Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review of The Panda Cloud Antivirus

Cloud computing has become very popular and reliable in the recent times and Panda’s Cloud Antivirus lives up to it. I’ve been fiddling with this software for over a week and it’s quite interesting to see how it works. When I contemplated uninstalling Avira before making the switch, I found myself asking the question whether this ‘Cloud’ Antivirus would protect me real-time. Fortunately, I did not have to regret making the decision.

Installing the software is pretty straight-forward. The Antivirus is downloaded by the installer and then installed on to your computer. You can opt-out of the Panda Security Toolbar if you want, but you will be missing the URL and web filtering in that case. (I'd recommend installing the Toolbar and uninstalling it later - doing this retains the web-filtering functionality).

The interface is pretty minimal (like most of the software I love). There isn’t any difference between conventional Antivirus software as far as the UI is concerned. There is an optimized scan and a full system scan like other security software and the optimized scan took about ten minutes to complete in my PC with 2 detections, both being cookies (DoubleClick) found inside /Appdata. Though these cookies aren’t malicious to your system there is a chance where your privacy can be invaded. I was pretty happy with the scan result since I knew my computer was virus-free before (Yes, Avira did a good job).

USB Vaccination is an innovative feature in this software. This feature is definitely required since the Antivirus is cloud based and vaccinating the USB drive will be handy if a mishap happens when you are not connected to the internet. The Autorun disabling feature is helpful if you are still on XP, since Vista and Windows 7 execute files in removable drives only after you open them. But still disabling Autorun also blocks the removable drive notification that pops-up after we insert one. If you’ve got a file that is from a trusted source and Panda thinks it’s risky, you can easily add it to the exclusions list. This feature makes Panda not only secure but also flexible to your needs. The updates are snappy and I mostly missed them since they happen in the background. The only difference between the Free and the Pro version is that you don’t have Behavioral analysis, USB Drive vaccination and Panda Tech support.

You should consider Panda Cloud Antivirus if…
  • Your computer has constant internet connectivity.
  • Your computer is old and cannot run software that leave a large footprint (remember, Panda requires only 64MB of RAM to operate since most of the functions take place in the cloud).
  • You are looking to install and forget the security software (everything is automated in Panda and there are no nag-screens even if you use the Free version).
  • You aren't very comfortable with computers. (The UI is too minimal and lacks certain features which power users might want).
You should not use Panda Cloud Antivirus if…
  • You do not have an internet connection/have intermittent access to the internet.
  • You’d like fully-featured security software including Firewall, family filter, etc.
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If you are not comfortable with a cloud security suite like Panda, you should consider Microsoft Security Essentials/Avira. If you are willing to pay for security consider Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2011.