capsule review

Panda Internet Security 2011

At a Glance
  • Panda Internet Security 2011

    PCWorld Rating

    Panda Internet Security is generally effective at protection, though its blocking of new malware wasn’t top notch and it slows Windows more than we’d like.

Let's start with the good news: Panda Internet Security 2011 ($60 for one year, one PC; $70 for one year, three PCs, as of 12/2/2010) has some of the best protection going. Its and 99.8 percent detection of samples of known malware was tops among the 13 applications we tested. It completely blocked 21 of 25 attacks in real-world malware blocking tests (that help determine how well it can block brand new malware), and partially blocked three more, which, while not a top score, is still a solid performance. It's also no slouch in fixing downed machines, removing 80 percent of active malware components.

That security, unfortunately, comes at a price: Panda is rife with false positives and is terribly slow. It put up some of the worst scores at both on-demand and on-access scans among the products we looked at, and Panda's impact on overall system speed was larger than average.

Very cautious users may find this a fair trade-off and be willing to trade some performance for rock-solid security, but we imagine they'll be less thrilled with Panda's convoluted and badly-designed interface.

There's seemingly nothing you can do in Panda Internet Security 2011 with just one click, and sometimes it feels like there's nothing you can do without a restart. Even updating the software requires a reboot, a rarity among modern antivirus apps that have figured out how to slipstream an update into a running PC.

The interface is a bit of a mess and is harder to use than it should be. While it looks straightforward, it's rife with confusion and duplication: What is the difference between "threats" and "vulnerabilities," and why do they need to be managed separately? Either way, Panda doesn't tell you. Its help system is virtually nonexistent.

Then there's the issue of Panda's language barrier--the company is based in Spain. The interface and dialogue boxes are studded with poor English, and what is grammatically correct is stilted and awkward.

Should Panda find something it deems awry, be prepared for some histrionics. Immediately after installation we were greeted with a blazing alert reading "Wi-Fi intruder detected" along with its MAC address. In reality, it was TiVo jumping on the web for an update. Scary stuff. And Panda was ready to attempt to permanently block it--something a novice may have accepted just out of habit. We'd like it if Panda provided more information about what was going on so users can make an informed decision.

Weird design decisions don't stop there. Scans abruptly halt if Panda suspects it has found malware (and, as mentioned, it thinks there is a lot of it around), which can hang up the process and makes after-hour scans almost impossible. We also didn't care for the registration requirement, or the sneaky attempt to opt us into marketing e-mails (you have to check a blank box during installation to opt out of these messages, the reverse of the usual M.O.).

Panda may offer decent security protection but, depending on how much a good interface matters to you, that price may be too high to pay.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Panda Internet Security is generally effective at protection, though its blocking of new malware wasn’t top notch and it slows Windows more than we’d like.

    Pros

    • Blocks known malware effectively
    • Good (but not outstanding) blocking of new attacks

    Cons

    • Moderate impact on PC performance
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