Home Antivirus A Full ESET Review — Is it Still Worth Using in 2024?
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In this ESET review, we test one of the oldest antivirus company’s most popular offerings: ESET Smart Security Premium (Now ESET Home Security). We’ve tested every feature and trialed ESET’s mobile security app.

The first ESET product was launched in 1987. During its 30-year legacy, the company has developed new tools, improved its business offerings, and rebranded its product portfolio.

It’s among the most feature-packed antiviruses we’ve tested—but not every feature hits the mark. So, is ESET antivirus worth it in 2024? This is the question we’ll be answering in this review of ESET.

Pros

  • Highly customizable settings
  • Affordable multi-year, multi-device plans
  • Receives frequent updates and new features
  • VPN, password manager, and email scanner included
  • Business-grade features like network security for home users

Cons

  • Limited Mac support; no iOS or Safari support
  • Slow customer service for non-US customers
  • There’s a bit of a learning curve
In This Guide

What is ESET?

ESET is a European cybersecurity company, and is one of the largest providers of antivirus software today. It has been operating since 1992 and has a massive portfolio of both consumer and business products.

ESET Smart Security is among its most popular offerings; it’s mainly a Windows and Android antivirus with limited support for Mac.

In 2023, the ESET Smart Security antivirus lineup was rebranded as ESET Home Security Essential, Premium, and Ultimate, placing more emphasis on its ability to protect home networks and multiple devices.

In this ESET review, we’ve referred to the software as Smart Security Premium as it continues to be sold under the old brand, which remains widely popular worldwide.

ESETs’ Key Features

ESET antivirus is certified by independent lab tests done by MRG-Effitas, passing with flying colors, making it a reliable option for detecting viruses and malware on your machine.

Besides the scanner (which you can use for free on Windows and Android devices), here are some of the main features on offer with ESET Security:

1. Exploit Blocker

The most tenacious malware and viruses can evade antivirus detection. In fact, some can even deactivate your antivirus altogether, leaving your device defenseless.

To combat this, ESET offers the exploit blocker feature, which is designed to block viruses that could attack the software installed on your computer.

2. ESET’s Scanning Tools

From scanning files to its ransomware detector, ESET offers numerous scanning options, including:

2.1. Memory Scanner2.2. Download Scans2.3. Idle-State Scanning2.4. UEFI Scanner2.5. Ransomware Shield

We found this extremely useful. Sometimes, attackers apply obfuscation and/or encryption layers to hide the infection, and ordinary emulation or heuristics may overlook the threat.

We reviewed ESET’s memory scanner
In these scenarios, the memory scanner kicks in—it identifies suspicious behavior and scans threats when they reveal themselves in system memory.

The best part is that it’s a post-execution tool, meaning that after the virus has been executed, you can use ESET to run investigations and find the root cause.

Part of the ESET Smart Security antivirus protection (now under Home Security) is a web protection system that scans files as you download them.

Whether it’s an email attachment or a P2P torrent file, you’ll know if it’s infected during the download process. Not only that but files are also scanned when they’re opened.

ESET has a set of pre-built idle-state triggers that allow it to detect when your computer isn’t in use. It uses this time to run in-depth scans when a lowered performance wouldn’t make a difference.

By default, it will run only when your laptop is charging. This feature proved extremely handy in our ESET review and is undoubtedly beneficial, as many people postpone virus scans.

The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) system is part of your PC boot-up components. If viruses or malware infects your firmware, it can be extremely difficult to root out.

Luckily, ESET’s UEFI scanner identifies malicious code before it can load into your device’s memory.

This behavioral analysis feature scans your device for ransomware-like behavior. For example, if a file, process, or registry key tries to modify your data, ESET will alert you and automatically block it.

It’s worth noting that we found tools like Avast‘s ransomware shield gives you more control since you can proactively apply it to entire files and folders containing your most sensitive data.

We’d like to see similar incorporated into ESET’s ransomware settings, although this isn’t a dealbreaker by any means.

3. ESET LiveGuard

This cloud-powered scanning feature adds an extra layer of virus protection. Let’s say ESET finds a suspicious file, but it doesn’t match the signature of any known malware.

ESET sends the sample to the ESET cloud, where it’ll be further scanned and executed in a sandbox to understand its true nature.

Submitting samples to ESET LiveGuard

During our ESET review, we found the feature to be surprisingly configurable. You can define the scope of the files you want to share with the ESET cloud and how long you want them retained.

Or, you could disable it entirely. Here, ESET’s commitment to user privacy is impressive.

