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ESET 2021 Antivirus solutions review

Customizable, professional, and stylish products

(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

Although some of its features feel underpowered, ESET Antivirus is a solid collection of security products that offers plenty of useful options and will suit various user profiles.


  • Will not slow down your device
  • Fully customizable
  • Plenty of features


  • Some features are underpowered

Established in Bratislava in 1992 to market its flagship antivirus software NOD, ESET has made a name for itself as a capable cybersecurity manufacturer whose products are used by over a hundred million people in every corner of the world.

The company’s home consumer product range covers ESET NOD32 Antivirus, ESET Internet Security, and ESET Smart Security Premium. Each of them can be downloaded for free and tested to the fullest for 30 days after the installation. You only need to sign up with your email address and country and you’re good to go.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus 

ESET NOD32 Antivirus (opens in new tab) is the provider’s entry-level solution offering the basics - antivirus, anti-phishing, and anti-ransomware protection. It stands out among other products of its level as it supports not just Windows, but Mac and Linux devices too.

(Image credit: Future)

Once it’s installed, the program will automatically launch a full and lengthy system scan. Even though this will take a lot of time, you’ll be able to go on with your business as it will only require around 20 percent of your CPU to get it done. Since we’re mentioning system resources, it must be noted that all the data files and executables will take close to 800MB of your hard drive space, but this will not impact your device’s performance in any way.

(Image credit: Future)

The dashboard is simple and intuitive - all the controls are categorized in the left-hand sidebar from where you can browse them in more detail, and you can start a full system scan with just a single click. Moreover, the dashboard window can be resized, a handy option when you want to reduce scrolling and see multiple things at the same time.

There are several types of scans - the Full System, Removable Devices, and Custom scans where you can select which files, folders, and drives you want checked. Surprisingly for such an advanced security software, there’s no Quick Scan option. You can, however, create a scan profile for a more limited checkup. The Settings section allows you to control pretty much all - ranging from basic scannable objects (network drives, archives, etc.) to email protocols and nested zip files. You can also scan and quarantine specific files, as well as check their reputation, in the Explorer via the right-click menu.

There are two malicious site filtering levels - the simple one to keep you safe from phishing URLs, and the more complex one that utilizes multiple tools to defend your device from more general URL threats, and you won’t even need to install a browser extension.

An interesting bonus is the Device Control which allows you to define what will happen when different device types are connected to your system, including external storage, scanner/printer, Bluetooth device, and so on. Another extra is the ESET SysInspector, which takes a snapshot of your system and informs you about active processes, network connections, Registry entries, and other items. However, both these tools might be a bit overwhelming for a beginner.

(Image credit: Future)

Some settings are a bit unclear, such as the System Cleaner which makes vague statements and the user can’t be sure what it is that the program is actually describing or suggesting they do, or even why.

The price of a one-year single-device license is priced at $40, while a three-year five-device license entails a serious discount - costing $160 for the first three years, after which it renews at $240.

ESET Internet Security

ESET Internet Security (opens in new tab) takes everything provided by its cheaper cousin and expands it with a set of parental control tools, a spam filter, configurable webcam shield, firewall, as well as a secure browser feature you can use to protect your sensitive information during operations such as online financial transactions. There’s also a Connected Home Monitoring feature you can use to check your home devices for any weaknesses.

(Image credit: Future)

The Windows app even throws in an anti-theft feature you can use to locate your device if it goes missing, take photos remotely via the webcam, and send messages to whoever finds it. In addition to having apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux, ESET Internet Security introduces one for Android as well.

(Image credit: Future)

By default, ESET’s firewall blocks all suspicious traffic from the web but doesn’t filter any outgoing traffic and the user may not be aware of this unless they decide to check the settings. Another issue is that the firewall isn’t very intelligent, i.e. requires user input for every app (even Chrome).

The spam filter is an extension that works with Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, and Windows Live Mail. It’s very efficient and has more options than some, such as adding custom text to the subject line, logging the spam score to prevent false positives, and more.

(Image credit: Future)

As for the Parental Controls, they don’t stand out for anything particular - you can only filter websites by content. The secure browser for all your financial operations is basically your default browser in a more secure form.

In terms of pricing, if you opt for a one-year, single-device license, you will pay $50 and if you need protection for five devices (you can go up to 10 devices) for the duration of three years, the price is $190, increasing to $270 when you renew. Prices like these position ESET as a mid-range option.

ESET Smart Security Premium

The top-of-the-range ESET Smart Security Premium (opens in new tab) adds even more - a password manager and an encryption option for your files and folders.

(Image credit: Future)

This may not seem like much at first, but these added features are more powerful than you’d expect. For instance, the password manager is intelligent and rich with unusual functionalities such as checking for weak passwords, syncing secure passwords across devices and a tool called Identities, which automatically fills out web forms with your details like name, address, date of birth, credit card information, etc. 

As for the file encryption system called Secure Data, it uses DESlock technology also featured in ESET’s Endpoint Encryption products for business users. It is a password-protected vault, acting as a virtual folder or drive on your hard drive, USB stick, or a similar device, where you can save or copy files to have them automatically encrypted and inaccessible to anyone but you.

(Image credit: Future)

This package will cost you $60 if you go for a one-device, one-year option. If you’d rather have a five-device (max 10 devices), three-year license, then you’ll have to pay $220 initially, $300 upon renewal.

Final verdict

Whichever product in the ESET antivirus collection you go for, it will be a worthwhile addition to your device’s security, depending on your requirements and budget. All the solutions, especially the Internet Security and Smart Security Premium are teeming with features that allow a high level of customization, even though some of them feel like they should’ve been more advanced.

The Verdict

out of 5

ESET 2021 Antivirus solutions review

Although some of its features feel underpowered, ESET Antivirus is a solid collection of security products that offers plenty of useful options and will suit various user profiles.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.