Security

Norton AntiVirus: The Right Tool for the Job?

Windows computers require protection from a wide variety of common viruses and spyware programs, as well as another unwelcome malware threat: rootkits. A software application is needed that will monitor a system for infections, continually update itself, effectively prevent and remove infections when found and not overly cannibalize system resources. Is Norton AntiVirus the Right Tool for the Job?

The Job

Windows computers require protection from a wide variety of common viruses and spyware programs, as well as another unwelcome malware threat: rootkits. A software application is needed that will monitor a system for infections, continually update itself, effectively prevent and remove infections when found and not overly cannibalize system resources.

The Tool

Norton AntiVirus 2008 With AntiSpyware provides effective coverage against viruses, spyware, Internet worms and even rootkits. With a redesigned engine for Windows Vista and Windows XP, the Norton platform also boasts faster performance than in the past.

Norton AntiVirus

Compared with other leading security applications, Norton AntiVirus 2008 with AntiSpyware boasts several advantages:

  • A highly effective antivirus and antispyware engine
  • Improved performance
  • Windows Vista compatibility
  • Internet Worm protection
  • Email and instant messaging protection
  • Spyware protection
  • Rootkit detection and removal

Norton AntiVirus also possesses an easy-to-use graphical interface that's been tweaked in the 2008 version. Scheduling scans and reviewing event logs is even easier than before.

There is one drawback, however:

  • Norton products aren't always the easiest to uninstall, necessitating the occasional use of the Norton Removal Tool.

Norton AntiVirus

The Right Tool for the Job?

Norton AntiVirus 2008 with AntiSpyware delivers strong and respected antivirus and antispyware engines, while also improving performance. In informal tests I conducted using Windows Vista, the new Norton antivirus program consumed only minimal RAM and didn't noticeably slow system performance.

Read my comprehensive screenshot review of Norton AntiSpyware.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

662 comments
droban
droban

norton blows It is not worth the money! i had a year of it and my computer still got messed up. Do yourself a favor and avoid norton security!

lclaresf
lclaresf

Very slow and expensive, I??dont trust.

khunter
khunter

Folks, I've been testing on an older dual-core and an older single core machine and I've been tracking the system load and it's negligible. FireFox takes more system resources. That's my take (so far)

jvezina
jvezina

Not at all. The right tool for the job is Panda. As a company we use Panda Internet Security 2008 and recommend it to all our clients. Norton has given us nothing but headaches from day one. AVG free is good for home users, not companies and does not come with a firewall.

cdiazb
cdiazb

I don't know about Norton AV 2008, but I have Norton AV 360 1.3.0.24 and is a mess. Very intrusive, CPU and RAM eager. Is not a bad product but then, could be better.

dubdha
dubdha

Nortons right tool to give; if you have enemies or clients you want to upset. Try NOD32 AV suites you wont miss an infection and PC runs smoothly. As a technician Nortons products are removed from systems by defualt by our company so as proper servicing can be done. Been that way since their 2004 version. Oh and most importently Clients dont get virus's anymore - What Norton's customer can say that.

bphomsouvanh
bphomsouvanh

i wonder how much this person got paid to advertise and side with norton? i would not recommend or spend money on norton av. it sucks and doesnt catch virus' as well as other one. it is not even comparable to AVAST imo which is free if i might add.

iansavell
iansavell

In the hope that Norton designers are reading this... I used McAfee for years, then found it became a resource hog and changed to Norton. After upgrading several computers to the 2007 version I found Norton to have become worse than McAfee. In particular I couldn't use my PCs at all for up to 10 minutes after boot-up. I think this was partly due to Norton scanning the whole PC after downloading a new signature file. I also find the "trusted machine" feature in the Internet Security version very hard to use - most people never find it and just decide some features of their network are dead for ever. The upshot was that I uninstalled all copies and now use Avast, which is much better (and free for home use!). I also recommend AVG. Lets face it, viruses aren't the threat they used to be. A hardware firewall, good email practice and a generally wary attitude to security keep pretty well everything out. I haven't had a positive detection from an AV product in over 5 years of heavy use. 10 years ago I picked them up all the time, from floppy disks or over the network. AV software should focus on generic "edge" detection on untrusted interfaces and devices and provide for an occasional full scan. The current assumption of Norton and McAfee is that all PCs are infected with the latest viruses - they are not!

