Norton Security 2016 Review: The Final Form of Norton Antivirus

Symantec's Norton Antivirus has been a recognized household name for over a decade.

Norton Security is the combination of the powerful Norton Antivirus, Norton 360, and Norton Internet Security, now combined into a super-pack.

As the landscape of online threats constantly changes, Symantec adapted its products which ended up as a full security suite providing malware protection, online safety features, mobile device protection (Norton Mobile Security), parental control (Norton Family Premier), automatic backup and other neat features.

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In this Norton Security review I will cover a complete overview and a comparison of the different Norton Security suites.

Norton Security Interface on Mac

Norton Security Interface on a Mac

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Free expert support and assistance 24/7
  • Great value for money
  • Award-winning software
  • A variety of products and services

Cons:

  • Without our discounts it could be pricey

Free Trial and Money Back Guarantee

Norton offers a free trial period of 30 days for all of its tools except for the Norton Security Standard.

In addition, Norton offers the Virus Protection Promise, which on the one hand is great because they offer a money-back guarantee, but on the other hand, it only applies in case your computer was affected by malware and a Norton expert didn't succeed in helping you to remove the infection.

This tells me how much Symantec believes in its product; to further elaborate on how good the Norton protection really is, take a look at the test results lower on this page.

Background of Symantec and Norton

Norton's history is quite interesting: it was acquired by Symantec in 1990, after Symantec launched it's first antivirus for Macintosh in 1989. Norton was only developing DOS utilities back then and didn't have its own antivirus software.

As the early 90s brought about a variety of PC infections, the Norton group - under Symantec's umbrella - released its first antivirus for PC. As time went by, and more versions were released, Norton was controlling over 60% of the PC antivirus and security market in the US.

Today, the Norton security tools continue the tradition that bought them their reputation and brand familiarity, offering competitive prices for top-notch protection.

Norton Security Bundles and Other Products

Norton has a variety of security products and other useful utilities.

With a variety of options tailored for different types of users, there's a Norton Security product for almost anyone.

Furthermore, Norton Security is compatible with almost all popular operating systems (no Linux version) and devices.

Let's review the features each of Norton's security products offers, seeing as this is the reason we have gathered here today:

Norton Security feature comparison

Norton Security feature comparison between plans

My Recommendation

If you have kids, I recommend the Norton Security Premium wholeheartedly because of its parental control feature. If you don't need parental control, stick to the Deluxe bundle.

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Online Security Solution for Small Business

Norton's small business security solution comes in bundles of 5, 10 and 20 licenses and costs between $20 and $12.50 per license, depending on the bundle you need.

This flexible and scalable product is a good solution for any small business.

Symantec proudly proclaim that Fortune 500 companies are using their cross-device business solution, and it's true.

Norton Small Business provides cloud-based device management and setup, and offers 24/7 support in English for you and for all your employees.

Important to note: The fine print states that not all features are available for iOS mobile devices.

Key Features of Norton Security

Let's take a look at the features in the chart above one by one, starting with the most important one, Norton's antivirus engine.

Antivirus Scanner

Norton boasts a patented scanner that offers protection against viruses, phishing, scams, zero-day malware, and more.

You can choose whether to run a quick, full, or custom scan, depending on your needs and preferences.

Something worth noting, is that as long as you sign up for an automatic renewal, Symantec offers a virus-free guarantee. This means that if Norton could not rid your system of those pesky viruses, you will be refunded by Symantec.

Norton's quick scan

Norton's Quick Scanner

For those who need a comprehensive scan test, I'd recommend running the full system scan.

It isn't the quickest scanner on the market, but this probably indicates that it is very thorough at detecting all kinds of malware.

Full system scan in progress by Norton

Norton's full system scan in progress
Full system scan completed by Norton
Norton's full system scan completed

At the end of every scan you can press on a link if you are still suspicious of remaining malware in the system. Once you click on the link, the Norton Power Eraser launches an aggressive malware-detecting tool that digs deep to root out persistent malware and that reboots your computer. You can also launch this Power Eraser manually.

I run tests on all of the antivirus software I review. The tests are performed on the same dedicated standalone PC with a clean Windows 10 64-bit installation and all available Windows updates installed.

Computer hardware: 4GB RAM, Intel Core i7 CPU 3.20 GHz

There is also something called the Norton Insight Scan which is used to sort your programs into different categories, namely: unproven, poor, good, or trusted. Another function of this scan is to identify every program's resource usage and prevalence.

