection Features
I already highlighted some of Panda’s key features and services. In this section, I will dive more into how the antivirus delivers local, on-device protection, in addition to safety while surfing the web. It’s a shame that those features are only reserved to the subscription-based plans and don’t come with the free version.
Panda employs a reliable firewall that monitors all your devices’ network-related activities. It streamlines connections with trusted websites and services while blocking suspicious networks from gaining access to your computer.
Apart from the firewall, phishing has become a real issue nowadays, and scammers are using even trickier techniques to get to their unsuspecting prey online. While using Panda, I noticed some of my emails being flagged as suspicious, giving me a heads up before I mindlessly click on any of the attached links. Nevertheless, this feature doesn’t always work properly, and it can miss some malicious links. So, you always have to be vigilant.
In terms of on-device protection, when Panda Antivirus detects any infected files, it quarantines such directories to limit the spread of the malware across your computer. It then deploys smart techniques to recover your data and eliminate the malware.
Identity Theft Protection
With the rise of online shopping, the security of our online banking information has become a major concern. If you’re anything like me, and you lost track of all the websites where you have put your credit card information, Panda’s identity theft protection features will come in handy.
You can set a limit to any transaction that goes through your bank account or cards, and every time a withdrawal exceeds that limit, you get notified in real-time. Panda has dedicated a customer support team for its identity theft protection services, meaning you get instant help with an urgent issue like your banking information.
Upon signing up for a Panda ID, the antivirus will instantly start monitoring your online identity status. It has even Dark Web surveillance that could detect if your data is being exploited on illegal websites.
Real-time notifications are the heart and soul of Panda’s identity theft protection service. During my testing, I was lucky enough not to encounter any issue regarding my data being stolen on my device.
However, a couple of days later, security breach attempts were pouring on my PC, and I was impressed with how the alert system worked. It redirects you to take action by contacting your bank to change credentials.
Panda Antivirus Performance
I touched before on how Panda Antivirus brags about doing all its computational, performance-heavy tasks on the cloud to unburden your system resources. I noticed that this is true for the most part; however, some actions can still have a toll on your overall system speed. For comparison, we also reviewed Cylance.
I tested how fast my high-end computer executes some everyday tasks like launching websites, running apps, and installing new ones. I noticed minimal lag on loading webpages on my super-fast rig, though your performance can be impacted more depending on your setup. Apps launch didn’t take a heavy hit as well; however, the time to install new apps was significantly longer by about 40%.
Finally, I had one last test to perform: how the performance is impacted when Panda Antivirus is actively running a system scan? Luckily, the answer is not much; I didn’t notice any significant hiccups while running my apps with an ongoing scan in the background.
To give you even more fair results, I went back to the AV-Test results to find out that they reported some throttling while Panda Antivirus is running in the background. Nevertheless, AV-Test’s final verdict is similar to what we’ve got, the antivirus is still among the most efficient options on the market, and most people won’t even notice the performance dips.
Ease of Use
For the non-tech-savvy users out there, Panda’s installation process is simple and never overwhelms you with many gibberish options that you’re not fully aware of. It took me around 10 minutes to install the antivirus and get everything up and running.
It’s worth mentioning that the initial scan can take some time, and it’s a mandatory step before Panda opens up and offers its full range of services and features. Also, your default home web page and the search engine can be switched to Panda’s own native services in case you accept such changes during the installation process.
For the immersive user experience that never makes you feel that Panda is bombarding you with notifications, I really like that the gaming mode is turned on by default.
Whenever I use full-screen applications like games or multimedia apps, Panda delivers notifications quietly in the background. This means I can enjoy my content without distractions and have all the reports waiting for my review at my own pace.
I appreciate how this user-friendly approach translates well throughout Panda’s expansive catalog of services. For example, Panda’s Rescue Kit, which restores devices heavily impacted by malware, is a simple plug-and-go feature. Also, the VPN is a click of a button away, and you instantly get a secure online connection.
