Panda Security has four paid antivirus options for home users. The one we’re covering here is the least expensive of the four, called Panda Dome Essential.
Naturally, Panda Dome Essential has fewer features than the other three products because it’s the cheapest option. However, it protects against viruses just like the other products, with the only difference being that it doesn’t include extra features like a premium VPN, parental control settings, and a PC tuneup tool.
It has lots of really specific firewall settings and virus scan options, which you have total control over. Change them as often as you want and make the program extremely specific to your own needs.
Below is everything you need to know about Panda Dome Essential, starting off with my thoughts after using it as well as absolutely every single feature you’ll find in it, screenshots of all the important parts of the software, how much it costs to use, and how Essential compares to the Advanced, Complete, and Premium plans.
Panda Dome Essential Initial Impression
I had a good feeling about this software the moment it first opened. It’s not cluttered with ads to buy their other products, the tools are all easily accessible from one page, and the settings are simple to understand even though there are advanced options for advanced users.
You can control the program by right-clicking the Panda Dome Essential icon at the bottom of your screen. It’s there that you can launch the helpful virtual keyboard tool, turn on gaming mode to hide notifications, connected to the VPN, and stop the antivirus completely. I like that you can control those things immediately without having to load the whole program interface.
Scanning any folder or file of your choosing is also easy for anyone. Just right-click what you want to scan and Panda Dome Essential will start just the scan tool to quickly check it for threats and show you the results.
At a relatively cheap price, Panda Dome Essential has all that you need to stay protected from local and remote threats, and it’s perfect for novice users who just need always-on protection without much interaction as well as experienced users who want finer control over how their computer is protected.
Panda Dome Essential Price
Like most software programs, you can buy Panda Dome Essential at a discount if you order it for one, two, or three years up front, but there’s also a month-by-month option to avoid a long-term commitment.
- Option 1: Pay $4.99 /month, cancel any time.
- Option 2: Pay $3.23 /month by ordering three years of service at once at $116.34. This is the best deal at a $1.76 /month savings over three years, but it’s also the biggest one-time payment option.
- Option 3: Pay $3.47 /month with a two-year payment of $83.29. This is equivalent to a $1.50 /month savings, but you have to pay for two entire years at once.
- Option 4: Pay $3.69 /month with a yearly payment of $44.24. Compared to the monthly option, this saves you over $1 per month, but you’re locked in for a whole year.
Each of these payment plans can be ordered for 1, 3, 5, 10 or an unlimited number of devices. The price goes up with each one.
A free trial is available here that lasts 30 days; payment information isn’t required.
Important: These pricing details are valid only for the first year. See the final payment page for information on what it costs after the first year.
Panda Dome Essential System Requirements
The Panda Dome Essential antivirus program works with these Windows operating systems: Windows 10, Windows 8/8.1, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP (SP3 or later).
This antivirus program isn’t super light on system resources but it’s not very demanding either. You could get by having 1 GB of RAM for when it’s running a virus scan.
Panda Dome Essential Features
Many more features are shown in the screenshots below, but these are the basic features of Panda Dome Essential:
- Antivirus with firewall
- Includes a VPN (150 MB /day limit)
- Protect your WiFi network from hackers and prying neighbors
- Scan external/USB devices and keep them safe from all kind of threats
Installation of Panda Dome Essential
Panda Dome Essential installs quickly and easily. You don’t have to know anything about antivirus software or this program to get it going.
The installer is just a few megabytes (really small), so it doesn’t take long to download. However, the file you download is an online installer, meaning that it downloads the rest of the files during setup. Just pick your language and then wait for it to fully install.
This whole process—from the initial download to the finished installation—took just under five minutes.
Using Panda Dome Essential
The start screen, pictured above, is an easy way to see how many files Panda Dome Essential has scanned. Below that is the meat of the program; it’s where you can access 14 screens for doing everything from running scans to contacting their support team and connecting to a VPN.
Here’s a look at most of these tools:
Panda Dome Essential Virus Scanning
Scan is the first item. There’s an option to run a critical scan, full scan, and custom scan.
The critical scan checks places most viruses try to hide, which includes active memory and processes that are currently running; it’s best to run this type of scan if you want Panda Dome Essential to quickly find and remove threats.
The full scan checks every single file on your computer, so it could take quite a long time to finish, but it’s much more effective than the critical scan.
A custom scan lets you scan any specific folder or hard drive of your choosing.
You can have the computer shut down after a scan if you plan on having that be the last task your computer completes before the end of the day.
Panda Dome Essential Antivirus Hub
Antivirus is the second item. This is the central hub for monitoring the antivirus function of Panda Dome Essential. You can run scans (which starts the Scan option from above), view quarantined files, create scheduled scans, and review how many of each kind of threat the program has found.
Panda Dome Essential can run scheduled scans daily, weekly, or monthly. The scan can encompass the whole computer, critical areas only, or one or more folders/drives. The Scheduled scan screen is also where you can define the files, folders, and extensions that Panda Dome Essential should exclude from scheduled scans.
It also lets you choose what to scan: compressed files, viruses, spyware, hacking tools, suspicious items, and/or potentially unwanted programs.
