ESET Antivirus review: is it secure enough?
ESET (Essential Security against Evolving Threats) has the reputation for being one of the most secure antivirus products on the market. Users appreciate ESET’s extensive offering of excellent protection features like the anti-theft tool for stolen devices, its incredibly strong performance in independent lab tests, and a great Android application.
And although it’s not quite as well known as the likes of Norton 360, McAfee, and Kaspersky, it still boasts more than 100 million users across 200 countries. Frankly, it’s not difficult to see why it’s so popular.
But is ESET really as good as it sounds? What security features does it offer? And how much does it cost? Read our full ESET antivirus review to find out everything you need to know about ESET.
|Price:||From $39.99 a year|
|Platforms:||Windows, Linux, Mac, Android|
|Current deal:||Get ESET, save up to 26%!|
ESET pros & cons
- High level of protection
- Excellent mobile app for Android
- Anti-theft tool for stolen devices
- Handy home network security scanner
- More expensive than Norton 360 or Kaspersky
- No iPhone app
- Too expensive for multi-device protection
Is ESET any good?
ESET is a safe antivirus that's really good at protecting your devices from malware, phishing scams, ransomware, and other online threats. While testing the program, I found that it kept my device completely secure while I was online. In addition to this, ESET has some great features to help you recover your device if it gets lost or stolen. It also lets you keep an eye on who’s logging into your Wi-Fi router.
But don’t just take my word for it. In independent lab tests, ESET performed almost flawlessly for protection, performance and usability.
According to AV Test Institute, ESET antivirus gets a perfect six for all three categories on Android and a nearly perfect 17.5 total score when tested on Windows. So it’s definitely one of the best antivirus solutions on the market.
However, there are some antivirus programs that perform slightly better on Windows, such as AhnLab antivirus, BullGuard and F-Secure. But ESET Antivirus still performs really well and, if you use Android, you really can’t do better than ESET to protect your devices from online threats. It's also worth mentioning that ESET isn't prone to detecting false positives.
ESET Antivirus security review
ESET provides almost flawless antivirus protection by offering a really sophisticated suite of security features. Let’s take a look at what these are and how well they perform.
ESET offers comprehensive protection for Windows, Mac, Android and Linux, which means that you can protect a wide range of devices. And not only that – depending on which plan you choose, you can protect multiple devices with the same license. Thus, you can use it on your laptop, smartphone and tablet.
A license for ESET NOD32, for example, can be used to activate ESET Cyber Security or ESET Cyber Security Pro on a Mac. So you know that, no matter what operating system or device you use, you’ll be getting a comprehensive suite of security features tailored to the platform you’re using.
Ransomware is one of the worst types of malware. Once it sneaks into your device, it encrypts all your files, demanding a ransom. Ransomware is difficult to get rid of - that’s why it’s important you take all the necessary measures to prevent it.
Luckily, ESET is able to prevent ransomware from entering your system. Of course, to be 100% safe, you should also backup all your important files and avoid opening suspicious email attachments or links.
Banking and privacy secured
ESET promises to keep your banking details more secure, enabling you to shop online without worrying about your payment details being compromised. This feature activates automatically whenever you visit a recognized financial site. It will help you switch to a secure browser in order to protect your payment data.
Once you’ve opted to use a secure browser for a financial website, it will then automatically open in a secure browser whenever you visit it.
ESET Antivirus extra features
Like most antivirus programs, ESET offers a few additional features in addition to its security options. Let’s explore them below.
ESET comes with some handy features to keep your devices safe from theft:
- Location tracking lets you label your device as missing in the ESET anti-theft web interface if you ever lose it. This handy feature will then automatically monitor your device and display its position on a map by using the Wi-Fi networks in range as soon as the device comes online. You can then access this information using ESET’s anti-theft feature whenever you need to find out where your device is.
- Anti-theft optimization makes it easy to configure Windows auto login and operating system account passwords. This helps you increase the level of security by prompting you to modify your key system settings.
- Laptop activity watch works by letting you access your laptop’s built-in webcam to watch the thieves who stole your machine. You can even collect snapshots of your missing laptop’s screen and save recent photos to help you recover your laptop.
- One way messaging lets you create a message and display it on the screen of your missing device to increase the chances of you getting it back.
- Phantom account means you can create a fake account for thieves to log into. This means they can log into this fake account without a password, so they won’t be able to access any of your personal files.
