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Norton Antivirus Review 2019 - What They Won't Tell You

Eric C.
Eric C.
Expert on Cyber Security, Fintech, and Cryptocurrency
Our Verdict:

Symantec's Norton is a veritable grandfather of the antivirus world, but it continues to deserve its position at top-of-market. Norton Security leverages the power of the company’s own customers to defeat zero-day attacks and its customer support and usability are both outstanding.

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Detailed Expert Review

Norton’s collection of virus removal tools has become so well-known that, for many, they’re practically synonymous with antivirus software itself. For this review, I chose to put the three Norton Security products (Standard, Deluxe, and Premium) head-to-head in order to assess how well the tools have evolved since the last time I tried them out.

While they’re all capable tools, I most strongly recommend Norton Security Premium for its combination of internet security and cloud backup tools that can give you peace of mind that up to 10 PCs, Macs, smartphones, or tablets are fully protected against any threat that may come your way.

Security

Norton is one of the leaders in the game when it comes to maintaining an active and well-populated database of cybersecurity threats to test against—and it has been producing computer security solutions for more than thirty years. Some of the nicest features of the modern incarnation of its tools include the following:

Proactive Exploit Protection (PEP)

Norton’s PEP is a framework designed to protect Windows computers against “zero-day” attacks. These attacks target vulnerabilities in Windows programs—as well as the operating system itself—that have yet to be patched, making them particularly fertile ground for hackers.

Given that zero-day attacks can take as long as five days for security experts to patch, I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is to be running a system that can keep one step ahead of the game. I particularly like the fact that PEP begins to provide protection the moment that vulnerable software is deployed (rather than when a successful exploit has been identified in the cloud system). This puts it squarely ahead of many competitors that I have tested.

Proactive Exploit Protection (PEP)

SONAR Protection

Adding to Norton’s comprehensive “zero-day” protection is the SONAR feature.

SONAR keeps a close eye on programs running in your system and identifies clues that they may be malicious—again, before definitions have even been formally created to categorize the offending program as a virus.

I particularly appreciated the fact that the application will automatically send a system prompt if it has been disabled for a certain amount of time. Accidentally disabling necessary protective measures is an easy way to not take advantage of your software’s built-in protection, and I’m glad to see that Norton is helping users make the most of its tool.

Symantec Norton Virus Removal Assurance

When it comes to antivirus software, vendors certainly aren’t shy about talking up their products’ features. That’s why it’s particularly refreshing to see a company that’s willing to put its money where its mouth is!

Norton includes its Virus Removal Assurance on all levels of its Norton Security product. As the name suggests, the company will offer you a full refund, with no questions asked, if your system becomes compromised by a virus while running Norton. Just pay attention to the small print: to be eligible for the scheme, you need to purchase, renew, or upgrade your Norton product directly from Symantec and not from a third-party vendor.

This is a guarantee I can readily get on board with: Norton secures both your computer and your wallet!

Smart Two-Way Firewall

Norton Security includes a two-way silent firewall. I found this to function extremely well and it’s important that a firewall prevent both inbound traffic as well as unauthorized outbound traffic from your local network—and Norton does a very capable job protecting against both. Besides being innocuous traffic generated from your web browsing, outbound traffic from your network can actually be generated by malware and rootkits that nest in your machine and then send potentially embarrassing spam to your contacts.  If you’ve ever had the humiliating experience of sending spam mail promoting vice products to thousands of your professional contacts, you’ll know that preventing this situation is something you’ll want to make a priority.

Features

On the internet security and backup side, Norton also comes with plenty of fire-power:

Crowdsourced Download Protection with Insight

Norton products are trusted by users around the world to protect their machines. The company has developed a technology called “Insight” which leverages the collective experience of millions of users to help protect others in the network.

Through knowing which files are known to be safe, Norton is able to speed up the scanning process by only analyzing those files which the system deems to be questionable.

I love the way in which Norton has chosen to crowdsource the process of identifying viruses, and the Insight download protection and file scanning features are just one of the ways in which it has chosen to apply this concept.

Stay Always Up to Date with Automatic LiveUpdate

Updating antivirus programs—or any software for that matter—can be a chore which many of us quickly become negligent about.

Norton Security features an Automatic LiveUpdate tool which ensures that users are always running the latest version of the program. Wisely, Norton has chosen to enable this feature by default on its products.

I happened to be working on my desktop when the automatic update process began, and I was impressed by how smoothly everything went. After quietly downloading and applying the new virus definitions, the program even cleaned up the old files right out of the temporary files directory which the program uses.

Keep Your Kids Away from Inappropriate Content with Norton Family

The Norton Security Premium package also includes subscriptions to Norton Family, the company’s award-winning parental control software.

Although the parental control software market includes several companies that specialize in producing only that, Norton’s tool is considered one of the best on the market.

Besides including filtering tools to prevent family members from accessing certain categories of websites, or those that are added to a blacklist, administrators are also able to limit users’ time on the internet and set schedules according to when they will be allowed to surf.

