Panda Antivirus Review

Overview

The Panda product line offers one of the most powerful antivirus protection systems. As long as one of these products is running on your computer, you can expect almost any threat to be stopped dead in its tracks. Panda comes with most of the features you may be used to seeing in other antivirus programs, but it brings its own unique features to the table and it does certain things differently, to ensure an airtight security for your operating system, personal files and identity.

Originally called Panda Software, the company was founded in 1990, in Bilbao - Spain. Their antivirus product was mainly intended for the Spanish market, but it expanded internationally in 1996 and rose to fame in less than ten years. In 2005, Panda's 3.2% of the market share made it the fourth most largest antivirus vendor worldwide. Following a majority shares sale and the re-branding to Panda Security, the company continued to improve their product and received numerous awards and high scores all-around.

With subsidiaries in the United States, most of Western Europe and Japan, as well as franchises in 44 other countries, today, Panda Security serves over 30 million customers world-wide. What's more, Panda is among the first security solutions to be trusted and used by governments.

Packages and features

The Panda product line used to be named like other security suites, like Antivirus, Internet Security and so on, but it was changed to Panda DOME. It offers the same powerful protection, but it brings a few changes as well. Unlike other antivirus companies, Panda comes with a monthly subscription model, though an yearly subscription is still possible. What's more, depending on how much you are ready to spend, you can get a license for one, three, fives, ten or unlimited devices, an offer that is available for all four packages, including the basic one.

  • Panda DOME Essential

  • The basic Panda package is a good pick for anyone who only wants to protect their devices. The program is focused mainly on detecting and eliminating viruses and other threats, but it has a few other tools to offer, to make things more convenient.

    • Antivirus protection

      Panda prides itself with a highly rated virus detection engine. You can be certain that viruses that try to infect your files and cause trouble on your computer will be detected ahead of time and eliminated right away. The software lest you choose between three scanning methods, customize them and schedule them to run automatically, so you don't have to be near your computer to run a regular check.

    • Two-way Firewall

      Panda's firewall is a step up from the operating system's default firewall. It makes it easier to prevent applications from connecting to the Internet, so if you are uncertain about one of your applications, you can make sure it won't send any information about your computer or yourself to data centers or hackers. What's more, the firewall can protect your system against various intrusion types, preferred by today's hackers.

    • Real-time antivirus protection

      The program works constantly in the background, protecting you against attacks whenever you download a file, run an executable, open a document and so on. If you download or launch an infected application, Panda will warn you immediately, before the application gets the chance to damage anything on your computer.

    • USB vaccination

      You can look at this feature as an extension of the real-time protection. The software can automatically check external storage devices, like USB flash drives, to prevent malware from entering your system. What's more, the software can disable the USB drive's auto-run feature, which means that, even if there is malware on that drive, it will not spread to any computers when the device is plugged in.

    • Application control

      Working alongside the real-time protection, the program's application control is essentially a behavioral analysis module, which protects your computer against so-called zero-day threats. If you see an application shutting down right under your nose, then it means that it attempted to attack either your system or your data, due to undetected malicious code. You can rest easy in this situation, because infected applications don't get the chance to reach your data before the program identifies and terminates them.

    • Process monitor

      Some users take matters into their own hands by looking for unrecognized processes in the Windows Task Manager and looking them up to see if they are dangerous or not. Panda's process monitor can make this task much easier, even for novice users. Just like the Task Manager, it displays all running processes in a list and it lets you know which ones are safe or not. If there is something malicious running on your computer, this tool will not only block that process, but it will help you spot it instantly. Furthermore, it can provide you with a large amount of information, so you can find out exactly what data was affected and if it was transmitted somewhere.

    • Free VPN

      The built-in VPN gives you 150 MB of free daily traffic, for surfing the web anonymously. The websites you visit will log a different IP address, instead of your own, making it impossible for other people to track and locate your computer. You can use IP addresses from 19 different countries, which adds the extra benefit of going around restrictions to content in your country.

    • Wi-Fi protection

      Panda can analyze wireless networks and provide you with information about their security. This information can be quite helpful if you want to connect your laptop to a public Wi-Fi network. You will know in advanced if it's safe to connect or if the network is set to collect data or if it could expose your device to a hacker attack. Of course, you can use this tool to identify weak passwords or other weaknesses in your home network as well.

  • Panda DOME Advanced

  • A family-oriented package, Panda DOME Advanced provides you with a safe environment for web browsing and online purchases and it also makes the Internet safer for children. Like with all other packages, you can choose how many devices you want to protect, if you decide to go for DOME Advanced.

