ESET Antivirus Review 2024: Is It Any Good?

Our Score
8.0
GOOD
Ranked 12th out of 74 antiviruses
Ranked 12th out of 74 antiviruses
Tyler Cross
Tyler Cross Senior Writer
Updated on: June 10, 2024
Fact Checked by Kate Davidson
Tyler Cross
Tyler Cross
Published on: June 10, 2024 Senior Writer

ESET Review: Quick Expert Summary

ESET is a secure antivirus suite with excellent malware detection rates, but it’s not as good as the best internet security suites in 2024. ESET supports Windows, Android, and macOS operating systems. However, many of its features are only compatible with Windows and Android, making it a very basic option for Mac users — and it doesn’t offer an iOS app at all.

ESET’s virus scanner performed better than most that I’ve tested. It caught almost all of the malware samples I downloaded onto all of my test devices — including several I hid in locations that other antivirus scanners often miss.

The additional features ESET offers are pretty good, too. They include a firewall, anti-phishing tools, a network monitor, system cleanup, a VPN, advanced diagnostics tools, and a password manager. It also has some pretty advanced dark web monitoring features, but unlike with Norton, setting these up was a somewhat painful experience. What’s more, the parental controls are disappointingly basic. That said, I like the set of advanced diagnostics tools. They provide great insights for tech-savvy users.

Overall, ESET is a decent choice if you just want a great malware scanner, but if you want a full-featured security suite, there are better options on the market. However, one big positive is that ESET offers both a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out risk-free.

Overall Rank #12 out of 74 antiviruses
🔥 Firewall
🌐 VPN
(with ESET Ultimate)
🎁 Free Plan
💸 Starting Price $11.45 / year
💰 Money-Back Guarantee 30 days
💻 Operating Systems Windows, Mac, Android

Try ESET Now

ESET Full Review

ESET Full Review

ESET has a powerful anti-malware scanner, excellent diagnostics tools, and a decent range of additional features — all in an intuitive user interface.

However, ESET isn’t as good as many competitor antivirus suites available for a similar price. ESET’s parental controls, system clean-up tools, and secure browser are all inferior to top competitors such as Norton or Bitdefender.

That said, ESET scored a near-perfect malware detection rate in my tests, so if your priority is protecting your device against malware, it’s a decent option. ESET has several plans to choose from, it provides a free 30-day trial, and it offers a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.

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ESET Security Features

Malware Scanner

ESET Security Features

ESET offers a powerful malware scanner with various scanning options, plus real-time protection, to keep malware from Windows, Mac, and Android devices. It provides several scan options, all of which performed really well in my tests. The scan options include:

  • System Scan. Scans every single file on your computer, including running processes, program files, system files, and cached files.
  • Custom Scan. Scans individual files or folders.
  • Removable Device Scan. Scans flash drives, external hard drives, phones, or other removable devices.

The System Scan detected almost all of my 1,000 test malware samples, which I’d hidden on my PC and removable devices. This is really impressive, and puts ESET right up there with our top-ranked antiviruses like Norton and Bitdefender. The Custom Scan also found nearly every malware sample in the folders I specified, and the Removable Device Scan discovered all malware threats hidden on my USB drive.

All 3 of ESET’s scans were lightweight, and I didn’t notice any system slowdown during scanning. The full system scan took about 40 minutes, which is on a par with Norton. And the Custom and Removable Device scans only took a few minutes to complete.

ESET’s system scan looks at areas that most competitor antiviruses skip, including your operating memory, UEFI, system registry, and WMI Repository (Windows only) — basically, the most back-end areas of your device and its firmware. Windows and macOS already include pretty good protections for these areas, but users looking for the most comprehensive threat detection will appreciate ESET’s deep system scanning.

That said, I was disappointed that ESET doesn’t have a quick scan option. Most antiviruses offer a quick scan — McAfee even has a quick scan that can check critical locations in under 2 minutes.

It’s also not easy to schedule scans in ESET. You have to navigate through multiple windows, and it’s a pretty confusing and unintuitive process. Most premium antiviruses allow you to schedule scans in just a few clicks, and this is definitely an area that ESET could improve on.

ESET also contains a Host-based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) that constantly scans your computer for ransomware and rootkits. The HIPS was really effective in my testing. I ran a ransomware simulator, and it failed to encrypt any files before ESET blocked it. I then tried installing multiple rootkit samples, which ESET also quickly discovered and blocked.

Overall, ESET is excellent at protecting your device against malware, and its full scans are incredibly effective. However, it lacks a quick-scan option and includes a tedious scheduling process. Nonetheless, ESET provides one of the most thorough scans available from any antivirus, has near-perfect malware detection, and its real-time prevention system can block ransomware and rootkits before they cause any damage.

Browser Privacy & Security (Web Protection)

ESET Security Features

ESET offers 2 tools to protect you from web-based threats. The first functions from within the application itself to alert you to suspicious websites. It’s generally effective, but in my tests it did sometimes flag websites that were actually safe. Also, it’s clunkier than I’d like — especially when it comes to whitelisting false positives.