- Browsing history and IP address access lets you see what a thief is searching for on your device. Also, it allows you to track your device’s location by looking at its IP address.
These tools are actually really useful if your device is lost or stolen as it can help you recover it. And the anti-theft features are a particularly handy addition for your mobile device or your laptop.
ESET Password Manager
ESET has bundled a password manager with its more expensive plans (more on plans and pricing a bit further down). And it’s pretty good as password managers go, although there are other programs out there that offer more features.
The main thing is that the ESET password manager is very secure. It uses 256-bit AES secure encryption to protect your passwords from hackers.
And it’s convenient, too. It allows you to sync passwords across all your devices, so long as you have the ESET app on them. And on your desktop, it comes as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox and Edge.
In testing, ESET’s password manager worked well, auto filling and auto saving my passwords without any errors or prompts. It really is very intuitive.
However, it’s worth noting that it can only import passwords from a select number of third party password managers. This can cause a major problem if you’re transitioning from an existing password manager to ESET.
Perhaps more troublingly, ESET’s password manager is missing some pretty essential features you’ll find on many of its competitors This includes breach monitoring, auditing, password sharing between users, and emergency access.
All in all, if you don’t have a password manager and you’re thinking of signing up to one of ESET’s more expensive plans, you might as well use the password manager included. But if not, you’d probably be better off using a third-party password manager that has more to offer.
Plans and pricing
ESET antivirus provides excellent protection against online threats and has loads of useful features to keep your devices safe, even if they’re lost or stolen. But how much does it cost? Well, there are three different price points. Let’s break it down to help you decide which, if any, of these plans is right for you.
|ESET NOD32 Antivirus Essential Protection||basic antivirus security suite, ransomware protection||$39.99|
|ESET Internet Security Advanced Protection||advanced antivirus security suite, ransomware protection, network protection||$49.99|
|ESET Antivirus Ultimate Protection||everything included in ESET Internet Security Advanced Protection plan, password manager and a feature to encrypt your photos||$59.99|
ESET NOD32 Antivirus Essential Protection
The first and most basic offering from ESET is its NOD32 Essential Protection package. And what you get with it depends on what platform you’re using.
If you’re using Windows, the ESET NOD32 Essential Protection plan gives you access to ESET’s antivirus software and real-time protection from ransomware attacks. But it doesn’t come with any of ESET’s more premium tools. In case you have Android, however, none of the ESET NOD32 Essential Protection features will work on your device.
For those who use macOS, the ESET NOD 32 Essential Protection package will give access to ESET’s basic antivirus security suite. It also offers excellent protection from ransomware. But, as with the Windows version, it doesn’t come with any of the premium features. If you’re using Linux, however, the ESET NOD32 Essential Protection plan gives you exactly the same security features as on the more expensive plans.
So, how much does it cost? Well, prices start at $39.99 for one device for the first year. But if you want to protect more devices, it’s going to cost you more cash. Here’s a breakdown of how much it’ll cost for the first year:
- One device: $39.99
- Two devices: $49.99
- Three devices: $59.99
- Four devices: $69.99
- Five devices: $79.99
ESET Internet Security Advanced Protection plan
For an extra $10, you can get a lot more in the way of security features. ESET’s Internet Security Advanced Protection package comes with all the antivirus and ransomware protection included in the NOD32 Essential Protection plan. But it also comes with a load of extra tools to keep you safe from online threats.
If you’re using Windows, the ESET Internet Security Advanced Protection package comes with:
- Network and ransomware protection
- Safe browsing
- Wi-Fi network protection
If you have Android, the ESET Internet Security Advanced Protection plan is the best plan to go for. After all, it costs the same as the most expensive plan and offers the same level of protection. And, as you saw in the independent lab tests by AV-Test Institute, it offers flawless Android antivirus protection. It comes with:
- Malware protection
- Ransomware protection
- App permission request management
If you’re using macOS, the ESET Internet Security Advanced Protection package is a great choice because it has the same features as the ones included in the most expensive option. Including ransomware and network protection.
The plan for Linux gives you an identical set of features as the other plans. It comes with access to its antivirus software and the ability to keep your computer optimized with a small system footprint.
The ESET Internet Security Advanced Protection plan starts at $49.99 for the first year. And as with other ESET plans, the price varies depending on how many devices you want to protect.
