Skip to main content

Norton AntiVirus Review

A high-quality antiviral program from an industry veteran.

(Image: © Norton)

Our Verdict

Norton AntiVirus is a solid option for keeping a PC, Mac, or mobile device safe. A robust set of security features works well with an intuitive user interface, making it easy to keep yourself protected whether you’re connected to the Internet or working offline.

Pros

  • Intuitive, elegant user interface
  • Low system impact during usage
  • Easy installation

Cons

  • Takes up a lot of disk space
  • Doesn’t protect as well as some of its competitors

Introduction

Norton AntiVirus is among the most well-known antivirus software products in the industry. Launched for the first time in 1991, it has enjoyed a long and healthy existence, with every iteration of the program proving strong on the basics.

Catering to Mac computers, PCs, and mobile devices, Norton is a one-stop-shop for any computer’s antivirus needs. Capable of keeping track of user behaviour and detecting both known and new threats, the software also comes equipped with anti-phishing technology.

Costs and What’s Covered

Norton’s AntiVirus packages are separated into four different tiers, each of which is priced according to an annual subscription. The AntiVirus Plus package, which is the most basic, costs $39.99 for the user’s first year—Norton offers a discount for the first year of each service. Each subsequent level includes all of the functionality of the previous tier, plus some more features.

Because the standard AntiVirus Plus package includes all of the antiviral features you might expect, it’s a perfectly workable option for keeping you and your computer safe. It does, however, suffer in comparison to some of the more advanced versions, especially when it comes to the amount of data that can be backed up on the cloud, which increases exponentially as you progress up the tiers. 

ProductSummary Number of DevicesFirst Year Price
AntiVirus PlusEverything you need to get started with online safety.One PC or one Mac.$39.99
360 Standard10 GB of cloud backup and more Internet-focused protection measures.Up to 3 PCs, Macs, or mobile devices.$49.99
360 Deluxe50 GB of cloud backup and parental control.Up to 5 PCs, Macs, or mobile devices.$59.99
360 with LifeLock Select100 GB of cloud backup, LifeLock ID alert, million dollar protection package, and credit monitoring.Up to 20 PCs, Macs, or mobile devices.$99.99

Antivirus Protection

Norton’s antivirus protection package makes use of a suite of different methods to ensure you’re kept safe. 

Standard file scans are the most basic of these, and probably the most commonly used as well. By comparing any code that is introduced to your computer against a massive database of viruses, it can flag any suspicious incoming data for either quarantine or removal.

(Image credit: Norton)

Suspicious behaviour refers to programs that are running on your computer but aren’t behaving the way they should be. Although this can help protect you from new viruses—unlike the file scans, whose database only includes known threats—it can also throw up false positives.

The third main way the antivirus works is by emulating the first part of any program you try to run on your computer. While this can be a good way to catch self-modifying code, it’s also known to result in false positives. It’s worth keeping in mind that once a program is identified as a threat in this manner—even if it is a false positive—you won’t be able to execute it on your computer.

Lastly, the sandbox method is also used by Norton in their antivirus packages. This involves creating an emulated operating system within your computer in which the software will execute any new files. It’s an effective way of catching viruses without any risk to your computer, but since it’s computation-heavy, it’s typically used on-demand for individual files of your own choosing.

Antivirus Performance

Norton AntiVirus generally receives positive reviews from its users, who appreciate its ease of use and robust set of security features. When it comes to performance it’s reasonable, but perhaps not as stellar as you might expect given how long the software has been around.

(Image credit: MacWorld)

In the AV-Comparatives’ Real-World Protection Test, Norton finished a respectable 7th out of 18, with a 99.5% protection rate. In AV-Test’s July/August 2018 Windows Home User report, Norton achieved a 100% protection rate for zero-day and common malware. It also scored 6/6 for performance and 5.5/6 for usability, which helped it to garner one of the “Top Product” awards.

Security and Privacy Features

Cloud backups are supported in Norton’s security suite, making sure you don’t ever lose important data. An intelligent firewall is also included in every package to help protect you against any incoming harmful connections from other devices. There’s also a password management tool provided to keep your passwords as secure as possible.

(Image credit: Norton)

More advanced flavors of the package also include parental control measures which make it easy to limit what children can access while using the Internet. These can even be adapted according to the child’s own usage patterns, allowing parents to take an active role in the process.

System Impact

Norton will slow down your PC less than any of its competition, making it the prime choice if you’re concerned about system impact. According to the benchmarks set out by PassMark Software’s 2018 Consumer Security Products testing, Norton claimed the number one spot, beating 14 other packages, some of which were designed specifically to be lightweight.

Interface

The user interface for Norton AntiVirus Plus is elegant and straightforward. Despite the huge number of controls and options available, all of the most important details are clearly highlighted, meaning there’s no danger of getting lost in a maze of menus and tabs. 

Scans can be launched by simply clicking Security and then Scans, while other important settings are grouped together under similarly simple headings. On the whole, the user experience is remarkably intuitive, given how much scope there is for customizability and advanced functionality.

Installation and Support

Like the user interface, installation is simple for Norton AntiVirus. You’ll be warned about any potentially dangerous programs immediately, but you’ll have the option to uninstall them or ignore the warning. You’ll also be asked if you want to install some Norton browser extensions. In total, the program will take up around 1.6 GB of space, so if your hard disk is already pretty full, you might want to clean it up a bit before beginning the process. 

Norton’s customer support is available 24/7, via phone or online chat. The best time to call is late at night California time, since it’s markedly less busy then.

Bottom Line

Norton has been in the game for a long time, and that experience shows in the product. Norton AntiVirus will handle all of your computer protection needs. It’s easy to install, intuitive to use, and very reasonably priced, considering all of the features included.

The Verdict

4

out of 5

Norton AntiVirus Review

Norton AntiVirus is a solid option for keeping a PC, Mac, or mobile device safe. A robust set of security features works well with an intuitive user interface, making it easy to keep yourself protected whether you’re connected to the Internet or working offline.