[Updated] ESET Smart Security 6 Review

Internet Security:
Lee
Version:
2013
ESET Smart Security 6

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4.5
On February 3, 2013
Last modified:May 26, 2013

Summary:

A pretty good internet security suite that is much improved in its RC version. Perhaps not my favourite but certainly highly recommended.

Key Benefits

  • Anti-Theft in case your laptop or netbook is stolen
  • Minimalistic and easy to use interface
  • Good protection vs. malware

ESET-Smart-Security-6

Will it run on my PC?

The minimum suggested system requirements for this program are as follows:

  • i386 (Intel 80386) or AMD64 (x86-64) processor
  • Windows XP / Vista / 7 / Home Server

Unfortunately, that is as much information that is available on ESET’s web site at the time of writing – there is no suggestion as to recommended processor speed or the amount of RAM required.

Also, I’m rather surprised that the imminent release of Windows 8 doesn’t seem to be supported.

Is it easy to install this program?

Yes, very simple indeed. During the installation process the only decision of importance that you’ll need to make is in regard to your network protection as per the image below:

installation

Obviously you’ll need to read the descriptions above and then make your own decision but, for most people, I would imagine that the ‘Home Network’ option will be the one that you will want to go with.

What is the user interface like?

I actually rather like the interface that comes with this program. Considering the fact that the vast majority of users – people who would be thinking of buying an internet security program – are not experts in the field I think it is important that such programs are easy to navigate around and simple to use. ESET certainly get that side of things right.

interface

The interface is uncluttered and kept very simple which I know a great many people will appreciate. I’ve seen too many programs which have all sorts of options on the main screen that would confuse their target audience but ESET get it about right here I think.

Everything of importance can be found via the sidebar to the left of the screen and each area is labelled in an easy to understand way.

What features does the program offer?

As a full internet security suite, Smart Security 6 offers a very large range of features. The main ones are as follows:

Anti-Theft

Even though the ‘2013’ programs are only just starting to be released around now it already seems likely that ‘anti-theft’ will be one of the new features that many of the security companies will use to market their products. I’ve already seen it from BitDefender’s new programs and I’m aware that some of the other vendors will be implementing their version too.

Thats not a bad thing though because such a feature is generally useful and will certainly add value to the majority of users’ experience.

With ESET’s anti-theft some of the things that you will be able to are:

  • Track a lost or stolen device via your account at my.eset.com
  • Use your missing laptop’s camera to video the thieves
  • Take snapshots of your missing device’s screen
  • Send a message to your missing computer

Firewall

Smart Security 6’s firewall will help prevent unauthorised users from accessing your computer and personal information.

Network Protection

If you connect to a network that is hitherto unknown then the program will tell you so right away. You will then have the option of switching over to the ‘Strict Protection mode’ which will make your machine invisible to other computers on that same network.

features

External Media Protection

This feature will protect you from, and allow you to block, removable devices such as USB sticks and external CD/DVD drives. Allows you to set various related rules depending on the type of media, etc. One nice touch here is the the ability to block unauthorised copying of your files to an external device.

Antivirus and Anti-Spyware

The most obvious and most important aspect of any internet security suite is the antivirus aspect. ESET’s Smart Security 6 will protect you from the latest threats that could otherwise cause you many headaches through damage to your machine or via the theft of your personal data.

Cloud-based Scanning

This feature is designed to improve performance by utilising whitelists of safe files that have been derived from a reputational database. Over time this should lead to quicker scans of your computer.

tools

Host-based Intrusion Protection System (HIPS)

This area lets you customise certain areas of system behaviour in order to fine-tune your security level though one recent commentator here said,

“oh BTW it’s disappointing to see ESET’s HIPs still without rules … that’s a weak spot .. however when changing it to interactive mode it does a great job, yet creating rules is a hard work… if one’s sure his computer is not infected then a learning mode would do the job just fine”

Gamer Mode

If, like me, you play games on your computer then a gamer mode is a feature you will most definitely want. There is nothing more annoying than really getting into a game only to have the ‘reality’ broken by a warning from your security suite. ESET won’t do that to you – messages and resource hungry activities are suspended when a program is run in full screen mode.

