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Eset Smart Security 5 Review: Significantly Improved Protection

At a Glance
  • Eset Smart Security 5

    PCWorld Rating

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

Eset Smart Security 5 PC security suite
Eset Smart Security 5 ($60 for one year and one PC as of January 25, 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.

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.

The 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.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

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

    Pros

    • Pleasing interface

    Cons

    • Malware cleanup lags behind top performers
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