The price list for the ESET Internet Security Advanced plan is as follows:
- One device: $49.99
- Two devices: $59.99
- Three devices: $69.99
- Four devices: $79.99
- Five devices: $89.99
ESET Antivirus Ultimate Protection plan
As you might imagine, ESET Antivirus Ultimate Protection comes with absolutely all of ESET’s security features to deliver maximum protection from online threats.
If the OS of your choice is Windows, this is where the ESET Ultimate package really stands out. Together with all the features included in the ESET Internet Security Advanced Protection plan, you also get access to ESET’s password manager. Which, as we discussed earlier in this guide, is a nice extra, but not one you should necessarily base your decision on. After all, there are much better third party password managers out there.
However, ESET’s most expensive package on Windows also comes with the ability to encrypt your photos, so that no one can see your images. This is a really handy feature if you’re worried about keeping your photos safe. But otherwise, I'm not really convinced that the ESET Ultimate Security package is worth it.
Unfortunately, it’s certainly not worth paying extra for ESET's premium plan if you don’t use Windows because it doesn’t offer anything more than the ESET Internet Security Advanced Protection plan on any other platform. So, you’ll get exactly the same level of protection on Android, MacOS and Linux as you do on the slightly cheaper plan.
All this would cost you $59.99 for the first year. Which is pretty pricey for antivirus software, particularly when you consider that this price only covers you for one device. If you want to protect more than one device, it’s going to cost you extra.
The pricing for the ESET Premium Ultimate Security package is as follows:
- One device: $59.99
- Two devices: $69.99
- Three devices: $79.99
- Four devices: $89.99
- Five devices: $99.99
ESET solutions for business
If you want to protect your small business from viruses, ESET has you covered. It offers a few different plans for enterprises, covering from five to 100 devices.
You can manage all the devices from a single dashboard, examining and reviewing each threat separately.
Here are the different plans ESET offers for businesses:
- Protect Entry, which includes security management, endpoint protection, and file server security
- Protect Advanced, which includes everything from Protect Entry together with full disk encryption and cloud sandbox
- Protect Complete, which includes everything from Protect Advanced together with mail security and cloud app protection
Ease of use and setup
I found ESET pretty easy to set up and use. It didn’t take long to download and it had simple step-by-step instructions to make sure I enable all the correct permissions.
As soon as it’s installed on your machine, ESET begins scanning your device for viruses and flags up any potential issues. These can then be resolved by ESET’s software with just a click of a button.
The desktop interface is clean and free of clutter with a handy features menu listed on the left side of the app. I liked the simple, colorful layout and found it very intuitive and easy to navigate.
It’s really easy to do an antivirus scan and the options for customization are not difficult to set up. So it’s great for both advanced and average users.
ESET mobile app
ESET’s app works really well on Android. However, it’s not available on iPhone. So if you’re on iOS and you want antivirus software, you’ll need to look for another security solution.
Therefore, I had to test out the Android version. And as antivirus smartphone apps go, it’s actually really good. It comes with a load of handy tools and features:
- Antivirus scanner lets you scan your device for viruses straight away. It also has options to let you schedule scans or allow it to perform an antivirus scan as soon as you’ve plugged in your device
- Anti theft protection helps you locate your device if it gets lost or stolen by using GPS and checking its IP address. You can also see the browsing history and you can even take screenshots from your device so you can see exactly what it’s being used for. This should help you locate it
- Anti phishing protection keeps your personal information safe by blocking any website or domain listed in the ESET malware database
- Payment protection adds an additional layer of protection whenever you’re using a banking or payment app
- App Lock works to protect your privacy by preventing others from going through the personal data on your apps to guard against unauthorized access
- Call filter blocks any unknown or hidden numbers that keep bothering you. It also lets you filter calls by the caller’s ID and the time of day
- Connected Home allows you to see all the devices connected to your home Wi-Fi network and scan your router for potential vulnerabilities
- Security Audit lets you review and adjust your device settings and app permissions
How good is the ESET mobile security app?
While testing out the ESET application, I was pretty impressed by how successfully it blocked malware threats and flagged up any suspicious apps that I tried to download from the Google Play Store. But then, considering it’s perfect score in the independent lab tests, it’s hardly surprising that it performed flawlessly.