africakingafrica
africakingafrica

I have norton 360. It may have swayed you with their lavish clean look such like you stated, but I found 1 keylogger, and 3 trojans with just a scan of another antivirus. Whan it comes down to it, im looking for performance, and Norton just doesn't cut it.

ian_birdsey
ian_birdsey

I can only agree with others I would not touch Norton with a three mile barge pole, it is the worst AV product going. I always recommend AVG. I have seen norton slow a mchine down to nothing, and miss 100's of viruses and the client wondered what was happening! Removed Norton, installed AVG - machine cleaned andd working like new!!

filetofsoul
filetofsoul

Hell no... And I bought it to replace my Trend Micro PC Cillin. Found out when I got home it didn't work for W2K anymore. The box was poorly labeled. I now use Avast. It's a FREE great program for home users. Businesses must pay for it though. Here is the link http://www.avast.com/

deepsand
deepsand

An incomplete uninstall, a failed install, or even an expired subscription can turn a perfectly good box into a very expensive door-stop. Unless you are willing to risk having to do a complete rebuild, [b]avoid Norton AV at all cost[/b].

KorrMuraan
KorrMuraan

As a Senior IT Engineer, I would NEVER recommend Norton/Symantec for any AV/AS solution. Biggest resource hogs and a cause for more client grief than any other software I know of. As far as lab environments that *prove* it's the best thing since sliced bread... I don't buy it. I've lost count how many times I've uninstalled a working Norton AV, installed Trend, Webroot, or Kaspersky and ended up removing infections or rootkits that were never detected by Norton.

andrew
andrew

Not long ago I participated in an email survey sent out by Symantec/Nortons. I had entered my main gripes which were, 1. horrendously slow bloatware, 2. Support unwieldly and conveluted either by website or by phone, and 3. Impossible to uninstall cleanly i.e. leaving nortons crap all through the filesystem and registry. Three quarters through the survey it crashed never to return. Needless to say I didn't bother to persue it. I reccomend Eset's nod32. It is everything Nortons isn't. Fast efficient easy to use, and great support. Andrew MCSE. NZ.

lulu0.jnj
lulu0.jnj

Zero review - sound like the repeated Norton's advertising. Norton's missed 18 trogan including 4 "backdoor" - AVG is 350% better. Jerry - afd0

Sukhoi
Sukhoi

Guys, I never felt so embarrassed. 2007 trial detected yahoo messenger 8.1 easily whereas this 2008 trial doesn't detect the same. I have re-installed messenger again but no use. Anyone has same problem with this one on XP - SP2? I tried to ADD messenger to enable the protection. But it fails. I am seriously thinking to change for Kaspersky Suite.

paul
paul

I've been in IT, in a number of capacities, for over 20 years. I now own and operate an IT consultancy. Norton A/V has been the worst A/V product for the past several years. The 2008 version is greatly improved but still is not even close to most other A/V products. It was the package itself compromised by viruses over 10 times as often as ALL other A/V products together, in my experience. This review, in light of the product, and other serious comparative reviews of A/V products, has caused me to completely discount anything the author says. He is either being paid to say this by Symantec or completely clueless. Either way, it looks like he just rewrites ad copy. I won't read any more of his writing. TechRepublic should review submissions in future. As far as good A/V products, I recommend the NOD32 product found at www.eset.com. It is very quick, easy on resources, inexpensive, and I can honestly say none of my clients who use it have ever been infected when it is installed. The best free one is AVG from www.grisoft.com.

dan
dan

I would have to say you areeither pulling our collective legs or you have copied Symantec's publishing blurb or you were paid to write this. As a Consultant and a tech I can not advise any client to use Symantec Antivirus software

