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Panda Global Protection 2012 Beta Review

7. March 2011
global protection 2012 beta

    Panda Security has just released a beta version of Global Protection.  This only continues the trend of antivirus companies jumping the gun on their 2012 programs.  However, this gives the company the opportunity to make changes and improve an already great program.  New in the 2012 version is a brand new interface made to address most of the user complaints about the previous version, new firewall, cloud integration, a safe browser (sandboxes), excellent resource management and more.   The Beta also includes a generous free license key lasting more than 3 months.

    The installation of Panda Global Protection 2012 was ok.  The download was a reasonable 70 megabytes and comes with definitions dated 2/22/11 (nice and significantly cut down the time and size of the first update).  I initially ran the installer and it detected multiple conflicts with already installed security software.  However, none of these programs, Norton Security Scan, MalwareBytes Free really even create a conflict.  The fourth time I ran the installer (after a restart) I was able to get it working.  There are quite a few options, so make sure to read them.  The custom installation allows one to install individual components, there is the auto learning firewall option for common programs, and also permission to send suspicious files to the cloud.  The installer required a restart (presumably for the firewall driver) but started regardless.

scanning 19 percent

    There are four scanning options the scan all my computer,  hard disk,  mail (nice unique feature), other items, and detect vulnerabilities.  A quick scan seems to be missing but the real time shield does a pretty fast job (scanned 5,000 items upon first launch).   The full system scan option was really quite fast at 5 to 16 megabytes per second (fastest tested scanning in a while).  The program also seems to exhibit excellent multicore efficiency compared to the average free antivirus.  In a period of 20 minutes, Panda Global Protection 2012 had scanned 200,000 files! One problem is that the scanned counter, minimize, and close icons constantly blinked during scanning (a minor issue).   The scanned percentage counter also appears to be slightly inaccurate.  The scanner didn’t detect any viruses or false positives.

scanning options incuding mail scan

    The most unique feature appears to be the Panda Safe Browser. Unfortunately, the program is an additional download at 3 megabytes.   The program still feels kind of beta in that it first needs to be run as an administrator.  If not, one will receive a cryptic login box for an administrator which looks like it belongs in Windows 2000.  The additional installer needed to download Virtual Box and run a separate installer  (a 72 megabytes download to function correctly, evident why it isn’t included by default).  The safe browser needs to be streamlined into a single install with the correct components.

auto learning firewall rules

    The vulnerability option remains the same as the previous version.  There is simply a small check box to enable or disable.  It would be nice to know what vulnerabilities are protected against.   The firewall interface is not too different.  The firewall did detect a lot of secure safe programs including Asus utilities, Firefox updater, and all Adobe programs so this is indicative of a large trusted program database.  The rules for each program can be modified to allow or disallow inbound outbound connections and is presented in an intuitive manner.  There are custom permissions but they only include options for TCP and UDP ports.  There also is Wifi protection which defines who is allowed to access the PC by IP, Host Name or MAC address, however this approach is quite manual.  The network management area shows the local network.

network management

    Resource usage is nothing more than fantastic.  While scanning, the program is using only 37 megabytes of memory across 10 different processes.  CPU usage is average at 8 to 14 % but again is spread efficiently throughout the processor cores.  Therefore, concurrent usage is hardly affected.  While idle the program is using a ridiculous 12 megabytes of RAM (this is by far the best for an internet security program let alone a free antivirus).

sparce vulnerability protection

    Even though the interface is updated, I would still like to see improvement as it still lags behind competitors and some of Panda’s own programs.   However, the engine is so efficient compared to the competition.  Relatively little needs to be done to make this program a winner.