Hands down, Norton is one of the best known brands in the security software business. It’s been on the market longer than most of its competition, with its very first product having been released way back in 1991 (called simply Norton AntiVirus). And in the time between then and now, the company has certainly had plenty of chances to make or break its reputation. So the fact that Norton today has become a household name speaks pretty much for itself and the quality of the products offered by Norton.
Norton AntiVirus Plus
But today at the rate of which cybercrime is developing and evolving, new security solutions keep appearing to try and keep up with the bad guys. And with a stronger and fiercer competition in mind, is Norton really as great an antivirus system as we have always thought of it to be? We decided to have a look and see what the Norton AntiVirus Plus suite has to offer.
And indeed, we found this suite to be a powerful tool equipped with top-notch features. You get everything from safe browsing and URL filtering to firewalls, password management, and even 2GB of cloud backup storage. Of course, you also have the regular antivirus and anti-ransomware features that should still be mentioned anyway.
The suite is available across Windows and Mac computers alike, and the subscription covers one device for a year, with the initial price starting at just $20. Upon renewal, however, it jumps up to $60, so that’s something to be aware of. In all honesty, though, it is a fair price for the features you get at your fingertips.
And if you want more of those, then you can choose to upgrade to the Norton 360 packages that will give you even more functionalities, including coverage for iOS and Android devices, among other things. There are three tiers to the Norton 360 plan: Standard, Deluxe and Deluxe with LifeLock Select.
Norton 360 Standard will basically increase your cloud storage up to 10GB and give you unlimited access to Norton’s VPN service (for a single device, though). And there’s a handful of nifty features designed for additional layers of privacy protection, such as protection from unauthorized access to your webcam and such.
Norton 360 Deluxe takes all of that and expands it fivefold: you get up to 50GB of cloud space and the VPN can be used on up to 5 different devices.
And then Norton 360 Deluxe with LifeLock Standard brings out the heavy guns with 100GB of online backup space and protection against identity theft. The identity theft protection feature is geared towards US customers and includes things like credit monitoring, real-time alerts for fraud attempts, and even Dark Web monitoring, along with an impressive $1 million insurance package. Just be sure to read all of the fine print if you decide to opt for this package – there’s a lot of it.
The one-year license for the Standard, Deluxe and Deluxe with LifeLock packages starts off at $30, $40 and $90 for the first year, respectively. And then it goes up to $40, $100 and $150 per year, respectively. We will have more detailed reviews of each of these software products later on in time, but for the moment we would like to focus this review solely on the Norton AntiVirus Plus suite.
Surprisingly, the interface of the Norton AntiVirus isn’t quite as intuitive and smart as one may have hoped for. In fact, it’s even rather strange. After you have installed the software and launched, you will find that you actually require two windows in order to effectively navigate all the different features that the product has to offer. And believe us, there’s a fair share of those.
So the developers haven’t made great use of screen space – that much is clear. But once you’ve opened the Antivirus, you will be able to recognize most of the features and functions pretty quickly and you shouldn’t have any troubles finding what you need.
Namely, the regular options of Quick and Full System Scans are right there, available off the bat. And what we liked is that it’s possible to create your very own, custom scans and save them to have handy for later. An example of such an option is the automatic scan of the Downloads folder, which can take place every three hours as long as the system is idle.
Norton Insight tool is another useful resource that comes in the package and allows you to get reports on the reputation of all kinds of files on your computer. This can be especially handy in the event that you have been infected by something that is so new it hasn’t yet been included in Norton’s database. Should that be the case, then the Insight tool will likely still be able to point out that there may be an issue with a given file or process. And for Windows users with experience of manually tracking malicious code, this tool will be especially helpful in catching new malware.
As we already briefly mentioned in the beginning of this review, the Norton AntiVirus Plus suite comes with many additional features aside from simply detecting and getting rid of malware and viruses. As you’ll remember, one of these features is Norton’s very own firewall. What we didn’t say about it, though, is that it’s an intelligent firewall. What does this mean?
Basically, this feature detects questionable programs that are trying to establish an internet connection and it asks you whether the system should approve such a connection. But in addition to that, the firewall also provides plenty of details and information to help you make that decision.