JCitizen
JCitizen

As Triumph the Insult Comic Dog would say, and I would agree with wholeheartedly, when it comes to Norton or any Symantec Product! Anyone with any sense would look at the long list of angry people on this subject and see what a joke this article is! Why would anyone want to ruin a perfectly good Vista install(if there is a perfect Vista install) with this creepy,slogging, registry raiding pile of junk!

sanjumitthi
sanjumitthi

Definitely not, Avast is faaaaaar better on every count - system performance, detection, and updates

raghukul125
raghukul125

Well Dont Wanna Comment anything bout norton being Gaint in the Antivirus Ind. but yeah i tried "Quick Heal" From India and found it most promising for all windows plateforms. The link is www.quickheal.com

728rwp
728rwp

BitDefender takes up a lot less of my time than Norton or AVG and does everything needed, with much more frequent threat updates. Occasionally XoftSpy SE or Spybot S&D catches something BD missed, but it's rare now. The important cost is my time.

wordman1994
wordman1994

To say NAV is garbage would be doing a disservice to putrefied rubbish. NAV is worthless, useless and beyond that it is worthless and useless. NAV could not fix my office machines during a debilitating attack in June of 2006, but the free trial of KASPERSKY did the trick. This after buying a new version of NAV that failed miserably...so I called Norton for a refund and they issued it over the phone NO QUESTIONS ASKED! Should tell you that even Symantec knows how crappy their NAV software is. However, if you like viruses, please buy Norton...it's like trying to hold the ocean back with a broom...the viruses just come a'waltzing in! Buy KASPERSKY, this I can say from experience...VERY POSITIVE experience. I hear Bit Defender is also premium. NAV? Nada...never again, actually.

SteelTrepid
SteelTrepid

I read 40+ posts and I think it's sad and extremely annoying!! Why does everyone have to be stuck on FREE? Sure there are some decent free products out there but why can't people accept the fact that you have to PAY for GOOD protection? Norton, McAfee, etc., all need to just go away because they do suck. If you want good and real protection, accept that you must buy it and get Kaspersky!! Low memory usage and one of the most extensive protection tool available.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]FireFox takes more system resources.[/i]" Considering the problems Firefox has with memory fragmentation, that's not saying much. You might as well say that when you pass gas it's not that bad, since the town dump on a sweltering hot, humid day smells worse. If you said something like a fresh rose smells worse, I might be impressed (or just disbelieve you). Comparing the rank smell of Norton AV to New Jersey, on the other hand, doesn't do your argument any favors.

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]AVG free is good for home users, not companies and does not come with a firewall.[/i]" Why do you think AV software and firewall software have to come from the same vendor?

pauljour
pauljour

Gotta agree with dubdha!! NOD 32 is cheap, uses very little of your CPU and catches sooo much. I tried Norton/Symantic, I tried AVG, I tried Avast. NOD 32 is better than them all. Whats e few bucks to make sure your computer is safe behind Stealth Technology. Try WWW.Eset.com and have a look!!

patrick_hulst
patrick_hulst

It's fine to say that Norton/Symantec sucks. How many actually have experience with the 2008 product? It is a MUCH lighter product than the 2007 products. For those of us with the customer calls of "I installed NIS 2007 and my system is too slow" you should get a lot less of them with 2008. Put it into layman's terms: you can't say that product xyz sucks because you used it once in 2003. Surprisingly enough they are better products now, with more and more security threats daily. No AV is 100%. You need to be protected at multiple levels. For example, if you're an exchange admin, you need AV on the mail store, you should be scanning the messages at the firewall level, or at least have an ISP that offers that security. Maybe even have an antivirus scanner incorporated in your spam server or similar. Same with your desktop - you need an antivirus, something to do firewall protection, etc. Last thing: don't forget that Symantec/Norton are distinctly branded for a reason. Same company, different products (slightly). Norton products are aimed at home users - if you need a corporate version you need to look at the Symantec line. And the SAV 12 is pretty promising too.... (if you ignore the current bugs with blocking access... sigh). So no, it's not perfect. Far from it. But it really does improve on the 2007 and before products in the line and it's worth a good look. If you can find a Norton 360 product you're probably further off, with the free 2gb online storage etc with it.

