Norton’s products and apps are surprisingly lightweight given how much power they contain and, at 3.4 MB for both the deluxe and premium packages, they are considerably smaller than the mighty McAfee. As a result, instead of the download taking close to half an hour, most Norton products will download in less than 15 minutes.
Even on my sluggish system, the download and installation were lighting fast which came as a pleasant surprise after my McAfee nightmare which lasted over an hour and a half and resulted in no antivirus app and no protection.
If you take advantage of Norton’s free trials, as I did, the download starts automatically without you having to register or create an account, although this does seem to vary depending on which country you’re connecting from. Again, an unexpected yet welcome surprise especially in the current era of data-collection obsession.
I expected certain issues to crop up during the installation process primarily because I already had an Avast antivirus product installed. In fact, uninstalling Avast for the sake of installing Norton proved to be as simple and smooth as the rest of the process and it just required me to give permission and then the rest happened quietly and automatically in the background.
While a progress bar would be a welcome addition to Norton’s installation wizard, its absence isn’t a huge inconvenience but it would, nonetheless, be nice to know when the end is nigh. You do, of course, need a reliable internet connection to complete the installation process and be willing to uninstall any conflicting software, including alternative antivirus protection.
All in all, however, the Norton setup process is simple and straightforward, even if you only have access to a fairly old device and a sluggish internet connection. Surprisingly enough, the uninstall process is similarly uncomplicated if a little time-consuming. Most installation and removal issues can be correct simply by using Norton’s Remove and Reinstall Tool, although this is four times bigger than the antivirus software itself and has a tendency to cause more problems than it solves.
Virus, Spyware & Malware Protection
Norton provides reliable protection against common cyber threats, with all its products boasting a two-way firewall, online data protection and a variety of defenses that bolster your device against malware, spyware, and other viruses. Even Norton’s most basic packages are covered by its Virus Protection Promise which guarantees your device will remain virus-free under Norton’s protection and, if it doesn’t, will give you a refund.
Cyber threats come in a range of formats and exploit different device vulnerabilities in order to gain access to and disrupt your operating environment. As a result, any effective internet security solution needs to be multi-layered, providing both online and offline protection and making your device secure throughout, from the point of connection to deep down within its hard drive.
Unfortunately, Norton’s products have become increasingly cloud dependent over the years and, as a result, few of them perform well offline. In a test run by AV-Comparatives earlier this year, although Norton products achieved an impressive 99.98% detection rate for online malware threats when it came to offline threats, it scored just 89.3%. This isn’t a terrible score and indicates that Norton still outperforms respected rivals such as Panda and McAfee but it’s far from the standard Norton was achieving two years ago.
Having said that, Norton uses advanced detection technologies to keep their users safe, employing click-time URL protection and cloud-based sandboxing to keep your inbox free of spam and phishing attempts. With members of Norton’s extensive international community providing vital information about the latest threats on an almost daily basis, Norton is also in an excellent position to detect and prevent zero-day attacks while using signature-based detection to defend against known threats.
Users can choose to add extra layers of protection by subscribing to Norton’s Secure VPN service, for example. This will give you enhanced online security by encasing all your traffic in an encrypted tunnel and ensuring you have a completely anonymous browsing experience uninterrupted by irritating adverts and other pop-ups.
Although Norton may not be replicating the best of scores of all time, it’s still doing an effective job protecting private devices and enterprises all over the world. As few of us ever disconnect, the value of its online detection rates far outweigh its poorer performance in offline detection and leave us confident of its ability to block and neutralize almost all potential cyber threats.
Norton’s most basic package is Antivirus Plus and, compared to its other products, this is a seriously slimmed down version of what Norton can be at the top end of the scale. Nevertheless, even this minimal security suite will give you protection against ransomware, malware, and other potential infections, while also giving you access to a password manager and 2 MB of cloud storage. It may not sound like much, but it’s more than sufficient to keep you and your device secure.
Unlike many of its rivals who reserve firewall protection for their premium users only, Norton establishes this layer of protection in its basic package and then adds onto it as the security suites become more sophisticated. Similarly, while other antivirus software developers only offer their VPN as a stand-alone add-on or as part of their most expensive package, Norton introduces it early on in its pricing tiers, so everyone subscribing to Norton 360 (presumably the equivalent of the old Standard package) upwards gets the benefit of VPN-enhanced online security.
Dark Web monitoring is another feature that’s available to all users except those on the most basic package. This is a comparatively uncommon feature of internet security packages but has been designed to search for information about its users that’s circulating in the deep dark web and then inform the individual so they can take the necessary action. This action is dependent on the type of information identified so, for example, if Norton informs you that your credit card information is out there somewhere, canceling the card is the logical first step. If, on the other hand, it’s your social security number that’s been leaked, informing the necessary authorities and credit bureaus should take priority.
In an effort to prevent the leakage of such sensitive data, Norton has introduced an identity theft protection feature known as the LifeLock Identity Alert system. This is included in both its premium packages or can be purchased as a stand-alone feature. Norton has a few other stand-alone tools available for free download or purchase, including its rescue kit which comes in the form of a bootable recovery tool, and its Power Eraser feature. The latter of these is free to download and is designed to identify particularly stealthy threats that are notoriously difficult to detect.
Unlike some anti-viruses which boast a lot of different features but fail to provide robust basic protection, Norton has hit a happy balance between the necessities and the added extras, creating comprehensive packages that will protect devices across a variety of operating systems. Innovative technology such as LifeLock boosts Norton’s standard protection and takes it to another level, especially when it comes to identity theft protection.
