Norton AntiVirus Review

Norton AntiVirus is world-famous antivirus software manufactured by Symantec, a 30-year old company that specializes not only in computer protection software, but in safe computer storage and business management solutions.  The company is headquartered in Mountain View, CA, but it employs over 18,000 people in its offices throughout the world. 

 

Pricing

Unlike most other antivirus developers that offer one or two products, Norton's range of products contains upwards of 15 different options of computer protection software.  Each product is offered in multiple contract configurations, including a one-year, one-computer plan, a one-year plan for up to 3 computers and one or two year contracts for up to three PCs.  Antivirus software and other protective services for Macs are available in 1 year plans only. 

For the purposes of this review, we've compared the plans and prices of Norton AntiVirus and Norton 360, the company's comprehensive internet security software, so that you can best decide which is right for you. 

Package 1 PC Up to 3 PCs 1 MAC
Antivirus 1 Year $39.99 $89.99 (for up to 5 users) $49.99
Antivirus 2 Years $74.99 NA NA
Norton 360 1 Year NA $79.99 NA
Norton 360 2 Years NA $134.99 NA
Norton 360 Premier 1 Year NA $99.99 NA
Norton 360 Premier 2 Years NA $174.99 NA

It is worth noting that Norton 360 is available in a special version specifically for netbooks, at the cost of $79.99 for protection of up to 3 netbooks for 1 year. 

The Norton product line doesn't offer antivirus protection geared specifically for businesses, but it does offer computer protection software for home offices and software bundled into multi-user packs, which may be suitable for small businesses of 5-10 employees.   Anyone looking specifically for computer protection software geared towards businesses can find a range of options in Symantec's website, which is located in the footer of the Norton product portal.

We were both surprised and impressed to see that Norton offers supplemental services, available for an extra fee, which can help users get their Norton Antivirus software setup properly and their computer running smoothly.  Our favorite extra services included:

Expert Installation Service - $39.99 for a full installation and configuring of any Norton software.

Live Help- $19.99/month plus a one-time $49.99 setup fee to receive all help relating to PCs, Macs, software and hardware.

PC Jump Start Services- $109.99 for Norton software installation plus a computer cleanup to help your system run faster and more efficiently. 

Features

Because Norton offers the widest range of computer protection products, each of which has a specific purpose, we found that its Antivirus package was slightly less complete than its competitors such as AVG or ESET NOD32.  Nevertheless, throughout our review we were satisfied to see that the company's service does do everything it promises to do, and this basic package should be more than sufficient for anyone looking only for antivirus protection.   

Feature  
Antivirus protection v_sign
Antispyware protection v_sign
Host-based intrusion prevention system (blocks unauthorized changes to programs) x_grey_sign
Removable media control (protects removable drives such as CDs, DVDs and flash drives) x_grey_sign
Anti-phishing protection v_sign
Malware detection v_sign
Automatic updates v_sign
Gamer mode v_sign
Antirootkit x_grey_sign
Protection against keyloggers x_grey_sign
Internet security training (educational service for users to help them protect themselves from online threats) x_grey_sign
Community protection v_sign
Protection from non-secure websites v_sign
Available for Macs v_sign

Of additional note are the monthly reports provided by Norton to inform all users of any suspicious or blocked activities that were blocked during each month of service.  We did notice that Norton AntiVirus is lacking several features that its competitors offer, including firewall protection and sufficient anti-phishing protection. 

Ease of Use

Norton Antivirus was undoubtedly the fastest installation of any service we encountered during our antivirus comparison.  The initial download took about 5 minutes, and the following steps also took mere seconds, and required comparatively fewer prompts than most other systems we tested.

norton-in-screenshot1 Norton AntiVirus Installatio
 

When the speedy installation was complete, we were asked clearly whether we wanted to explore.  We were not asked to reboot the computer, as most other antivirus software required.  We were surprised to see, however, that 'explore' actually meant 'activate', and that we were then prompted to provide some of our personal information including name, email address and country of residence.  Ironically, we were told that we were now protected, even before we activated the software, a note which we found quite baffling.

norton-in-screenshot2 Prompt When Installation is Complet

Once we completed the account activation, we found the control panel, which was just as simple as the installation process.  We were presented with several options, all of which sounded interesting, though we weren't quite sure what the difference was between the full scan, quick scan and custom scan. There were also options for reputation scans and Facebook wall scans.  We chose the quick scan and were impressed by how seamlessly it ran.  It did take about 15 minutes to run, but it did not slow down our computer at all.  The software also gave us the option to turn off the computer automatically after the scan or to let it sleep, options which would have been welcome if we were running the scan at the end of the day. 

