Virtual keyboard; checks the cloud for updated threats.
Poor file caching and too many alerts.
Panda holds a ton of promise, and if it weren’t for a few niggling issues, we’d anoint it our favorite security suite. But there are some things that just can’t be ignored, like the same persistent pop-ups we complained about in the 2010 release. It started from the get-go with Panda reminding us that we still needed to activate the program (even though we hadn’t previously been prompted). Shortly after, another pop-up appeared imploring us to register, something that is usually optional. In this case, our choices were to go ahead and register or be reminded at a future date (one day, one week, or one month), with no option to disregard it forever. Bad Panda!
Panda does its due diligence in alerting you to potential threats, but it overreacts to your home network, at least at first. Less savvy computer users may end up inadvertently blocking file shares, thinking that the pop-up represents a real danger when in fact it doesn’t.
Panda’s new UI now includes a virtual keyboard as an added precaution against keyloggers.
Our other issue is with Panda’s pokey scan engine. Panda subjects certain files to its Collective Intelligence database in the cloud, and a company representative warned us this would slow down scanning. It did, but the real problem is with Panda’s poor file-caching algorithm, which shaved only 26 seconds off a second system sweep that wasn’t that fast to begin with.
That’s what we don’t like about Panda, but there are plenty of redeeming qualities. We were told to expect improved boot times over time, and that’s what we saw. Initially, Panda added 15 seconds to startup, but after several reboots, Panda settled down to five seconds over a clean install. We also dig the repainted UI. It’s mostly an aesthetic change from last year’s version, but still packed with features—like a home network manager, ID theft protection, remote access, and more—all thoughtfully arranged.
When we fed Panda our malware samples, it chewed them up like a real panda bear chomps on bamboo. It also zipped through AV-Test.org’s much larger collection of malware, scoring higher than the industry average in each of four virus categories. And as an added layer of protection, Panda now includes a virtual keyboard, in case you’re paranoid about keyloggers.
Panda’s not the fastest security suite, nor is it always well behaved, at least at first. But if you can overlook its flaws, it will protect your system unconditionally.
$60 (1 year, 3 PCs), www.pandasecurity.com
|Email Scanning ||Y|
|IM Scanning ||Y|
|Spyware Protection ||Y|
|Rootkit Protection ||Y|
|Scan 1 (min:sec)||7:47|
|Scan 2 (min:sec)||7:26|
|3GB File Transfer||+2|