Battery-friendly

If you take your laptop or netbook away from a power source then this feature will allow for intensive tasks to be postponed thus extending your precious battery life.

Parental controls

This allows you to control the type of content available to different users of your machine based upon different profiles, i.e. child or teenager. You can use a password to protect the parental controls function itself as well as to prevent unauthorised installation of new programs.

As with any parental controls it is worth checking the settings from time to time if you have older kids just in case they know more about them than you do!

Will it keep me safe?

I believe it will, yes.

In my own testing the program performed admirably against viruses, spyware and rootkits from a variety of malicious web sites.

There is one problem though which is something that may not affect most users anyway – the application will crash if you try to restore a previously quarantined file. This is an issue that is already known to ESET so hopefully a fix will soon be out.

Overall impression

If you have read all the way down to here then you may be thinking that I am mightily impressed with ESET Smart Security 6. And in many ways I am.

I know that the majority of people who read my reviews are “average” computer and internet users rather than experts and so this program will appeal to them on many different levels. Most importantly it is effective and will keep you safe (though NO program is totally infallible all of the time). It is very, very easy to get to grips with and the interface certainly won’t scare or intimidate anyone.

But…

resource-usage

There are a couple of issues.

As mentioned earlier, there is a known issue in regard to restoring quarantined files and this really does need to be fixed as soon as possible. Also, there is no support for Windows 8 mentioned on ESET’s own site which seems very surprising indeed considering how close it is to release. Maybe its there and just not been mentioned? We’ll see..

Lastly, something that really surprised me, is the issue of system resource usage. In the past I have been impressed with ESET software because it has had such a small footprint. This year though would appear to be a step backwards. The CPU usage of 50%+ whilst running a scan (as seen above) was very typical and there was a noticeable lag when trying to multitask, especially when it came to browsing.

I’ve rated the program with these issues in mind. Should they both be fixed then I would have no reservations about rating this security suite much higher.

[Update: February 3rd 2013] Now that the final release of Smart Security 6 is out I thought it would be worthwhile taking another quick look to see if any of the issues I had have been addressed:

  • The first thing to point out is that the program now lists Windows 8 as a supported operating system.
  • CPU usage has improved with the final version hitting around 30% for most of the scan and my system appearing far more responsive whilst multitasking.
  • The quarantine issue has now been fixed.

So, with the above in mind I’ve marked the score up from the original 3.5 stars. How do you rate this security suite?

A pretty good internet security suite that is much improved in its RC version. Perhaps not my favourite but certainly highly recommended.
About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. Hahaha ^.^’ yep that was me on twitter..
    Yh I’m looking forward to read your review about F-secure, as I recall I think it impressed u in the previous version, I hope this one also does, and I think F-secure can easily take norton’s place in my list :)

    • Lee Munson says:

      Ahhhhh – remind me who you are and I’ll follow if I haven’t already.

      Yeah F-Secure has been my personal favourite, or at least amongst the top two, for a few years now. I’m hoping it is equally as impressive this year…

      As for Norton – historically, never been a fan – but have to admit the 2012 versions they put out were much better than I had expected.