The second tool comes in the form of a secure browser extension. ESET Browser Privacy & Security scans websites before you can click on them, comparing them against a massive list of known suspicious sites. If it flags the website, it alerts you before you can connect. Similar to Norton and McAfee, it also adds a green tick next to safe sites on Google. I compared the results of browsing sketchy sites with a regular Edge browser versus using Edge with Browser Privacy & Security added, and I was able to connect to significanly fewer malware-ridden sites with the extension enabled.

You can also use the extension to easily manage your website permissions, clear your browser data, and remove metadata from your browser. While you can do most of that from your browser, I found ESET’s extension made it considerably more convenient. My only complaint is you need to have the ESET app installed for the extension to work. I could always access Norton Safe Search without relying on the Norton app.

ESET Security Features

Overall, ESET’s anti-phishing features are good, but a little over vigilant. They’re excellent at blocking access to dangerous websites, but adding exceptions for false positives gets annoying.

Firewall

ESET Security Features

ESET’s firewall performed really well in my tests. It successfully protected my computer by blocking and alerting me to unauthorized network activity. The firewall includes various filtering options, but to be honest, most aren’t very useful. You can choose between:

  • Automatic mode. Requires no user interaction and blocks most inbound traffic while allowing most outbound traffic.
  • Interactive mode. Allows you to choose whether to block or allow unrecognized connections.
  • Policy-based mode. Blocks all connections unless the user has created a rule allowing them.
  • Learning mode. Automatically creates and saves rules based on user activity.

Most users will just want to stick to the Automatic mode. However, ESET’s Learning mode is a great option for users that want to train the firewall on their particular network preferences: it uses machine learning to create firewall rules based on your choices, which is pretty cool (although it can be problematic for users that don’t have a strong understanding of network mechanics).

I found the Interactive mode annoying. I was constantly getting pop-ups asking whether I should allow a connection. These pop-ups were displayed above everything else on my computer and appeared at least 10 times in 10 minutes. In comparison, when Bitdefender’s firewall detects an unrecognized connection, an unobtrusive notification appears at the bottom corner of your screen, which you can safely ignore if you’re busy.

ESET also has customizable botnet protection, brute-force attack protection with customizable rules, and advanced intrusion detection options. While the firewall works great on its default settings, there are certainly plenty of aspects you can tailor to suit your needs.

Overall, ESET’s firewall performed well in my tests and is capable of protecting your computer from network attacks — but you’re best just sticking to Automatic mode.

Network Inspector (Windows only)

ESET Security Features

ESET’s Network Inspector is a handy tool, which identifies all devices currently connected to your home network and scans them for vulnerabilities. It can help you identify open ports and weak router passwords.

The Network Inspector only took a couple of minutes to scan my entire network. It showed all connected devices in a cool sonar-like view and listed ports on my router running services. It also said whether any of those services were vulnerable. Finally, the network scanner showed a notification every time a new device connected to my network — this is a useful tool to identify if others are trying to use your Wi-Fi without your permission.

ESET Security Features

However, I prefer Bitdefender’s network monitor, which allows specialized profiles that can help protect users on public Wi-Fi connections. Also, while on a public network, Bitdefender’s network monitor can prompt you to connect to its VPN for added security. ESET includes a VPN, but it only has basic security features. You can read more about the best antiviruses with a VPN here.

Overall, ESET’s Network Inspector is a simple but effective tool to monitor your home network and keep it free from vulnerabilities. However, it lacks features such as automated profiles, which would put it more in line with the competition.

Advanced Diagnostics Tools

ESET Security Features

ESET’s advanced diagnostics tools are its biggest standout feature — they offer a variety of ways to monitor and troubleshoot your Windows PC. The macOS version also includes a few diagnostics tools (but only the more basic ones).

ESET’s advanced diagnostics tools include:

  • Running Processes.
  • Security Report.
  • Log Files.
  • Network Connections.
  • ESET SysInspector.
  • Network Inspector.
  • Scheduler.
  • Quarantine (view quarantined files).

The Running Processes feature is my favorite, but it’s not perfect. It cross-references running programs on your PC with applications listed on ESET’s cloud database, fetching the following information about them:

  • A reputation score (how dangerous the process is).
  • The number of ESET users with the same process running on their computer.
  • The date the running process was first listed on ESET’s cloud network.

Advanced users will find these insights helpful for identifying risks on their systems. However, Running Processes also gave some safe (but lesser-known) apps on my system unsafe ratings — this inconsistency means that Running Processes can’t be fully relied upon, especially by less tech-savvy users who aren’t able to identify processes on their own.

ESET Security Features

I don’t like the Security Report feature — it simply lists the number of applications, web pages, and objects ESET has scanned on your PC, and the number of infections found and removed. Honestly, it’s pretty useless and seems to exist just so ESET can show you that it’s a good product.

