Panda Global Protection 2014 review

Pros

  • Core features are easy to set up
  • Light load on the computer
  • Multi-platform support

Cons

  • Just 2GB of online storage
  • Messy secure browser installation
  • Token tune-up facilities

Panda was one of the first Internet security companies to see the potential of the Cloud as a place to store its virus database. This is a clever idea, as you can keep the one database updated and all your customers can have immediate access to the updates. It also reduces the footprint of the resident code on the users’ computers.

It was such a good idea that many providers have now taken the same approach, but Panda continues to be first on the block. Panda Global Protection 2014 also acknowledges how computer use is changing and how it needs to cater for devices other than PCs.

This product is licenced for 3 devices and these can be PCs, Macs or Android devices. The obvious gap there is iOS devices, where there’s no resident code, but Panda can scan them when they’re connected to a Mac which has the software installed on it.

Panda has gone for the Windows 8 look and its main interface shows eight coloured tiles and a few small icons at the top and bottom for less regularly used features.

So you have three rows of tiles on the home screen, with the top row showing a comforting picture of a lotus flower and stats on the number of files scanned and threats removed.

The middle row of tiles leads to scanning, reports and quarantine, services, multi-device protection and backup. In the bottom row are tiles for antivirus, firewall, identity protection, anti-spam and parental control.

Since services and multi-device protection lead to installation of features and are likely to be less used, we’d like to swap the bottom row up, to keep the most needed functions in the spotlight.

The key features, such as antivirus, anti-malware and anti-spam pretty much set themselves up and integrate with your operating system and email agent. They can be left to get on with their work. The other features need more tweaking.

Tune-up is little more than is already available in Windows. You can defragment your drives and clean file fragments and logs, but there’s no attempt to clean the registry or optimise applications loaded at start-up.

Panda provides 2GB of online storage at third-party service Mozy and this is looking increasingly ungenerous, given the ever-burgeoning size of files and the provision of over double the allowance by some other equivalent IS suites. You can add more space, of course, with an extra subscription or by moving to Panda’s £80 Gold product, which comes with 20GB as standard.

If you prefer to back up locally, Panda Global Protection 2014 can do this, too. However, with the most common things that need backing up being on your C: drive (documents, emails, etc.), the default location for the backup should be anywhere other than C: as you’re probably aware.

The program can back up to another internal drive, an externally connected hard or optical drive or network attached storage (NAS). It includes a Wizard to help set up a backup regime and a simple scheduler, though this is restricted to selecting a time for a daily copy.

Panda includes its own safe browser, though it’s not installed by default and requires a separate download of its own code and a messy and involved installation of Sun VirtualBox, a third-party sandbox application to keep your PC safe. All this faffing about makes the secure browser look like an afterthought.

The Mac product offers most of what the PC version includes, but needs a 64-bit Mac – so a Core 2 Duo – and OS X 10.6 to run. As we’ve already mentioned, it will scan and remedy malware attacks on iPods, iPhones or iPads, but only while they’re connected to a Panda-protected Mac.

The Android App is very simple, with a status display at the top of the screen, buttons for quick and full scans, and a scrolling list of recent activity.

There are two ways of running a custom scan to check a particular folder or set of files. You can choose Custom Scan from the scan dialogue or you can right click in a file browser and select the Panda scan option. Both of these methods give very different results.

Using Custom Scan, the software examined 5,306 files in 5 minutes and 22 seconds. Using the right click method, the software looked at 273,824 files and took 26 minutes and 55 seconds. Panda explained that Custom Scan doesn’t include compressed or PST files, while right click scanning does, though this distinction isn’t made clear.

AV-Test (www.av-test.org) hasn’t yet tested the 2014 version of Panda Global Protection, but from our test results, the number of files examined and times taken are broadly similar to the 2013 product, so we suspect the scanning engine hasn’t been dramatically rewritten.

The 2013 version of the software scored 14.5/18.0, which is a good score, and above average but not up with the leaders. Within that overall score, it collected 4.5/6.0 for Protection, the ability to spot zero-day and new malware, 4.5/6.0 for Performance, the performance hit of the product, and 5.5/6.0 for Usability, assessing ease of use and false alerts. These are well-balanced results.

Verdict

This is a solid Internet security suite which offers a good level of security without being a leader when tested. Panda has also upped its support to include Mac and Android devices and this version covers three devices, rather than three PCs.

The extras which make up a suite, though, such as backup, tune-up and the secure browser, look a bit rough round the edges. Use of a third-party for online backup and the rather meagre provision of 2GB of storage (shared by all three devices) leaves Panda looking a bit less impressive compared to some rivals these days.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Product

Panda Global Protection 2014

Antivirus protection

Yes

Antimalware protection

Yes

Antispam protection

Yes

Browser protection

Yes, but separate installation

Two-way firewall

Yes

Parental control

Yes

Multi-platform support

PC, Mac (connected iOS) and Android

Online storage

2GB

PC tune-up

Basic. Empties waste, cleans temp files and defragments drives.

Extra features

Backup, Identity protection, password protection, file encryption, game mode, virtual keyboard

Number of devices covered

3 (plus Mac-connected iOS)