Panda has a unique take on the antivirus’ user interface formula. Instead of having the app’s most crucial settings buried in menus and submenus, Panda adopts an intuitive tile interface. The tiles layout presents all the relevant settings at a glance and makes it easy to know which features are active and which are turned off.
The simplistic design approach ensures that the antivirus is accessible to everyone, and you don’t have to be a power user to protect your device. You can rest assured that all the subtle tweaks and advanced settings are there for users to customize them on demand. In a nutshell, Panda managed to employ a minimalist, user-friendly interface that is also respected among advanced users.
A small touch that caught my attention is that Panda even lets you customize the app’s background. This shows how the company is committed to easing users into the experience, and changing the misconception about the interfaces of antivirus software being janky and complicated.
Finally, the notifications share the same colorful tiles aesthetics with the app itself and give you toggles to adjust on the fly right from the notification tile without having to open the app.
Scanning and Scheduling
Let’s get back to the basics: your devices’ protection. Panda runs periodic scans in the background to ensure that your computer is always protected against the latest malware definitions.
The antivirus promises that the automatic scans are scheduled according to your usage habits, but I found this to be inconsistent. At times Panda Antivirus decides to perform more comprehensive full scans while I’m in the middle of an intensive task.
For its credit, the antivirus doesn’t use many resources; however, when I am working, I want every bit of performance, I can get out of my device.
That’s why I found the scheduled scans more useful. I don’t need to depend on Panda’s algorithm when I can schedule the scans according to my preference. This guarantees that the antivirus does all the hard work while I am away from my device. So, whenever I get back to work, everything is up and running.
Panda delivers some high-quality bonus features that come with its different subscriptions. For example, Panda Premium gives you access to the Update Manager tool. It ensures that your device is running the latest version of the OS with its latest security patches. It also starts scanning the new version for zero-day exploits or vulnerabilities.
You also get unlimited access to Panda’s Premium VPN feature, which gives you anonymity online. Even your internet service provider won’t be able to track your activities.
Also, you won’t have to worry about your personal information and preferences being exploited by advertisers. With 22 different servers all over the globe, you can access services that are not available in your region.
However, Panda’s VPN service doesn’t stand out among other alternatives I have tested over the years. The connection isn’t fast enough at times, and I noticed a serious lag with some popular websites.
You have to keep your expectations in check here, as it’s a welcome addition to have on top of your antivirus subscription, but it won’t blow your mind by any means.
If you’ve used any antivirus suite before, you should feel right at home since Panda offers the same versatile scan options. Critical Areas Scan, as the name implies, targets the most vulnerable areas on your computer rather than scanning all your data, making it a reliable, time-efficient option.
During my testing, I performed Critical Areas Scan a couple of times, and I noticed that each subsequent scan is shorter than the formal. The scan process can take you anything from 10 to 2 minutes, which is really impressive.
On the other hand, full scans go through every single file and application to make sure there’s no hidden malware acting in the dark and impacting your device’s health. Finally, custom scans are also available, allowing you to choose a particular drive to scan. I always found this option useful before using flash memory drives.
Panda Antivirus Packages and Pricing
Throughout my review, we’ve dissected Panda’s different services and features, and I see it’s now fit that we explore what exactly you get with every single subscription plan Panda has to offer.
For starters, Panda Free Antivirus offers support for one Windows, macOS, or Android device. However, real-time protection is only reserved for the Windows version.
On the other two operating systems, you have to run a scan for your device manually. You also get 150MB of free VPN usage per day, which is very limited in terms of bandwidth and not practically usable.
Panda Dome Essential is the entry paid subscription. This version offers web protection through Panda’s Firewall and protects your WiFi network from any unauthorized access. It also introduces Mac and Android users to real-time protection that’s missing from the free version.
The Advanced plan gives users access to even more services like parental control, identity theft protection, and anti-ransomware. The Complete subscription takes it a step further with its Data Shield that encrypts your most sensitive files, in addition to a password manager, and a cleanup tool.
