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Norton Antivirus Review

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Joseph Steinberg

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    Norton

    Our Verdict

    As one of the oldest antivirus suites on the market, Norton Antivirus has had its shares of ups and downs, but its current iteration is a terrific product that offers a great blend of features and security.

    Outstanding features include a built-in VPN client, LifeLock identity protection, and malware protection that rated highly on my tests. Overall, Norton is great if you need an antivirus that also prioritizes defending your identity and privacy online.

    Pros:

    • Receive 24/7/365 support from Norton’s highly capable customer service.
    • One of the top scorers in independent lab testing for antivirus benchmarks.
    • Protect your identity online with LifeLock and keep your privacy secure with tools like a built-in VPN and a password manager.

    Cons:

    • You can only scan external storage devices manually.
    • Although Norton offers great privacy-protection tools, it doesn’t offer a file encryption tool to keep your sensitive information safe.

    See It at Norton Antivirus

    Norton Antivirus Overview

    With more than 25 years of experience in the field, Norton Antivirus is a well-respected brand name in the industry. Despite some ups and downs in the past, and a few versions notorious for impacting PC performance, Norton’s current iteration offers a revamped security system that runs smoothly and keeps your computer and identity safe.

    With great features that help keep you safe online including password protection and integrated VPN service, Norton also covers more than just malware, and its new cloud-based interface means it’s not draining your computer’s resources.

    Additionally, pricing that’s lower than Bitdefender Antivirus Plus ($24.99 at Bitdefender) means that you’re getting significant value for your money. See how Norton stacks up to the top antivirus software in my expert review.

    How to Setup and Uninstall Norton Antivirus

    Getting started with Norton antivirus is quite easy, with a straightforward setup and initial configuration.

    To get started, simply follow these steps:

    1. Choose the plan that works for your needs
    2. Download the application and open the installation wizard
    3. Follow the instruction on the installation guide, and you’ll be ready to go for an initial scan.

    If you’re trying to uninstall Norton, you can also do so in a few clicks. Follow these steps:

    1. Click on your start bar
    2. Look through your programs and apps to find Norton Security
    3. Click on Uninstall Norton Security
    4. Follow the on-screen instructions

    Features

    One of the aspects I enjoyed the most about Norton Antivirus is the wide range of tools the company offers with its core scanning platform.

    The company includes a variety of privacy tools that include email protection, VPN, and safe browsing ability, though it doesn’t include tools like Trend Micro Antivirus’s file encryption ($39.95 at Trend Micro):

    General

    Money-back GuaranteeYes, up to 60 days after purchase
    Free VersionYes
    PlatformWindows, MacOS, Android, iOS
    Parental ControlsYes
    Email ProtectionYes
    ChatYes
    VPN ServiceYes
    Smartphone OptimizerYes
    USB Virus ScansYes
    Automated Virus ScansYes
    Game ModeYes
    Safe BrowserYes
    Passive ModeYes

    Threat Protection

    Anti-SpywareYes
    Anti-WormYes
    Anti-TrojanYes
    Anti-RootkitYes
    Anti-PhishingYes
    Anti-SpamYes
    Adware PreventionYes

    Scanning

    Overall, I found that Norton Antivirus offers some of the best scanning utility of any antivirus on the market. The company’s antivirus software scored perfect marks on the industry benchmark test by AV-TEST, beating out major names like McAfee Total Protection ($34.99 at McAfee) and BullGuard Antivirus ($23.99 at BullGuard).

    The company’s scans are fully customizable, and you can schedule scans to run at low usage times to avoid interfering with your PC use. Norton Antivirus includes standard antivirus scans in addition to malware, ransomware, and spyware scans powered by the company’s AI-backed platform.

    Pricing

    PlanPriceNumber of DevicesTop Features
    Norton Antivirus Plus$19.99 yearly 1 PC or Mac Advanced scans, Online threat protection, Cloud backups, Smart firewall, Password manager
    Norton 360 Standard $29.99 yearly 1 PC, Mac, Tablet, or SmartphoneStandard + Secure VPN, PC SafeCam, Dark web monitoring
    Norton 360 Deluxe$39.99 YearlyUp to 5 PCs, Macs, Tablets, or SmartphonesStandard + Secure VPN, PC SafeCam, Dark web monitoring
    Norton 360 with LifeLock$89.99 YearlyUp to 5 PCs, Macs, Tablets, or Smartphones360 + LifeLock Identity alert, Restoration specialists, Credit monitoring, Lost wallet protection

    Discounts

    I was very surprised to see that Norton already offers a significant discount when you sign up for one of its plans.

    The company’s first-year prices start at a:

    40% discount for Antivirus Plus

    50% for 360 Standard

    60% off for both 360 Deluxe and 360 with LifeLock.

    See It at Norton Antivirus

    Keep in mind, these are introductory prices, so you’ll have a discount on year one, but will pay full retail price starting in your second year.

    Privacy and Security

    Privacy

    In addition to its user privacy tools, which include safe browsing and security scans, Norton commits to not sharing your data with any third parties. Although Norton does share data with its parent company, Symantec, this is done to enhance the company’s protection tools by providing real-time data that can be parsed for new threats and potential solutions.

