Panda Detailed Expert Review
Panda Dome is an antivirus suite with a lot of different features, pricing options, and high-quality cybersecurity protections.
It’s got a great malware scanner (which detected over 95% of the malware samples during my tests — including all spyware and ransomware files) and a real-time protection engine that caught 100% of the malware files I tested it with.
Panda Dome’s packages also have:
- Web protection.
- Performance optimization.
- VPN (virtual private network).
- Parental controls.
- Password manager.
- Gaming mode.
Panda also has a few extras that I haven’t seen from many other antiviruses, like:
- Rescue Kit — Removes malware from infected PCs via USB drive.
- File encryption — Locks important files behind high-level encryption so it’s inaccessible to hackers and thieves.
- USB protection — Scans USB drives for malware.
Most of Panda’s features are good (and some of them, like the Rescue Kit, are excellent), but there are a couple of areas that need improvement. For example, Panda’s web protection detected less than 50% of the phishing sites in my tests, the VPN only comes with unlimited data on the most expensive plan, and the customer support is not that good.
While I don’t think Panda is better than some top competitors, it’s a good, easy-to-use option for users looking for a full-featured internet security suite. And one of the things I like the most is that Panda offers a variety of packages for all budgets, and all of them are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
|Overall Rank||#8 out of 58 antiviruses|
|VPN||Yes (with unlimited data)|
|Pricing||Starting at /year|
|Money-Back Guarantee||30 days|
|Operating Systems||Windows, Android, Mac, iOS|
Panda Security Features
Panda has a really good antivirus scanner — it managed to find over 95% of my malware files during scanning.
Panda has 3 scanning options:
- Critical areas. Scans PC memory, current processes, and other areas where viruses usually hide.
- Full scan. Scans the entire PC.
- Custom scan. Scans specific files and folders.
The PC scanner was a bit inconsistent in terms of speed — I had one full scan running for over 3 hours, and it was only 60% complete. It finally finished after 8 hours. I ran a second full scan, and it took a little over 60 minutes. When I only scanned the critical areas of my PC, that scan was completed in around 5 minutes, which is comparable to other top competitors like Norton and Avira whose quick scans take between 5 and 10 minutes.
I tried Panda’s macOS antivirus scanner on my MacBook and it was disastrous — nearly 6 hours later, it hadn’t even gotten half way through completing the full scan. I don’t think Panda is a good choice for Mac users. If you are looking for Mac antivirus, skip Panda and look into Intego.
In addition to the regular scans, Panda also offers a cloud-based scanner named “Panda Cloud Cleaner” that can be accessed via the Rescue Kit section. This is a separate antivirus scanning engine that uses cloud-based technology to scan for more advanced threats that regular antiviruses may miss.
This cloud-based scan was really fast — much quicker than the regular antivirus scan. I was pleased with the speed and results of Panda Cloud Cleaner, but I’m not sure why Panda doesn’t just include cloud-based scanning as part of its regular antivirus scan, like Avira does. On the other hand, I think it’s really good that Panda has a cloud-based scanner, even if it’s not a part of the main antivirus engine.
Panda’s Rescue Kit is a unique tool that lets users save infected PCs by creating a “rescue USB drive” to boot their devices and then use the cloud scanner to clean those devices from malware.
Coincidentally, while I was testing Panda Dome, my brother accidentally downloaded some malicious files that installed multiple pieces of malware onto his gaming PC. He was barely able to boot up his PC, and when he did, it was so slow and buggy that it was essentially unusable.
So, I used Panda’s Rescue Kit to “rescue” my brother’s PC and remove these viruses.
I was surprised with how easy it was to set up the Rescue Kit, taking less than a few minutes to install it on my USB drive. It then took around 20 minutes for the Rescue Kit to completely save this infected computer. I was honestly impressed that this tool actually managed to detect and remove all of the malware!
Most other antiviruses don’t include a feature like this, so Panda’s Rescue Kit is a huge selling point for me.
File Encryption & File Shredder
Panda has 2 really cool features that aren’t often found in antiviruses — file encryption and file shredding.
The file encryption tool was really easy to use. Panda uses Password Depot — a password manager that also offers file encryption tools. Once set up, I simply right-clicked on the files I wanted to encrypt, selected Password Depot 12 > Encrypt, and chose an encryption password to secure the files.
There are also options to:
- Delete the original files after they were encrypted.