Finally, the high-end Premium plan features 24/7 customer support, the excellent Panda update manager, and unlimited VPN access.
Panda Dome Family
With greater than ever emphasis on empowering parents to monitor and guide their kids, Panda offers a dedicated Dome Family plan. With real-time GPS tracking, you can always have an eye on your kids’ location, and Panda will notify you when they leave or enter the predefined safe zone you specified.
Parents can have a hard time limiting their kids’ exposure to electronics. By setting daily limits, you can control your kids’ screen-on time and guide them on how to make the most out of their time. You can also flag inappropriate content to have peace of mind when your kids are surfing the web.
Aside from the traditional parental control features, Panda added a Panic Button that lets your kids send you an emergency alert with their location in case they’re in danger or need help.
You can also track your stolen devices and get notified with their last known location. For the most part, your data is even more valuable than the device itself. That’s why Panda allows you to lock your device or wipe all your personal data remotely.
Panda takes a different approach with its pricing strategy, which, in my opinion, makes more sense and offers users more control. Competitors base their plans on the number of devices, in addition to segmenting the features across their subscription lineup.
Panda, on the other hand, lets you choose your preferred plan solely depending on the feature set. You can then tailor the number of devices for your selected plan according to your needs. This approach ensures you’re getting the best value for your money, knowing that you’re not paying for a feature you won’t use.
The following prices represent Panda’s different subscription plans with access to a single device:
No matter which plan you settle for, you’re entitled to a free trial month with your respective subscription. This way, you can know precisely what you’re signing up for and be sure that your money has been put in the right place. It’s also worth noting that you get a 25% discount if you go for the yearly plans.
In my opinion, Panda needs to rework its approach to customer support. For the free version or any of the paid subscriptions other than the Premium one, you raise a ticket with your inquiry to Panda’s website, and you get a response within 24 hours.
This waiting period can be frustrating, especially if you have a serious issue impacting your data’s security.
On the other hand, Premium users paying for the most expensive plan get dedicated 24/7 customer support via live chat or phone calls. Such around-the-clock support is excellent, but it’s only reserved for a segment of Panda users, which is a bummer.
Regardless of the inconvenient business model Panda follows with its customer support services, I value that the technicians answering our inquiries are knowledgeable and have an excellent track record of solving customer issues.
So, expect to get IT support for any of your home devices, from printers to routers and mobile devices.
How Does Panda Antivirus Live up to the Competition?
The best way to highlight Panda’s strengths and shortcomings is by comparing it to other antivirus software that falls in the same tier. Such a comprehensive view will help you understand which key features you’re looking for and what the deal-breakers are to your antivirus package of choice.
To start with, Webroot offers a decent alternative with comparable subscription prices. However, it lacks some of the extra features that you get with Panda like parental control and premium VPN. During my testing, I found it less reliable when it comes to flagging phishing websites.
McAfee has a better malware detection track record and less false-positive results compared to Panda. It offers excellent customer support to all McAfee subscribers, not just the premium users, as we’ve seen with Panda. Nevertheless, such extra features come at a much higher price than what Panda asks for.
Finally, ESET Endpoint Security is a light app that doesn’t impact your system performance, similar to how Panda operates. On the other hand, its user interface can be clunky at times, and you have to go through multiple menus and submenus to customize your scan settings.
To Panda’s credit, it managed to deliver a free version that doesn’t suck. This is the best compliment I can give them in our Panda Antivirus review, considering how bad all the other free alternatives I tested are.
The cloud-based operation is another big plus to free up your system resources; however, this might be an issue for the folks suffering from an unstable internet connection.
Panda’s other complimentary services are a hit or miss. For instance, the Rescue Kit is just magical. It works seamlessly and can help you restore a device that’s almost turned into a brick! However, the VPN is not fast enough for my taste, and the timely customer service is only reserved for premium users.
With its 30-day trial and affordable plans, I still believe there is much to love here. I’d recommend you give it a try, as you might end up with a decent antivirus solution that’s worth both your time and money.
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!