4. Host-Based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS)

HIPS is a defense mechanism for file-less attacks. Instead of scanning file signatures, it uses behavioral analysis coupled with network filtering to monitor running processes, files, and registry keys.

It’s an advanced tool that works from inside the operating system to find signs of a cyber attack. The best part is that you can modify the scanning rules.

Advanced HIPS options in ESET

On the downside, HIPS is only available with the Premium plan and not the basic (NOD32) antivirus package.

4.1. Script-Based Attack Protection

Script-based attacks use malicious code to trigger the execution of malware on your device. They often manifest as file-less attacks, which are difficult to detect.

ESET security stops suspicious JavaScript code from executing on your browser. It’s compatible with Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Edge.

It also detects and stops malicious PowerShell code.

5. Data Encryption

ESET lets you encrypt data on your local and removable drives to make it indecipherable to hackers. It might sound like table stakes, but it’s a surprisingly rare feature to find.

We came across two data encryption options in our ESET review

For example, Malwarebytes doesn’t have a built-in data encryption tool. In contrast, you can use ESET to encrypt data in one of two ways:

  1. You could create an entire virtual encrypted drive on your local storage or
  2. Encrypt a folder on a removable disk drive, which will then require a password to open.

6. Password Manager

We were happy to see that ESET Smart Security Premium (now included in the Home Security package) comes with a password manager, which means you don’t need to pay for one separately.

ESET's native password manager

The password manager has all the features you’d expect – browser extensions, weak password reports, Two-Factor Authentication, autofill, and a master password to secure everything.

Like most top password managers we tested in 2024, you can also import your credentials from all major browsers.

Read More:

7. Network Protection

As with scanning options, ESET also offers numerous network protection features. Here are the key ones we found during our ESET review:

7.1. Network Inspector7.2. Network Attack Prevention7.3. Out-of-Home Network

Typically reserved for business-grade antivirus solutions, we were happy to see that ESET features a user-friendly network inspection tool.

It’ll scan your router for vulnerabilities like open ports and weak passwords. It’ll also show you a full list of all the devices connected to your home network – so you can block unauthorized ones.

The network inspector feature in ESET antivirus

However, we found that you can’t configure your network using ESET. For that, you’ll have to use your router’s own specialized interface, making ESET’s network protector strictly an analysis tool.

Speaking of networks, ESET doesn’t limit itself to virus protection on your computer. It also scans your network connection for potentially harmful traffic.

You can turn the firewall on to block online apps and processes from accessing your data. It also comes with botnet protection — it essentially detects attempts to add your computer to a botnet swarm.

Botnets and DDoS are the two most common types of network-related attacks, and ESET security protects you from both.

Public Wi-Fi is a common source of virus attacks, and we were happy to see that ESET has taken stringent measures to protect devices on unknown networks.

You’ll see an alert the moment you connect, and ESET will prompt you to switch to ‘Public (untrusted)’ mode, which makes you invisible to other computers in the same network.

Configure network protection for public Wi-Fi

However, in our tests, we found that ESET sometimes throws up false positives, where computers in our home or work network will become invisible and don’t show up in a device scan.

It’s an occasional bug that you can address by manually creating a trusted zone.

8. Banking & Payment Protection

Most antivirus platforms we test protect users from fraudulent banking websites; ESET goes a step further. It opens a special ‘secure mode’ window that can’t redirect you or show you unsecured sites.

This feature supports Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, but not Safari.

We reviewed ESET's secure browser mode on Edge

You can also configure ESET to automatically open all banking and transaction-related pages in its ‘secure mode’ browser. However, we found this doesn’t work if your device has an ARM processor.

9. Anti-Phishing

ESET automatically detects fake websites – for example, amaz0n.com instead of amazon.com.

Beyond replacing characters like this (which is part of homoglyph attacks), fake news websites and spam sites from the ESET security database are also blocked.

Again, we were impressed by the level of configurability here. You can whitelist sites so they aren’t blocked by the anti-phishing filter.

You can also report phishing sites and false positives (legitimate sites flagged as phishing) to ESET and temporarily or permanently pause anti-phishing.

10. Device Control

External and removable devices can introduce malware into your system. ESET lets you control what you can do with the devices you plug in – printers, Bluetooth peripherals, flash drives, CDs/DVDs, and more.

You can set up precise rules that determine whether another user can read or write data on the external device. You can even specify the exact time period when you want these rules to kick into action.

It’s an extremely handy tool for families with shared computers, where monitoring removable device use can be difficult.

11. Antispam

We liked that ESET doubles as a powerful spam filter for our email. While there are plenty of spam blockers available (Gmail and Outlook have their own), ESET security adds another layer of protection.