- Create a self-extracting archive, so people who don’t have Password Depot can also decrypt the files.
- Store the specific file decryption password in the Password Depot password manager.
I was also able to completely delete files from my PC using File Shredder — meaning the deleted files couldn’t be accessed by hackers using advanced file recovery methods. This was useful as I had a few Microsoft Word docs that contained some of my account passwords. It was just as easy to erase these files as it was to encrypt them — I right-clicked on the Word doc file, selected Password Depot 12 > Erase, and then clicked Erase on the popup window.
Both the file encryption and file shredding tools are very useful for keeping personal files private and making sure that no one can ever get a hold of them. These features are among my favorites, and I’d really like to see competing brands include similar tools in their packages.
Panda’s device cleaning tools aren’t the best on the market, but they’re still useful.
When testing Panda’s PC Cleanup, I had 4 options:
- Free up space on my PC’s hard drive.
- Organize programs that launch on startup using Boot Manager.
- Defragment (reorganize) fragmented (unorganized) hard drives.
- Schedule a regular system cleanup.
The hard drive cleaning was pretty fast — finding over 1.2 GB of junk files in under 60 seconds.
The Boot Manager was also easy to use. I used it on my girlfriend’s laptop — she had 18 programs that launched on startup, most of which she didn’t use at all! So, we sat down and disabled all of the unnecessary ones, which reduced her laptop’s startup time (which was around 6 minutes) to about 60 seconds.
The Defragmenter is used to improve the organization and speed of hard disks — which improves a PC’s overall performance. It “defragmented” my 128 GB SSD hard drive in approximately 20 seconds, but I didn’t notice any significant boost in my PC performance — it already runs pretty fast.
Overall, Panda’s cleanup tools aren’t anything new, as they’re found in lots of antivirus packages like TotalAV and Avira, but they get the job done. And they can definitely make your computer run faster and smoother.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
VPNs (virtual private networks) are useful because they secure your internet connection — protecting your original IP address from being tracked by ISPs or websites. They also enable you to access geo-restricted content, meaning you can stream exclusive shows released in almost any country in the world.
Panda’s VPN is powered by Hotspot Shield — which is one of the most popular VPN providers on the market today.
However, I’m not too happy with Panda’s VPN. For one, only Panda’s most expensive plan includes a VPN with unlimited browsing data — all of the other plans are limited to only 150 MB/day. You also can’t select the server you want, which means you won’t be able to connect to the nearest server to your location, which means you’re likely to experience a significant drop in your internet speed. And you also won’t be able to stream geo-restricted content (both because you can’t choose what country’s server you want to access and because 150 MB is maybe 10 minutes of an HD movie).
Panda’s VPN is also lacking essential features, like a kill switch — which protects your privacy if the VPN connection is lost. Without a kill switch, your real IP address will be exposed if the VPN is disconnected, meaning neither your IP nor online activity will be protected.
During my tests, Panda’s VPNdid not perform well. The auto-connection significantly slowed down my connection, and there were also incredibly high ping times (the time it takes for a server to respond to a connection request).
Here’s my normal internet speed:
Here’s the VPN with Panda’s auto-connection:
Interestingly, the VPN didn’t affect my upload speed too much, but it’s pretty ridiculous for a VPN to slow download speed that much with such a high ping time.
Since I was using the most expensive plan, I also tested the VPN with a server of my choosing.
Here’s the VPN with the server nearest me:
The ping was still unreasonably high, but the download speed was much better. But it destroyed my upload speed. These are extremely inconsistent speeds, and this VPN is nowhere near as fast as standalone VPNs like NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
Overall, Panda’s VPN is okay, but it’s not great. It lacks additional features that I consider essential, like a kill switch. Some other antiviruses include VPNs, and they all performed much better in tests, in terms of speed, security, and overall functionality. However, Panda’s VPN is a nice addition to its internet security packages, and if you’re looking for a basic VPN, Panda’s VPN will be fine.
Panda Dome comes with a huge range of additional features, including:
- Password manager. Comes with a password generator, it auto-saves and auto-fills your passwords, and it checks password strength and security.
- Anti-theft tools. Tracks location of Windows, Android, and iOS devices. Android users get lock and wipe features, too.
- Data shield. Stops apps from accessing certain files and protects against ransomware.
- Parental controls. Basic website blocking options.
- Web protection. Phishing sites and malicious link detection and blocking.