mikeholli
mikeholli

Andrew, not everyone on this board is a MCP, or a MCSE. Here a blurb about Eset's NOD32 ]quote] from PC Magazine: NOD32 has the best proactive protection by far, but its overall malware detection is second-tier, and it has an overly technical interface. [end-quote] Regular people will have difficulty with the main interface, and on top of that it's spyware/malware detection is subpar. This program is OK for us professionals but for the common Windows End-User it really isn't workable.

mikeholli
mikeholli

Sukhoi, I'm guess by the title that you have AT&T Yahoo as your DSL provider, if this is true of course it won't work, ATT has all those tools already built into their interface. Now here's the bad news, you'll have to uninstall all the ATT software you had just installed, or use the goback feature in Windows to take your computer back before you had done the install of ATT's software. Now GO ahead and install it once again PAYING attention to when it brings you to download Norton's Protection center, check ALL the available choices. Then after everything is done, go and reboot your computer and when it comes back up, head over to the Symantec site and UPDATE the software that ATT Yahoo installed on your PC for it's protection. THEN your messenger, IE Browser, etc will work fine.

jvb123
jvb123

I got rid of N/S a year ago, and now my ISP has 'included' it with my system. RATS! I hated it then, and it's worse now. I have had it only a week and already I've had 2 "Auto Protect errors"! They send you to a 'fix' - but why the heck are the errors there in the first place?!? This is very tiresome. It also doesn't make any sense the way it operates - and "help" doesn't. Now, all you geeks out there, tell me this: WHY, when you download a new anti-virus program does it tell you to UNINSTALL any other AV programs??? WHY??? I had AVG and it was NO problem. Now, I have no choice. I'm sick of all the RED "x's". Yes, it makes the system mess up and even freeze. I don't think it's the viruses; it's the damned AV program!!! What th-------!!!??? JVB

xmaps
xmaps

Messin with computers is a hobby to some. If you have 6 or 7 computers not finding and using "free" can be very expensive. Do to the evolution of licensing, as a consumer I am not allowed to use a paid program on more than one CPU. Kind of like car insurance, I can only drive one car at a time. Even free program licensing typically allows you to use only one license. This leaves paid versions for the computers that are used in business and many free versions for all the hobby boxes or old computers that you don't want to retire just yet.

jackie40d
jackie40d

The newbies out there need something to start with as most of them have a had time learning where the ON button is ! Let alone keeping Virus's and worm out of their computer . . I had a customer re install Nortons after I removed Virus from their computer and installed AVG for them . . Had to go back 3 months later and remove it so they could get on line . . And this time I charged them for removing NORTONS . . PLUS re installing AVG for them ( even gave them the FREE version )

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

by people who pay for AVG full. It's a loss leader, to encourage people to by the full product. If it was low quality drivel, it wouldn't be effective, would it?

mikeholli
mikeholli

JCitizen said ]quote]Thanks, but a system information list would have been.. more convincing![end-quote] Seeing as how you brought it up J, there's a great ERD available for Windows Vista (ONLY). I guarantee it will make your technical/system support life happier. They delete links here, so shoot me an email J, and I'll get it to you. Already have been using it, and I about put myself out of Fixing Vista problems with it -LoL- Finally I can say computers are making my life easier.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I would switch to them today.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It's in this months or next months magazine; the one with the shiney rendered metal malware bots chewing apart a chassis case. This isn't a plug, you can read it at your local book store if your interested. They tested a selection of next generation AV and found Norton lacking. They even included last generation AVG and Avast both ranking higher.

mikeholli
mikeholli

I hate to have to admit being a Texan myself but the fault falls on you JVB, YOU didn't need to download those additional anti-virus -spyware -junkmail filter our ISP offers. NOW take your system back with Windows to when you had it working right, and LEAVE THAT CRAP OUR ISP GIVES OUT FREE ON THEIR SERVER!!!

JCitizen
JCitizen

guilty about that; not that I am suggesting that you are in any way. I usually take the time to point out that for a reasonable fee they can get this or that feature on top of the free one, and 7 out of 10 times they end up buying the paid feature as well. I'm not a reseller so I don't get any benefit out of that other than less pesky service calls,and more street cred; which is good for me! Getting slammed by malware usually motivates them to pay for something that works.