You also receive what's called the Diagnostic Report which checks your hardware profile, operating system, network connectivity, and more. It is there to flag any found problems and, in most cases, there is the simple option of the Fix Now button. After you receive a report, you can save it to help the tech support team diagnose problems. 

Independent Virus Protection Test Results

In rigorous testing by independent organizations Norton is performing very well, and far above average.

The results received over time from multiple testing labs show the complete picture one must consider.

BestAntivirus.Reviews Home User Test

AV-Test is a very reliable source to deduce how well an antivirus software fares in terms of protection, false-positive detection, and performance.

However, I want to add that X-factor so that this review provides our readers extra-added value.

I did that by conducting a home user test and measured 3 parameters on the same computer system I ran the scan on.

I checked the CPU usage, RAM Memory usage, and the hard disk write/read usage during 3 key states, namely:

  1. During an idle state of Windows without any antivirus installation
  2. An idle instance of Norton running in the background after updating software and rebooting the computer
  3. During a full scan of Norton

This is a graphic summary of the results:

Norton's System Performance Impact

System performance impact by Norton

Idle - Windows 10 without Norton

Windows 10 without Norton - Idle

Norton idle installation CPU and memory usage

CPU and memory usage by an idle Norton installation

Norton during a full scan - CPU and memory usage

CPU and memory usage by Norton during a full scan

To sum up all the graphs above, Norton's real life score is 73% for the real life home user test.

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Malware Blocking

Norton offers a full antivirus engine to combat malware; however, the engine does not include anti-ransomware protection which is very unfortunate.

On the bright side, the malicious URL blocking feature offers a very good solution for real-world conditions.

Norton is known to fend off fresh malware very well and detects the point of download very accurately, so that it blocks access to the website and wipes out the malicious payload during or right after download.

The in-built anti-phishing tool is designed to be effective in its multi-layer protection against fraudulent sites that attempt to hijack your credentials and personal information. The simple aspect of the tool is the blacklist: if a site is reputed to be a fraud, Norton reports it as such. Norton also analyzes non-blacklisted websites heuristically for any signs of phishing in order to report any suspicious ones.

There is another layer to the malware blocking called the Scam Insight. It scans pages that don't possess any blatant signs of phishing but that can still be considered risky, either because they are new, or because they have never been viewed by the Norton community. In saying that, it is still an accurate tool that does not flag valid sites.

Lastly, Norton uses a color code system with links to set out the status of a site. 

Green means that the site has been scanned and marked safe.

Orange indicates that a website may be risky.

Red shows that a site has been marked with risks.

Gray means that a site has been evaluated.

Websites that have been vetted for online shopping receive a special Norton Secured icon.

The useful part about all the colors is that if you hover over one of them, more details about the website's rating and a link to view Norton's report on the site show up.

Firewall

Norton has a slick firewall which works on the key feature of internal program control.

The latter means that the firewall defines permissions for programs that it recognizes to be safe, it nukes bad programs, and puts unclear ones on a watch list. If an unknown program attempts to make inappropriate use of your network, the firewall will immediately clamp down on it.

It is a known fact that there are expert malware coders out there who crack vulnerable firewall systems and who manipulate loopholes; however, Norton's firewall resists attempts and innovative techniques that try to disable it.

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Additional Features, Tools, Services and Norton Utilities

Symantec offers additional products from the Norton brand, one of which is Norton Utilities, that assist you to clean and speed up your PC and improve performance.

Another nifty tool is Wi-Fi Privacy, which encrypts the traffic between your mobile device and public WiFi networks, keeping your browsing secure from intruders using a VPN. This tool comes with a unique 60-day money back guarantee.

On the services front, Norton offers 24/7 help desk subscriptions and an additional one-time PC Tune Up service.

Parental Control: Norton Family Premier

Sold both separately and as an integral part of the Norton Security Premium bundle, this product allows you to restrict access to certain materials by your children.

When using this parental control tool, you can be notified in real time about your children's actions thus assisting you to educate them about healthy habits when browsing the web and using online apps and social networks.

You can even limit the time your children spend online with this parental control tool.

I recommend getting it along with the bundle and not separately so that you optimize your value for money.

Norton Online Backup

This is a "set and forget" sort of feature which is very convenient.