Some of the antivirus settings you can toggle on and off in Panda Dome Essential include:
- Enable permanent protection
- Behavioral blocking
- Behavioral analysis
- Ask before neutralizing a virus
- Show warning upon detection
- Block files from running until a result is obtained from the cloud for a maximum of 30 seconds (you can choose anything from 10 to 60)
- Automatically empty the quarantine every three days, week, month, or never
Panda Dome Essential Devices
My devices is another start screen button. This is where you can access any other devices that are connected to your account. Selecting the first button will take you to a download page where you can get the Panda Security app for your iOS or Android device.
Panda Dome Essential Personal Firewall
Personal Firewall is how you access the firewall screen to see how many processes have been blocked and if any intrusions have been prevented. It’s also here that you define the type of connection you’re using: home, work, or public.
In the firewall settings is where you have granular control over how it all works. You can disable the firewall completely if you want to.
You can define rules for allowing or blocking specific programs, protocols, ports, and addresses, as well as toggle any of these settings for intrusion prevention:
- IP explicit path
- Land attack
- SYN or UDP flood
- TCP or UDP port scan
- TCP flag check
- IP header length check
- Smart DNS
- Smart DHCP
- Smart ARP
- OS detection
- ICMP drop unsolicited responses
- ICMP no echo requests
- Small PMTU
- Fragmentation control
Panda Dome Essential Application Control
Application Control is the button on the start screen right next to the firewall. This is disabled by default but once enabled, lets you have complete control over every single program on your computer. Before anything is allowed to run, you have to manually allow or deny it.
This is the best way to block malware from running because it’ll have to go through you first. Having application control enabled is a great feature, but it can quickly become exhausting to manually approve everything, so use it sparingly.
If you want to, you can open the settings for this tool to explicitly allow or deny applications even before they run.
Panda Dome Essential Safe Browsing
The Safe Browsing option opens this screen where you can see which URLs have been blocked while browsing the web. If malware or phishing attempts have been found online, they’ll show up here.
Panda Dome Essential checks your web browsing activity automatically and will block whatever is viewed as a threat. You don’t have to install a browser extension or use a special browser to make this work.
You can disable this feature if you want, as well as add addresses and whole domains to the safe list.
Panda Dome Essential USB Protection
USB Protection is for controlling how external USB devices are treated by Panda Dome Essential. You can have all USB drives checked for threats automatically (this feature is disabled by default) or be prompted to scan devices each time they’re opened.
USB devices are treated like any other drive, so even if you have this feature turned off, you can always right-click the drive or a folder within it, and start a scan with Panda Dome Essential. They can also be scanned by running a custom scan.
Panda Dome Essential Process Monitor
The Process Monitor option in Panda Dome Essential lists all the processes that it can find and classifies them as secure or dangerous. Also shown here is how many HTTP connections each process has. If an unsafe program has a connection to the internet, it might be relaying information back and forth for malicious reasons.
You can select a process for additional details and control.
For example, you can see which web addresses the process is connecting to, which is really helpful if you suspect that it’s communicating with a malicious website. You can also use this screen to block the process.
Panda Dome Essential Rescue Kit
Rescue Kit is another tool included in Panda Dome Essential. Within it are actually two ways to remove viruses if the regular method hasn’t been successful.
The rescue USB drive is a bootable antivirus tool that will clean a computer before the operating system runs. This is essential for viruses that block you from logging in or that are too hard to remove with a regular antivirus tool. All you need is a flash drive to install the software onto.
The advanced option is an alternate scan method that Panda Dome Essential can try to remove the threats.
Panda Dome Essential Virtual Keyboard
If you’re really serious about privacy, the Virtual Keyboard tool runs an on-screen keyboard that you have to use with your mouse. The idea here is that you’ll still be able to enter sensitive information even if your computer is infected with a keylogger that can detect keystrokes.
Other Panda Dome Essential Tools
If your computer is using a Wi-Fi network, the Wi-Fi Protection option helps you identify threats, a helpful feature especially when you’re on public Wi-Fi.
VPN is another tool accessible from the start screen in Panda Dome Essential. It’s not installed by default, but you can easily add it to your computer from this screen. It’s part of the program, so it doesn’t require any extra payments.
You can set the VPN to be enabled automatically each time your computer starts up so that you never miss out on its advantages. You can also have the VPN turn on each time you connect to an insecure Wi-Fi network. Another option is to pre-select the country to automatically connect to.
Panda Dome Essential vs Advanced vs Complete vs Premium
As you read at the top of this page, Panda Dome Essential is only one of four paid antivirus products from Panda Security. All four of these programs include all the features mentioned above, but the others include a few additional tools.
These are the unique features within each program.
- Panda Dome Advanced: Parental control, identity protection, and ransomware protection
- Panda Dome Complete: Data encryptor, password manager, and cleanup tool
- Panda Dome Premium: Unlimited VPN and 24/7 tech support
All in all, Panda Dome Essential is an excellent program for most people. Those other features, like a file encryption tool, password manager, and tuneup utility, are totally free from other companies and so aren’t needed in a bundle with this AV program. It’s just not worth the extra money to get those extra features when Essential is more than enough.