      • hahaha tell me about it… for years I’ve been a “hater” of norton products, but surprisingly Norton started to changed it’s course since 4 2009 I think .. and 2012 product was impressive and really good … strange thing I noticed that even though norton 2012 topped in th AV-Comparatives “real-wrold” test back in 2011 they refused to participate in the AV-C tests in 2012 … as norton didn’t was to take the “on-demand” tests … I didn’t quite catch whats the deal was as I’m an “average” user (even though I’m addicted to security suites and virus-related news)..
        I’ll narrate some of norton’s responses regarding this
        “Symantec has long been an advocate of independent “whole product” or “real-world” tests that most closely represent the interests of consumers and utilize all of the proactive technologies provided with a product, as opposed to “static” tests that only test an individual component. Currently AV-Comparatives does not offer a subscription focused solely on these “whole product” or “real-world” types of tests. At this time, Symantec has chosen not to subscribe to AV-Comparatives’ testing program for 2012. Our philosophy is to participate in tests that have high relevance and meaning for consumers, and most accurately align with their real-world need for comprehensive protection and machine cleanup from evolving online threats. We will continue to seek out and participate in a range of tests that meet these standards to measure our products’ efficacy and performance.
        As the threat landscape has changed, our protection and repair technologies have evolved and multiplied to protect against many new threat vectors. As a result, there is a need for a broader and more comprehensive set of tests, often called “whole product” or “real-world” tests, to measure this increased coverage and emulate the consumer experience. Additionally Symantec has also strongly supports remediation or “clean-up” tests where a computer is infected then a security product is tested to see how well it can remove the infection from the a computer. ”
        I’m sorry Lee for this long comment I’m posting… as u may have noticed I like to try more than one security suite, so I keep changing from one to another , this is a bad habit I think :\ .. ryt now I’m trying Norton IS 2013 , and I have to tell u it looks amazing, and it’s easy to use and very light on my machine with to processes consuming almost 15 MB of RAM and very very light use of cpu :)
        I’ve never tried F-secure, comparing F-secure IS 2012 with Norton IS 2012 which one is better ??

        • Lee Munson says:

          My understanding with some of the tests that are run on security software is that some companies feel it is possible to ‘game’ them in order to achieve a good result. The likes of Symantec, based on what you said, plus Kaspersky appear to take issue with that as they are (presumably) not writing programs to score highly in specific testing scenarios. This is also partly the reason why in my own reviews I don’t make a big deal about the testing I do. Besides, with the odd exception, most of the programs are very, very similar in terms of malware detection and removal anyway imo.

          Comparing programs is also quite tricky too as the biggest factor always tends to be based on the actual user, i.e. what they actually do on their computer, their level of comfort with such software, age of the computer, etc.

          To answer your question though:

          In 2012 I would say BitDefender had the all round best set of home security programs. BUT, they don’t run so well on older machines and I’ve heard of a few instances of their customer service being patchy.

          F-Secure on the other hand has a few less features but is incredibly easy to use and certainly does run well on slower computers. Their customer service is also rather good too.

          Norton is marginally better than F-Secure but not quite as good as BitDefender in my opinion. That said, it costs a lot more so you’d have to decide if the extra features were worth it based on your own computer usage.

  2. Thanks for the beautiful review Lee :)
    I totally agree with u..indeed, ESET’s high resource usage was a surprise :\, since it always was known of it’s light footprints … BTW something worthy to note , I read about the restore thing in ESET’s website, but interestingly when I had the program on my laptop I didn’t have the crashing thing …
    and yeah if they make some default rules for the HIP’s it would be great, because it almost won’t do the job in these stock settings.
    meanwhile , till kaspersky, norton and ESET release their official 2013 version I settled down with a great ‘n free protection (Avast! 7 free AV + comodo firewall) which I’d really recommend for u to test :)
    P.S. in this combo you’d have to chose between comodo’s sand box and Avast’s sand box … and from what I know, comodo’s sand box is more user friendly (less notifications) and for that is more recommended for the average user
    I really appreciate that u’ve done this ESET’s test upon my request , much respect :) .. have a nice day.. and looking forward for your next reviews :D

    • Lee Munson says:

      Thanks J

      You’re not the first person to mention Avast! + Comodo (unless that was you on Twitter the other day!) so that is something I’ll be looking into at some point. I would note, however, that I have ESET AV 6 and two F-Secure reviews to do first so it may take a while to get around to.

      As for the crashing issue that was one reason why I took my time with this review as it wasn’t a totally constant thing for me either :/

      • hey lee,….
        it was me on the avast free + comodo firewall option
        i would like to inform you that eset 6 final has arrived in the markets …maybe there is a change from the rc version you used
        plz review eset 6 final as i love eset and would not leave it for norton or kaspersky or bidefender

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