Ease of Use
To gain full functionality with your Norton product, you’ll need to operate in both its downloaded application and the online web portal. The products itself are navigated via its clean and friendly user interface. The main interface displays the most important internet security functions at the bottom of the screen while giving users access to more advanced menu options via the main screen.
Finding your way between device security and specific tools for your identity protection is made simple with Norton’s intuitive interface and users can access advanced settings without open any additional windows. This simplicity of navigation is great for beginners while the level of customization means advanced users will find enough features to keep them content.
Norton’s interface has changed little over the years and why should it have? After all, it was never broken. Furthermore, the consistency of design makes the newer versions feel like familiar friends within a matter of minutes, making it ideal for dedicated Norton users.
Although Norton’s products are definitely user-friendly, they aren’t necessary system-friendly and do tend to impact heavily on system resources while scanning. Indeed, research indicates that Norton may slow your system down by up to 30%, especially if you’re using an older operating system.
On the plus-side, behind the inviting user interface, Norton proceeds with a variety of operations quietly and without interfering with your other activities. For example, suspicious software is moved into quarantine without even so much as a whisper while the gaming mode will prevent all distracting notifications and pop-ups.
Norton has worked hard at getting its scan times up to scratch and has introduced a protection scanner feature aimed at monitoring your activities and tracking resource usage so resources can be redirected accordingly. Norton will also identify times when the system is under less pressure and will time its routine scans to coincide with these periods.
Overall, a smooth and enjoyable user experience and one that will only improve further as Norton develops new technology to streamline its resource-hungry software.
Although Norton might not have the cheapest products around, it does have a few advantages secreted away in its pricing structure. For one, unlike rivals BitDefender and McAfee, Norton has monthly subscriptions available as well as annual ones and, while the annual subscriptions work out slightly cheaper, the pricing remains surprisingly consistent. This is great for people like me who prefer to change antivirus software as the whim takes me. If, on the other hand, you’d prefer to sign up for a subscription and then forget about it for three years, a service like that offered by BitDefender may be more suitable.
It doesn’t have a free limited version of its antivirus software but it does offer 30-day free trials on some selected packages. These packages seem to vary from country to country so, if you’re in the US, you can try either the Andoird app or the Norton Family Premier package, whereas if you’re in South Africa, you get the choice of either the Deluxe or Premium packages. This is rather confusing but, for those of you who don’t use a VPN to mask your location, you’d never be any the wiser. For those of you who do, you now know how to make your free trials stretch a little further!
Norton’s pricing tier starts with its Antivirus Plus software which costs $59.99 at its standard price or $5.99 per month. This is a pretty steep entry-level price, especially as Norton doesn’t have a free version on offer to soothe the blow.
By comparison, Kaspersky’s basic antivirus costs just over $16 per year and its internet security suite just over $25. To be fair, Avast has a very similar pricing structure so Norton is completely out of the ballpark but it might want to consider running its current discounts until it resolves some of the issues relating to system performance and can really give Avast a run for its money.
Navigating to Norton’s online support center is like walking into a well-run spa. It’s welcoming and clean with everything is laid-out logically so that it already feels familiar. Click on the main topics at the top of the screen and a list of FAQs will pop up underneath. Additional resources are listed in a separate menu displayed in the bottom right hand corner so you can easily navigate to other pages, such as Norton’s video tutorial page or, in the event of a malware infection, its free threat removal tools.
If you don’t find the answers you need there, clicking on the “Contact Support” icon will reveal another host of support solutions. Not only does Norton have a 24/7 live online chat option (which appears to be something of a rarity among antivirus developers), but it also offers customer support via both telephone and email. Alternatively, you could visit one of their social media pages and get in touch with a member of the Norton team that way.
The sheer range of contact options and support resources puts Norton far ahead of the competition in this regard while the additional 24/7 live chat option is far more surprising than it should be. It’s truly flummoxing why VPN providers have such impressive customer support resources and antivirus and internet security specialists such disappointing ones. However, hopefully, Norton is setting the trend and soon users will be able to enjoy the same impressive level of customer support with all antivirus solutions, and not just Norton.
It must be noted that not only does Norton have a live chat support option, but it’s also responsive and informative! Even getting in touch via Facebook proved timeous and slick
Norton’s antivirus and internet security products have some attractive additional features that make them stand out from the crowd. The LifeLock options are particularly advanced, while the standard of basic protection remains reliable if less effective than it was with some of Norton’s earlier versions. Despite having a streamlined and efficient setup and installation process, Norton can be demanding when it comes to system resources and users operating on older devices will notice a significant dip in performance, particularly during a scan.
Norton is working on its lag time and, in the meantime, has an intuitive, user-friendly interface that makes day-to-day operation a breeze and facilities access to advanced tools and settings. Prices may be in the upper region but the impressive level of customer support makes it well worth it. Similarly, the flexibility of the pricing structure and the availability of monthly subscriptions are also appreciated and, in many ways, offsets higher price range.
For those looking for a single device or short-term subscription, Norton offers excellent all-round protection and outstanding support. Its latest features, including dark web monitoring and enhanced identity protection, mean it gives superior online protection. Although its malware detection facilities may not perform as well offline as they do online, for those who spend most of their time connected, Norton will keep you safe on a variety of levels, making it a competitive and reliable option.