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ESET NOD32 Antivirus Review

A focused antivirus program with enough customizability to delight advanced users.

(Image: © ESET)

Our Verdict

ESET NOD32 Antivirus can be used to protect a PC, Mac, or Linux device. Even though the user interface is a bit cluttered and it doesn’t offer any other security or privacy features, its sheer versatility makes it a respectable choice for anybody who wants to keep their system safe.


  • Minimal performance impact
  • High levels of customizability
  • Solid range of protection mechanisms


  • Only works as an antivirus—no extra security features
  • Not very beginner-friendly


ESET NOD32 Antivirus is the flagship product of ESET, a company based in Bratislava, and has 100 million global users. It’s a highly focused piece of software—while it doesn’t have as many extra bells and whistles as some of its competitors, the antivirus features it does have are top-notch.

Known for its low performance impact and versatility, it is a fantastic choice for anybody who wants a rock solid product they can tweak to fit their needs.

Costs and What’s Covered

The cost of ESET NOD32 Antivirus is charged annually, and buyers can take advantage of a 30-day free trial. A one-year license for one PC costs $39, which is comparable to the price of other premium antivirus packages. However, the deal gets more attractive with every additional device you need protection for.

(Image credit: ESET)

For example, a three-year license for three devices only costs $119.98, which is a discount of $60. The package can be used with a PC, Mac, or Linux machine, and also provides real-time protection from malware.

Antivirus Protection

File-based virus scans are supported in ESET NOD32, including general scans and custom scans. Device Control is an advanced feature which controls access to any devices which are trying to connect to your system. This includes physical drives like USB sticks and hard drives, as well as devices attempting to connect via wireless methods such as FireWire and Bluetooth.

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ESET NOD32 makes use of a cloud file reputation service to protect you from the latest malware, and sophisticated anti-phishing measures are in place to block any fraudulent websites before they get the chance to harm your computer. The UEFI scanner can search for existing malware in your computer’s firmware, while more than 150 customizable settings make it possible to change how ESET NOD32 works on your system.

Antivirus Performance

In AV Comparatives’ September 2018 report, ESET placed 12 out of 18, with an overall protection score of 98.5%. It did slightly better from February–June, however, scoring an average of 99.1%. It did significantly better at anti-malware tests, though, coming 3rd out of 13 in SE Labs’ July–September 2018 home anti-malware report.

(Image credit: ESET)

While the results aren’t jaw-dropping, it’s worth noting that these lab reports run antivirus programs on their default settings. If you know your way around the program, it should be possible to improve on those scores by tweaking the many settings and using some of the advanced features, like Device Control.

Security and Privacy Features

Unlike many of its competitors, ESET NOD32 has no auxiliary security and privacy features. If that’s important to you, you might want to check out some of ESET’s other, more well-rounded offerings, like its Internet Security or Smart Security Premium packages.

System Impact

System impact is where ESET NOD32 really shines. Despite being an incredibly powerful piece of software, it placed second in PassMark’s Security Products Performance Benchmarks 2019 report, only slightly behind Norton. This indicates it will have minimal performance impact, although the precise results will differ depending on your computer’s hardware and how you run the program.


There’s a learning curve when it comes to ESET NOD32’s main interface. Before you get the hang of things, it’ll probably look pretty messy, with buttons, links, sidebars, and status information all jostling for space. If you make liberal use of the Help function, though, you should be able to figure out what each of the different technical settings mean. This will go a long way towards making the interface feel more user-friendly.

The Tools menu is somewhat less intimidating, with more visual representations of running processes, logs, and other data. EST SysInspector is a feature that takes a virtual photograph of the program at any given point, highlighting the most important information. While it’s not particularly beginner-friendly either, it’s a powerful tool. 

Advanced users who are already familiar with using highly technical interfaces will appreciate just how customizable ESET NOD32 is. As a pure antivirus program, it has a lot more features than you might expect, meaning it’s well worth putting in some time to become familiar with as much of it as you can.

Installation and Support

All you need to get started with ESET NOD32 is an email address, since everybody can take advantage of a month-long free trial. The installation process itself is a breeze, with the package automatically updating itself upon installation and running an initial scan all on its own. The clearly organized installation files take up roughly 650 MB of hard disk space, and the program will only command about 100 MB of RAM while idle. 

Customer support is largely handled by an extensive knowledge base of articles on the company’s website, divided into business users, home users, and existing customers. Should the FAQs and help articles not prove helpful enough, you can also send a message directly to customer service with an in-browser form. They’re also accessible by phone from Monday–Friday, 6am–5pm PT, at 1-844-824-3738.

Bottom Line

As an antivirus program, ESET NOD32 is incredibly powerful—but it’s also incredibly focused. There aren’t any additional extras like password managers, meaning it can only do one job. It does this one job well, however, and with such a large range of customizable settings, experienced users will get a lot out of it for a very reasonable price.

The Verdict

out of 5

ESET NOD32 Antivirus Review

ESET NOD32 Antivirus can be used to protect a PC, Mac, or Linux device. Even though the user interface is a bit cluttered and it doesn’t offer any other security or privacy features, its sheer versatility makes it a respectable choice for anybody who wants to keep their system safe.

Desire worked at ITProPortal right at the beginning and was instrumental in turning it into the leading publication we all know and love today. He then moved on to be the Editor of TechRadarPro - a position he still holds - and has recently been reunited with ITProPortal since Future Publishing's acquisition of Net Communities.