Good / Interface feels basic and out of date. Scan times and resource use can be cubersome.
Bad / Scans take a lot of system resources, and you might be consistently asked to purchase additional services and plans.
Verdict / Norton has had a troubled history at times (as far as how users perceive it). Now, as a product today, it is completely useable and effective at rooting out viruses. While overall it’s a decent Antivirus software–doing better than some alternatives that don’t include enough features or have worse interfaces, it doesn’t manage reach the same sort of excellence as some competitors do.
Norton Antivirus is one of the oldest antivirus programs / suites there is. Many see Norton as an old legend gone bad–sold by Peter Norton to Systematic, Norton became a household name sold either in a giant pack of disks or integrated natively with Windows with various different functions and security platforms. It took forever to install, longer to uninstall, and it slowed down computers considerably with huge resource drains.
While effective and loaded with features, Norton has long been associated as a prime example of why Antivirus can be considered as bloatware. Other smaller alternatives that use less system resources and contain less bloatware have become popular alternatives to what Norton deems necessary to protect one’s computer.
Now today, the Norton security suite still offers a huge variety of extra services, but the core antivirus suite has been simplified and organized in tabular user interface with separate functions and features with other extra functions being sold on the website in separate packages and applications.
Is Norton Antivirus worth using today? Or is it still a resource hogging bloatware that can be replaced by something simpler and faster? Read our full review to find out if Norton Antivirus is the product for you.
Norton 2016’s basic antivirus packages are priced at a standard rate. The main difference is that if you pay more you can access Norton on more devices. In addition, the more deluxe packages come with some niche features.
Starting out at $19.99 ($39.99 without sale) you can get Norton Antivirus Basic. Basic is different from the other packages in that it doesn’t include the smart firewall feature, “always there” customer support, the ability to “protect better and faster than the competition” (what does this mean exactly?) or the 100% refund guarantee.
A lot of these included features seem almost scammy. The smart firewall seems viable to be included in more deluxe packages, but the rest of the features don’t even seem like features that should be left out. From the pricing plan, the basic model doesn’t even seem worth getting from how the website describes–but in terms of how it actually is used, it’s perfectly suitable as Antivirus.
$39.99 is the Norton Security Standard package–at the time of this review ($59.99 without $20 off sale) for 1 PC or Mac install. The Deluxe package is $49.99 for 5 devices ($79.99 without $30 off), and the premium package is $59.99 for 10 devices ($89.99 without $30 off sale).
Once you get to the deluxe package (as well as 10 devices) you get the ability to secure multiple PCs as well as protect devices with Norton’s web portal. The premium package includes family safe features, the ability to back up information on your devices automatically, and 25 GB of cloud storage.
In addition to their antivirus software, Norton also offers a bunch of extra peripherals for additional cost like Norton Computer Tune Up, Norton Family Premier, Norton Online Backup, Ultimate Help Desk, Utilities, and Safe Search.
I understand that it’s necessary for companies to create add-ons to create additional revenue, but the growing trend with antivirus companies in creating so many different products across the board just servers to make user experience and shopping experience cluttered and confusing.
Norton enthusiasts will most likely need the Security Deluxe Package since it offers mobile installation. For those with tons of devices or family members, the Norton Security Premium package might be necessary. The Norton Security Standard package is well–standard, and should be good for most uses since Antivirus is often not necessary on mobile phones. If you’re on a budget, the cheapest Norton package also seems fine even if Norton’s branding in their table makes it seem less than ideal.
Interface / usability
Norton has a four tiled interface that gives you various options in each section. You have “Security”, “Identity”, “Performance”, and “More Norton”.
The security tab is where you will conduct all of your scans. You have the option to run more scans, update Norton, see your scan history, as well as the ability to turn on which security features you want in the “Advanced tab”–whether that pertains to your computer, Network on your computer, or the web itself (things like download intelligence, safe during, or identity safe plugins).