Log Files, on the other hand, is a useful and searchable database where you can see every activity ESET has performed on your device. Rather than just a number, it includes a list of all malware detections on your PC alongside their threat names, filtered websites, and more. It also allows you to export .XML files of specific logs, which can be helpful for trying to get tech support online.

The Scheduler tool helps manage automatic tasks such as log maintenance, automatic malware scans, startup tasks, and more. I liked how easy it was to create a new task and set how often it triggered and that it was convenient to edit the pre-made tasks it starts with.

ESET Security Features

I really like ESET’s SysInspector tool, which details every single file, driver, scheduled task, network connection, and registry entry in your system. When I tested it, it only took a few minutes to make and save a full report. It’s a really useful feature that you can use to troubleshoot computer issues, and it’s available free as a standalone tool.

I also love the Network Connections feature, which shows all programs on your device with an active network connection. If your internet is running slowly, you can discover which application uses the most bandwidth and deactivate it.

Finally, ESET SysRescue Live can create a rescue disk, which will scan for malware without booting Windows. While Windows already has a decent boot-rescue feature, I’m impressed that ESET offers this additional recovery option for heavily compromised devices, and it’s also available as a free download.

Overall, ESET’s advanced diagnostics tools are among the best out there, and something not many antivirus competitors offer. They make ESET a great option for any advanced users looking to get a closer look at their computer’s inner workings.

System Cleaner (Windows only)

ESET’s System Cleaner is a very basic tool — it doesn’t provide most of the helpful optimization features that competing antiviruses’ system tuneup programs include. System Cleaner can reset Windows settings to default, return you to a previously created system restore point, or reset your wallpaper, but that’s it.

ESET Security Features

All of ESET’s system cleanup features are already available in Windows — the System Cleaner just collates them into one easy-to-find location. Many other competitor antiviruses, such as Norton 360, Avira, and TotalAV include a wide range of tools to help clean up your devices and improve performance, such as scanning for junk files, clearing out your temporary folders, identifying duplicates, and removing unused apps. If you’re in the market for a fully-featured system clean-up tool, you should check out the best PC cleanup and system optimization tools in 2024.

Given how basic it is, I don’t think many people will use System Cleaner. If you’re looking for an antivirus with good system optimization features, there are much better options out there. However, advanced users may appreciate how ESET enables them to restore Windows settings and clear their registry quickly.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

ESET’s VPN is pretty good, but it could use improvement. Honestly, my feelings about it are pretty mixed. On the one hand, it has good speeds and lots of servers. But while it does have some interesting advanced features, it’s also missing some rather basic ones.

In terms of features, ESET’s VPN comes with the following:

  • 256-bit AES encryption. All data is protected behind unbreakable encryption.
  • DNS leak protection. Prevents your real IP address from leaking.
  • P2P file sharing. ESET’s VPN supports smooth torrenting.
  • Split-tunneling. Lets you choose which apps use the VPN.
  • Kill switch. Automatically drops your internet connection if ever the VPN fails, preventing your real IP from being leaked.
  • Multiple connection protocols. Choose between the WireGuard, IKEv2, UDP, TCP, Stealth, and WStunnel protocols.

ESET Security Features

I was happy to see that ESET’s VPN operates under privacy-friendly logging policies. It only stores the data needed for paying customers to connect. No information about your actual IP address or the sites you visit are stored on ESET’s servers.

That said, I’d like to see ESET undergo regular audits to prove the robustness of its no-logs policies. RAM-only servers, which wipe all data every time they are reset, would be a great addition as well. This could make ESET more competitive with standalone products like ExpressVPN.

Also, while the kill switch performed well after establishing a connection, I experienced an issue when initially connecting to a new server. The VPN indicated that a connection had been established, but I discovered my IP was leaking after connecting. I connected to different servers over 100 times and this only happened twice, but it’s still concerning. I recommend checking your IP independently as soon as you connect, just to be sure.

Despite this, my colleagues and I enjoyed good speeds while testing ESET’s VPN. I tested a number of servers and was able to browse the web and stream without major interruptions. On distant servers, HD videos took a few seconds to load, but that’s hardly unusual. I first ran speed tests without a VPN, then connected to a local server, and then connected to a server in Serbia. There are the results:

ESET Security Features

My download speeds went down by about 20% while connected to a local server and 50% when connecting to a server in Serbia. Even on distant servers, my ping never got above 200, which is pretty good (though not ideal for online gaming).

ESET’s VPN fully supports torrenting on all servers (though a few have a tag next to them saying that file sharing is frowned upon). I had no issues with P2P file sharing, downloading a 1 GB file in under 10 minutes while connected to a local server.

I was pretty impressed with ESET’s server selection. You get access to servers in 65+ countries. Included in that number are several countries that many VPNs (including some of the best) don’t cover, like Bosnia, Kenya, Cambodia, and Azerbaijan. There’s even a virtual server for Antarctica. Most countries have servers in multiple locations (there are servers in 24 different US cities), which is great. ESET also displays server load next to each server, making it easy to find a server where your speeds won’t be reduced by other users connecting. This isn’t turned on by default, however.

