Panda continually reinvents itself. This year it got it right. Not only does the Internet Security suite look better, but it runs better, too, as evidenced by results from CNET Labs and third-party testing. The new interface is clearly a nod to Symantec Norton 360. Panda steps up the comparison by offering a similar online storage package (1GB for one year) to that offered by Symantec. But Panda can't match Symantec's customer service, nor that of its other competitors, leaving users to depend on online knowledgebase articles and e-mail support. For a fast, effective online security suite at a good price, we recommend either
Setup and interface
Panda Internet Security 2009 remains one of the most expensive security products on the market, although street prices can be lower. Still, you can get similar suites from Symantec or McAfee for about $20 less. Like Norton, Panda Internet Security 2009 runs on Windows XP and Vista only.
As mentioned, the new interface looks a lot like Norton 360, with settings in the upper right and columns populated with related content front and center. The first column, Protection, contains antivirus, firewall, identity protection, vulnerabilities, an antispam filter, and Web content control. The middle column, Maintenance, includes the backup and recovery feature. A third column, Updates, includes the automatic update data. There is plenty of open space in the new design for Panda to offer additional features in the future.
However, clicking on any feature not only gives you detailed configuration setting, but also a second left-hand navigation panel for the other topics. This seems redundant; as though Panda couldn't decide which navigation system would work best.
Should you decide to remove Panda Internet Security 2009, there is an uninstall feature. Upon reboot we found no traces left on our test machine.
In addition to providing antivirus, antispam, and a personal firewall, Panda Internet Security 2009 includes Identity protection and Safe Surfing control. And Panda Internet Security matches the look and feel of Norton 360, right down to including a free online backup service.
Web content control is Panda's cleverly reworded Parental Controls with preset filters for Office, teenagers, and kids; you can create your own. The section is password protected by the system administrator and must be installed separately.
As with Eset Smart Security, we liked the granularity of the Panda personal firewall, giving users the ability to monitor specific services as they access the Web.
Back up to CD or DVD is a two-step process--first to hard drive, then to disc. We wonder why you can't just back up straight to disc since that is what most people will want to do. Online backup is through Docoom and 1GB is provided free with the paid product.
Panda also allows users to create a rescue disk, a bootable disk to be used in case of an emergency. These used to be included with security products years ago, then went out of vogue.
There are some inconsistencies. For example, within Vulnerabilities, in contacting Microsoft for latest updates, Panda uses Internet Explorer. However, for technical support issues, it opens your default browser, which in our case is Firefox.
Missing are any security-related utilities, such as a secure data deletion option.
Panda Internet Security 2009 did very well in CNET Labs' performance tests and improved effectiveness in third-party, independent antivirus testing using live viruses. On our iTunes test, Panda Internet Security 2009 came in at 271 seconds--2 seconds above our test system. On our Microsoft Office test, Panda Internet Security 2009 was fast, at 1,413 seconds. For individual file scans, Panda Internet Security 2009 came in fast, at an amazing 171 seconds. But in boot speed, Panda Internet Security 2009 was sluggish compared with the competition, at 39 seconds. To find out how we test, see CNET Labs' How we test: software: Antivirus page.
In terms of protecting your PC, we refer readers to leading independent antivirus testing organizations. In the latest test results from AV-test.org, Panda Internet Security 2009 scored 91.8 in malware prevention and 95.6 in spyware prevention. In that same test, Panda Internet Security 2008 scored 86.4 and 93.4, respectively. Panda has not been tested by AV-Comparatives.org recently. Meanwhile, Panda Internet Security earned CheckVir.com's Standard rating, meaning only antivirus detection--and not antivirus removal--was tested.
Panda lacks the technical support of its competition. Although there is a good in-program Help file, e-mail support, and some online knowledgebase information, missing are several important components to good technical support. Currently Panda lacks an online forum, a tutorial, and any online documentation beyond a pithy Quick Start guide. While multiple license holders receive a technical support telephone number, home users do not.
While this release marks a welcome change, it is not perfect. In the future, we'd like to see better technical support--certainly an online manual and a user forum.