The utility provides you up to 25 GB of storage space for backing up your precious data using high-end encryption in the process.

Central Device Management

With the central device management feature you can manage all your installed Norton products from one central dashboard!

The dashboard provides you with an overview of all your managed machines, so that you can perform specific actions once you are logged into the Norton account. The feature is designed to be accessible for novice users - this means any one can manage all the devices they desire from one central "place."

PC Tune Up Service

The most important fact to mention is that this tool is both for Windows PCs and Macs. 

If you want to give your older PCs and Macs a boost, this is the tool with its multi-point inspection and repair service, which is designed to restore performance and speed to your systems.

What happens is that your settings are optimized in order for the start-up speed and overall performance to improve and run faster. In order to improve the performance of the hard drive, the memory is cleared and unnecessary files are removed.

This PC Tune Up comes with 24/7 service, which includes easy access to a Norton-certified technician. The summaries that are provided are also very easy to understand.

All in all, this tool will cost you less than a repair shop would.

WiFi Privacy

WiFi privacy encrypts all the traffic that occurs between your mobile device and any public WiFi networks with a VPN so as to keep your browsing secure from intruders. 

The best part is that this tool comes with a unique 60-day money-back guarantee!

Norton Mobile Security for Android and iOS

This mobile security product offers real-time protection and extended anti-theft features such as remote-lock, remote-wipe and even an option to locate your device.

In addition, you can block calls from undesired numbers and backup your personal data in the cloud.

Norton Mobile Security

Norton Mobile Security Interface

You can get a free version of Norton Mobile Security on the Google Play Store and on iTunes.

If you only need 1 mobile license, you can get it for a ridiculous price on the Norton website.

Mobile

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The Simplest Antivirus Software

Norton Security offers a clean and simple user interface which would be easy to use even for your grandma.

You can perform any scan, quick or thorough, with a click of your mouse with the slick and assuring layout.

Norton's simple and slick user interface

Simple and slick user interface on Norton

Devices and System Requirements

This part varies so much from product to product that it really annoyed me.

Each product has slightly different system requirements and caveats:

Some products don't work on mobile devices, some don't work on iOS, and others don't work on every version of the same operating system.

On the bright side, at least Symantec clearly lists the requirements on the bottom of each product page.

To sum it up clearly, without any commitment on my part, if you have a relatively new computer and a recent operating system you will probably be fine, but do yourself a favor:

Simply scroll all the way down and check before you buy!

Customer Support

Norton offers 24/7 phone & live chat support.

An international phone number is available for urgent cases, but in order to get a local phone number, you have to submit a support request form - this is how they avoid countless calls of questions which they already answered in their extensive knowledge base and forum for other customers who had similar issues.

In my opinion - it's justified.

As a matter of fact, they even present a chart of the best days and times to call support to lower your wait time, which on average is around 3 minutes.

Certifications and Awards

Norton products were awarded dozens of awards over the years by multiple independent reviewers and testers, with the most recent one being the "Top Product" badge in AV-Test's 2016 testing.

Other awards include Norton's win in PC World's 2011 antivirus testing, AV-Test's Best Protection Award in 2015 and Best Usability Award in 2012 (also by AV-Test).

Value for Money

Based on the test results and the great variety of features included in the bundles, Symantec's Norton is one of the best security software providers today.

The price per license is low, and the value for money is high.

My Conclusion

Pros:

  • Free expert support and assistance 24/7
  • Great value for money
  • Award-winning software
  • A variety of products and services

Cons:

  • Without our discounts it could be pricey

To sum up my Norton Security review, I can only say that this antivirus software keeps rising to the occasion by providing nearly flawless defense across all devices and operating systems.

If you're still having doubts, rest assured:

You can't go wrong with Norton Security.

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Dennis Z

A millennial privacy freak who wouldn’t normally even put his first name anywhere, not to mention his last name or his photo. Having learned basic programming at the advanced age of 11, computers have always been a part of his life in every aspect.

Symantec's Norton brand is a veteran company in the field of virus protection for both PC and Mac, dating back to the early 90s. While offering a wide range of tools until 2015, Norton made a strategic move to aggregate all those tools under Norton Security 2016 and to provide better virus protection and utilities to its customers. This market leader is second only to BitDefender in test results on which it never fails to deliver.

Norton Security
Date published:January 11, 2017
9 / 10 stars

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