ESET Security Features

I did encounter some oddities while testing ESET’s many servers, however. When I connected to 1 of the 4 servers that are supposedly in Seattle, my IP address was actually associated with Ontario, Canada. Similarly, one of the Dallas servers gave me a Virginia address.

Streaming support is rather mixed. ESET’s VPN can reliably access Netflix, but its support for other services, like Amazon Prime Video, Max, and Paramount+, is inconsistent.

While I’m very pleased that ESET has added a VPN to its antivirus package, the tool itself could certainly be improved. It’s fast, has a good range of servers, and nice customization options, but it’s lacking essential features like a kill switch and a transparent logging policy. Only subscribers to the Ultimate plan will get access to ESET’s VPN.

Anti-Theft Protections (Windows & Android only)

ESET Security Features

ESET’s anti-theft protection offers tools for Windows and Android users, helping them to track and secure their lost or stolen devices. Here’s what you can do with ESET’s anti-theft tools:

  • Messages. Send a message to a lost device.
  • Remote screen capture/camera access. See what’s happening on a lost or stolen laptop/phone from any device with an internet connection.
  • Phantom account (Windows). Forces thieves into a fake account that keeps them from accessing sensitive files.
  • Auto-lock (Android). Set your device to lock automatically if the SIM is removed or after a certain number of unsuccessful unlock attempts.
  • Browsing history and IP address. See what thieves are searching for and track your device’s location.
  • Run a test to make sure the tools are working properly.
  • View an overall optimization score.

I really like that ESET offers anti-theft features for computers (which most competitors don’t do). I logged into the anti-theft dashboard from my mobile phone and marked my computer as missing. ESET then reset my computer and forced it into a phantom account, which made it impossible to access the files on my computer. It also allowed the computer to receive and display messages sent from my phone.

ESET Security Features

ESET also regularly took webcam photos and screenshotted my screen, placing these photos and screenshots on ESET’s online anti-theft dashboard, which was accessible from any internet-connected device.

I only have one complaint about the phantom account — I was still able to access the internet and download files. This means there’s nothing stopping thieves from downloading and installing files like rootkits, which can be used to hack into your files.

Overall, the anti-theft protections are very useful for laptops and mobiles. They let you completely lock down a stolen device and send messages to it while tracking its location and taking pictures of the user, all of which will be extremely useful if you ever have your device stolen. It’s just a shame there are no anti-theft protections for Mac users.

Identity Monitoring

ESET’s identity monitoring tools help you ensure your sensitive information hasn’t been leaked. Alongside basic dark web monitoring, it comes with a decent range of features. Fundamentally, it’s a strong feature, but the execution was poor in my experience.

You have to set up a second account unique to the identity monitoring feature. Setting up my identity monitoring account should have been simple, but it ended up being a bit of a hassle.

I encountered an error code that told me my information didn’t match ESET’s files. When I gave correct info, it said it was wrong, when I gave incorrect info, it gave me an internal error message. As a skilled cybersecurity professional, I developed an expert solution: close the browser for an hour and try again. It worked perfectly.

ESET Security Features

Once I got it set up, it had an intuitive interface that was easy to navigate. You create an identity vault with an unlimited amount of information you want to be monitored, including your address, phone number, full name, social media accounts, gamer tags, and more.

For example, I set it up to watch my Facebook account, phone number, and home address. If it finds any of your information online, it immediately alerts you via email and provides tools to fix the problem through its Action Plan menu.

You can also view an overall security score that’s affected by data breaches, targeted scams, fraudulent activity, and more. It can be useful for getting a general idea of how safe you are, but it isn’t very detailed. I’d like to see exactly what is lowering my score and by how much.

US customers get a slew of extra features. If you’re in the US you get up to $1 million in identity theft insurance. It may not be as much as Bitdefender, which offers up to $2 million, but it’s better than what most antiviruses offer. US customers also get social media, credit, and social security monitoring, plus 24/7 advanced customer support for help with identity theft-related problems.

Parental Controls

ESET Security Features

ESET’s parental controls are pretty basic and don’t work too well. That said, it’s still a decently effective tool that lets you set screen time limits, enable geofencing, and track device locations.

ESET’s parental controls can block your child’s access to certain websites — including adult, alcohol, tobacco, and even sex education websites — based on your child’s birthdate. In the options, you can adjust the categories and manually create exceptions.

However, the content filtering doesn’t work that well. I turned on the parental controls and entered a fake birthdate so that the screening would filter content for a 9-year-old. However, I was still able to look up terms like “violence” and “sex” on YouTube. The parental controls also failed to filter Google Image searches.

ESET Security Features

Overall, ESET’s parental controls aren’t very effective. The parental controls from top competitors like Norton and Bitdefender perform far better when it comes to protecting kids from harmful content online. If you’re looking for an antivirus with good parental controls, I’d recommend Norton, which has some of the best parental controls on the market.