    • Parental Control

      Panda's Parental Control feature creates a safe environment on a computer, for children of all ages. It consist of several modules, which can prevent youngsters from accessing websites with inappropriate content, plugging in USB drives, running applications they are not supposed to touch and more. Each module is represented in an clear and elegant fashion and can be turned on or off with a single click, which makes it particularly easy for parents with little tech knowledge to ensure their children don't stumble upon adult videos or plug in an infected USB drive.

    • Safe browsing

      You can get a virus infection or even worse by simply surfing the web and venturing to unknown websites. No one can expect you to spot a fraudulent website by simply looking at it, which is why Panda DOME Advanced can do this for you. If you access such a website while this feature is turned on, the program will block them automatically and tell you about the threat, so you will know to stay away from them if you don't want to allow a virus into your computer or give away one of your passwords or your credit card details.

    • Advanced threats protection

      Ransomware can be counted among the most vicious threats out there. If a ransomware program finds its way to your system, you will find your important documents heavily encrypted and a message to pay someone a large amount of money if you want to get your data back. Panda DOME Advanced can watch out for such behavior and prevent malicious programs from keeping your data hostage. You won't part with your data or the savings you have made for that family vacation, as long as this tool is active.

  • Panda DOME Complete

  • Moving up on the ladder, Panda DOME Complete addresses the needs of people who work with important documents and classified information, on PCs, Macs, smartphones or tablets. It includes all features from the previous packages, as well as a few extra tools, mainly for protecting data.

    • Data Shield

      Panda DOME Complete comes with powerful encryption capabilities, which you can use to lock your files. If someone gains access to your computer or if it gets stolen, you will at least know that those classified company documents will not end up in the wrong hands, because no one will be able to open them.

    • Password Manager

      Large amounts of data are handled online nowadays, which makes account passwords more important. The program's password manager is where you can store your login credentials and protect them with a master password. The best part is that you can open your database and your credentials to log into your accounts, without revealing them to people looking over your shoulder. Also, you won't have to type your stored passwords, so keyloggers won't be able to capture them.

    • Cleanup Tool

      Temporary data, like a browser's cache, may contain information you don't want to share with others. The program's built-in cleanup tool can look all over your system for such data and it lets you remove it at a moment's notice, with a single click. Temporary data is not necessarily a huge security risk, but it takes no effort to remove them with this tool, and you will have another reason to rest easy, as well as some extra disk space available.

  • Panda DOME Premium

  • In terms of functionality, this package is essentially Panda DOME Complete, but with more benefits. Aimed at professionals who work with important data, it offers a place where you can safely store your files, unlimited VPN functionality, as well as better support.

    • Premium Unlimited VPN

      The VPN included in the basic package is good for occasional use, but if you need constant protection while working online, Panda DOME Premium can provide it. It lets you browse anonymously, without significant effects on your browsing speed, and the best part is that you can use it without any limitations, as long as the license for this package is valid.

    • 20 GB Cloud Storage

      Protecting data against intentional attacks is one thing, but it's a different story when it comes to accidents. The 20 GB of cloud storage space you get from DOME Premium should be more than sufficient to store your important documents or project files and keep backup copies. Regardless of what happens to your computer, you will still have access to your files, from any machine, anywhere in the world.

    • Unlimited Premium 24/7 Technical Support

      If you encounter any kind of difficulties with Panda DOME, you can get a tech expect to help you fix the problem at any hour of the day, on any day of the week. While tech support is available for all packages, a Panda DOME Premium license will give you a higher priority, so you don't have to wait for too long until a Panda representative can get to you.

Installation and setup

Downloading and installing any Panda package doesn't take too long and it's not a difficult process. However, you should pay close attention, because the setup wizard will offer to change your browser's home page and search provider. Fortunately, options for opting out are clear and easy to spot, so nothing will be installed without your knowledge or consent. As long as you don't rush through the process as if you were installing a simple utility, you won't see any changes you didn't ask for.

Once the program is up and running, you will be prompted to provide your email address, to create an online account or to sign into an existing one. This will start an initial scan of your system, to see if any of your files were infected while you didn't have any protection measures in place.

The program is not known to cause conflicts with lightweight privacy or security applications, but if you have another antivirus program running, besides Windows Defender, it would be best to remove it first. There is no need for any special drivers or services to be running on your computer, so you can install the product without any interruptions.

User Experience

Panda DOME comes with an attractive user interface, which makes everything quite comfortable. Its dashboard looks like a compact desktop, complete with a good-looking wallpaper, which you can change at any time. Before the Panda product line was re-named, you had to go through a large number of menus to control each module, which was a bit counter-intuitive. However, in Panda DOME, everything is organized much better, so you can modify any settings quickly and easily, without spending more time than you have to, looking around the interface.