The anti theft feature was particularly useful and helped me locate my device very quickly during testing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an alarm that you can set off remotely to alert anyone to the fact your phone has been stolen. And it doesn’t have the option to wipe your personal data from your phone.
Aside from that, ESET’s mobile app for Android works really well and provides an excellent level of protection without costing the earth.
Unlike a lot of antivirus software providers, ESET actually makes its phone number easy to find. In fact, it’s included in the footer of the website. There are loads of other useful contact details available, with numbers and email addresses for each department. So whether you want to reach the Sales team, Marketing, Customer Service or IT Support, you can find an easy way of contacting them.
This is so much more useful than having to go through endless help guides and preliminary questions before you can find the contact details, as is the case with the majority of antivirus software sites.
There’s also a Customer Support option on the mobile app, which is really useful.
Most of the departments are open and able to respond to emails and answer calls between 8:30am to 5:30pm, Monday to Friday. Which seems pretty reasonable, although it’s not ideal if you encounter a problem out of hours.
ESET’s website does claim that it offers 24/7 email support, although I definitely had to wait until office hours for an answer. Still, this is pretty good, and I really liked the fact that ESET doesn’t try to put you off getting in touch.
And if you would rather try to resolve your issue without speaking to someone, ESET does have plenty of help guides and FAQs to guide you through any common problem you may be having with your ESET software or account.
ESET Video review
ESET Antivirus alternatives
In case you’re not sure whether ESET is the right antivirus for your device and want to see how it compares to other top products of the market, check out some of the short comparisons below.
The main difference between ESET vs Avast is the fact that Avast offers a free version and ESET doesn’t. Granted, the free antivirus package doesn’t offer much aside from malware protection, but it’s still something.
Avast also offers a few features that ESET doesn’t. For example, a file shredder and a VPN (which is included in the most expensive bundle). However, ESET has more features for Android, like Application Audit and Device Monitoring.
Bitdefender is yet another good antivirus solution. After all, it’s listed as our #1 antivirus tool of 2021. That’s because it’s not only inexpensive, but it also packs lots of security features that will help you sleep better at night, knowing your system is fully protected.
When it comes to ESET vs Bitdefender, the latter offers more advanced features like Anti-webcam hijack, a VPN, and Profiles. You can read our Bitdefender review for more info.
When comparing ESET vs Norton, it’s quite apparent that they are programs of a similar caliber, from virus detection rates to app quality. However, Norton 360 has a slight edge on ESET in terms of the selection of features.
For example, it has webcam protection, Dark Web monitoring, and a VPN. Also, the basic package of Norton 360 is cheaper than the standard plan of ESET.
Is ESET antivirus worth getting?
In practice, I found that ESET’s antivirus protection worked really well. It detected the potential threats and managed to protect my device from any risks it came up against. And, as I mentioned earlier, it performed really well in independent lab tests.
However, ESET’s security suite is not without its faults. The secure browser that promises to encrypt everything you type sounds great but it doesn’t actually offer that much-added protection. After all, it doesn’t keep you safe from screen loggers.
Aside from that, the spam filter wasn’t as useful as it sounds. It only works on Microsoft Outlook, which is hardly the most popular email service.
Overall, if you’re after a decent level of online security, ESET’s anti-phishing, firewall, and Wi-Fi monitoring are great. But if you want something a bit more robust, Norton 360 or McAfee might be a better way to go.
More antivirus software reviews
Bitdefender review: all about the best antivirus on the market
TotalAV review: fairly new, but worth attention
Avira Antivirus review: learn if this antivirus is for you
Vipre Antivirus review: is it any good?
Here, I’ll answer all your burning questions about ESET antivirus software.
Is ESET Antivirus safe?
Yes. ESET is one of the safest antivirus programs on the market. It offers really strong protection against all forms of malware, ransomware, spyware, and phishing websites.
Is ESET better than Norton?
No. Norton offers a 100% protection guarantee and it uses lots of sophisticated protocols to eliminate zero day attacks. However, both ESET and Norton 360 perform extremely well in independent lab tests. But Norton has more features and it’s slightly cheaper, too. So overall, Norton 360 is a better choice than ESET.
Which is better, Kaspersky or ESET?
Kaspersky is the better choice for antivirus software as it comes with stronger protection and has more features in its security suite.
Is ESET free?
No. However, you can download its 30-day free trial version and see, whether this antivirus program is for you.