With clear explanations of every module and even clearer pricing, ESET Internet Security is a reliable malware protection suite. However, although its accuracy is good, rivals from Kaspersky and Microsoft are better.
- No price increase upon subscription renewal
- Good malware detection
- Excellent range of features
- Less accurate than some rivals
- Webcam protectionSpecify exactly which apps are allowed to use your webcam
- Gaming modeCeases notifications and CPU-intensive activity when a game or application runs at full screen
- Parental controlsProvides content filtering, app restrictions, time limits, activity monitoring and device location detection
ESET Internet Security is one of the more comprehensive and transparent anti-malware suites around.
Unusually for consumer antivirus, your ESET Internet Security licence will also get you ESET Cyber Security Pro for macOS and NOD32 for Linux. The latter, in particular, represents a level of cross-platform support that’s generally only found in more expensive business endpoint protection suites.
Unfortunately, the Linux version is going end-of-life in Q3 2022, which is perhaps badly timed given that Valve’s Linux-powered Steam Deck starts shipping late 2021/early 2022.
Unlike many paid-for antivirus tools, there are no unexpected price rises for renewing subscribers and auto-renewal isn’t enabled by default.
ESET’s first-year subscription fee is a little more expensive than most of its rivals’ offerings, but subsequent years are cheaper than every one of our recommend paid-for antivirus suites except Kaspersky Internet Security.
Expect an annual subscription fee of £40 for one device, £44.99 for two, £49.99 for three devices, £59.99 for five, and £85 for 10 devices.
Malware detection performance
ESET’s base antivirus has performed reasonably well in tests carried out by multiple firms. In recent trials by AV-Test, ESET’s real-world protection dipped to 99.2%, but it had a 100% protection rate the following month and in all flat-file scanning tests. It blocked 98% of malware in AV-Comparatives’ real-world tests, with no false positives, and blocked or neutralised all threats in SE Labs’ tests, with a 100% total accuracy rating.
Unfortunately, its performance in these tests wasn’t as good as Microsoft Defender, built into Windows 10 and 11, and it has a slightly higher impact on system resources in general than Defender. But if you’re buying consumer anti-malware software, you’re presumably here for the extra features, of which you’ll find plenty.
ESET is more transparent in how it works than many anti-malware suites, clearly signposting data collection and optional components. This begins at install time, when you’re asked if you want to opt in to the ESET LiveGrid system, which shares samples of suspicious objects with the company. You can also choose to opt in to the Potentially Unwanted Application detection system, which flags up software that isn’t malware – such as adware and shopping toolbars – but may nonetheless adversely affect the experience of using your PC.
ESET Internet Security includes optional parental controls, which include content filtering, app restrictions, time limits, activity monitoring and device location detection. There’s also an anti-theft tool to help locate stolen computers, if that’s all you need.
It comes with its own firewall, and it’s a good one, with a more pleasant configuration interface than Windows’ built-in option. Helpfully, ESET doesn’t automatically turn on its firewall when you install it; you’re strongly advised to set up firewall rules in the Settings menu before you enable it. I had no trouble even without tweaking it before activation, since its defaults are fairly sensible and it can import existing rules from the Windows firewall.
ESET Internet Security provides a lot of features, including a highly configurable webcam protection, a password manager, anti-phishing, banking protection and secure browsing tools.
It also offers integration with various Microsoft email clients, device control that lets you specify access permissions to your peripherals and storage devices, an interruption-free gamer mode that actives for full-screen applications, a ransomware shield to prevent important files from being altered without permission, network security analysis, and all the scheduled and on-demand malware scanning options you’re likely to need.
Should you buy it?
If you want transparent, clearly priced malware protection:
ESET Internet Security is an excellent choice if you want an antivirus with lots of features that doesn’t have nasty hiked-up renewal costs.
If you want the best value protection:
ESET’s malware detection isn’t quite as good as that of Microsoft Defender and Kaspersky Internet Security, which are respectively free and cheaper.
ESET’s product is generally reliable, unobtrusive, clearly priced and provides all the features you’d want from an anti-malware suite. Kaspersky Internet Security and our benchmark Microsoft Defender have been a little more accurate in recent tests, but this is nonetheless a solid choice if you want or need to pay for malware protection.
How we test
We use every antivirus software ourselves, so we can check out the various features.
We also use reliable websites to determine the malware detection performance, including AV-Test, AV Comparatives and SE Labs.
We download and use the software ourselves to test the included features
We use trusted and approved websites to determine the malware detection performance
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If you’re looking for lots of security and privacy-based features, then ESET is worth the money. But you can find cheaper (or even free) alternatives if you just want basic malware protection.
Yes, ESET can detect and remove malware during a scan.