Panda Security Review
Plans & Prices:
Seven days free trial
Panda Security is a Spanish security software provider specializing in the creation and development of products in the IT security field. The company was founded in Bilbao, the largest city in Northern Spain, as Panda software back in 1990 by its now former CEO, Mikel Urizarbarrena. The company started out as an antivirus software provider, but gradually expanded its portfolio to include firewall applications, spam, and spyware detection tools, cybercrime prevention technology, and other system management and security tools.
Catering to both business and home users, Panda has come up with some revolutionary products over the years, among which its trademark TruPrevent technology aimed at blocking unknown viruses and intruders, and its Collective Intelligence security model for malware collection and detection. Both these systems were combined in Panda’s more recently developed Adaptive Defense security model, a Big Data and an AI-based tool that monitors and classifies your systems’ running applications. It works proactively, detecting attacks even before they commence and sets itself apart from many of its competitors who work in a more traditional way, taking action only if a process is found to be malicious.
Panda is also the first to run its entire antivirus system from the cloud, which has several advantages, the most striking one is that by running the application from the cloud, the PC’s resources are completely untouched. Also, all Panda users are cloud-connected and their activity is automatically reported, meaning that if one Panda user gets infected by a new form of malware, it will be reported to the cloud instantly so that every other Panda user will immediately be protected from that threat.
Panda has recently added a VPN service to its range of products, and we are very curious to see if it lives up to Panda’s reputation of being innovative and advanced in its solutions.
Panda VPN’s payoff is music to the ears of everyone interested in using a VPN service because it catches all the possible usage scenarios:
Internet with no hackers · No borders · No limitations · No risk_
For clarifying purposes, Panda explains in more detail why using Panda VPN is a sensible thing to do:
- It secures your Wi-Fi connection, even on public networks
- It enables you to browse the Web anonymously, protecting your privacy
- It helps unblock all Internet content, without limitations or borders
- It hides your IP address away from prying eyes
- It changes your virtual location so you can access any content from anywhere
- It enables you to browse online freely without worrying about censorship issues
When downloading and installing Panda VPN, you’re not just downloading a standalone VPN client. What you get is, in fact, a full version of Panda Dome, Panda’s complete antivirus suite, that includes the VPN service. When opening Panda Dome on your PC, you have to choose the VPN option from the main menu to start the VPN service.
During our research on VPN services, we’ve identified five key criteria for you to consider when choosing a VPN service: 1. Main security features 2. Resource consumption 3. Connection stability 4. Platforms/Devices accessibility 5. Value for money. Our reviews will examine each VPN service in accordance with how well it delivers on these five criteria.
How Panda VPN meets the 5 criteria?
1. Main Security Features
Panda meets the expected requirements when it comes to data encryption: it uses state-of-the-art 256-bit encryption to secure the data of its users. It doesn’t just encrypt user data, Panda VPN also explains to users how its VPN protection works. It does so in relatively simple terms, without getting into the technical details of the service.
In the available technical documentation, Panda does cover a more technical side of its VPN service. The most important thing to know is that the encryption used offers the highest available level of security. Additionally, the VPN works better with newer devices. Older devices take longer to decrypt the encrypted data and the CPU needs to reserve more resources for the decryption, influencing the device speed and general performance.
Panda VPN is different than most other VPN providers in the sense that it offers very few editable settings. Basically, all that you can set yourself, is the location of the virtual server to connect to.
The option to auto-connect when restarting your system – forced or voluntarily – is a welcome additional feature. If you activate this option, you can also choose the location to connect to.
Panda VPN employs thousands of servers worldwide, with server locations in 23 different countries, to offer its users maximum connection speed and performance, while still maintaining the highest possible security level with the most secure VPN protocol available.
Panda’s policy regarding log file management is very clear-cut: Panda VPN does not collect any information that could lead to a user’s identification. The company takes pride in upholding a policy of not collecting, storing, or sharing any permanent identifiers of users, including but not limited to IP addresses. Panda VPN does not keep or archive activity logs for any of its users, regardless of the type of user (free or Premium).
DNS Leak Protection
Panda offers its users to connect to servers in 23 countries, which offers a nice variety of possible locations. The most remarkable thing about its network of DNS servers is that it’s not a network of physical servers. Panda VPN utilizes virtual servers to distribute local IP addresses that match the chosen location users are connecting to. While the IP number distribution works well and provides users the necessary means to unblock content using a local IP address to bypass possible impacts of geo-tracking. At the same time, DNS leakage does occur at times and while this does not have to be disastrous, it can potentially lead users into trouble, for example when a leak happens during torrenting activities. In this area, Panda VPN will need to improve its service to be able to really make an impact on the market.
2. Resource Consumption
When looking at how much of the available CPU power Panda VPN uses to run at full capacity, we can conclude that it performs according to expectations, which means it does not take a significant part of the available resources. We expected this because modern VPN services are, generally speaking, efficient pieces of software – our test results confirm this. Panda VPN is no exception and performs its task with ease, with no noticeable effect on the device’s performance.