- Virtual keyboard. On-screen pop-up keyboard which safeguards keystrokes from potential keyloggers.
- USB protection. Scans USBs for malware.
- And more…
Some of Panda’s additional features are pretty good. I especially like the anti-theft tools which include smartwatch compatibility for Android, so you can locate your phone from a Wear OS watch and remotely lock it. The anti-theft tools also have an anti-theft motion sensor and thief photo capture — similar to McAfee’s CaptureCam. The iOS and PC anti-theft features only include location tracking, but it was very accurate when I tested it on my iPhone.
I also like Panda’s password manager — it’s not as feature-rich as the best standalone password managers, but it has all of the essentials. And it’s a really good choice for users looking for a simple tool for secure password management. You can read more about Panda’s password manager here.
Unfortunately, some of the additional features didn’t perform as well as I would’ve liked them to. I like the idea of the virtual keyboard to safeguard my keystrokes from potential keyloggers, but the keys need to be made much bigger — they’re currently really small, making it really challenging to use. Other antiviruses have better keylogging protection.
Also, Panda seriously needs to address its phishing protection. It detected less than 50% of the phishing sites and malicious links in my tests — even obvious ones like fake PayPal and Amazon login pages managed to bypass Panda’s Safe Browsing feature.
Overall, Panda’s additional features are hit-or-miss. Most of them are pretty useful, including the password manager, anti-theft tools, and USB protection. But some could use improvement, such as the virtual keyboard and anti-phishing protection. Still, I think it’s great that Panda has so many extras — way more than most competitors.
Panda Dome Plans and Pricing
Panda is a bit expensive in comparison to other brands. While the most basic packages are fairly priced, they’re lacking in features that I consider essential, including ransomware protection and live customer support — which most other brands like Norton and McAfee include in all packages.
On the other hand, Panda does offer some pretty sizable discounts on the first year of protection. It also has a 30-day money-back policy, so you can try any Panda package risk-free for 30 days.
Panda Free Antivirus — Good Free Antivirus
Panda’s free antivirus is probably one of the best free PC antiviruses that I’ve tested.
- Real-time antivirus protection (Windows only). It uses the same antivirus engine as the premium version.
- Rescue Kit. It includes the same rescue tools that come with the premium version of Panda where you can load a USB drive with Panda’s software and insert it into infected PCs.
- Gaming mode. Helps to not slow down PC performance while gaming or watching movies.
- USB malware protection. Stops malware from being launched via USB devices.
- VPN. Includes 150 MB of data per day.
It’s rare to have real-time scanning as a free feature — usually, this only comes with the premium version of antivirus software. And Panda’s free scanning engine worked just as well in my tests as the premium engine did.
I was really happy to find that Panda also included the Rescue Kit in the free version. Again, it works exactly the same as it does on the premium version, with no limitations.
That said, Panda’s free plan is missing a lot of essential features, including the file encrypter, ransomware protection, data shield, and parental controls, but it’s still a great free plan.
Panda Dome Essential — Most Basic Premium Plan
Panda’s Dome Essential package is basically the free antivirus mentioned above, with a couple of added extras:
- Real-time antivirus protection. Works with Windows, Mac, and Android devices.
- Wi-Fi network protection. Stops cybercriminals from hacking Wi-Fi connections.
- Firewall (Windows only). Adjusts settings based on whether you’re connected to the internet at home, at work, or in public.
Panda Dome Essential also includes the free version of Panda’s VPN, with the 150 MB daily data allowance.
The price of Dome Essential for one device is fairly cheap in comparison to other brands’ basic packages. However, basic packages from competitors like McAfee do offer a couple more features for a similar price (especially with first-year discounts). But if you’re looking for a basic premium antivirus package, Panda Dome Essential is not a bad option.
Panda Dome Advanced — Good Value Plan
Panda Dome Advanced includes all of the features in the Dome Essential package, as well as:
- Ransomware and advanced threat protection.
- Personal data protection when shopping & banking.
- Parental controls.
While this package does offer additional tools, including ransomware protection, it’s only a little cheaper than Norton’s 360 Standard package — which includes more features like dark web monitoring, a password manager, and a VPN with unlimited browsing data. However, this basic Norton package doesn’t include parental controls, so if you have a family, Panda Dome Advanced might be a better option for you.
Panda Dome Complete — Best Value Plan
This package has all of the features in the Dome Advanced package, plus:
- Data shield.