It does this through both rule-based and Bayesian filtering.

12. Parental Control

We were surprised to see that ESET, despite being an antivirus company, offers parental control capabilities that can compete with some of the best dedicated parental control apps.

Turn on parental control in ESET

You can configure the device so that kids can’t access pages with harmful or inappropriate content. You can also maintain a detailed activity log of everything that was blocked.

The device has 40 predefined website categories, and over 140 subcategories of content you can block.

Importantly, the parental control settings in ESET Smart Security Premium (now Home Security) are separate from the ESET Parental Control app, a free solution to keep your family safe online.

13. Anti-Theft

Finally, ESET enforces several measures to protect your device from physical break-ins. You can use location monitoring to find a stolen device as soon as it logs into a network.

It’s even possible to use the webcam remotely, and ESET will automatically turn off auto-login and other vulnerable settings that the thief might exploit.

If you accidentally leave your device in a cafe or somewhere else, you can remotely flash a message on the screen—like your name and address—to increase the chances of retrieval.

ESET Pricing – How Much Does it Cost?

ESET Smart Security Premium antivirus (now under Home Security) costs $48.99/year to protect three devices, not including the VPN or identity theft prevention features. It provides excellent value for money for most home users.

For those interested in trying ESET security, the company offers options at every price point, ranging from free to a few thousand dollars.

It’s worth noting that ESET has products for home as well as business users; here’s a quick overview of its pricing:

ESET Home Security ( formerly Smart Security) pricing

ESET Parental Control for AndroidESET Mobile Security for AndroidESET NOD32 AntivirusESET Home Security Essential (Formerly Internet Security)ESET Home Security Premium (Formerly Smart Security Premium)ESET Home Security Ultimate

ESET’s parental control app is extremely affordable at just $24/year. While it may not be as powerful as apps like mSpy, it definitely gets the job done.

You can restrict app use and locate your child at a fraction of the cost. For comparison, most parental control solutions cost around $100/year.

ESET’s mobile antivirus – which we’ll review in detail in the next section – has both free and paid features. The antivirus is completely free, but you’ll have to upgrade for:

  • Secure transactions
  • Network security, and
  • Lost device retrieval

Prices range from $12.99/year for one device to $98.97 for three years for five devices.

NOD32 is an award-winning antivirus by ESET launched in 1987 and updated several times every year. It’s a simple, reliable virus and malware scanner for Windows and Macs.

It costs between $39.99/year for one device and $179.997 for three years for five devices.

ESET has rebranded its Smart Security products under the new name, Home Security, and Essential is the entry-level plan in this range.

It includes fast scans, secure transactions, and mobile security but not advanced features like the VPN or the password manager.

Prices start from $34.99/year for one device and go up to $146.98 for three years for five devices.

This is ESET’s most popular product and should cover most of your security needs.

Equipped with the password manager and data encryption tools but not the VPN, the Home Security Premium plan strikes a good balance between features and cost.

You’ll pay anywhere between $41.99/year for one device to $167.98 for three years for five devices.

This is the most expensive plan, starting at $125.99/year for five devices and going up to $377.98 for three years – there’s no option to protect less than five devices.

You’ll get all of ESET’s features, including $1 million identity theft insurance and an unlimited VPN.

All ESET products include a 30-day free trial, giving you plenty of time to test their features, interface, and performance.

You can protect one device by selecting the trial option when you run the installer instead of signing up for a premium plan. ESET also has a 30-day refund policy. If you’re unhappy with the product, you can request a full refund.

It’s also worth noting that customer support is available on live chat, email, and phone Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST, which might be a little inconvenient for non-US customers.

ESET’s Interface – How Easy is it to Use?

ESET Smart Security is relatively easy to use, but you might find the sheer breadth of features overwhelming. Luckily, the company’s extensive knowledge base is incredibly helpful.

ESET is also a surprisingly lightweight app. It needs just 1 GB of storage on a Windows PC and a paltry 20 MB on Android devices.

Our Thoughts on the ESET Windows Interface

We found that on Windows, it keeps updated package sizes to a minimum, so it doesn’t consume a lot of bandwidth.

On the downside, it needs Windows 10 or above to run, and it doesn’t support Windows 7.

ESET's Windows desktop interface

That said, we also found that a few features, like the system cleaner, exploit blocker, and payment protection, don’t work with ARM processors.

Overall, though, we didn’t experience any major downsides to the ESET Windows interface, and feel most will find it intuitive.