When we zoom in on the exact up- and download speeds with and without Panda VPN running, we see a tiny difference in speed when the VPN is running. The results, based on speed measurements from three different tools (speedtest.net, meter.net, and fast.com), show a slightly higher download speed when Panda VPN is active: 34.44 Mbps vs. 35.28 Mbps. The upload speed, on the other hand, is much lower with the VPN active: 38.88 Mbps vs. 14.46 Mbps. The difference in upload speed is remarkable, but most users appreciate a higher download speed before a high upload speed, for obvious reasons. The registered PING value with an active VPN connection is high at approx. 115 ms and does not at all compare to the PING value without the VPN, which registers at 4.67 ms. The high PING value certainly does not indicate a fast connection, but since the download speed is actually very good and the jitter (0.7 ms) connected to the PING value is indicative of at least a decent level of connection stability, we tend to interpret the VPN influenced statistics in a positive way.
3. Connection Stability
So far, we have found a really good download speed and a less impressive PING value with a decent jitter score connected to it. The low jitter value is a good indicator of a stable connection. So even if the PING value is somewhat on the high side, the connection itself is definitely stable. If you’re not engaging in activities that require a fast response time (gaming, for example), you’ll be fine, especially considering the download speed.
A VPN’s connection stability is affected by a combination of variables, device influence, network influence and distance being the main ones. In our testing environment, the device and network connection are good, so that leaves the distance as the factor to impact the connection in a less favorable way. Panda has a large number of servers available, but the number of different countries they’re located in is limited. This means that it is very well possible that your device needs to get the data from a relatively long distance, which explains the high PING value – the PING is usually higher when the data needs to come from further away.
As a final note, we can add that our VPN tunneled internet connection wasn’t noticeably slow, or even slower than without the VPN activated. With several different browsers and tabs open at the same time, including YouTube videos, we didn’t notice any latency or buffering problems, let alone connection timeouts. In other words: a high quality, stable connection is what we found with Panda VPN.
4. Platforms/Devices Accessibility
Currently, Panda VPN is only available for Windows and Android. A version for iOS will be released in the near future, with a Mac version in the works for 2019. The VPN service is the latest addition to Panda’s product portfolio, and it is being released for the different platforms in phases. It actually makes sense that Windows and Android versions are released before Mac and iOS versions. Many Apple users are under the impression that Macs, iPhones, and iPads are free from the risk of being infected. Obviously, this is a wrong assumption and a quite dangerous one too, but the fact is that the Windows and Android market are easier to penetrate and users of those platforms are always actively looking for new security developments and tools. They will likely be interested in trying out a new VPN service if and when it is presented to them.
Both the Android app and the Windows come as a free version with the option to upgrade to a premium subscription. A Panda VPN premium subscription provides users the option to run the tool simultaneously on several devices, up to a maximum of five.
5. Value for Money?
Panda VPN is a very basic VPN service. The tool offers a very limited set of options, which is a gift to some, but not all users. People who are looking into start using a VPN service to secure their identity and unlock the internet without compromising their privacy, will be thrilled to find a provider who does everything for them, so they only have to choose a location to connect to. Actually, they don’t even have to choose a location: they can just set the VPN to connect automatically and the system will decide which server location to connect to. “Easy does it” definitely goes for Panda VPN users. As mentioned above, the quality of the connection, along with its stability, is good and will definitely satisfy most users, since it’s not noticeably lower in quality than the no-VPN connection. Besides that, Panda VPN does everything that a good VPN service is expected to do: it unlocks all types of online content, it secures Wi-Fi connections. Users get unlimited data with a Panda VPN premium subscription, can connect to over twenty different locations worldwide and can install the tool on up to five devices.
Potential users looking for a VPN service with lots of bells and whistles in the shape of settings they can change and options they can turn on and off, should probably look elsewhere.
For users that want to benefit from the safety of using a VPN connection but don’t want any hassle from it besides clicking the ‘Connect’ button, Panda VPN is a dream come true. Activate and enjoy online safety, that’s it basically. The only additional options premium users have, are choosing the server location and activating the option to reconnect automatically when restarting your system. If you appreciate simplicity, Panda VPN is a definite option to look into. Users looking for a more extensive set of features to work with, should think again before purchasing Panda VPN.
The price of Panda VPN is definitely not a dealbreaker: aside from the free version, users can choose from three different pricing models: a monthly subscription that costs $9.99, a yearly subscription for $6.45 per month, or a 3-year subscription for only $2.97 per month that includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
As previously mentioned, Panda VPN comes packages in the Panda Dome antivirus suite. Downloading and installing the free VPN tool, will result in the installation of the free version of Panda Dome. Upgrading only the VPN is an option, with pricing as described above. Alternatively, users can upgrade the whole Panda Dome suite, including the VPN, by purchasing a Panda Dome subscription. Note that the only version of Panda Dome that includes the premium Panda VPN option, is the Dome Premium plan.
Support and Customer Service
A Panda VPN premium subscription gives users access to the 24/7 support channel. The premium support includes the option of a technician connecting to your device remotely to fix any issues. Premium support requests are handled by phone, and is accessible with a dedicated number (along with your premium subscription). Non-premium users have access to the regular support channel, which is available by phone on weekdays from 9 to 18. Alternatively, there’s the option to connect to the support channel by use of a web-form that will activate the email support.
If you are the type of person that wants to try and solve technical issues without the Panda support team’s assistance, you can check the knowledge base that contains a section dedicated to the VPN service. This is not a very extensive section, but it might still be sufficient in helping you overcome problems.