Panda Internet Security 2009 covers all the bases with its features, and it scans quickly, but it lags behind some rivals at malware detection. 

Panda Internet Security 2009 boasts an extensive feature set and an easy-to-use interface. However, we weren’t wholly convinced by its ability to block malicious software and the suite had some genuine difficulty dealing with some especially nasty malware, despite its new web-based scanning feature.

We also think the Panda Internet Security 2009 suite rather expensive compared to some of its rivals. It successfully detected about 97.8 of the Trojan horses, bots, password stealers, and other malware in AV-Test’s library (98.1 percent excluding adware). This compares with a 93.6 percent detection rate in our previous testing (94.8 percent excluding adware).

Panda Internet Security 2009 managed only a 36.46 percent detection rate in heuristic tests that use week-old signature files to simulate how well security programs can catch new, unknown malware.

Panda Internet Security 2009 caught over 95 percent of spyware designed to steal passwords and financial information. This is a marked improvement over our previous testing, when Panda caught just 69 percent of those particularly harmful varieties. In behavioural detection testing it caught 9 out of 15 malware samples based on how that malware acted on a test PC, but that placed it only sixth in that category.

A new web-based addition to the Panda Internet Security 2009 version called Collective Intelligence sends a hash, or signature, of a to-be-scanned file, along with information about its behavior, to Panda servers. By comparing the signature against a large online database of signatures, Collective Intelligence attempts to bolster the scanning abilities of the program on your PC and speed the suite’s ability to detect new malware.

Panda Internet Security 2009 clocked in with the best on-access scanning speed, which tests how long it takes to scan files as your PC opens or accesses them (although it proved the slowest suite for scans kicked off manually or according to a schedule).

It covers all the bases for expected features and adds a few extras, with parental controls, backups, anti-spam and anti-phishing. Panda Internet Security 2009 also includes a useful vulnerability scanner that can check for patches missing from your PC. Although some of the extra features could use more polish, Panda’s application was the only suite we tested that offered the all.

Panda Internet Security 2009's vulnerability scanner, for one, is a welcome extra, since practicing good PC safety means making sure your computer is up-to-date with patches. But you’ll need to launch the scan manually (you can’t schedule it), and the overall security-status report won’t change even if you’re missing a critical patch.

To use Panda Internet Security 2009's parental control feature, you’ll need to create a log-in and password for each person using the computer. Each log-in has its own profile that defines site restrictions. Then, when anyone starts up a Web browser, the user is prompted to select a parental-control log-in and enter a password - distinct from any that might be necessary for the Windows account - in a pop-up.

Panda Internet Security 2009's backup feature can back up by file type (such as photos, Office documents or web favourites) or by selected folders or drives. It’s relatively easy to set up, but you can schedule a daily backup only to another hard drive or to a CD or DVD. Its antispam option adds a toolbar and spam folder to Outlook and Outlook Express.