This week saw the release of a major update to Panda Cloud Antivirus – version 2 is available in both free and Pro editions.
As before, updates are simple as the virus definitions are held in the cloud (over the internet) and Panda uses ‘Collective Intelligence’ to continuously collect and analyze viruses gathered from the worldwide Panda community.
The main change in version 2 is that behavioral analysis protection is now included in the free edition, not just the Pro version. The full list of changes includes:
- Improved performance and 50% faster scans.
- New behavioral analysis engine in the free edition.
- New interface.
- Community-based firewall (pro edition only).
- New cloud-based disinfection engine.
- Improved offline protection.
- Process monitor allows seeing Internet connections on a per process basis.
- New advanced configuration options such as asking for confirmation before neutralizing.
- Compatibility with Windows 8.
- Ability to manage different licenses.
- Dozens of bug fixes and minor improvements
Existing Panda Cloud versions (free and Pro) should have already upgraded automatically to version 2.0 – if not, you can download and install it over the top of your existing version (see below). New users can download and install it from Panda here (small web installer) or download the full offline installation file from Filehippo here – useful if you want to install on more than 1 computer.
Installing Panda Cloud 2.0
The installation process offers ‘optional’ features but they are selected by default – untick any you don’t want. The optional features include a Panda Security toolbar, setting Google as default search provider and MyStart as default home page:
The Panda Security Toolbar is a standalone toolbar which works on IE and Firefox only – it can be uninstalled later from (Add/Remove) Programs in the usual way.
Personally I hate toolbars like this when they are ticked by default but perhaps some users may find it helpful. A full description of its features (and separate download link for downloading even if you don’t use Panda Cloud) can be found here.
Panda Cloud 2.0 installation takes a few minutes – once complete you should see the following option to choose the Free or Pro edition:
The interface of Panda Cloud Antivirus Free is new and very minimalist. It displays your overall security status, virus/recycle bin info and system processes:
The firewall component is only available in the Pro edition and so is vaccination of USB flash drives. However, you can disable Autorun on the computer itself in the free version.
Users switching from other antivirus suites may be surprised at how few settings and options there are in Panda Cloud 2.0 but (similar to Microsoft Security Essentials) it aims for simplicity – a set and forget antivirus solution where much of the hard work is performed in the Cloud.
Panda Cloud 2.0 is too new to be tested yet but a look at its previous incarnation (Free version 1.52) reveals that it achieved creditable scores of 5.0, 4.0 and 5.5 in AV-Test’s March round up of 22 antivirus products – scores which put it ahead of the paid Panda Internet Security 2012
Compared to its four major free rivals (see June review), Panda Cloud 1.52 scores are below AVG but above Avast and MSE.
As version 2.0 includes the new behavioral analysis engine in the free edition I would expect its results to improve even further when it is tested.
Panda Cloud Free vs Pro
The Pro version costs $29.95 per year and has the following extra features compared to the free version:
- Community Firewall
- Protection in public WiFi networks
- Automatic USB vaccination
- VIP support – multilingual 24×7
- No adverts
Panda Cloud Antivirus 2.0 adds useful new security features and its minimalist user interface make it powerful (but lightweight) free software which is still extremely easy to use.
More advanced users may miss the extra features common in rivals but Panda appears targeted more at the basic user and compares favorably with the equally lightweight Microsoft Security Essentials.
Whilst its protection hasn’t been tested independently yet, the signs look very promising based on the results of the previous version.