Password Manager

ESET’s password manager is decent but fairly basic. It’s available across all main operating systems, and as a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Edge and Safari, and it secures your passwords using 256-bit encryption (the industry standard). Its features include:

  • Multi-device sync.
  • Auto-save and auto-fill.
  • Leaked password check.
  • Password generator.
  • Secure notes.
  • Secure online sessions.
  • Credit card and identities storage.
  • Basic 2FA.

With ESET, you can add an unlimited number of logins, notes, credit cards, and identities. The process to do this is pretty straightforward, and if you want to import multiple logins from another password manager or from your browser, you can do this with a .csv file.

However, I found the identity template to be pretty basic — the fields only include standard info like address, email, and phone number. There are no more advanced templates for driver’s license, passport etc like you get with RoboForm, and no custom fields either.

ESET Security Features

I was pretty impressed with ESET’s auto-fill and auto-save capabilities — it auto-filled my details on a variety of sites with no issues and offered to save my login details whenever I visited a new site.

However, I found ESET’s password generator to be pretty average. It has a limit of 32 characters, which isn’t very high, and it doesn’t generate passphrases (in comparison, Bitwarden generates passwords of up to 128 characters and can generate passphrases, too). It’s cool how it includes an ‘easy to type’ option, but many competitors include ‘easy to say’ and ‘easy to read’ options, which are arguably more useful. Either way, the password generator works to generate secure passwords, albeit without much room for customization.

ESET Security Features

ESET’s password manager does offer two-factor authentication (2FA), but there’s only 1 option (a code sent to your phone). It also offers biometric logins for mobile, which is handy.

Secure Me lets you keep your online information private by wiping it on command for you. Just click on the device you want to be secured, and you can clear out your download history, browser history, current tabs, and cookies, plus it automatically logs you out of all websites. I think it’s a really cool feature to include in a password manager. That said, I have to admit the utility is fairly limited.

You can do a leaked password check with ESET Password Manager. When I entered a login I knew had been breached, it correctly identified the issue. However, beyond that it didn’t give me any details on the breach or a link to change my password, which was a bit disappointing. Also, unlike Avira Password Manager, it doesn’t give you an overall password security score.

Overall, ESET Password Manager isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. If you’re looking for an antivirus with a more full-featured password manager, I recommend checking out our list of the best antiviruses with password managers in 2024.

Additional Features

ESET’s Windows plans come with quite a few additional features, including:

  • Gamer mode.
  • Device control.
  • Webcam protection.
  • Banking & Payment Protection secure browser.
  • Secure Data.
  • Spam filter.

ESET’s gamer mode is pretty basic, but still useful — it automatically suspends scans and notifications when using full-screen programs, so you can play games or watch movies with zero interruptions. However, there are better antiviruses for gaming, like Norton.

Secure Data is the device control feature that allows you to prevent certain users from accessing data on USB devices, CD/DVD drives, SD card readers, and more. Unfortunately, it’s pretty frustrating to set up (it took me about 10 minutes to figure out how to lock my test account from accessing an external hard drive). However, once it’s set up, it works well.

ESET Security Features

The webcam protection feature is useful — it asks you for permission every time an app or website tries to access your webcam. Norton and McAfee have similar tools — although they also provide microphone protection, which ESET doesn’t.

I wasn’t very impressed with ESET’s secure browser (Banking & Payment Protection) or its spam filters either. The secure browser encrypts your keystrokes but doesn’t protect you from screen loggers. Meanwhile, the spam filter felt unnecessary. It also only works on Microsoft Outlook and Windows Mail, which already have good spam filters.

Overall, ESET’s additional features are okay at best. They’re good features to have, but they’re far more basic versions than those available in most other top antivirus packages.

ESET Plans & Pricing

ESET has 3 main pricing plans that are categorized under Essential, Premium, and Ultimate. ESET doesn’t divide it’s plans by operating system. At check-out, you get to choose how many licenses you want (there’s an incremental increase in price with every additional license). As you activate your licenses, you get to pick out which devices you want to cover. This can be a bit of a problem as a Mac user could subscribe to Ultimate only to discover that most features that only come with Ultimate aren’t available on Macs.

You can cover between 1 and 25 devices on the Essential and Premium plans. With Ultimate, you unfortunately have to pay for at least 5 devices. All plans let you choose whether you want to be protected for 1, 2, or 3 years. Naturally, there’s a bit of a discount for longer subscription terms.

ESET’s Premium plan has the best balance of security features and value. On top of all Essential features, you get the password manager. Basically, it’s a mid-range plan but it’s more expensive than TotalAV’s mid-range Internet Security plan, which includes a VPN, excellent tune-up tools, and coverage for up to 5 devices.

Note: Depending on location, ESET’s plans may include different names, features, and subscription duration.