Our ESET Mac Experience

We found the ESET user interface and features on Mac a little disappointing. The download is the same as Windows, but there’s no feature parity.

For example, standard ESET Windows features like firewall, LiveGuard, safe banking, and data encryption aren’t available on Mac.

We reviewed ESET on a Mac However, while it may not be one of the best antiviruses for Mac, ESET is easy to set up and configure – making it a solid option for those with MacBooks as well as Windows PCs.

The Mobile ESET Antivirus

ESET also offers a mobile antivirus. You can download it directly from the Play Store to enjoy real-time scanning, activity logs, USB scanning, and reports—completely free.

ESET’s mobile interface is extremely smooth and a delight to use; we were impressed that you also get a 30-day trial of the Premium plan.

On the flipside, ESET Smart Security Premium doesn’t support iOS devices. So, if you’re planning to protect your Apple phones and tablets, ESET isn’t the solution for you.

Our ESET Home Analysis

The ESET HOME platform—a web-based portal where you can view all your active devices, keys, and reports—ties it all together.

Since 2023, it’s mandatory for all new users to sign up for ESET HOME. The portal is a handy way to view all your devices, get to know the software, and limit access.

Unlike the mobile experience, ESET’s primary interface—the Windows app—is more complex. It’s modern and minimalist but has more features than average desktop antiviruses.

Navigating ESET on Windows

Of course, this can make ESET a little difficult to learn. In fact, the software straddles the line between business software and a consumer-grade app.

Features like a password manager and spam filters are antivirus staples, but ESET also packs a few surprises, like anti-theft, network security, and app usage controls.

It took us a few days to get used to ESET in a Windows environment, but the wait was worth it. We were able to configure the software to our needs, and we loved how lightweight the platform is.

ESET’s Browser Extension Experience

We also tested the user interface of ESET’s browser extensions. Here, too, it only supports Chrome, Firefox, and Edge—not Safari, which is a pity.

However, once you’ve installed it, the ESET browser extension has plenty of useful features. For starters, the ‘Secure Search’ mode scans search results to tell you which links are safe.

ESET browser extension

You can turn ‘Regular Cleanup’ on to frequently clear your browser history. Similarly, ‘Metadata Cleanup’ will erase all metadata from your pictures and videos before you post them on the internet.

ESET Antivirus vs Other Top Antivirus Products

While our ESET review found that it’s one of the best antivirus solutions for 2024, we’d be remiss if we said there aren’t other options.

Here’s an overview of how it compares to leading ESET alternatives and competitors:

Antivirus Top Choice For Starting Paid Plan Top Features
ESET Technically proficient users; WFH professionals $41.99/year – Network security
– Built-in password manager
– Data encryption tool
TotalAV Web browsing security $11.99/month – Zero-day threat scanning
– Ransomware protection
– Device optimization tools
Nord Threat Protection VPN and antivirus combo $5.69/month – Data breach scanner
– Protect 10 devices at once
– 1 TB encrypted storage
Norton Ease of use and beginners $59.99/year – Advanced machine learning
– Cloud backup
– Firewall for PC and Mac
Avast PC and mobile protection $35.88/year – Great free antivirus
– Photo and app locker
– Wi-Fi tests

ESET Reviews – What Are People Saying?

ESET is very highly rated, with a rating of four or more out of five across multiple online forums.

Users who purchased ESET Smart Security on BestBuy gave the software 4.5/5; 88% also said they’d recommend it to a friend.

Customers are happy with its ability to identify and filter out malware, but some have faced difficulties in installation and setup.

Example of ESET review on Amazon

On Amazon.com, ESET reviews indicate a similar rating of 4.2/5, with several customers saying that it’s great value for money. It works quietly in the background, which is extremely convenient, but users also noted installation issues.

Example of ESET review on MicroCenter

That said, users on the PC store MicroCenter give it a staggering 4.9/5, with its comprehensive features being the standout praise.

However, some also correctly note that it’s difficult to come by a multi-device purchase option unless you buy it from the official ESET security website.

Overall, though, ESET is a safe and highly reputable company with a proven track record for protecting the data and devices of many individuals and businesses around the world.

Other Antivirus Guides to Read Next

If you aren’t sure if ESET is the best antivirus for you or simply want to know more about security solutions, check out some of our other popular resources:

Why You Can Trust Our ESET Review

Since 1999, TechReport has been committed to bringing you the latest insights from the world of technology. This includes expert reviews, roundups, and tutorials on antivirus and endpoint security.

Our reviews are 100% authored by humans based on our hands-on tests. For our ESET review, we installed the ESET Home Security Premium plan (formerly Smart Security Premium) on Windows 11.

