ESET NOD32 Antivirus review: Basic virus protection against known and new malware

Stops new threats quickly, even if they aren't yet in all the virus databases.

testing antivirus
(Image: © Briana Scroggins/ Future Plc)

ESET NOD32 Antivirus stopped most of the threats we used during our tests of this software, and it is especially good at identifying new threats that haven't yet been added to malware databases. We didn't experience any lag on our computers while scans were performing, including when deep virus scans and system scans were running at the same time. This makes ESET one of the best antivirus software choices.

What we like about ESET NOD32 Antivirus

When we tested ESET NOD32 Antivirus with over 300 live malware threats, we noticed this program stopped malicious files during the download process 99 percent of the time. It blocked most of the phishing schemes we tried to access. We were impressed that this antivirus software didn't cause a lot of slowdown on our computer when it was installed or during scans. In fact, we were able to perform two scans at the same time, a virus and system scan, and still not experience any lag or buffering even when we watched videos, attached files to outgoing email messages and played games online.

This antivirus program scans anything connected to your computer through a USB port, including flash drives, DVD players and cell phones, to ensure malware doesn't sneak in through portable media. This isn't done automatically, however — you have to request ESET to scan the connected device from your user dashboard.

NOD32 Antivirus includes a handful of support tools to help keep malware off your computer. This includes a link to ESET Research Lab where you can upload files and ask ESET to scan it for anything dangerous before openning it. ESET also has programs that collect data from you and other ESET users' computers that help it detect zero-day malware, or threats that are so new they haven't been defined or named yet. This enables NOD32 to stop threats that are not recognized, or yet added to malware databases. This is especially helpful in cases of new ransomware threats that often popup without warning. You can opt out of these programs.

ESET NOD32 Antivirus is good at stopping zero-day threats, or malware that hasn't yet been named or identified.

Another tool NOD32 Antivirus has is a system cleaner. This helps you restore default settings for Windows and other parts of your system. Some of these changes are made when you personalize your computer while others may be made by malware. ESET's system cleaner helps you figure out which is which.

ESET also includes email filters. These not only scan incoming messages and attachments for malware, but also help cut down on spam mail reaching your inbox. Part of these filters include anti-phishing to help you avoid accidentally giving sensitive information to hackers or identity thieves.

What we don't like about ESET NOD32 Antivirus

The price for a single NOD32 user license is $40. This is pretty high for a basic antivirus program, especially since for this price several other simple antivirus software come with more than one license. The other big drawback is ESET takes a very long time to complete its virus scans. We waited nearly three hours for the deep scan to finish and an hour for the quick scan. Other programs we tested took under 20 mins for deep scans and less than five for quick scans. NOD32 Antivirus also isn't the most intuitive program to navigate. There is a lot of text on the dashboard and several tools are hidden between layers of links making them hard to find.

Our final thoughts and recommendation

ESET NOD32 Antivirus does a decent job of stopping malware infections, including threats not yet named or fully recognized. ESET does include a few services not included with most other programs, such as allowing you to upload and scan individual files for malware and checking for threats before you open them. However there are other programs available that we feel do a little better job at providing full malware protection and are cheaper. Also, several other basic antivirus programs don't take as long to complete scans and are a lot easier to navigate that we are more enthusiastic to recommend. One of these solutions is McAfee AntiVirus Plus.

Read our roundup of the best antivirus software to learn about more available computer protection programs and how they compare to ESET NOD32.

The overall ability of ESET NOD32 Antivirus to stop malware attacks is decent, especially for zero-day threats that are too new to be added to malware databases. And access to its Research Lab is a nifty feature. But there are other antivirus software that are a tad bit better at recognizing and stopping all threats. Because this program isn't the easiest to figure out and takes a long time to complete virus scans, even quick scans, are the main reasons NOD32 Antivirus doesn't earn a higher score.

Nikki Johnston
Commissioned editor

Nikki is a commissioned editor for Future Plc covering internet security including antivirus and VPN. With over 18 years of research and writing experience, and 11 years of testing and reviewing internet security solutions, Nikki knows how to dive deep to get the information consumers need to make better buying decisions. She is also a mom to 10 children, and personally uses many of the products she reviews to ensure the safety of her own family.