Here’s a quick overview of ESET’s plans:

Essential Premium Ultimate ESET Mobile Security
Platforms Windows, Mac, Android Windows, Mac, Android Windows, Mac, Android Android
Number of devices 1–25 1–25 5–25 1–10
Price $38.21 / year $50.95 / year $102.54 / year $11.45 / year
Malware scanning & removal
Real-time protection
Anti-phishing
Ransomware protection
Gaming mode
Secure browser
Password manager
VPN
Firewall
Webcam protection
Parental controls
Anti-theft tools
Secure data

ESET Essential — Most Basic Plan With a Few Interesting Extras

Essential is ESET’s most basic antivirus package, offering:

  • Anti-malware scanner.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • Anti-theft tools.
  • Ransomware detection.
  • Gaming mode.
  • System cleaner.
  • Firewall.
  • Secure browser.
  • Webcam protection.

The Mac version doesn’t include ransomware protection or gamer mode — it only has the malware scanner and anti-phishing protection.

Starting at $38.21 / year, Essential is good for individual users looking for a very simple, low-cost antivirus, but other competitors like Avira provide much more in their basic packages.

ESET Premium — Decent Plan With Good Diagnostics Tools

ESET’s Premium offers a good variety of features for $50.95 / year, but it’s more expensive than some other competitors that provide more (and better) features and similar malware detection capabilities (like TotalAV).

As well as the features in the Essential package, ESET Premium has:

  • Antispam.
  • Parental controls.
  • Password manager.
  • Advanced diagnostics tools.

The Mac version only has a few of these: web and email scanning, a password manager, and a limited selection of diagnostics tools. Given this limited range of features, the Mac version really isn’t great. If you’re mainly looking for protection for your Mac, you’re far better off going for a Mac-focused product like Intego.

The password manager works well but lacks features. It doesn’t have password sharing, emergency access, or any of the other more advanced and useful features that the best standalone password managers offer.

ESET’s Windows version of Premium is more worthwhile, but a number of the features aren’t that good — the parental controls really aren’t very good. However, the anti-malware engine, web protection, network security tools, and advanced diagnostics tools make this a decent antivirus program, especially for more advanced users.

ESET Ultimate — Highest-Tier, Windows-Only Plan

ESET Ultimate is only available for Windows. Although ESET’s website states that this package is also compatible with Mac and Android, it isn’t really. The extra features in this plan are only compatible with Windows devices, with one exception. The unlimited-data VPN is offered in the Mac version of Ultimate.

Ultimate starts at $102.54 / year and includes everything from the Premium package, plus 2 main extra features: a VPN and Identity Protection (dark web monitoring). You also get a quality-of-life upgrade in the form of the ability to block website notifications and a metadata cleanup tool, but neither of these are all that useful.

The VPN is pretty good in terms of speed, server diversity, and flexibility of settings. I’m also a fan of the no-logs policy. Still, I did get a bit of a fright when the VPN said I was connected but my own tests indicated otherwise. It’s also not ideal for streaming, but depending on what you’re looking for in a VPN, it might be all that you need.

Overall, I think Ultimate is a bit overpriced when you look at the feature profile. Users looking for a premium antivirus suite should check out Norton 360 or Bitdefender.

ESET Ease of Use & Setup

How to Install ESET (Just 3 Simple Steps):

  • Download ESET from the company’s website. You can download the Essential and Premium versions without providing payment info, but you’ll need to have a card handy to try ESET Ultimate.
  • Create an account. ESET will prompt you to create an account once the program is installed. If you chose ESET Essential or Premium, you’ll automatically be enrolled in a 30-day free trial after installation.
  • Install the program. Open the .exe file to install the software. When it’s done, click Try for free to begin the free trial.

ESET is very simple to navigate, but some of its features are difficult to use or understand. Its user interface is laid out simply, with features listed in a menu on the left — simply select a feature and it’s displayed in the middle of the dashboard.

ESET Ease of Use & Setup

However, not all features are clearly explained or intuitive to use, and a lot of things take far longer to set up than they need to.

For example, ESET’s real-time protection is set to run automatically, but there are various options for customization — and honestly, the customization process is crazy. To do something as simple as schedule scans, I had to go through 15 rather confusing steps. It’s a lot for a simple scheduling task, especially when competitors like Avira allow you to schedule scans in just a few clicks.

Overall, ESET is a reliable antivirus, but some of its features are annoying to set up, and a lot of less tech-savvy users will have a hard time understanding its more advanced features.

ESET Mobile App

ESET Mobile App

ESET’s mobile app is really good, but it’s only available for Android. It comes under another plan name, Mobile Security — which can be bought completely independently or as an “extra device” add-on to your main plan.

Mobile Security has a lot of ESET’s key features and some mobile-only ones. It offers:

  • Malware scanner.
  • Anti-phishing protection.
  • App lock.
  • Payment protection.
  • Wi-Fi security.
  • Anti-theft protection.
  • Call filter.
  • Security audit/report.

The malware scanner detected and blocked 100% of the malware samples I installed on my phone, including ransomware and spyware.

I was also really impressed with the anti-theft tools — once I had them set up I was able to log into the online anti-theft dashboard from my computer and locate my phone in minutes. What’s more, if your phone is stolen, ESET allows you to remotely wipe your data and sound a super loud siren. You can also set your phone to lock automatically if the SIM is removed, or after a certain number of unsuccessful unlock attempts. This is a pretty comprehensive set of anti-theft protections.