The program's modules are represented by large icons, directly on the main dashboard. Clicking an icon will bring up a new menu on the screen, with options for enabling, disabling and tweaking the corresponding module. You can start scanning your system, or toggle certain modules on or off, at a moment's notice, with only one or two clicks.

Panda DOME runs quietly in the background for most of the time, without affecting your performance by a significant margin. If you encounter an infected application or a dangerous website, the program will display a warning, in the form of a pop-up, in the lower-right corner of the screen, along with options for sending the infected executable to the quarantine, deleting, blocking or ignoring the threat, if you know what you are about to get into.

With the real-time protection turned on, you have to wait for the program to look into a cloud database to make sure you won't open an infected file. Fortunately, this happens quickly, so you won't be kept waiting for too long. Even in the worst-case scenario, you only need to click one button, to let the application know that what you are about to open is safe.

Scanning and detection

Panda DOME makes use of several mechanisms to protect your system against viruses and other threats. First, it compares files against documented malware signatures, in a huge database in the cloud, to make sure they are not infected. The real-time protection system ensures that you don't have to constantly run manual scans to check for infection. Furthermore, the program's behavioral analysis module monitors your system for anomalies and suspicious application activity. If you run a program with an undetected infection, the program will terminate it immediately, if it attempts to attack your data.

If you encounter a virus that wasn't detected initially, a sample will be sent for analysis, via Panda's Collective Intelligence. This can help over 30 million users protect themselves against that new threat.

  • Multiple scanning methods

    For simple, run-of-the-mill viruses, performing a critical scan is sufficient. The program will check the components that are most likely to get infected, like certain system files, processes, cookies and so on. This way, you don't have to put your regular activities on hold for too long. If you think you know where a virus might be hiding or wish to make sure that certain files are clean, you can perform a custom scan, aimed at specific folders. Scheduling custom scans is another possibility, so you can let your computer run routine scans automatically, every day, week or month, while you can focus on other tasks.

    If the critical scanning mode doesn't work, then it means that you may have a more serious infection, for which you should run a full scan. It takes significantly longer to complete a full scan, but the program will check every nook and cranny in your system, so you can locate active viruses, regardless of how well they hide. If a virus is buried so deep that it can't be deleted while the operating system is running, Panda's Rescue Kit will help you take the necessary steps to remove it, so you don't have to pay an expert to clean your system.

  • Real-time protection

    Everything you touch will be checked automatically for viruses. Whenever you download and open a file, run an application or check an email's attachment, you will be safe from malware, spyware or anything else that might corrupt your system or steal your private data.

    The real-time protection system works constantly in the background and makes no exceptions. It monitors everything that is launched on your system, so even if a malicious program starts automatically in the background, without any visual hints, you will learn about it and you will be able to stop it before it does any damage to your system.

  • Application control

    Viruses need to be documented first, before an antivirus program can detect them successfully. However, Panda's application control system ensures that even unclassified threats won't be able to affect your system. It uses heuristic monitoring methods to spot applications that are doing something they shouldn't. For example, a compromised application may attempt to infect system files or capture sensitive information when you run it or a few seconds after. Fortunately, once the application starts acting like this, Panda will react immediately, saving you from the unpleasant consequences.

  • Process Monitor

    This feature is not something you see in every antivirus program, but it is definitely a useful thing to have, especially for users who like a bit of control. It shows all running processes on your computer, but, unlike the regular Task Manager, it also shows if they are safe or not. No longer will you need to look at a long list of processes and look up individual ones on Google, to figure out if there is something suspicious running in the background.

    Besides making it clear which processes are safe or not, this tool can also provide you with a log of everything that ran on your computer, over the last day, week, month or even since Panda was installed. Furthermore, if one or more processes connect to the Internet, the Process Monitor will record each URL, which gives you the possibility of tracking down the source of an infection and understand what happened on your computer while you were busy with something else.

System Performance

Minimum system requirements:

CPU: Pentium 300 MHz
RAM: 64 MB (Recommended 512)
Disk space: 200 MB free space

You might want to take the minimum system requirements with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to memory. As the developers have specified on their website, if you meet only the minimum RAM requirement, you will only benefit from the base antivirus function, while other features will be locked down, regardless of what package you have purchased. If you want to enjoy everything the program has to offer, you will need at least 512 MB of RAM.