Parents are also able to set up email alerts to warn them when their children have attempted to access banned websites as well as a social network supervision features to make sure that children are not spending excessive amounts of time on social networking sites such as Facebook. I think that including a parental control tool within a computer security package is a brilliant idea: not only can users rest assured that their computers are protected from online threats, they can also make sure that their young loved ones are not exposed to inappropriate websites.

Norton Automatic Backup

Norton Security also includes an automatic backup tool which will automatically back up files to a secure, encrypted cloud storage system when the computer is idle.

While the program will automatically detect some files to backup based on pattern recognition, users are also able to select their own files and folders—a feature which I found very helpful.

The backup cloud storage is limited to 25GB. While this might not be enough to store an elaborate library full of HD movies, it’s more than enough to store critical documents as well as important parts of your system.

Although I maintain that if you have critical data that you cannot afford to lose a dedicated backup tool is still your best choice, the inclusion of a well-designed and customizable backup utility within Norton Security is to be commended.

Block Junk Mail with Spam Blocking

I’ve already mentioned how the Norton two-way firewall prevents rootkits and other embedded viruses from sending unsolicited mail from your system.

Norton has the other side of the equation covered too.

Its spam blocking feature will automatically detect and flag incoming junk messages to your desktop email clients. The program also warns users about attachments that could contain viruses as well as fraudulent phishing scams that are designed to steal your identity.

Although the majority of modern computer users access email through webmail programs like Gmail, a sizable proportion of the population still use programs like Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird to exchange email with the world. For that reason, it’s an important feature that hasn’t lost its relevance and I’m glad to see that Norton is still putting effort into maintaining it.

Ease of use

Norton Security boasts a slick and well-designed user interface that makes navigating among its menus an intuitive and pleasant experience.

Norton Premium, for instance, sports a dashboard with five columns (security, identity, backup, performance, plus an upselling tab) and users can see at a glance the status of the software’s various components.

Ease of use

I hadn’t gotten around to setting up the backup functionality after setting the program up, for example, and it didn’t take long for me to spot—and feel slightly annoyed by—the “not set up” label written clearly underneath the cloud symbol.

Once you delve a little deeper into the menus, however, it’s easy to see that all the settings you might need to change features are at your disposal, but Symantec has done a great job at presenting a bird’s eye view of system health in the main menu. Clicking on the “more” button, for instance, undocks some more in-depth features, including an advanced settings area, a scan selection dialog box, and the live updater. I also thought that the performance graph—which allows you to clearly see how many system resources the program is consuming—was a great addition.

Ease of use

No more guesswork. The system performance graph clearly charts system and application usage.

 

The Norton Download Manager installs the whole program, and components, at the touch of a button.

Ease of use

The installation process is also quick and easy—and for Windows users, every component of the system, including the Google Chrome extension, gets set up within a couple of clicks.

Support

Norton has devoted an entire micro-site to providing support resources that users can navigate through to become familiar with using the system. And it’s just about the most comprehensive knowledge base that I have come across.

The video tutorial library is perfect for resolving common issues without the help of a customer support agent and you can even choose the Norton product you need help with to only display the resources that are relevant to your antivirus conundrum.

But how about human-to-human support? Firstly, there is 24/7 live chat support and agents are able to remotely diagnose and assist with customer issues. As soon as you initiate a chat session, you’re assigned a case number, which makes it easy to follow up on your query across multiple support channels.  Once I had that, I was connected to an agent in—literally—an instant: when Norton says they offer support without any wait time, they don’t lie!

Support

I spoke to an agent called Manas who was able to guide me through the installation process. And if I wanted to continue to talk to their agents on a social channel such as Facebook and Twitter, it would have been possible. All I would have needed was my case number to continue where I left off in the chat window. Norton also offers phone support and I love the fact that they offer local numbers no matter where in the world you are located.

 

Support

 

 

The business team can also be reached 24/7, so if you’re an enterprise customer you have no reason to worry that Norton’s team of antivirus support won’t be able to help you with your issue at any time, night or day.

Support

Pricing

All three levels of the Norton Security package (Standard, Deluxe, and Premium) are packaged fairly, in my opinion. While Deluxe offers two levels of pricing (for 3 or 5 devices), Premium gets you all the way up to 10, which should be more than enough protection for the average family. Which of the three levels do I recommend? Personally, I would shell out for the Premium subscription. Although it’s hard to go wrong with any Norton antivirus tool, it’s best to take advantage of the full breadth of features that they have to offer.

Plans

While all service levels feature Norton’s core antivirus protection against viruses, spyware, ransomware, and zero-day threats, Deluxe and Premium have a nice web control panel to easily manage devices and the Premium tool includes parental control and automatic backups to a cloud storage area with 25GB of storage.