Norton AntiVirus Control Panel Norton AntiVirus Control Panel
norton-in-screenshot4 Norton AntiVirus Mid-Scan

We would have appreciated if we could know approximately how long the scan would take, but this information was not available in the Norton Antivirus user interface. On the whole, we found Norton AntiVirus one of the most pleasant systems to use from start to finish, largely because of the simple installation and control panel which anyone should be able to figure out rather quickly.

Customer Support

In addition to offering the NortonLive Help Desk which offers assistance for nearly any computer-based for an additional fee, Norton also offers online help via their help desk and their contact page.  During this Norton Antivirus review we first tested the company's support forum, and we were happy to see that nearly every question possible was answered clearly within the support page.  We were able to ask specific questions and to search existing questions.

Norton Online Help Desk

Norton Online Help Desk

We also tested the company's live chat service, which is available 24/7/365.  We had virtually no hold time to receive chat assistance, and were impressed with the caliber of service received.  The representative that helped us was courteous, helpful and knowledgeable, although we noted that the responses we received were alternately slow and extremely quick. 

Chat with Norton Support Chat with Norton Support

On the Norton contact page we also had the option to email the company and to call them, so we chose to test both of these services.  The contact page noted how long the phone support hold time was, something we haven't seen on any of the other top antivirus websites, but a service we found especially helpful.  Strangely, when we clicked on the phone support button, the popup window told us that the wait time was 15 minutes, while the original screen continued to say that the hold time was 6 minutes.  We decided to test this for ourselves.  We called the number provided in the early morning hours on a Friday, and were only hold for slightly less than 5 minutes.  The first 3 minutes of our call, however, were spent navigating the company's directory to reach the proper department.  The representative that we spoke with was able to answer all of our questions quickly and clearly.  At the introduction to our call we were told by the automated system that only Norton 360 users are entitled to free support, and that all other users would be required to pay.  When we reached the Norton Antivirus support desk, however, we were told that this was not actually the case, and we gladly accepted free phone support. 

For the company's email support, we were surprised to see that because we'd already used the chat service, our question was auto-filled into the email submission form.  We submitted the email at 3am EST on a Friday morning, and we immediately received a confirmation stating that we should get a response within 24 hours.  The very comprehensive response from Norton's team came in about 4 hours.

Email from Norton Email from Norto
Follow up email from Norton Follow up email from Norton

Three days later we received a follow up email from Norton, confirming that their original email was sufficiently helpful, and asking if we needed any additional assistance.  This follow up was especially thoughtful - and helpful.  Overall, we were impressed with the caliber of support offered by Norton via all support methods.

Awards and Certifications

Like all of the other top antivirus software solutions, Norton AntiVirus has won dozens of awards over the years.  Although publishing them all is beyond the scope of this review, we've chosen to highlight a few of the product's outstanding recognitions.  It goes without saying that Norton's other computer security solutions have also won dozens of awards, though they're not relevant to this review. 

Editor's Choice Award- PC Magazine February 2005

2th Annual Technical Excellence Award- PC Magazine November 2008

Reader's Choice Aware- RedmondMag.com May 2006

We were not able to locate any of the company's certifications on its website, which was quite surprising. 

Highlights

  • Top notch customer support
  • Does not slow systems down
  • Low price
  • Fewer features than competing services

Summary

In addition to providing a high level of antivirus protection, Norton Antivirus is the software that takes the shortest time to download.  Although we found Norton's customer support to be quite sufficient, we also appreciated the ability to pay for extra services including professional installation and support. 

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