Drew@Omaha
Drew@Omaha

I think the 'free' part is what most people want. From my experience, most home users are unwilling to pay for A/V and A/S protection even after they get billed for virus / spyware removal.

mikeholli
mikeholli

[quote] I'd lay bets 7 will run well on legacy devices![end quote] I agree, that's Microsoft's plan, and this will include the devices that ran Windows CE as well.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I really like Vista, but on a "super computer" almost anything ought to run well. I'd lay bets 7 will run well on legacy devices!

mikeholli
mikeholli

Things have picked up here as well, were in the test waters with Windows 7, and it's a change from Vista, and until I actually had gotten my hands on it, I just thought it would be an updated rehash of Vista. I was VERY surprised, SINCE when is Microsoft releasing ACTUAL new versions of an O/S without chewing it up with every possible way to rehash it? (g)

JCitizen
JCitizen

My life has been a blur since April; been going crazy. I hesitate to email members because of security concerns on my end, and interrupting your busy schedule on your end. But I am very appreciative of the tip! I'm just now getting a Vista machine; should be in a few days. I'm going x64 bit all the way finally; loved it in XP, but no support of course. Hope this message finds you kicking along swimmingly.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

A quick search through Google after I posted turned up no news articles on such a merger. Something like that wouldn't have happened without any media outlet picking it up.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You'd think I'd ahve simply gone to the local book store and checked out the monthly offerings but time to browse is limited (time to read during travel isn't). Guess it's time I take a lunch hour and head for the local Chapters. I've not flipped through a Computer Magazine in a long while.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I don't know who started it but I made the mistake of believing a magazine article that purported such a business move, and I don't know why it won't die. I think it all started from an old industry cooperation over the SiteAdvisor project. But it is not true that McAfee and Norton are anywhere near one and/or the same. You were right Neon.