The impact Panda has on a system's performance, while running passively in the background, is barely noticeable. Although other antivirus programs have even lower effects, your daily routine won't suffer any noticeable slow-downs when using a Panda product. However, you don't buy an antivirus just to let it sit idle on your computer. You will probably perform regular virus scans, during which you will notice some impact.

A quick scan will slow your computer down by about 30%, while a full scan will affect its performance by roughly 40%. Though they could be better, you can't say the numbers are terrible, since there are there are other programs that do much worse, so Panda falls somewhere in the middle. As long as you don't plan to render 3D graphics or carry out other processor-intensive tasks, you will still be able to use your computer without any difficulties.

The waiting time for the first full scan is almost two hours, but it improves in future scans, after the program figures out what files can be safely ignored. After one or two more scans, the time will settle down somewhere around 50 minutes, which is not too much, compared to the average 45 minutes of other programs. Also, you should keep in mind that this is the full system scan, which you probably won't run too often. For routine quick scans, you can expect an initial 6 minutes, which will drop to approximately one minute by the third scan.

Support and Customer Service

You can definitely rely on Panda Security's customer support service to help you with any issues you encounter with their products. You can contact them by email or phone, but you will have to do it between their specified business hours. For premium users, who have purchased Panda DOME Premium, the service is available around the clock, via live web chat and it can include direct assistance, via remote control.

If the issues you face are not severe or urgent, you can have a look at the available FAQs, on the product's website. You also get access to the online forums, so you can drop a question there and expect help from Panda's large user base and even from technical experts.

A 30-day money back guarantee policy is available, so you can request your money back within 30 days from the moment you have purchased a Panda product, if you are not satisfied with how it performs. It is also worth mentioning that Panda is quite flexible in terms of pricing. Though buying a license for an entire year can save you money in the long run, you can also make monthly payments. If you go on a long vacation, your money would be wasted if no one uses your computer during that time, but this is not the case with Panda, since you can pay for a product as you use it.

Value for the Money

If not for its elegant design, ease of use or bonus features, Panda DOME is worth buying at least for its highly effective virus detection engine. You can be sure that even the most stubborn and well-hidden viruses will be rooted out from your system and that your files will be safe from future infections. Even if you decide to spend money on the most basic package, you will get a good amount of useful features in return.

The multiple "Advanced+" and the Gold rating from AV-Comparatives can attest to Panda's powerful antivirus capabilities. It came in fourth, out of 21, due to its near 100% detection ratio, but it later got a well-deserved first place, for being the only product capable of fending off everything the independent testers could throw at it. The AV-Test certification is also well-deserved. While Panda didn't score as good as some of its competition in the performance department, it got near-perfect scores for detecting known widespread malware and zero-day threats.

The Panda product line includes several packages, for various user categories. Depending on how much you want to spend, you can get access to a wide range of useful tools. What's more, you can purchase a license for one or multiple devices, regardless of what package you opt for.

Panda DOME Essential

The amount of features Panda DOME Essential has to offer makes it a good choice for novice users and experts alike. Its baseline protection ensures that your files won't be infected and that your system won't get hacked, while you can enjoy a movie or game and keep in touch with your friends. At the same time, advanced users can take advantage of the built-in VPN, to surf the web anonymously or the process monitor, to trace an infection to its roots.

Panda DOME Advanced

This mid-range package brings some additional features, which can serve entire families, but professional users may also be interested in what it has to offer. The Parental Control system is the primary selling point when it comes to family use, since it allows you to protect your children from all the bad content the Internet can send their way. Furthermore, the identity protection and advanced threat protection modules can keep you safe from online fraud and prevent ransomware from keeping your personal files hostage.

Panda DOME Complete

If you use a computer for work, rather than play, you can trust Panda DOME Complete to prevent malware or hackers from accessing your sensitive data or steal your online accounts. It provides powerful encryption algorithms, to lock your important files, as well as a specialized utility, which you can use to safely store your passwords and log into your accounts faster and easier, without worrying that someone could look over your shoulder and see your credentials.

Panda DOME Premium

If you don't mind the price for upgrading to this premium package, you can enjoy unlimited traffic when using the built-in VPN. You also get 20 GB of free cloud storage, where you can keep all your project files safe and make sure you will still have them if your computer gets damaged beyond repair. What's more, this package gives you access to premium technical support, so you don't have to put any business-related tasks on hold for too long if you encounter a problem.

Final Verdict

Panda may be missing a few bells and whistles here and there, but when it comes to protecting a computer, it comes through with flying colors. With a highly rated virus scanning engine, an elegant design and intuitive controls, this product-line can help you face the worse threats the Internet can throw at you.

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