When you start a scan, you have a lot of options ranging from quick scan, to a full system scan, to even custom task scans. You can also choose Norton Power Eraser, Norton Insight, and a Diagnostic report. Again, a lot of these scans could use additional mouse overs that give information on what they do. While it does give you a brief interview, it mainly requires that you have to launch each one to find out.
Norton Power Eraser is interesting since it promises to find and fix risks on your computer outside the scope of viruses and the like. You can scan for unwanted apps but my results didn’t seem promising as it found nothing to clean/fix.
The diagnostic report gives you a super detailed rundown of your computer from the hardware, startup programs, resource utilization, operating system info and more. You can also see how many programs you use, but when you click “fix” if you have unwanted programs–it just takes you to your control panel which isn’t that useful.
The identity tab gives you more options like “Identity Safe”, “ID Settings”, “Statistics” and “Password Generator”. The identity safe works like a basic vault where you can store passwords, addresses, and logins, while the ID settings gives you a few options you can tweak for the browser plugins. Statistics give you a rundown of your vault info, while the password generator opens up a popup to a Norton website that prompts you to install a password generator or just use the web page to generate a secure password.
If you don’t have an external password manager, you might find the identity safe useful. The interface is fairly good requiring a password to login but the organization of the information is detailed and laid out well.
I like how there’s an animation when you successfully login. More and more Antivirus suites are trying to become all inclusive for your security so you’ll find many with features like this. Most of them can store your passwords very well and integrate with your browser to function normally.
Overall, Norton’s Identity Safe works well and if you aren’t already using a password manager, you will find that it has a pleasant interface that won’t cause frustration. If you already are, but want to switch over to Norton’s Identity Safe, you can also import your data making a switch easy.
In the Performance tab you can select “Optimize Disk”, “File Cleanup”, “Startup Manager”, or “Graphs”.
Optimize disk works like a disk defragmenter that looks for any areas that could use optimization.
File Cleanup works like a normal file cleaner getting rid of temporary files and other sorts of files you might not need that clog up your computer. I found that it wasn’t as aggressive as some other built in cleaners since it didn’t wipe my standard browser’s files–only explorer and some other temporary files. Depending on how many files you want cleaned, this could be a good or bad thing.
Startup manager works similar to how you might expect, and similar to some other softwares like Bitdefender, you can dely items on startup which is very neat.
The Graphs feature lets you see a sort of history of what you have done on Norton. This is useful to see when you have conducted scans and what you have removed.
Overall, the performance tab of Norton is very standard and easy to use. However, the file cleaner might be a bit weak in terms of how much it deletes.
Interface Wrap Up:
Norton’s three tiered interface (More Norton just includes abilities to manage your account / add devices) is well organized and easy to use. Each tab gives various functions available that all perform well without any huge frustrations.
While certain features might not contain enough details, the overall package feels user friendly and mainly self explanatory. The green, white, and black font are simple but workable even if the result doesn’t quite feel flashy or super stylish.
Performance & System Impact
Norton’s performance is all over the place. On one hand, the quick scan performed very quickly (which is to be expected) taking only around 5 minutes.
The full system scan took much longer at one hour and 35 minutes (again, longer scan is to be expected here). Long scan times are quite common, but Norton’s CPU usage ranged from 20% use to 50% which is very system resource intensive. Ram use was standard as it hovered around 250 MB.
Installation took a bit, and there were quite a few hiccups along the way when I was trying to get the main functions activated and working. Don’t be surprised if you have to keep logging into your account if the app crashes or needs to reauthenticate you.
As with other Antivirus programs that have a ton of extra services, you will also be asked to install external add ons onto your browser. However, Norton is particularly aggressive with these extra add on features and you’ll be asked numerous times to increase your security or to enable some plugins on your browser.
Norton Review Conclusion
Norton isn’t as bad as you might think. They’ve been around FOREVER and have very good Antivirus protection–however, their system resource use and interface as well as pricing in some cases, is simply outmatched by some other competitors.