Maximum PC Staff Apr 15, 2010

ESET Smart Security 4

At A Glance

The Good

Adds fewer seconds to boot time than Norton. Didn't allow us to unleash malware.

The Bad

Lacks parental controls and identity protection.

This newest version brings more of the same, and we're OK with that

Like Norton, ESET Smart Security walked away with a Kick Ass award in last year’s roundup, so we were eager to see how the two security suites would compare when pitted against each other in our second annual AV battle royal.

Through the first few rounds of testing, it was near impossible to declare a winner. Both apps remained light on their feet by barely sipping system resources before the two began trading blows. ESET won a round by adding six fewer seconds than Norton did to our system boot time (+14 seconds versus +20 seconds, respectively), but Norton’s a more polished fighter. What do we mean?

Enable the Advanced mode to gain access to things like the Task Scheduler and information about quarantined files.

ESET lacks a few features found in Norton, including identity protection and parental controls. And while ESET managed to scan our test bed in a little less than eight minutes, which is half the time it took Norton during its first run, ESET doesn’t skip over trusted files to reduce subsequent sweeps, so it’s not nearly as fast in the long run.

But just when it looked like Norton might squeak out a victory, ESET threw an uppercut from which Norton never recovered. Unlike its rival, we weren’t able to dupe ESET into letting us turn our test bed into a haven for pop-ups. We tried the same tactic that stymied Norton—disabling the AV software just long enough to download an archive brimming with malware—but ESET stopped us dead in our tracks before we could unleash a flurry of trouble onto our hard drive. Bravo!

There really isn’t much to fault in ESET. Not a whole lot has changed since last year’s version, and in this case, that’s not a bad thing. Experienced users will still find a plethora of options in the advanced menu, and malware still stands little chance of running amok.

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ESET Smart Security 4

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