- PC optimization tools.
- Password manager.
- File encryption.
- File shredding.
This is Panda’s best plan, with all of its most useful features. Panda Dome Complete adds the basic password manager which does a good job at securing passwords, and it also includes the excellent file encryption and shredding tools for keeping all of your sensitive files safe.
While the coverage for 1 device is more expensive than Norton’s 360 Deluxe package which offers complete protection and unlimited VPN data for up to 5 devices, Panda Dome Complete has many extras that Norton lacks. And Panda Dome Complete is reasonably priced and backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Panda Dome Premium — Most Advanced Plan
This is the package that I tested on my home office PC. As well as all of the previously mentioned features, Panda Dome Premium includes:
- VPN. With unlimited browsing data and the option to choose your server.
- Update manager. Updates OS and scans for vulnerabilities.
- 24/7 premium customer support. With live chat and phone support.
One year of protection for one device using this plan is significantly more expensive than most other competing brands.
Panda Dome Premium does include unlimited VPN data, but as I discussed earlier, the VPN is not the best. And while 24/7 customer support is usually useful, my experience with it wasn’t good. And honestly, I think 24/7 support should automatically be included with all plans, like how Norton does it.
That said, this plan does have a lot of features, and the OS vulnerability scan is a nice addition to the overall antivirus package. And with a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can try it out for a month and see if it’ll be good for you.
Panda Dome Ease of Use and Setup
Panda is one of the easiest antiviruses I’ve ever used. Both advanced users and people without much technical experience will be able to make full use of all of the additional features.
Panda didn’t take long to install. From start to finish, it took me around 10 minutes to set up Panda on my PC.
I really like the home screen display. It’s well-laid out, with big buttons for each feature — something that makes it simple for novice users.
However, I don’t like that Panda’s display has so many buttons — it can get confusing trying to locate a specific feature since the buttons don’t have any text. This isn’t a big problem because most users will get used to the dashboard pretty quickly — it only took me a couple of days to remember which button is used for what.
Once you are familiar with all of the buttons, it’s very easy to start a full system scan, ensure real-time protection is on, use the device optimization tools, and enable and customize all of the other features. Some of the more advanced features also have clear explanations which show you how and when to use the features.
Overall, Panda is a well-designed antivirus with user-friendly features and an intuitive dashboard. Experienced users will love that Panda has so many additional features, whereas beginner users will be happy that all of its tools are easy to access, understand, and use.
Panda Dome Mobile App
Panda has mobile apps for both iOS and Android — I tested them on my iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy 10.
The Panda iOS app is very basic — it’s not nearly as functional or feature-rich as most iOS antiviruses. The only features you get with the iOS app are:
- Device tracking tools.
There are options to contact customer support and to view your account, but both options redirect you to the Panda website. The device location tracking was accurate, and the app has a nice design, but I feel that the style doesn’t make up for the lack of substance. I’d much rather use the McAfee or Avira iOS app.
However, the Android app is really good — it has an excellent real-time antivirus scanner which picked up on all of the malware that I purposely downloaded onto my device, and it has tons of features, including:
- Antivirus scanner. Scans all apps and files for malware.
- VPN. Limited to 150 MB/per day (there’s an option to upgrade to the premium version).
- Family tools. Parental controls, child tracking, and safe areas (optional upgrade).
- Anti-theft tools. Locate, lock, and wipe a device remotely. You can also sound an alert to help find a device and capture images of potential thieves.
- App lock. Secure apps with a PIN code.
- Privacy auditing. Assesses app permission, such as access to photos, contacts, and location data.
- Call blocker. Block unwanted calls.
The app also has smartwatch connectivity for Wear OS watches, which is found in other antivirus apps like Bitdefender’s mobile app. It lets you remotely sound an alarm from your Android when you go out of range from your device. It also allows you to take pictures on your Android using your smartwatch — something that Bitdefender’s app doesn’t offer.
Overall, I think there are better iOS antivirus apps out there, but Panda’s Android app is actually pretty good, with a great antivirus scanner and tons of intuitive features.
Panda Dome Customer Support
My experience with Panda’s customer support wasn’t great. The company currently only offers live chat and phone support for Panda Dome Premium users — which is a shame for people paying for the other packages. Other users only have the option of a clunky email support request form that has to be accessed via Panda’s website.
That said, Panda’s premium customer support is available 24/7 — meaning it guarantees a response no matter the time of day.
