Is ESET NOD32 Antivirus good?

In our test of ESET NOD32, we covered the main features of this antivirus software, its advantages and disadvantages. Many experts describe ESET products as "good but not great". Yes, in some parameters, it lags behind its main rivals. However, ESET NOD32 has good potential and for most people with basic security requirements, it can be an excellent option.

Although some false positives have been recorded in tests and some ingenious virus threats have been ignored, their share is too small to have an impact on the overall experience of most regular Internet users. In addition, ESET antivirus is lightweight and extremely easy to use. However, if all this is not enough to convince you, you can always compare ESET with its main competitors by reading other reviews.

ESET antivirus is one of the oldest and therefore one of the most recognized antivirus products on the market, having been in existence since the early 1990s, and its reputation is beyond question.

ESET is one of the few antivirus software vendors that offers both inexpensive and reliable products that are incredibly easy to use. Its award-winning solutions are on par with the software of recognized industry leaders. However, it still has some drawbacks that prevent it from leaping ahead of the competition. For more details, read our ESET antivirus review.


The list of advantages and disadvantages

When it comes to a complete and unbiased assessment of the ESET software, there is no denying that it has many advantages.

We like:

  • A very simple interface, even for beginners
  • Its basic option is good value for money.
  • A high level of online protection
  • A free tool for quick social media analysis
  • Real-time scanning
  • A game mode
  • Options available for Mac, Linux and Android

We don't like it:

  • No free antivirus program (unlike Avast, for example)
  • The range of additional tools is limited
  • Sometimes it slows down a PC
  • A multi-device package is unreasonably expensive
  • Malware detection is not flawless

The strong points of ESET NOD32

  • Compatibility with all versions of Windows - from Vista to Windows10
  • A special package for Mac, Linux and Android is available
  • High quality protection against malware, viruses, spyware and ransom software
  • An integrated e-mail scanning function
  • Real-time automatic scanning
  • Protection against phishing
  • AMSI protection module for fast detection of unwanted JS codes
  • An average impact on the system
  • Availability of premium packages for Advanced Coverage

ESET NOD32 is the best for :

  • Active Internet users, with automatic social media and email scanning and protection against fraudulent/malicious/phishing sites
  • Players, thanks to the game mode, will receive fewer notifications and system interruptions.
  • People looking for a single, affordable antivirus solution for multiple platforms.

Reliability and safety

The ESET engine that detects malware has three levels of protection. The first step is to check whether a file is registered as a virus in a database. Next, the antivirus checks the code for suspicious parts and monitors the file's behaviour. It helps the system detect and record details if the software being inspected is malicious.

If the file is recognized as simply potentially threatening, the system sends it to ESET's LiveGrid lab so that specialists can sift through it, and if it is an unknown virus, the lab records it and includes it in the next database update.

At the same time, according to the results of several tests conducted by a well-known AV-TEST company, ESET's performance is unstable. For example, in September 2017, it managed to detect 100 % of new threats (zero days), but the following month it only obtained 99.1 %. As for the identification of known virus types, ESET's performance is almost flawless and ranges between 99.7 % and 99.9 %.

Another independent auditor - AV-Comparatives - recorded lower results: from 98.4 % to 99.7 % of online malware detection with occasional false positives, yet they awarded ESET the ADVANCED rating, which proves its high effectiveness in detecting threats.

The testing labs have very different opinions about ESET. Of course, each lab has its own criteria and testing methods, but they all share the same opinion: this antivirus is neither the best nor the worst. It is somewhere in the middle of the range. However, we should note that all labs test ESET in its default specification, while you can get advanced features in different packages. Webcam protection, online payment protection, better home network protection, a personal firewall and more would add an extra layer of security.

Offering valuable features such as anti-theft, ESET lacks some necessary functionality. For example, many competitors add VPN and backup software in premium packs, but not ESET. Its parental controls allow you to block specific categories of sites, but there is no age filter. With an encryption tool provided with the Smart Security Premium pack, you can encrypt files with a 256-bit AES key, but there is no file shredder. Nevertheless, this antivirus is excellent for most Internet users.

ESET's performance

ESET slows down a computer a bit more than some other antivirus programs, but it has to be said that many of ESET's competitors have a bigger impact on performance. The first scan took 31 min 13 sec - the software checked 236,710 files. That's a pretty good speed. The third scan only took 9:14 because the antivirus program learned what data it could ignore.

There is no quick scan feature, but you can download Online Scanner from ESET. It is not dependent on the main software, so we don't expect much from it.

Malware protection

ESET has high scores from 99.7 to 99.9 % when confronted with known malware. Performance against unknown malware varies widely, from 99.1 % to 100 %, depending on the test period. Overall, the defense is good, but ESET's competitors performed better in these tests.

Ransomware detection

Paid packages allow users to defend against ransom. The software has a ransom shield that would ask the user if they allow the encryption process to begin, but it does not check social media and online storage.

Phishing detection

All of ESET's fee-based products have anti-phishing functionality that monitors applications and websites and tells the user if there is a potential threat.

Ease of use

The market is saturated with different antivirus software, so it is not very easy to choose the best antivirus software for your PC, so one of the advantages of ESET is its ease of use. As soon as you buy the version of ESET you need, download and install it on your PC. The program's interface is intuitive, so it is almost impossible to make a mistake. It seems that its classic white-and-blue color scheme hasn't changed in years.

The installation and configuration process takes almost no effort and time, so you won't have any trouble getting through this step.

ESET interface

The interface looks clean and bright and welcomes users with the ESET robot mascot and the "You are protected" sign. The categories are placed on the left, and you can start a computer scan by simply clicking on the corresponding category. Simply choose what you want to scan - memory, boot sector, external or internal disk - and you're ready to go.

The Update section will inform you about the current versions of the databases and analysis engines. Under Tools you will find all the ESET tools - simple and easy to use. Here, in the bottom right corner, you can see the More Tools button that looks like a link. It is easy to ignore, but you should check for additional features.

Scan options

As we have already mentioned, there are four options of what you can scan:

  • Internal reader
  • External Hard Disk Drive
  • Memory
  • Priming sector

Unfortunately, there is no quick scan option, but you can download an additional online scanner. However, it may scan longer than the initial software that has already learned to use your device.

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