ESET Mobile Security showed me important device settings and permissions and alerted me via a push notification to any issues with them, as well as analyzing apps for sketchy behavior.

I also really like how ESET’s call filter lets you block unknown numbers, and even manually block specific numbers. While many mobile phones can do this by default, ESET makes finding these settings easy.

Overall, ESET’s mobile app is good — however, it lacks several features that make competitor apps like Norton a better choice (such as an SMS spam filter). I also don’t like the fact that you need a separate app for the VPN. ESET also completely lacks iOS support (outside of the password manager) — click here to see our top iOS antiviruses in 2024. Still, ESET’s mobile app is a decent low-cost option for Android protection.

ESET Customer Support

ESET Customer Support

ESET offers a decent variety of customer support options, encompassing email support and live chat. But these support channels are somewhat buried on ESET’s website, making them a bit tricky to locate or use. Plus, support options vary by market — for instance, live chat isn’t available in the UK.

ESET also offers phone support for business users in the US and Canada. The phone support was helpful in my tests, but it’s disappointing that ESET doesn’t offer its phone support for home users. Many competitors, including Norton and Bitdefender, offer phone support for home users.

ESET also has a comprehensive knowledge base that includes:

  • Product guides.
  • Troubleshooting guides.
  • YouTube videos.
  • Forums.

I was really impressed by ESET’s knowledge base. The product guides are detailed and informative, and they’re available in a wide variety of languages including English, German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean, Dutch, and more.

ESET’s forums have an active and engaged community. My post received an insightful reply from an expert user within hours. I also like its YouTube channel, which includes a lot of videos that explain how many of ESET’s features work.

However, I was less impressed with ESET’s email support. When I sent an email, my inquiry was met with a reply that ESET had clearly copied and pasted (and it didn’t really answer my question). I sent it after business hours and received my reply early the following day. This is a pretty good response time, but I would have liked my email to get a more personal and more helpful response.

My interaction with the live chat team was positive. They assisted me with numerous inquiries and even guided me through the process of removing the software — a task many users find challenging. Unfortunately, the live chat only operates from 6 am to 5 pm Pacific Time and is not accessible in all regions.

ESET Customer Support

Overall, ESET’s customer service is pretty good. It offers live chat and email support, and I found the live chat representatives well-informed. I also really like the comprehensive knowledge base, which helped me find answers to most of my questions. However, I’d like ESET to provide phone support for non-business users, offer longer live chat operating hours, and make it easier to find all the available contact points.

Is ESET Worth Trying in 2024?

ESET is a pretty good antivirus program, but it’s not as good as many of its competitors. Antivirus suites like Norton, TotalAV, and Bitdefender provide equally good malware protection, plus a wider and more useful range of additional features — including better parental controls and decent clean-up tools — all for a similar price.

Honestly, most of ESET’s extra features are lacking. Its parental controls allowed me to access violent content on YouTube. If you want a feature-packed antivirus that provides a great value, you should check out our top 10 best antivirus list. The exception to this is are the advanced diagnostic tools, which I found to be quite good.

However, ESET is a decent option if you’re mainly in the market for a powerful anti-malware scanner and want access to some excellent advanced diagnostics tools. The antivirus engine is one of the best on the market — scoring a near-perfect protection rating against all types of malware in my tests — and the diagnostics tools are more advanced than anything offered by most of ESET’s competitors, allowing you to thoroughly troubleshoot your PC for problems.

ESET offers a range of plans, but the best deal is Premium, the middle-tier plan. It provides a decent variety of security features for a reasonably good value. There’s also a 30-day free trial, followed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so it’s definitely worth a try if you want to test it out and see if it works for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is ESET the best antivirus?

No, ESET is not the best antivirus on the market in 2024. I can’t really fault its malware detection, which is pretty great, but when it comes to additional security features, ESET is definitely lacking compared to top brands like Norton. What’s more, ESET doesn’t support iOS, so if you’re looking for protection for your iPhone, you should check out our top iOS antiviruses instead.

Is ESET safe?

Yes. ESET is one of the safest anti-malware engines on the market today, offering various powerful antivirus tools to keep users from getting hacked. The virus scanner uses advanced heuristics and machine learning to detect encrypted malware and zero-day threats. ESET also includes a Host-based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS), which blocks files based on suspicious behavior.

Is ESET free?

No. ESET doesn’t offer a free version — although there honestly aren’t very many free antivirus programs that I would recommend. When it comes to protecting essential devices like phones and computers, investing a little cash to get the best protection possible makes sense (but if you’re dead-set on finding a free antivirus, Avira Free Internet Security is my favorite).

Overall though, it’s smarter to go with a high-quality premium antivirus. Also, ESET offers a free 30-day trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee on all its plans, so you can try it out for free.

Does ESET work with Windows 11?

