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ESET NOD32 Antivirus Review
Technology should make our lives easier
• Effective malware cleanup
• Will scan in safe mode
• Good independent lab results
• Easy to navigate
• Very choppy protection
• Rescue CD requires Microsofts Automated Installation Kit
Back from the dead? The ESET offering hasn’t been updated for quite some time and this version is, if not eagerly awaited, at least cause for investigation. However, the antivirus software from Slovakian company ESET is simply not great. It may have received good scores from independent labs, but when put up against its competitors in real world usage, it is not measuring up – and it’s not very popular with users across the board.
The IT security company ESET, headquartered in Slovakia, was founded in 1992 when it released its first antivirus product, NOD, for MS-DOS based computers. ESET has since been working to upgrade its software with modern tools, and with NOD32 Antivirus the company has graduated to a full-suite antivirus solution in an attempt to keep up with its international competitors. Does the software make the grade? We looked closely at ESET NOD32 to find out.
NOD32 can be purchased direct through the ESET company website, with a backup DVD available for an extra 10 dollars, or free with the purchase of a three-five user license. The problem with purchasing multiple licenses is that the process for registering NOD32 on more than one computer is bit convoluted, requiring a randomly generated user ID and password supplied by the company upon registration.
NOD32 is light on system resources, but ease of installation ends there. While setup is not necessarily sluggish, it is slowed down by a number of screens that pop up, requiring user input. One is, of course, registration, while another asks the user if they want protection from Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs).
The ESET NOD32 Antivirus system protects against known and unknown viruses, worms, adware, Trojans, rootkits and spyware. The antispyware included in the software helps protect your identity online and the Host-Based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) disables unauthorized alterations to programs. You can also protect your computer from viruses delivered through USB flash drives with the Removable Media Control feature.
Internet – The ESET antivirus system works against malware attack by blocking applications connecting to dangerous URLs and displaying a pop-up window to show what it did.
Email – The ESET software scans both inbound and outbound email for malware and viruses.
NOD32 Antivirus scores well with the independent labs in testing, receiving certifications from ISCA Labs and West Coast Labs, with West Coast adding several other checkmark certifications. In addition, NOD32 received a VB100 in all ten tests by Virus Bulletin.
AV-Comparatives.org gave NOD32 its Advanced rating in both on-demand and retrospective tests, and gave it the top rating, Advanced+, in the whole product test. AV-Test.org also passed the NOD32 software with 13 out of 18 points.
ESET does much better in testing by the independent labs than it did in our tests, and those of other users. In particular, ESET NOD32 did particularly badly in blocking malware and rootkits.
Scans & updates
The in-depth scan of your hard drive takes around 13 minutes, a quick time for antivirus software. The scanning process is simple and you can launch it whenever you need to. Follow-up scans are much quicker. The scans happen in the background and are carried out in real-time so you are protected against malicious files.
When the system finishes its scan, it gives you a report on what it completed and what it found. The full report is complicated and there’s a lot of information there that you probably won’t need. If the software is unsure about a threat, it will display the details in a list and ask you if you want to quarantine or delete the threat.
Backup disk – The ESET backup disk will only work with the installation of Microsoft Automated Installation, an extra step that is not included on other antivirus programs.
Gamer mode – The gamer mode stops pop-ups, notifications and scanning from interrupting your game or presentation.
The SysInspector tool is useful but probably more useful for experienced users. You can take snapshots of your computer that track changes made to systems, giving you the chance to see what was added or removed. You can also use these snapshots to communicate with tech support should you need to give them more information.
The software also includes a tool teaching you about safety online and how to navigate without danger.
Ease of use
This may be a new version but we didn’t see many changes to the ESET NOD32 interface. It is reasonably simple to navigate because you only see the most relevant controls and settings on display. The Most Frequently Used Actions are prominently displayed while the more advanced settings are hidden under the advanced setup menu.
The software is perfectly good for beginners and you’ll have no problems navigating. You can set the system to work on its own without much intervention.
Help & support
ESET has a knowledgebase on its website that is reasonably easy to navigate, with plenty of questions answered. There are video tutorials and a forum.
Unfortunately, there is no telephone contact option and no chat function. If you want to report an issue you must fill in the web form and wait for someone to get back to you.
The ESET NOD32 Antivirus is not perfect, by any means. The software scores well in independent tests but falls down with users who report failure to block and remove malware threats. This offers simple antivirus protection but there are better products out there.
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