Panda Free Antivirus: Has Its Ups and Downs

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Panda Free Antivirus

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There aren’t many extra features, other than a game mode and a VPN client that comes with a data allowance of MB per day. Panda also offers four paid Windows antivirus products, which you can purchase monthly or annually. Those subscribing annually get a 25 percent price cut for the first year.

The program also covers Macs and Android systems, includes a firewall, and scans Wi-Fi networks for vulnerabilities and USB drives for malware. It ups the protection with encryption, parental controls and dedicated ransomware protections.

The program’s scanner checks new files for signatures of known malware. A heuristic monitor watches code and behavior. Anything suspicious is uploaded to the company’s online lab for analysis, and several times a day, Panda sends the signatures of confirmed malicious items back to the program’s 30 million users. To improve its accuracy, the company collects information about how you use your computer and where you go online.

Most antivirus brands let you opt out of this data collection, but Panda doesn’t. Panda’s continuous real-time scanner examines compressed files and blocks questionable apps from being loaded, but there’s no specific defense against ransomware. The idea is that the three security screens will catch such attacks before damage is done.

If this level of protection is too intense, you can turn many of the features off or use Panda’s Game mode, which blocks interruptions. Scans are three clicks away from the main screen, and you can choose from among Full, Critical or Custom scans. You can also right-click any file or folder in Windows Explorer to scan it, and regular scans can be scheduled daily, weekly or monthly.

Panda’s Task Tray icon is remarkably useful: You can toggle Game Mode on and off, summon tech support, use the company’s VPN service, or stop a scan. Antivirus Performance Panda’s ability to find and eradicate malware is a notch down from the best and can be notably inconsistent compared to some of the program’s peers.

Our own tests, conducted from February to June , measure how well antivirus products detect and handle online malware and malicious websites. Windows Defender was not tested. But in a one-off Windows 10 round at the end of , the software did well, stopping Panda detected percent of brand-new zero-day malware, which can’t be detected by signature scans alone, in both months. It registered just three false positives over both months.

That put it right behind Bitdefender, which scored percent across the board with zero false positives, and on par with Avast and AVG. If you go back to the second half of , however, the picture is a little different. Panda stopped only 99 percent of zero-day malware in November of that year, The program did stop percent of zero-days in December, September and October, but we’d rather see consistency. Panda’s ability to stop widespread malware was not perfect either in Panda didn’t get any percent scores in that category over those six months, with rates ranging from Panda’s ability to find and eradicate malware is a notch down from the best and can be notably inconsistent compared to some of the program’s peers.

While Panda detected percent of online malware in four of the six months from February to July , it scored only Panda also racked up 21 false positives over that period, far worse than the rest of the programs, except for, again, Windows Defender, which had a whopping You can choose where to connect to but not the connection protocol used. Panda’s Safe Web URL scanner watches out for websites containing malware, phishing attempts and other nefarious items.

It works with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. If those don’t work, you can try to recover your computer using the rescue software.

To check the program’s system load, we used our custom benchmark test, which measures how long the CPU takes to match 20, names and 20, addresses in an OpenOffice spreadsheet. It was running Windows 10 with the latest updates. Before we installed any antivirus software, the OpenOffice task took 6 minutes and 57 seconds.

Once Panda Free Antivirus program was loaded and running in the background, this grew to an average of 7: That’s better than Avira’s 9. When we ran a full-system scan with the OpenOffice benchmark running, the software took 8 minutes and 33 seconds to complete, a performance decline of 23 percent from the baseline.

That’s not great, but it’s still better than Avast’s 27 percent and Avira’s 35 percent declines. AVG was the winner here, with a full-scan impact of only 11 percent. During the Critical Area Scan, Panda’s equivalent of a quick scan, the benchmark finished in 7 minutes and 28 seconds That’s just 1 second off the background performance impact and 7.

The first full scan took 1 hour and 28 minutes and looked at , files. After three runs, during which the software should have trained itself on what to ignore, the completion time dropped to only 1 hour and 6 minutes. Both were among the longest scan times for free antivirus software that we saw on our test machine. Panda’s Critical Area Scan looks at memory, cookies, running processes and the most dangerous new malware exploits; it took just 4 minutes and 42 seconds to run.

Interface Panda Free Antivirus’ clean, sharp interface offers a multitude of customization options and is easy to figure out and use. The main window puts everything you need on screen. Tap the down arrow on either side, and another row slides out with icons for USB, Process Monitor, Rescue and products subscribed to.

There’s an unused icon in the hope that you’ll upgrade to one of Panda’s paid products and add it. On the left is a traditional menu that mirrors the icons but adds a powerful Settings category. Here, you can check on your account, turn many of the app’s protective features on and off, fine-tune what happens when a USB flash drive is plugged in, and set your local country for the VPN.

Panda’s unique Process Monitor keeps close track of your computer’s processes, tasks and web destinations. Panda’s customizability is among the best, but while you can quickly turn off options such as scanning compressed files, stopping PUPs and using behavioral blocking, the program doesn’t let you adjust the severity of the scanning. The 2MB beachhead installer program has licensing details as well as pre-checked options for adding Safe Web browser add-ons, making Yahoo your default search engine and using the company’s Smart Shopping app; you should probably uncheck each box before you proceed, as these options pretty much take over your browser.

Again, there’s no way to opt out of the company’s collection of your computer-usage data. Other free antivirus software products give you a choice. You’ll need to create a Panda online account if you don’t already have one. Bottom Line Panda’s ability to catch malware lags behind that of many other free security products, and the VPN client and game mode aren’t enough to compensate.

This program also extracts data on your computer without giving you any way to opt out. Tom’s Guide.

Protects while you browse, play or work online. You won´t even notice it’s there.

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There aren’t many extra features, other than a game mode and a VPN client that comes with a data allowance of MB per day. Panda also offers four paid Windows antivirus products, which you can purchase monthly or annually. Those subscribing annually get a 25 percent price cut for the first year. The program also covers Macs and Android systems, includes a firewall, and scans Wi-Fi networks for vulnerabilities and USB drives for malware.

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