Eset Smart Security 5 (£44.98 for one year and one PC as of February 1, 2012) places seventh in our 2012 roundup of Internet security suites. Smart Security 5 is a significant update of Eset’s suite, and although SmartSecurity 5 still has some room to improve according to our test results, it’s a nice step up from last year’s offering. See also: Group test: what's the best security software?

In detection of real-world threats, SmartSecurity 5 fully blocked 88.5 percent of malware attacks, and partially blocked another 3.8 percent. Though it ranked behind other suites--many of which fully blocked over 95 percent of attacks--those results are certainly an improvement over last year’s showing. Detection of known malware is the same story: The Eset software stopped 98.02 percent of samples, which is a very good score, but it isn't the best we've seen among this year's highly competitive field. Most other suites we looked at registered detection rates of 99 percent or higher. Visit: Security Advisor

Eset Smart Security 5The Eset package detected all active infections on our PC and disabled 90 percent of them. It also removed all traces of malware 60 percent of the time, a good but not first-rate result (the leaders in our test group disabled all active infections). To its credit, Smart Security 5 was one of only three suites that didn’t mistakenly identify any safe file as malicious. Eset says that its detection engine does not count corrupted files as malware, which may help it in this regard.

Smart Security 5 had a moderate impact on PC performance. On many of our tests, Eset's PC-speed impact was lower than average compared with the other suites we looked at, but it lagged considerably in a handful of tests. With SmartSecurity 5 installed, our test PC completed our file-download test in 1 minute, 43 seconds; this is the second-slowest performance we saw on that particular test, and it's well behind the average of 53 seconds.

Scan speeds were middling. The Eset suite ran an on-demand scan (which kicks off when you manually start a scan) of 4.5GB of data in 1 minute, 44 seconds, ranking eighth among 14 suites, and its on-access scanner (which starts when you open or save a file) completed its check of 4.5GB in 4 minutes, 12 seconds (ranking fifth).

In the past, we’ve criticized Smart Security for having a frustrating design, especially in its advanced settings. In this version of the product, Eset made most panes and windows easier to navigate, and the basic settings are more accessible. The main panel is clean, attractive, and simple to work with. The advanced settings are still too complex for most people, but Eset has done a better job of surfacing what the majority of users will want to access, while retaining expert-level controls for nerds.

The installer uses a fairly typical wizard to step you through the process. One nice touch: The installer will download any available updates before you install the software, so you'll always have the latest version.

Other suites in this year's test group did a better job of blocking malware--especially in our real-world tests--but if you're an existing Smart Security user, this new version is a must-have upgrade, considering its significantly improved malware detection and blocking, as well as its easier-to-use interface.

Review from 17/10/2011

By Simon Williams

The suite includes a smart firewall, parental control, a system rescue disk and a diagnostic, which analyses running modules, registry content, startup items and network connections. It installs fairly simply, and you can easily move from the free trial version to a full account, simply by buying a licence.

Once installed, the program offers a simple, six-option menu down the left of its main screen, though there’s very little to surprise in the options offered. Home is a status page, showing the security level, Computer Scan performs smart and custom scans, while Update checks for program and signature updates, though this happens automatically, anyway. Setup enables tailoring of the active program elements and Help and Support explains how to use the program.

Tools in most IS programs offer extras, such as secure disk wipes and, these days, often backup services, as well. Here it’s less varied stuff, which may account for the comparatively modest asking price. You get options to prevent external drives or USB sticks from connecting to the PC and there’s a ‘gamer’ mode, which stops ESET alerts when it detects an application running full-screen; a game, presentation or video.

The ESET interface doesn’t shout or cause you to panic. This is what you want in Internet Security software; something that gets on with its work in the background and opens the door gently like a Downton valet, should anything untoward need communicating, “Excuse me M’lud , but the staff downstairs believe your PC may have been infiltrated by a rogue footman. We’ve already locked the fellow in the coldroom and called for the groom to bring a pitchfork.”

The antivirus evaluation site, www.AV-Test.org, has yet to complete its tests on Smart Security 5, though when it ran them on version 4.2, the earlier product scored only 11/18 overall, with 3.5 for Protection, 2.5 for Repair and 5.0 for Usability. We would expect the new version to be slightly better on protection, and hopefully better on repair, too. As a comparison, AVG Free scored 14 and BitDefender, 16.5 on the same tests.

Our own tests on performance hit saw very little speed reduction when the ESET monitor was running in the background, but there was a noticeable reduction, of around 65 percent, when a scan was running. Since the program took around two hours to scan our test PC, with a total of 180GB of disk space, it’s probably best to schedule regular scans for periods when you won’t be working on your machine.

ESET makes much of giving you ‘free’ protection for virtual machines running other operating systems on a protected PC, but since a VM is just another application running under the host OS, which has to be Windows XP on newer, we would hope it does.

ESET Smart Security 5: Specs

  • Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000
  • 55MB available disk space
  • Processors supported: Intel or AMD x86-x64
  • Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000
  • 55MB available disk space
  • Processors supported: Intel or AMD x86-x64

OUR VERDICT

Although not a top performer, Smart Security 5 is a strong, easy-to-use upgrade over previous versions of Eset’s security suite.

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