mikeholli
mikeholli

You sound to me atleast someone that has the knowledge and self control that sees things the way the are, and not read into them. NOW this is a magazine geared towards the science and engineering state of mind, but go ahead and have a gander over at http://www.computer.org/portal/site/computer/index.jsp I have a feeling they will meet your required reading/knowledge needs. Also the article on pool playing robots is hilarious. Go ahead and read it online, I guarantee you'll finish reading it with a smile on your face.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I consider MaxPC my source more for the current hardware trends since I benchmark my machine builds against supporting gaming and VM. I've found software reviews to be fairly balanced though and the review of the 8800 GPU was a great read though not technical enough to scare off the less technical. In this case, it was offered as another review rather than the final authority on the subject. Games have always pushed the hardware so that's an old benchmark for me; if It can push the latest games, it can probably deal with what I'm trying to do too it. Now with VMs, I add that next layer; I want to push my games or my host OS with multiple running VM. I can't run a network or cluster of VM within my host OS yet but that should be possible with the next hardware upgrade. So, MaxPC primarily keeps me up to date on what the hardware for gaming rigs is doing while I watch software through TR, Linux.com, and other sites. The quarterly only comes out four times a year but that gives me my fix on the real technical stuff. I wouldn't take just one information source on a topic as the final word. But that over-explains my own reading which you didn't really ask about though maybe someone else out there will pickup a new source because of it. I'd be interested to hear your recommended reading sources though as I'm always on the lookout for new sites and publishings. MaxPC specifically; I've found it to be rather balanced other than focusing on the hot topic of the month but that's what most any publisher does. (lots of FOSS related articles when FOSS was hot, lots of mention of Vista but accurately as a gamming platform more than a general purpose OS) I actually didn't know that it evolved out of Boot. ah.. hehe.. sorry.. I'm replying as I read and just got down too your "fanboys of freebees" bit. More accurately, I'd say the statement should be "anything you have to pay for probably has an equal or free equivalent." That accounts for the special cases (AutoCAD) while allowing for the general state of software; though, more due to FOSS methods rather than freeware licensing. As for the Norton brand.. I remember when AV was just becoming a required item for home users. McAfee was king of the hill at one time. Norton hopscotched it for a while. Both considered .dat file updates just updating the program rather than a subscription system for revenue streams. I remember when the pink shirt book was new and Norton Utilities was a must have for any geeks build. After many years, I just can't find trust in the Norton brand anymore. 2008 May be swell and I hope it's an improvement over past versions if only to protect those who are still fooled by the brand or there local computer retailer pushing licenses. Still reading down your comment. AVG does my viruses, spybot does my spyware, adware does it's speciality. I pick the bits of software for what they are good at. Your comment is rather timely, the current issue opens with the editor's rant being a review of the business practices and structure especially clarifying that the marketing and the writing branches do not talk to each other before going to print and that should marketing have issue an article or test finding, they have to work up there chain of command to the editor. The editor will then side with the lab techs rather than the advertising execs. If your correct and that hasn't been the case under the previous editor then hopefully Mr Smith does bring MaxPC back up to the standards that where Boot back in the day. It's also good to hear a negative opinion from someone who sounds like they've been reading it a while; keeps me balanced to know the good and bad of a thing. As for my being "probably a young fellow"; I could be younger or older than yourself. I don't know, your profile provides no information other than your name (not usually a good sign) though your join date is a while back so at least your not new. Having had a quick look over your last ten or so comments to gage who I am talking with; I would comment that your writting style does not strike me as someone old and wise or of equal age really. The paragraphs are not seporated and you make far too much use of all-caps; usually negatively. If it where worth being a personal issue I'd probably start by asking your technical background in more detail but it's not my magazine or AV software to protect and profit from. One point though: " We have a bunch of geniuses here I see!!! Now I have to find a new WORKING Anti-Virus program. INCASE y"all have forgotten, McAfee was a great product TILL Symantec/Norton bought them out and TRASHED IT!!!! " I wasn't aware that Symantec baught McAfee though they did buy Norton (considered a cause of the brand/product's decline). Both domains remain owned by seporate companies from what I can tell. Norton.com is definately part of Symantec based on the reg info while McAfee remains Network Associates. I'd be interested to read more on that merger though as the two have always been direct competitors. Something like McAfee being merged into Symantec would have made headlines but maybe I missed them. (It would explain the sub-par quality of each though). Either that's the case or your talking out your ... and based on the way you represent yourself in other posts.. Last, while I have a low opinion of the AV software, I have to respect Symantec for backing a site like securityfocus. Anyhow, I would be interested to hear your recommended reading in replacement of MaxPC and other sources. Who's the top of the heap magazine these days?

mikeholli
mikeholli

Oh My Lord Samurai!!! YOUR taking the word of MaximumPC??? You are probably a young fellow, so I'll clue you in about MaxPC It use to be a FANTASTIC technical magazine, the Editors/Article Writers didn't bend because of pressure from the Software giants. Even at one time when they were known by the name *BOOT* they always told their readers "Anything you have to pay for, you can find the same or better for free." So that in, and of itself tells you they're just fanboys of freebees. The New Norton AV 2008 has fixed all previous version short comings...NOT saying there won't be something new out there that will cause a system meltdown of NAV, but right now AVG isn't in the same class, 1st, not only does NAV search out viruses, but also sneaky spyware/trojans/RIAA sneaky crap to tell on you if your downloading something that you didn't get from a CD that you bought. MaximumPC ran the world at one time, then Brad Dosland stepped down and put a goofball at the helm (That is my PERSONAL opinion of that Editor.) and as we ALL know, we're legally allowed to have one. BTW I'm hoping Will Smith (Not the Fresh Prince ) will bring it back to it's previous glory.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

that free, means covered, while paid for means covered while you are paying. Given firms like Grisoft can and do have a successful business model which includes free set and forget cover for personal use, lauding the peace of mind you get for paying for exactly the same thing (near enough to make no difference, I find well suspicious. In fact the only reason I can see for the high street not putting avg free on all high street boxes by default is that thay can't legally stick a mark up on the software itself. So who's cheap really?

Editor's Picks