- Extremely proactive
- Excellent anti-spam support
- Very fast scan times
- Pricey for single user
- No parental controls
By Charles P. Jefferies
ESET is one of the better-known names in computer security software. Today we take a look at their flagship consumer protection suite, Smart Security 4. Is it worth its asking price?
ESET has two main consumer product offerings: the MSRP $39.99 NOD32 Antivirus and $59.99 Smart Security. NOD32 has Antivirus and Antispyware protection built-in, while the Smart Security suite adds a firewall and anti-spam to justify its higher price. Smart Security is a bit on the expensive side since the MSRP only covers one computer per year. However, the company offers significant discounts for multi-computer and multi-year discounts; for example, a 2-year, 4-computer license is $179.99, or about $22.49/year per computer.
Smart Security is designed to be a lightweight, set-it-and-forget-it security suite for home users. In addition to the above protection features, it also includes the following:
- ESET SysInspector: enables deep scanning of system processes to find hidden threats
- ESET SysRescue: allows users to create a bootable rescue CD/DVD or USB drives to help repair infected computers
ESET has updated the interface of their security products for 2010/2011.
Download & Installation
Smart Security is a refreshingly small 49MB download. Users are prompted to enter their license information and select from a few setup options during the install; we used the recommended settings, since that is what most people will do. All in all, it is a simple process and takes a few minutes; no restart is required.
Smart Security has a very simple interface. There are two interface modes: basic (shown above-left) and advanced (shown above-right):
Basic mode hides most configurable options and simply has five navigation categories on the left. Advanced mode enables other settings underneath each category. Network statistics are one example, showing up under the Protection Status category:
Advanced mode also enables a Tools category:
The Tools section houses the quarantine file viewer, log files, a scheduler utility, and SysInspector, for very low-level scanning capabilities.
All of the other categories are self-explanatory. Smart Security is careful only to display essential information; nothing is over-the-top. Other antivirus suites like to bombard the user with statistics on how well they are protecting users and so on — Smart Security has a section to display that for you if desired, but otherwise it tries to be as simple as possible; I like this approach a lot.
Smart Security comes with two extras: SysInspector and SysRescue.
SysInspector is a low-level process explorer; it creates a log file of all current system processes. If a computer is infected and the cause of the infection is unknown, SysInspector can help find it. Sliding the filtering bar at the top will filter the results, only displaying processes for the selected risk level.
The important thing about SysInspector is that the log file can be sent to another person using ESET; they can open it and help diagnose an infection.
SysRescue is another utility designed to help repair infected computers. The wizard guides users through making a system rescue CD/DVD or USB device. This could come in handy should your computer become unusable due to a piece of malicious software.
Parental controls are not included in Smart Security, which is disappointing. I like to see parental controls included in full security suites; their target audience is often families. The inclusion of parental controls may or may not be a deal-breaker.