Our Review of Panda Internet Security 2015
Paid Anti-virus Programs
Founded by Mikel Urizarbarrena in 1990, Panda Security RL (formerly Panda Software) is one of the older companies in the anti-virus software industry. Panda anti-virus products have a long established reputation of not only high detection and neutralization rates but also of offering effective proactive protection from 0-day and unknown virus signatures. The strong Panda anti-virus application remains the core of the Internet Security 2015 suite and continues to be among the most reliable and effective products today.
Cost and Value
Panda Internet Security 2015 is a good value in terms of price versus features offered. Like many other security software vendors, Panda offers subscription plans for single and multiple PCs. A one-year subscription for a single computer costs $49.99, and an annual plan for three PCs is just $20 more. At a normal subscription rate of $69.99, Panda's 3-PC plan is cheaper than all other suites tested here except McAfee Internet Security ($55.99 at the time of this review.) However, as of the time of publication, Panda is offering a promotion on Internet Security 2015 that enables you to save 40 percent. Consequently, you can protect a single computer for only $29.99 and three PCs for only $41.99.
Panda Internet Security 2015 installs faster than any other anti-virus security suite we have tested here. From start to finish, installation took less than five minutes (including the downloading of the installation files.) Unlike many security application companies these days, Panda does not require you to provide any personal information before downloading the setup file.
The online installer file is very small and takes only a few seconds to download with a quick Internet connection. Once you click the setup file, you will be prompted with a standard security-warning message. After you click "Run," you need only click "Accept and Install" twice to complete the installation.
Once the installer completes the program setup, it prompts you to open Panda Internet Security 2015. Then, you must enter your email address to activate your trial subscription and begin using the application. A few minutes later, you must confirm your account from within the activation email you receive from Panda, and then that's it - nothing else to do as far as installation goes.
When starting Panda Internet Security 2015 for the first time, one of the first things you notice is the clean and well laid out Start screen. The user interface uses an attractive and easy to use menu display, which is almost perfect for Windows 8 and mobile users. With large, easy-to-read tiles, the interface is perhaps the best looking (and easy to navigate) among those we have reviewed.
While other application UIs provide only three or four top-levels icons or tiles, the Panda interface provides access to many more areas directly from the main window (and does so without appearing cluttered or crowded.) Using the default UI settings, the main application window allows you to access the following areas: Scans, Firewall status and settings, Process Monitor, Data Shield, Wi-Fi Monitor, Parental Controls, Multi-Device settings, Support options, and subscription information.
As good as the Panda UI is, though, accessing the "Settings" area is not as intuitive as it could be. If you're a Google Chrome user, you'll recognize the Menu Bar icon in the upper right corner of the UI window. However, IE and Firefox users may not recognize the icon right away, and therefore may have trouble finding the "Settings" option without a bit of searching. For your convenience, though, it is highlighted in the screenshot below.
If you click the second navigation circle at the bottom of the window, the UI displays other functions available in the application. One of the coolest features with the Panda UI is the ability to customize the screens and display the function tiles in any order you choose. By first clicking the "Edit" button, you can drag-and-drop tiles to the screen on which you want them to display, add new functions or programs and delete those you choose not to see in the UI.
Virus, Malware and False Positive Detection
Panda's anti-virus products have always delivered excellent virus/malware detection and removal rates, and Internet Security 2015 continues this tradition. Just as we do with all AV suites, we introduce a set of known viruses and malware to the test system, as well as a set of files that resemble viruses or malware due to missing digital or file information. The test set consists of 8 known virus/malware files and 16 false positive files. To obtain a perfect score in both types of tests, the AV suite should detect and remove all eight of the bad files and ignore all 16 of the false positive files (as deleting a file simply because it "might" be a virus could lead to system or program crashes.)
Panda Internet Security 2015 performed as expected during the virus/malware testing and was able to detect and neutralize all eight of the infected files we transferred to the system. During the false positive testing, though, Panda identified two safe files incorrectly as potential threats and prompted the user to delete them manually. Consequently, Panda Internet Security 2015 received a perfect 100% score for virus/malware removal and only an 87.5% rating for false positive detection.
Below is a screenshot of the files used in the false positive test.
Scanning and System Performance
Initial scans with Panda are a little on the slow side. During our initial quick and full-system scans on the test system (before we introduced the test files,) scan times were 3 minutes 47 seconds and 13 minutes 44 seconds respectively. However, scans performed on the infected test system were much faster with times of 1 minute 28 seconds for a quick scan and 7 minutes 55 seconds for a full scan of the system.
Running scans with Panda Internet Security 2015 has little impact on system resources or your ability to multitask. Our test system is comparable with many used by mainstream users and includes an Intel dual-core CPU, 2GB of memory and Windows 7. Even with this modest setup, though, browsers such as IE and Chrome opened in under 3 seconds during scans. Other less CPU and RAM intensive applications, such as the Windows Snippet Tool and WordPad, opened almost instantly.
Panda Internet Security 2015 offers excellent virus and malware removal while utilizing few system resources or slowing down your computer. The program's user interface is among the best we have seen and is ideal for mouse and touchscreen users alike. The ability to edit and personalize the UI is also a very nice touch.
Panda Internet Security 2015 identifies some safe files as threats and prompts you to remove them. For some this may be confusing and could lead to the deletion of files needed for legitimate applications.
While not discussed in detail during this review, the application provides only rudimentary Firewall and Parental Controls options that are not as effective or easy to use as others we have tested. For instance, the Firewall options are hard to configure when setting up games or online applications. Additionally, the Parental Controls feature supports only category or specific website blocking, and does not offer time controls, application blocking or site reporting.
Finally, the malicious and anti-phishing features in Panda Internet Security 2015 are not up to par with some other products we have tested. During our testing, Panda was only able to identify and block 5 out of 10 known 0-day phishing or malicious websites. Even the built-in anti-phishing technologies in Chrome and Firefox performed better (scoring 8/10 and 7/10 respectively.)