Panda Cloud AV Free Review

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Offline joe53

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Panda Cloud AV Free Review
« on: October 11, 2013, 12:37:19 PM »
For some years now, I have limited my recommendations for a good free real-time AV to either Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) or to avast! Free AV. However, I can't ignore the recent tests by AV-Comparatives and AV-Test which show that the real-world protection by Panda Cloud AV Free equals or exceeds MSE or avast! in detections. Their "Real-world" tests of  Panda  over the past several months show detection rates of 97-99%, with few false positive detections. These results rival both MSE and avast! and their paid competition. Hence this review.

Test Platform:
- Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit) SP1, IE10
-Windows native firewall
- Resident MBAM Pro & WinPatrol Plus running in the background, otherwise all programs off.
- Fast broadband connection

Systems supported: XP, Vista, Win7, Win 8. (32 & 64 bit systems for all, except for XP 64 bit, which is not supported).

Download and Installation:

- Download (~789 KB): http://www.cloudantivirus.com/en/#!/free-antivirus-download

- Panda came with bundled/unwanted software that was pre-checked (Panda security toolbar, blekko search provider, MyStart as default HomePage). I unchecked all these options during the installation. The Panda Security Toolbar comes from Visicom Media, not Panda:
"Panda Security Toolbar is an ad-supported program installed into Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. The programs collects and stores information about web browsing habits and sends this information to its remote servers in order to provide injected advertising in search results and various other places. It will also modify the browser's home page and search provider. It displays various pop-up advertisements and tracks and reports your web surfing behavior. It displays targeted search results and pop-up advertisements based on terms that the user enters for Web searches. The program also adds its own browser toolbar and installs a browser helper objects (BHO) in Internet Explorer for monitoring Web search terms and implementing the browser toolbar. It also may send event logs and other system-related information to a server, and may automatically download and install updates without notifying the user."
http://www.shouldiremoveit.com/Panda-Security-Toolbar-28829-program.aspx
WOT blacklists Visicom Media.

- Installer took 1-2 minutes to download/decompress and install files.
- New Windows services "PSANHost.exe" and "PSUASERVICE.EXE" were installed. Memory usage by these services is minimal.
- Got an Ad page, which I skipped. Installation completed uneventfully.

Impact on System Performance:

- A cold bootup to desktop (including a Windows password) on this system with no AV installed took about 55 seconds. With Panda installed, this was prolonged to about 65 seconds, which was also what I observed with MSE installed.
- I observed no noticeable differences in the times to open any browser or program (including the AV GUI itself) between MSE or Panda. If there is a difference, we are talking about fractions of a second.

USB Vaccination/Disable AutoRun:

USB Vaccination was once included with the free version, but apparently no longer:
http://www.cloudantivirus.com/en/forHome/
 "Disable AutoRun" is available in the free edition, from the Panda interface (click the Vaccine tab).

On-Demand scans:

Scan times are perhaps the least important factors to consider when choosing an AV. The scan times do not correlate with efficacy of detection. However, for folks who like to run scans as part of routine maintenance, I include the following info:
MSE: Consistently took less than one minute for a "Quick Scan".
Panda: Offers only an "Optimized scan" or a "Full Scan". A right-click on any file/folder also allows Panda to scan it. The "Optimized scan" averaged about 4 minutes, and a "Full scan" about 70 minutes. As expected, none of these scans detected anything. I could find no way to schedule any automatic scans (which I would never use anyways).

Conflicts:

None that I could see. MBAM, WinPatrol, Emsisoft AM, SAS, Windows Defender, Secunia PSI and Hitman Pro all worked as quickly as before.

Handling of Detections:

Panda "neutralizes" all detections by placing them in its own "Recycle Bin" by default. ( Not to be confused with the Windows Recycle Bin, it sounds like a "quarantine" from which files can be restored).  For those who wish to be alerted only to detections (thus enabling further investigation of possible False Positive detections):
Click on the Panda icon in your system tray to open Panda's interface.   Click anywhere on the upper panel; e.g., on the SECURE shield.   The click on Advanced Settings.   The 5th option allows you to enable/disable "Ask before neutralizing viruses in on access scans".