So it’s not simply a matter of clicking on ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Here, the firewall will provide you with whatever data it has on the respective program, including when it was released, how many users it’s had and even what URL it was trying to make the connection to. And then based on all this info, users can choose whether to indeed allow the connection or block it. And you can even set the firewall to remember your response so that it doesn’t ask you again in the future.
When using Norton AntiVirus Plus, you should be able to rely on this suite for a safe and secure browsing experience every time you access the web. And in truth, the software offers great protection against (potentially) dangerous websites and the like. The suite boasts precision and accuracy in detecting harmful web addresses and malicious links. And it does this at top speed, too.
In fact, we were pleasantly surprised to find that Norton was quicker to warn us about an unsafe URL than even Chrome was.
But there’s also the opportunity to get more out of Norton’s browsing protection features by installing some of its free browser extensions. The benefits of these extensions include, for example, using Norton’s Safe Search directly from the Chrome URL bar. If you opt for the Norton Safe Web add-on, on the other hand, it will automatically spot and block dangerous websites and downloads. And Norton even has its own password managing service available for free, too.
These add-ons and extensions can be a little much if you’d prefer enabling Safe Search and other preferences yourself. But the good news is that if you would like to make use of any of these extras, you don’t need to purchase the AntiVirus Plus suite. They are all available as free stand-alone components.
Cloud storage is a hot topic and for a number of reasons. For one, it’s to a degree a guarantee that you won’t lose access to valuable information in case of hardware malfunctions or mishaps. For another, it’s convenient because you can access said information from anywhere, anytime – as long as you have an internet connection.
So knowing that the Norton AntiVirus Plus comes offering 2GB worth of backup storage space is certainly an added bonus. And it’s very simple to use, too. With that in mind, the tool itself is quite limited and doesn’t offer you much beside the storage itself. Hence, don’t expect any encryption, archiving options, versioning or similar features.
There is a variety of file format options for you to choose from, if you would like to use that as criteria when backing up data. For instance, you can select images, documents, media files or even financial documentation, among other things.
The default source is the Documents folder on your computer, but you are of course free to change that and can select as many folders as you like. Furthermore, you can schedule automatic backups to take place over specific periods of time or whenever your machine is idle.
Aside from keeping your system safe from malicious external threats, Norton AntiVirus Plus also comes with a handful of features designed to better your computer’s overall performance.
However, these features were never the primary focus of the developing company. And it shows.
A particular disappointment (or even misunderstanding) was the File Cleanup tool. File Cleanup as you might be able to guess from the name already is a cleaning tool for junk files. But it is nowhere near genuinely doing the job right. For instance, once you launch it, File Cleanup will automatically delete all Windows and Internet Explorer temporary files without even asking you for approval. Furthermore, it doesn’t even readily provide you with information about the amount of space that will be freed up as a result of wiping all the temp files. You have to dig a little deeper to actually find this out.
To make matters worse, all Windows OS come with their very own file cleaning tool – Disk Cleanup. And it does a much better job than Norton’s version. Not only is Disk Cleanup easier to use with more configurations, it’s just a better functioning application that you will most likely have to use after Norton’s File Cleanup anyway in order to clear out what it left behind.
The same can also be said about the Optimize Disk tool, which does exactly what the Windows defragging tool does, as well.
There is one decent feature in the AntiVirus Plus suite that your computer’s performance could truly benefit from and that’s the Startup Manager. Here you can choose what apps and programs should and shouldn’t be launched together with Windows. And you can base your decisions on data provided about CPU and RAM consumption, disk reads and writes, etc.
In late 2019, AV-Comparatives’ Real-World Protection Test revealed that Norton’s AntiVirus Plus suite outperformed 15 out of the 16 other top antiviruses in the world. In other words, it was recognized as the world’s second best antivirus engine, trailing only slightly behind Avira.
But even so, the suite proved to offer 100% protection against all common malware and had exceptionally high scores in usability and performance. The AntiVirus Plus even did well with ransomware attack simulations, however, it was a bit slower than some of the competitors, such as Bitdefender and Kaspersky.
To sum it up
Norton’s antivirus suite does indeed live up to its name. It is both lightweight and densely packed with features, so it’s certainly good value for money. Although it was a little slower to catch ransomware viruses comparing to other similar suites, it still did block the threats. And it provided an all-around quality service in other areas of security and protection, as well.