F-Secure SAFE review: A mediocre suite with no killer features

It’s nice to look at and not too expensive, but SAFE is neither particularly fast nor particularly effective

Eset’s security products have long been popular among the tech cognoscenti. Whether you go for the antivirus-only NOD32 package or this more fully-featured suite, Eset has a reputation for top-notch security without intrusive pop-ups and interruptions, and minimal impact on the performance of your PC.

It isn’t cheap, though. Many security suites can be had at deeply discounted prices from Amazon and other retailers but with Eset your only option is to pay full price at the company’s own website. That works out to £32 to protect a single PC for one year: is the software really good enough to warrant the outlay?

Eset Internet Security review: Features

Eset Internet Security goes well beyond the basics of virus protection. As well as scanning local files, it blocks dodgy websites and links and, if you’re running a local email program like Outlook or Thunderbird, it will also scan for infected attachments, phishing links and spam.

There’s a clever secure browsing mode, too, which provides extra peace of mind when you’re shopping or banking online: specific sites can be set to automatically open in a new secure window, with additional protection against keyloggers and the like. It’s up to you whether you let extensions like password managers run in secure windows.

Another noteworthy feature is Eset’s Connected Home scanner, which probes your network and flags up any router vulnerabilities discovered, as well as alerting you whenever a new client connects. Most of the time this will be because you’ve bought a new phone, or shared your Wi-Fi password with a friend but it could be invaluable if an intruder does manage to sneak onto your network.

Unusually, Eset extends Windows’ built-in theft protections, adding the ability to capture camera pictures and screenshots from a stolen laptop, as well as simply locking and locating it.

A screenshot of Eset Internet Security's connected home management panel

Eset Internet Security review: Protection

In the first half of 2021, Eset Internet Security was included in independent reports by both AV-Comparatives.org and AV-Test.org. Across both labs’ tests it came away with an average protection rating of 99.8%. Some other suites scored a flawless 100%, including Bitdefender, Kaspersky and Norton but Eset was close enough to perfection that we’re not inclined to quibble.

What’s more, none of those big names was able to match Eset’s perfect record for false positives: it sailed through extensive testing without wrongly flagging a single innocent item. Only F-Secure SAFE was able to equal that claim. It’s a strong confirmation of Eset’s excellent malware-detecting capabilities.

Eset Internet Security review: User interface

We’re not fans of the creepy robot that welcomes you to the software, and frankly we find the Eset interface unnecessarily cumbersome to get around. Its features are split across six main pages in an arrangement that doesn’t seem particularly logical or intuitive.

Still, the technically minded will forgive that in exchange for hands-on controls such as the network protection troubleshooter, which lets you check up on what connections have been blocked and why, allowing you to unblock any items you think have been wrongly flagged – something that’s harder or impossible in most other suites.

It’s also hard to complain about Eset’s impact on your system. The two testing labs measured an average performance hit of just 7.8% with the software installed. That’s well below the 12.5% caused by Windows’ built-in security tools – indeed, it makes Eset one of the fastest security suites around.

Eset Internet Security review: Verdict

Eset Internet Security has a lot going for it. It’s an effective antivirus solution with impeccable accuracy and strong performance and it partners that core capability with a well-conceived set of additional features.

We’ve just one reservation, and that’s the price. £32 a year won’t break the bank but it’s hardly competitive for a licence that only covers one PC. For comparison, Norton costs a third as much for single-device protection, and BullGuard will cover five PCs for half the cost. Regrettably, that makes Eset Internet Security hard to recommend.


ITPro is a global business technology website providing the latest news, analysis, and business insight for IT decision-makers. Whether it's cyber security, cloud computing, IT infrastructure, or business strategy, we aim to equip leaders with the data they need to make informed IT investments.

For regular updates delivered to your inbox and social feeds, be sure to sign up to our daily newsletter and follow on us LinkedIn and Twitter.