Yes, ESET works with Windows 11. You can also use ESET if you’re running Windows 10, Windows 8 or 8.1, or Windows 7 SP1. For Mac, ESET Essential, Premium, and Ultimate are compatible with Sierra (macOS 10.12) or later, and the Mobile Security app can be used on Android 5 or later.

Which ESET plan is best for me?

ESET Premium is the best value plan for Windows users. It includes a good variety of features for a decent price, including a password manager and data encryption tool.

ESET Essential is the cheapest plan — it only includes basic features like the anti-malware engine and firewall, which makes it a good choice for anybody that wants a secure antivirus scanner and nothing more, at a good price.

ESET’s top-tier plan, Ultimate, doesn’t really offer enough extras to warrant an upgrade. I like the dark web monitoring tools and the unlimited VPN, but neither of these are as good as the equivalent features offered by Norton.

If you’re a Mac user, honestly there are better options elsewhere. I’d recommend Intego, which is designed specifically for Macs.

ESET Products & Pricing

Essential Security ESET NOD32 Antivirus
$38.21 / year
Premium Security ESET Smart Security Premium
$50.95 / year
Free Trial
Advanced Security ESET Internet Security
$102.54 / year
Free Trial
Bottom Line

ESET has one of the best anti-malware scanners I’ve used, but its additional features aren’t great. In addition to performing perfectly in terms of malware detection, ESET’s main advantage is that it has a lot of advanced diagnostics tools — which are excellent, but most home users won’t get much use out of them. The rest of ESET’s extra features are okay at best and don’t stand up against other top antivirus suites on the market, like Norton. Ultimately, ESET is a good choice for anybody looking for a streamlined but highly reliable antivirus engine (and for more technical users wanting advanced diagnostics tools), but if you’re after a full-featured internet security suite, there are better options available.

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About the Author
Tyler Cross
Tyler Cross
Senior Writer

About the Author

Tyler is a writer at SafetyDetectives with a passion for researching all things tech and cybersecurity. Prior to joining the SafetyDetectives team, he worked with cybersecurity products hands-on for more than five years, including password managers, antiviruses, and VPNs and learned everything about their use cases and function. When he isn't working as a "SafetyDetective", he enjoys studying history, researching investment opportunities, writing novels, and playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends."

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ESET User Reviews

*User reviews are not verified

150 36
Based on 186 reviews in 27 languages 8.3
Language
You can trust the Community! Companies can't ask us to delete or change user reviews.
Marko
Marko
Croatia
10.0
Izuzetan proivod!
Windows User
Lagan i efektivan antivirus.Mnogo značajki koje mogu biti podešene upravo po volji korisnika.Vrlo visok nivo detekcije, odličan antiphishing modul, snažan antimalware.Preporučujem baš svakome :)
Dave Gann
Dave Gann
United States
2.0
ESET Customer Service - Linux AV NOD32
Windows User
I had a trial version of Eset AV for Linux. I purchased the product but was never sent the password, just the username. Repeated "chat" attempts could not resolve the issue and every time I requested the password, Eset would send the trial username & password and then send just the username, no password, for the purchased license. What kind of mental defects work there?
Giorgos
Giorgos
Greece
1.0
Doesn't Update the Modules
Windows User
Is not possible to Update the Modules, i try so many times but NOTHING...
Chaz
Chaz
Ukraine
10.0
Heel goed
Mac User
Het is echt een heel goed antivirusprogramma. Het heeft volgens diverse tests een goede detectie en werkt heel discreet op de achtergrond. Ik kan het alleen maar aanraden.
Chaz
Chaz
Ukraine
10.0
좋은
Mac User
실지로 정말 좋은 바이러스 백신 프로그램입니다. 여러 테스트에 따르면, 프로그램은 탐지 기능이 좋으며 백그라운드에서 매우 조용히 작동합니다. 저의 유일한 권고입니다.
Chaz
Chaz
Ukraine
10.0
Vrlo dobro
Mac User
Zaista je odličan antivirus. Razni testovi pokazuju da ima dobru detekciju i da radi diskretno u pozadini. Mogu samo da preporučim.
Chaz
Chaz
Ukraine
10.0
非常好
Mac User
这真的是一款非常不错的计算机防病毒软件。通过了病毒测试检测,检测率高并且在后台运行非常稳定。我仅推荐这款。
Chaz
Chaz
Ukraine
10.0
Docela dobře
Mac User
Je to opravdu dobrý antivirový program. Podle různých testů má dobrou detekci a pracuje velmi diskrétně na pozadí. Mohu jen doporučit.
Chaz
Chaz
Ukraine
10.0
かなり良い
Mac User
これは本当に非常に優れたアンチウィルス プログラムです。様々なテストによると、良い検出でバックグラウンドで気が付かないように作動します。お勧めします。
Rob
Rob
United States
10.0
The program always ...
Windows User
The program always, but unobtrusively, keeps an eye on my computer and my data. When my attention is needed, I get a gentle nudge and information what I need to do. I like it, trust it, and will recommend it to others, including my family.
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