In 2016, ESET Smart Security drops the version number, but the Windows anti-virus suite adds banking and payment protection.
High-quality detection engine: According to analysis by independent labs, such as AV-Test and AV-Comparatives, ESET has an extremely good detection rate and generates a low number of false positives (which happens when a program mistakenly thinks it has detected malware).
Layered configuration options: You can more or less set and forget ESET, or you can toggle individual components like email scanning and online banking protection. Or, instead of toggling, you can adjust a variety of parameters for each component. For example, you can tell the bundled software-based firewall to ignore the filtering rules set up by Windows' built-in firewall, specify how many days you want ESET to retain a log file before deleting it, or instruct the on-demand scanner to ignore email files, while telling the automated periodic scanner to examine email files.
Clearly explained settings: For the most part, ESET does a good job of explaining each setting in plain English. These explanations don't clutter up the interface, because they only appear when you hover your mouse pointer over an icon to the right of the setting.
Solid antitheft options: After you've installed Smart Security, you can create an account at anti-theft.eset.com that might help you recover a stolen computer that has your copy of Smart Security installed on it. The website has a tool that will instruct Smart Security to take a screenshot of your desktop and snap a picture using a webcam (if available), as well as track the IP addresses used by the device. Given its capabilities, the tool is more pro-recovery than antitheft, but it's easy to understand and use.
Slow download speeds: When you install ESET for the first time, it downloads the latest version of the program from the company's servers. This is normal for an antivirus app, but our download took about 20 minutes to complete, and a download of that size would ordinarily take a fraction of the time. This can be a problem when you're installing new software on multiple devices and want to monitor each one for issues. Once the program installs, it also needs to get the latest virus definitions, which takes a protracted amount of time. Ultimately, it took nearly half an hour to get Smart Security up and running, although it did automatically seek out and download definitions after it was installed.
Banking & Payment Protection didn't work smoothly: The way that ESET describes this feature makes it sound like Smart Security will automatically recognize that you are accessing a banking website and offer to load the page in a secure browser. This is the behavior that we experienced recently with Kaspersky. However, we couldn't get ESET to do the same thing. We could manually add URLs in ESET's settings, but this did not appear to trigger the desired behavior either. To open a secure browser window, we had to open ESET, click Tools, then click Banking & Payment Protection. ESET also does not explain (in the client or on its support pages) what makes this browser window secure, though we deduced that the window was running without our usual add-ons. The browser window did at least have a green border to distinguish it from the others.
Relatively pricey: The default license for Smart Security is good for only one device; at comparable prices, Norton offers five-device licenses, and McAfee Antivirus Plus can be installed on an unlimited number of devices.
Although ESET Smart Security's download speeds are slow and the banking protection tool appears to have some issues, its actual malware protection is very good. However, there are other more competitively priced alternatives that don't produce the issues that we experienced with Smart Security, making it difficult to recommend.