Panda Cloud Antivirus Goes Final

very good
key review info
application features
  • Fast virus detection by connecting to Collective Intelligence servers
  • (3 more, see all...)

Panda Cloud Antivirus was released as a public beta in April 2009. Almost seven months later, boasting millions of downloads and with the developer taking advantage of thousands of lines of user feedback, the application has reached its first final stage and is now released to home users. The reason behind all the user interest is that Panda Security broke the traditional antivirus pattern in terms of looks, form of protection (cloud-based scans) as well as costs to the user (it is free of charge for home users).

Among the fixes that have been operated in the latest edition of Panda Cloud Antivirus, we note repairs to scan process, Internet connectivity problem messages, no slowdown of the PC after installing the product, background scan has been improved, as well as management of quarantine and restoration of disinfected files.

The minimalist interface the developer started off with is maintained and, from this point of view alone, compared to the Beta 3 looks, there is absolutely no change. Settings, Scan, Reports and Status tabs are in the same place as always and their functions have not changed one bit.

Unlike other antivirus programs that feature a plethora of settings with terminology you have to look up in the dictionary, Panda Cloud Antivirus keeps all the configuration to enabling the automatic management of possible viruses (in which case, your computer automatically and anonymously submits any necessary information to Panda) and proxy server settings (if necessary). This may look as a downside to professional users, but for the great majority that simply want to be protected against any sort of infection, it could not be any simpler.

Scan types are compacted into two options, “Quick scan” (verifies computer folders that generally contain malware) and “Scan other items,” the latter compensating for both custom and full computer check. Although it may look like it, flexibility is not at all crippled by this contracted approach as you will still have the possibility to start on-demand scans for individual files directly from Windows Explorer (right-click and choose “Scan with Panda Cloud Antivirus”).

A brief and concise summary of the malware detected on your computer in the last 24 hours, during last week or month can be found under “Reports” section. Visual representation is also available for a more clear view of the types of malware detected on the system.

If there are any problems on your computer, “Status” window will alert you. As the application is not always on the screen, the system tray icon undertakes the task and will be marked with a red X to let you know that some issues need to be addressed.

Ergonomics is the key word for Panda Cloud Antivirus' interface as there is more to the application than the main screen. Click on the trash bin in the lower right hand in order to switch to the Recycle Bin of the app and view all items that have been detected and sentenced to deletion. Should you need a file restored, here's the place to do it. But you will have to hurry because all the files will be available in the Recycle Bin for a period of three days. After that, they will be deleted. For a complete list of neutralized items, access the link in the upper left part of the Recycle Bin view. It will take you to Action history where all actions are retained (you can undo deletion from here as well).

As far as protection is concerned, Panda Cloud Antivirus does a wonderful job with the smallest impact on system resources. The latest version has been greatly optimized for the smallest amount of RAM usage during scans (during our testing, it peaked past 40MB), while CPU peaked at 97%, but stabilizing somewhere around 50% on our 2GHz Core 2 Duo Vista test system. On Windows 7, the values were even lower, with CPU being constantly well under 50% and RAM usage barely reaching 50MB, but generally keeping to a value around 20MB. This aspect is notable especially for low-specced computer owners who want to reduce the greediness of traditional antivirus software.

Results of our in-house testing of its detection put it among the best security applications, with a detection rate of almost 96%. This is one of the best scores in the last couple of years with paid products and freebies in the same pot. The harvested malware from the entire database totaled 2,503 samples of the nastiest of the nastiest (viruses, spyware, trojans, dialers, worms). Out of all these, 106 samples were left undeleted, but for a good bunch of them, the application had a strong hunch that malware was involved.

If all these figures appeal to the geek in you, don't get too ecstatic just yet. It is not all green and bright with the application. We happened to run into some pretty uncomfortable bugs during our testing. Fortunately, these popped up only when the program was under heavy stress and had a huge amount of malware to deal with. In some cases, Panda Cloud Antivirus will ask for a system restart in order to complete the cleaning process.

During our shift, after such restart the custom wallpaper we have on the desktop was replaced by solid blue. Further testing showed that this occurred only when the app dealt with hordes of malware. A possibility would be that one of the threats eliminated may have taken one last gasp at the system and disrupted the natural environment we put as our desktop wallpaper.

The conclusion is that Panda Cloud Antivirus will carry the scan off with very little computer resource and offer in return great protection, at no cost for the home user. Everything is wrapped up in an extremely easy-to-use interface that leaves no room for hesitation when it comes to managing detected items.

Some may place the lack of a scheduler to automatize future system scans on the cons list. But considering that the product was built to offer real-time protection and that its database is updated at an amazing rate (more than 75,000 samples are added every day to the Collective Intelligence), no scheduler is really no concern at all.

The Good

Great protection at no cost at all. Panda Cloud Antivirus offers high detection rate that is maintained through the constantly updated Collective Intelligence.

The interface is the simplest of all. It practically reduces user input to the minimum of enabling automatic handling of detected items, setting up proxy connection and restoring false positives. All this makes it one of the easiest programs to use.

The Bad

The cause of some pretty rare issues still remains undetected. When having great amounts of malware on its hands, the application has trouble listing all the items in Action history (on Windows Vista).

Protection while offline is reduced to the local cache of signatures from Collective Intelligence.

The Truth

Its current detection is one of the best on the market, with very little impact on system resources, especially on Windows 7. The minimalist interface makes it suitable for any type of user. Though there are still issues to be fixed and its offline protection is limited against the latest and nastiest malware, it is free of charge and requires absolutely no updating.

Check out the application in action:

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user interface 5
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 4

final rating 4
Editor's review
very good

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