Standard Delux Ultimate Plus

Norton Products & Pricing

Standard
Delux
Ultimate Plus
Operating System
Defends against ransomware, viruses, spyware, malware and other online threats
Advanced security helps protect your private and financial information when you go online
Utilizes one of the largest global civilian intelligence networks to spot threats faster
Helps protect your home network with a smart firewall
Comes with always-there customer support provided by Norton experts
Includes our 100% guarantee: From the moment you subscribe, a Norton expert will help keep your device(s) virus-free or give you a refund
Secures multiple PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets with a single subscription
Helps you manage protection for all your devices with an easy-to-use Web portal
Includes premium family safety features so your kids can explore their connected world safely
Automatically backs up your photos, financial files and other important documents of your choice on your Windows PC
Includes 25 GB of secure cloud storage for your PC with the option to add more as your needs change
Trial
Price $39.99 $49.99 $259.99
Read More Read More Read More

Bottom Line

Eric C.
Eric C.
Expert on Cyber Security, Fintech, and Cryptocurrency

Norton by Symantec, arguably the most established player in the antivirus world, continues to roll out products that bring truly exceptional cyber security protection to the consumer market. I would not hesitate to recommend the tool to any consumer seeking an all-around performer in the antivirus software market.

Check the top 3 alternative antivirus programs

Norton User Reviews

157 34
Based on 191 reviews in 26 languages 4.5
Language
You can trust the Community! Companies can't ask us to delete or change user reviews.
Nov. 10, 2019
David Carpenter
David Carpenter
United States
1.0
Norton Quick Scan stopped Working
Windows User
I have been trying for 1+months to get Norton to fix Issue with running scans on my computer, to no avail. THe tech support available 24/7 seems to operate only from a standard script of fixes, and does not deviate. To date, I have wasted 24+ hours trying to get Norton to fix the issue with running Quick Scan or Full System scan. Even their supposed level 2 technicians cannot seem to recommend anything but uninstall / re-install (I have done this with tech support at least 5 times, with no success). I am getting ready to bad Norton Security Premium for a program that will actually work.
Nov. 7, 2019
Romie Miller
Romie Miller
United States
2.0
Malware blind
Windows User
Despite what Norton claims, it doesn't see malware. I was shut out of my computer by malware and Norton said I was safe with no problems. I now have Norton plus Malwarebyte, which finds problem Norton doesn't see. I also have serious billing problems with Norton.
Sep. 23, 2019
Chad
Chad
United States
3.0
They make it difficult to remove
Mac User
When I changed Internet Service Providers, my free Norton antivirus software was canceled. I received pop up reminders from Norton trying to get me to pay for continued service. There was no obvious way to stop these reminders from appearing. It turns out one has to install and run special software to remove all the files on your computer that support their product. It took me over an hour and having a Norton agent log on remotely to get the programs removed. I guess they must think that by making it hard to remove the program some people will just sign up to pay for the service to stop the notices. In my case that strategy did not work. I just became more annoyed and frustrated at the difficulty and time needed to remove it. As a re...Show More
Jul. 11, 2019
David Sparke
David Sparke
United Kingdom
0.5
Rip off merchants
Windows User
I don't know what planet many of these reviewers are on (employees perhaps ?) but Norton is TERRIBLE. Why ? Subscriptions and Autorenewal. They love you when you sign up, and throw up every barrier imaginable when you want to leave. Subscription management is a nightmare. (defaults to charge you every year, and subscription renewal is several times more expensive than the first year purchase of the product, and you just try to change it). My elderly parents have just been charged twice for a product they don't want or use, and trying to sort this very simple problem out is just awful - just google Norton unsubscribe review and see what it returns - I don't care how good their product is or isn't - switching the thing off, and getting their hands out of your pockets is a nightmare....
user avatar
Joey David Sparke
Sep. 22, 2019
Idk what youre talking about.
Mine subscription was defaulted to mostly.
And all you gave to do I'd tap into cancel subscription.
Jun. 18, 2019
Samsung
Samsung
United States
1.0
They constantly try to upsell you.
Windows User
Sick of the attempts to sell me more. It's annoying. Leaving Norton after many years because of this.
Dec. 19, 2018
Larry
Larry
United Kingdom
5.0
Norton is the best
Windows User
Norton is the best there is in modern antivirus and antispam.
Dec. 17, 2018
Mike
Mike
Switzerland
5.0
I am very satisfied with this anti-virus
Windows User
I am very satisfied with this anti-virus. It offers good protection on all types of devices (PC/tablets/smartphone). The price/quality ratio is huge, especially since there are regular promotions. The website is clear and easy to navigate. I highly recommend it.
Dec. 14, 2018
Chris
Chris
United States
5.0
I recommend it
Windows User
It is excellent for any PC because it eliminates all the files that are hidden and slow the computer down. I recommend it.
Nov. 12, 2018
Daniel
Daniel
Israel
4.5
I loves me some Norton
Linux User
Norton is a truly delightful product to use. I got it installed in just a few minutes and it tells me that it's quarantined a different virus every few weeks. Certainly something I would recommend.
Nov. 8, 2018
You get what you pay for
Windows User
I've been using Norton for years and years as an anti-virus and I've never been disappointed. The prices are high, but I have never had problems with my different computers. When I renew my Norton subscription every year, I have the choice of several anti-virus options.
Transparency and Trust – We pride ourselves on being the only site where users can freely contribute and share their reviews on any antivirus with other community members. When you visit an antivirus site we link to, we sometimes get affiliate commissions that support our work. Read more about how we operate.