    It’s also worth noting that Norton does collaborate with public authorities when they request user data officially. To help you protect your own privacy, the company also offers password protection, its LifeLock identity alert, and a full VPN client.

    Security

    Several years ago, Norton was found to have some security vulnerabilities that opened users to unexpected and almost untraceable attacks. Since then, the company has provided the necessary patches, and in the time since it has not been a noted issue.

    Moreover, Norton has scored highly on two of the industry’s most rigorous tests, AV-TEST and AV-Comparatives. The company’s antivirus software scored perfectly on AV-TEST’s recent benchmark and has received numerous awards from both companies for its scans’ performance and usability.

    Performance and Protection

    Regardless of the features, it offers, an antivirus’s first task is to keep you safe from attacks. I test each product thoroughly and examine independent test results to determine how well each antivirus performs this crucial job. Fortunately, Norton antivirus aced all our tests, and external tests back up its showing. Read below to see how Norton ranks in each security category:

    Malware Protection

    I found Norton to be one of the top performers in terms of malware protection. The company scored an impressive 100% in protecting against zero-day malware attacks, as well as detecting known vulnerabilities attempting to access a system. Norton antivirus will scan every file in your computer and match its signature against known vulnerabilities, as well as scan for unusual ones that may not have been detected yet. Additionally, it checks URLs and will prevent you from accessing dangerous websites.

    Ransomware Detection

    Although it doesn’t go as in-depth as Panda Antivirus’s robust ransomware prevention ($30.54 at Panda), Norton antivirus does give you good scanning and detection tools. The program forbids malicious programs from modifying your files, an important distinction that stops it from flagging every application you attempt to install. Its real-time data protector tool was able to detect most of the samples I attacked it with, though manually scanning each may provide slightly less accurate results. 

    Phishing Detection

    Norton antivirus software scans the URLs of websites you’re visiting and compares them against known phishing websites to help defend you against unexpected attacks online. However, it goes further by scanning other websites for any suspicious or abnormal signs. If it detects something is off, it will automatically block the website and let you know why. Our tests found that it was highly accurate, detecting 99% of the malicious websites it encountered.

    Spyware Protection

    I was happy to see that the company includes spyware in all its antivirus scans. 
    Whenever Norton runs a scan of your PC, it will automatically look for any possible spyware that may have been installed or downloaded unwittingly.
    The company’s engine is powered by its civilian cyber threat intelligence network as well as advanced AI and machine learning tools that help it recognize attacks before they occur.

    Firewall Protection

    This is one area where Norton truly shines, as its firewall is one of the better ones in the market. The firewall protects you both from external traffic attempting to reach your device, and from local programs that want to connect to the web without authorization. Additionally, Norton’s firewall is completely automated. Instead of requiring you to set the protection level, it will automatically configure itself using a massive database of known white-listed programs.

    Lab Test Results

    Overall, I was impressed with Norton's antivirus performance in independent testing. The company has had some issues in the past, but its current version seems to have ironed out any remaining problems, and it ranks at the top of the industry in most tests.

    AV-TEST gave it a perfect score in its three scoring categories (protection, performance, and usability), giving it a Top Product award as well.

    Norton Antivirus was able to prevent every zero-day malware to attack the test-launched at it and provided almost no false positives during the testing period.

    Norton also received the highest award in AV-Comparative's real-world protection test, matching other industry leaders like Avira Antivirus ($32.39 at Avira). Norton also scored highly for its low impact on device performance, which is a great sign of improvement.

    Ease of Use and Interface

    One nice thing about Norton is that it is designed with both beginners and experts in mind. The user interface is clean and organized and makes it easy to find the tools you need and set up your antivirus however you want it.

    Norton Antivirus’s main screen shows you a simple interface with five buttons and a notification above. If your most recent scans didn’t reveal any threat, the main screen lets you know “You Are Protected”. Additionally, you can check each of your settings (Security, Online Safety, Backups, Performance, and your profile) by clicking on one of the large bottoms on the lower half of the main screen.

    You can also see how well your antivirus has performed historically by clicking on “Report Card” which shows you scan statistics.

    If you want to run a quick scan, you can simply start one from the main screen with a single click (though a full scan requires you to go to the scans page). I was also very happy with the company’s online web dashboard, which lets you control a variety of your online protection tools, as well as your account’s parental controls.

    Customer Support

    Another great aspect of Norton’s overall offering is its customer support center, which is useful and timely. The company’s support team is available 24/7/365 and can be reached via phone and live chat.

    You can also reach the company on social media, both through Twitter and Facebook. All told, I found the company’s support experts to be knowledgeable and quite helpful.

    If you prefer to find answers on your own or have a question that’s less pressing, you can usually find what you need in Norton’s extensive knowledge base. This includes a variety of support topics that range from account issues to troubleshooting problems.

    Additionally, you can reach out to the user community by logging into the website’s user forums, which include answers to a wide variety of issues and common questions.