When it comes to proactive protection, Eset's NOD32 is the hands-down winner. In our tests it caught 79 percent of unknown malware samples when using one-month-old signature files. The next-closest app, Bit-Defender, was a distant 61 percent.

NOD32's overall malware detection rate wasn't stellar, however. When pitted against AV-Test.org's huge zoo of Trojans, viruses and other malware, NOD32 caught only 90 percent, compared to the top performers' 96 percent rate. It fared surprisingly poorly with 32bit Windows viruses (approximately one in 11 samples in the zoo), catching about three-quarters of the samples. In disinfection tests NOD32 cleaned up all malware files but missed resulting changes to the Hosts network settings file and most of the Registry changes, for a disappointing 55 percent success rate.

The program installed without a hitch and the default settings were almost ideal for the average customer. However, NOD32 doesn't enable the full-system scan by default so you have to schedule it yourself. And when you set that up or want to change other settings, you might be put off by its overly technical interface. For instance, you'll need to open up the ‘DMON' interface module to figure out that it's responsible for scanning Microsoft Office documents. Also, if you do need help, the program offers no guideposts for finding support; you must go to the company's website.

The program ties into Outlook and Outlook Express for email scanning, but doesn't directly integrate with any IM applications for scanning sent links or files. Plus, it offers integrated virus, spyware, and adware scanning, where other programs require two separate scans, one for antivirus and one for antispyware. The multithreat engine can also detect malware-hiding rootkits.

At £27, Eset NOD32's pricing is about average for this kind of product. Email and phone support is free.

Test results and verdict on the next page >

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PC Advisor Test Centre results

  • Design and ease of use Very good
  • Malware-detection rate 90%
  • Proactive detection of unknown threats 79%
  • False-positive detections 6
  • System slowdown 5%
  • Outbreak-response time (hours) 4 to 6
  • Bottom line: NOD32 has the best proactive protection by far, but its overall malware detection is second-tier, and it has an overly technical interface.

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Eset NOD32: Specs

  • CPU 386 or higher processor (Pentium recommended)
  • Windows NT/2000/2003 Server/XP/Vista
  • 32MB RAM (64MB RAM recommended)
  • 30MB free hard disk space
  • VGA or better graphics card
  • CPU 386 or higher processor (Pentium recommended)
  • Windows NT/2000/2003 Server/XP/Vista
  • 32MB RAM (64MB RAM recommended)
  • 30MB free hard disk space
  • VGA or better graphics card

OUR VERDICT

NOD32 may have the best proactive protection on the market, but its overall malware detection is not what you need, and it 's difficult to use.

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