The responses I received when I tested both the email and live chat support were pretty bad overall. And with both methods, the customer support representatives took a long time to respond. I understand email responses may be delayed, but the live chat support took over 1 hour 30 minutes to respond to my messages.
In most cases, it seemed like the representatives didn’t really know what they were talking about, or that they couldn’t be bothered to answer my question properly — instead, they were just responding with FAQ links that didn’t fully answer my questions.
Only one live chat representative was helpful and concise with their response to my question about the gaming mode. All the others were very unhelpful, choosing not to answer certain (basic) questions. Some were even giving me wrong information about Panda’s features — that I had to correct them on!
Overall, I was disappointed with my customer support experience, especially as I was expecting the live chat to be better. It’s also disappointing that Panda doesn’t offer customer support for all paying users — most other antiviruses, like Norton, offer both live chat and phone support for all users.
That said, I expect to see Panda pay more attention to its customer support in the future.
Is Panda Dome Worth the Money in 2021?
Panda Dome is a generally good antivirus and internet security suite. Its scanning engine worked almost perfectly in my tests, blocking 100% of my spyware and ransomware samples and over 95% of the other malware samples I tested.
Panda also has tons of additional features, like:
- Real-time protection.
- Rescue Kit.
- File encryption and file shredding.
- Device optimization.
- Password manager.
- Parental controls.
My favorite feature by far is the Rescue Kit — something I think all PC users should consider when looking for an antivirus. I also like how Panda makes it really easy to encrypt and decrypt sensitive files as well as completely erase unwanted files containing private information using the file shredding tool.
However, I felt let down by the functionality of many additional features, including the VPN and web protection. The VPN was slow and not fully secure when I tested it. The web protection failed to block most of the phishing links that I tested it against — even very obvious phishing sites that were mimicking Amazon and PayPal login pages. And the customer service I received was particularly bad.
While the free version of Panda is decent, I think many of its premium packages are a bit expensive. Other brands like Norton and McAfee offer similar protection for more devices with a better range of features for cheaper.
However, with a 30-day money-back guarantee on all Panda Dome plans, it’s definitely worth trying to see if Panda is the best antivirus for you.
Panda Dome — Frequently Asked Questions
Is Panda Dome safe?
Panda Dome is 100% safe to use. It is a legitimate antivirus that comes from a highly reputable cybersecurity company. It uses advanced scanning technology to block the latest malware and cyberattacks. It’s designed to protect against the latest malware threats, including viruses, spyware, and ransomware.
It also includes a lot of other security features, including a password manager, file encryption tools, and a VPN.
Does Panda Dome work on Macs?
Yes, Panda does have a macOS version of its software.
- Antivirus scanning.
- Web protection.
- Integrated VPN.
But it wasn’t good enough to make it onto our list of the best Mac antiviruses. The Mac version’s scans are extremely slow and the software is missing a lot of the additional features that makes Panda’s PC version great — including the Rescue Kit, parental controls, file shredding, and file encryption.
If you’re looking for complete Mac protection, you should try Intego.
Is Panda Dome good at detecting malware?
While Panda’s antivirus scanning engine performed well in my malware tests, it didn’t score a 100% detection rate in all instances.
It did manage to:
- Detect over 95% of all of the non-executed malware sample files during a full system scan.
- Block 100% of the executed ransomware samples.
- Remove 100% of pre-installed spyware.
Panda’s separate cloud-based scanning tool, named “Panda Cloud Cleaner”, did provide a more advanced system scan — detecting deep-rooted suspicious files. But even when I tested it with the same folder of malware samples used in the original antivirus tests, it still didn’t detect some of the files.
So even though Panda Dome didn’t score a 100% detection rate against all types of malware in my tests, the most destructive files, including ransomware and spyware, were blocked and removed safely.
Is Panda VPN safe to use?
Panda’s VPN is safe to use. It’s powered by the well-known VPN provider Hotspot Shield, and it secures your connection and protects your IP address from being tracked.
Panda’s VPN also includes:
- A strict no-logs policy.
- 256-bit AES encryption.
- Multiple device support (up to 5 simultaneous connections).
However, when I tested the average speed of the VPN, it wasn’t particularly fast. It’s also limited in terms of server locations and functionality, and only on the most expensive Panda plan can you can unlimited browsing data and access to all of Panda’s worldwide servers.