The latest in my series of reviews of free 2012 antivirus programs is for Panda Cloud Antivirus (version 1.5.1)
To get started you will need to visit the download page for Panda Cloud Antivirus. Here you will need to choose between the free and pro versions of the software (the free version is for home/non-profit users). When the program first starts to install you’ll see a grey box like the one below. If you click on the options button (bottom left) you’ll see this screen where you can disable the installation of the Toolbar and the setting of Yahoo as your home page. Unless, of course, that is your heart’s desire.
Downloading and installing the program is quick, taking about 90 seconds with my internet connection.
- 1. Quick protection against new threats through the cloud component
- 2. Resource usage issues much improved over previous versions
- 3. Good detection rate
- 4. Excellent support community
- 1. Malware cleanup with the sample I used could have been a little better
Installation and first impression
I began installing Panda Cloud Antivirus with some reticence - I’ve always liked Panda’s paid security solutions – but their cloud AV has never run at all well on any of my systems. Today I’m wondering if I will see a different result as I’ve heard that this version is supposed to put less stress on the CPU.
When Panda Cloud Antivirus has finished installing it will go straight into the program. The main interface, as seen above, is compact and free of clutter.
There aren’t too many things you can click on here – the icons across the top are for scanning (general, full system or custom), statistics and emptying your recycle bin.
To the left you will see a small tab with a thumbs up graphic on it – you can use this to like the product on Facebook.
At the bottom you may be able to see a small blue graphic with arrows on. Clicking this gets rid of the banner for the Panda Vloud AV Support Community.
Lastly, there is the cog icon in the bottom right with opens up the Connection settings -
and the Advanced settings page -
(You’ll notice in the image above that the Behavioural analysis is switched off in this free version of the program.)
When I’ve looked at Panda Cloud Antivirus in the past everything that was good about it was overshadowed by the insane taxing it put upon my CPU. Panda have quite obviously made improvements in this area for version 1.5.1 – now I can run a scan and use my computer for other tasks at the same time, something that was impossible with previous versions!
In my own instance of running a full scan, CPU usage probably averaged out at around 30% with a peak of 50% over both cores, though it often hit 90% on one core whilst leaving the other well underutilised. Memory usage was also relatively low and so, this year, I am far more impressed with this program than I have been previously.
Talking of full scans, the process seemed much quicker with this version of the program too. As expected, my laptop had no malware on it but the program did detect the usual suspects when searching for tracking cookies.
Throwing known malware lists at the program showed it to have a very high detection rate (no-one is perfect by the way) and it’s ability to deal with detected threats was good but not the best I’ve seen.
Panda Cloud Antivirus version 1.5.1 is, for me, a huge improvement over previous versions. Other than occassional freezes when CPU usage peaks, those resource usage issues I’ve experienced in the past seem to be gone now, for the most part.
Panda’s Collective Intelligence means the program quickly updates to protect you from the latest threats without the need for those traditional constant updates you may be used to. If you need support then Panda are very good in that area and the community is a helpful and active one.
Detection rates for this program are amongst the best I’ve seen for free programs and compare well with paid-for security solutions too. Malware removal may be a slight issue as I experienced a couple of problems with the samples I used, though perhaps the numbers aren’t significant enough to draw too many conclusions on that point.
I can’t say that Panda Cloud Antivirus is the best free antivirus program for 2012 – that may be because I’m still thinking of my previous experiences with this product – but it certainly isn’t the worst.