Support:

- User support forum: http://www.cloudantivirus.com/forum/index.jspa
- Help Files: Located online, at http://www.cloudantivirus.com/help/01/h_en/nnv_en.htm#05.htm
Note that the above require a working internet connection. If you lose this, you are out of luck.
- The GUI gives a toll-free phone number, for help in removing malware. This is a paid service.

Ads:

Surprisingly little. No splash screens, or obnoxious ads. Just non-intrusive links to upgrade to the paid version.

Uninstall:

I haven't tried this yet, but here are the instructions:
http://www.pandasecurity.com/homeusers/support/card?id=55509
A Panda uninstall tool is available if the usual method fails.

Summary & Impressions:

Overall, I'm satisfied that this is a simple and user-friendly free AV that I can recommend. Minimal configuration is necessary or possible. Its default installation (minus the bundled software) will suffice. As always, I can't comment on its protection, leaving that aspect to the AV test websites, where it fares well in recent tests against the paid competition. Suffice it to say that it has proved trouble-free for me so far, and plays well with all my layers of security.

I still have reservations about entrusting my security to the "cloud", but most AVs nowadays use it to a greater or lesser extent. For now, I will keep it.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 12:40:59 PM by joe53 »

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Offline joe53

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Re: Panda Cloud AV Free Review
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2013, 09:07:51 PM »
Addendum: Panda Cloud AV Paid Version

After using the free version without problems, I thought I would try the paid version trial on the same system. You can see Panda's comparison of the features included in both versions here: http://www.cloudantivirus.com/en/forHome/

So how do the extras included  in the paid version for about $30/yr. stack up?

1) That Panda "Community Firewall":

I was offered the option to install this or not, or to retain my Windows Firewall. I chose to install it, out of interest. It does allow one to configure and block  one's out-going  programs, and includes Intrusion Protection. I am not sure this is any more effective than Window's native (incoming only) software firewall. It seems to me that if  in-coming malware can infiltrate your system, the game is already lost, any outgoing firewall notwithstanding. I could be wrong, but am aware of no reviews on the advantages or efficay of the Panda firewall. No doubt those who like to tweak their firewall will like this feature. All I can say is that it is not a noisy firewall - I have seen no alerts.

2) Protection in public WiFi networks :

I have no way to assess this on a desktop, hardwired to my router. It might well be useful on a portable device. Then again, I'm not sure a cloud-based AV is the best choice for a portable that is not always connected to the internet.

3) Automatic USB vaccination:

A plus if you use various USB drives to transfer files to your PC.

4) VIP support:

Turns out this amounts to little more than a separate support forum exclusive to users of the paid version. It is answered mostly by Panda moderators. This is a bit odd, in that there is already a good Panda user-to-user support forum available to all: http://www.cloudantivirus.com/forum/category.jspa?categoryID=3
The VIP forum does include support in 5 languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch), the free forum is English only. You do have to jump through a few hoops to register for this service.

I had occasion to ask about problems I was having with on-demand scans not working, in this VIP forum. After 2 days, I'm still waiting for an answer. I see that other posters in this forum have waited even longer for a response. Hardly VIP treatment!

5) Ad free:

Since the only ads in the free version were non-obnoxious links to upgrade to the paid version, I would hardly call this a significant feature.

Opinion:

Frankly, I don't think these extra features are worth $30/yr. At least not on a home desktop PC. The free version provides the same basic AV and anti-malware protection as does the paid. I have been quite satisfied with the Windows native firewall on several systems for some years now, and it has yet to fail me. I don't see any value in the VIP forum, unless one speaks another supported language. When my free trial expires, I will not pay to renew it, and will happily go back to the free version.

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Offline Bugbatter

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Re: Panda Cloud AV Free Review
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2014, 06:56:28 AM »
Admin note: Please see Joe's updated discussion:  Panda 3.0 experience - and woes

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