We also tested the user interface and antivirus functionalities on Android, Mac, and browsers and referred to trusted customer review forums to ensure we hadn’t missed anything noteworthy.

This provides us with an objective understanding of how ESET antivirus works under real-world conditions. Paired with having tested other popular antiviruses, we’re better able to compare products and offer a complete overview of what you, our readers, can expect.

How to Use ESET – A Step-By-Step Guide

ESET is available in multiple formats. Depending on where you live, you might be able to get a CD version that allows for offline installation, too.

However, a simple download+activation via its website is the easiest way to get started with ESET – here are the steps you can follow:

Step 1 — Choose a Subscription

You can purchase ESET from the website or from a reseller like Amazon. Once you’re on the site, choose your subscription duration and the number of devices you want to protect.

ESET Checkout

Make a note of the email address you used to sign up – you’ll need it later to sign up for ESET HOME, a compulsory part of using the antivirus since November 2023.

Step 2 — Sign Up for an ESET Home Account

In 2023, ESET consolidated all its consumer security products and made it easier to manage through the ESET HOME portal.

So, you’ll have to sign into your ESET HOME account before you can start using the antivirus software. Go to login.eset.com/register and enter your email information.

Log into ESET HOME

Choose a secure password, select your country, and continue. Complete email verification, and you’ll be logged into the ESET HOME portal, where you’ll see the details of your active plan.

Step 3 — Download the Installer

ESET’s live installer is a .EXE file that will be downloaded to your local storage. Click ‘Protect device’ in the ‘Devices’ section of your ESET HOME portal.

You can either choose ‘Protect this device’—which is what we did for our tests—or ‘Protect another device,’ which sends the installation link to another computer.

Download the installer

Confirm your active subscription and keep clicking ‘Continue’ until you get to the ‘Download protection’ page (see above).

Step 4 — Install ESET on Your Device

Open your downloads folder and look for a file with a name similar to ‘eset_smart_security_premium_live_installer.exe;’ open the file to start the installation process.

Select your preferred language from the drop-down menu on the pop-up window and click ‘Continue.’ In the next few steps, you’ll choose which ESET settings you want, opt in/out of its feedback program, and name your device.

Choose your ESET settings It’ll also ask you for an activation code, which you can find in your account registration email, your ESET HOME portal, or on the back of your antivirus software CD.

For the sake of our tests, we visited ESET support and chose ‘Forgot activation code’. The company sent us an email containing the code in less than an hour.

Once you enter your code (which ties the device to your account), the process is complete.

Step 5 — Run Your First Scan

Once installed, a scan will start automatically. You can also start a computer scan manually from the ESET interface by clicking ‘Computer scan’ > ‘Scan your computer.’

Run your first scan

Final Thoughts

Our ESET review conclusively found that it’s one of the best antivirus solutions we’ve tested this year, especially for Windows. If you value configurability and granular options, it’s the right antivirus for you.

On the downside, ESET’s Mac version leaves a lot to be desired, and there’s no iOS support whatsoever. Further, the absence of a Safari extension means that ESET isn’t a good antivirus for Apple users.

Unlike other providers such as TotalAV, there’s no free-forever antivirus option for PCs, either. Apart from this, though, ESET is an affordable, powerful antivirus that offers great value for money.

This is especially true if you choose the multi-device, multi-year plan. It combines network security, VPN, and password management in one convenient package.

FAQs

Is ESET Smart Security good for antivirus?

What are the disadvantages of ESET antivirus?

Which is better, ESET or Norton?

How much does ESET Smart Security Antivirus cost?

The Tech Report - Editorial ProcessOur Editorial Process

The Tech Report editorial policy is centered on providing helpful, accurate content that offers real value to our readers. We only work with experienced writers who have specific knowledge in the topics they cover, including latest developments in technology, online privacy, cryptocurrencies, software, and more. Our editorial policy ensures that each topic is researched and curated by our in-house editors. We maintain rigorous journalistic standards, and every article is 100% written by real authors.

Anwesha Roy Tech Writer

Anwesha Roy Tech Writer

Anwesha is a technology journalist and content marketer based out of India. She started her career in 2016, working for global MSPs on their thought leadership and social media before branching out in 2018 with her own team. 

She writes on technology and its intersections with communication, customer experience, finance, and manufacturing and has her work published across a wide range of journals. In her downtime, she enjoys painting, cooking, and catching up with the latest in media and entertainment.

Anwesha has a Master’s degree in English literature from one of India’s top universities.

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