Norton Security Review
Maybe the biggest name in antivirus and protection software, Norton Security gets a lot right, though for some reason just has to install an annoying toolbar and browser extension. Check out our full Norton Security 2018 review to know more about its pros and cons.
Norton is a big name among the best antivirus software. The first release came back in 1991 and Symantec, the company behind Norton, has updated it each year since. This 2018 version of the security suite comes with extra goodies, but we’re still not fans of the intrusive browser extensions that come with an install.
In this Norton Security 2018 review, we’ll talk about the most recent release of the Deluxe security suite and compare it to the other options in Norton’s lineup. We’ll talk features, pricing, user-friendliness, protection and support before giving our verdict.
We like Norton’s performance in hands-on and lab results, as well as the features this updated suite brings. However, it has problems managing pop-ups and browsing the web. Read on for our thoughts on Norton Security 2018.
- Strong lab results
- Strong hands-on results
- Easy to use
- Great multi-device plans
- Toolbar & browser extensions
- Bare-bones single-device plan
Norton Security isn’t just an antivirus. It’s a security suite for using the internet, downloading files and keeping passwords safe. We like its approach to the antivirus suite, granting features to all users, instead of hiding some behind a paywall.
It includes a password manager called Identity Safe that you can configure in the UI. It stores passwords, addresses, credit cards and notes with a tagging system to organize your entries. You can import passwords, as well, using a .csv file.
It doesn’t hold well against the best password managers, though. LastPass (read our LastPass review) has a free plan that performs better than Identity Safe and gives you a browser UI. Likewise, Norton doesn’t support two-factor authentication with the best 2FA apps. If you’re looking for a password manager, we recommend Dashlane (read our Dashlane review).
Norton uses a toolbar for web monitoring. In Chrome, it’s an extension that’ll open the toolbar when you click on it. It’s unsightly, to say the least, but you can close it without losing protection. It’ll also display green checks next to verified sites in search results.
Our favorite feature comes from the “performance” tab in the UI. It’s a tune-up section for your machine where you can optimize hard drives, clean temporary files and manage your startup applications. You can also monitor your memory and the CPU usage of your machine and Norton.
At the top of the interface, you can view your report card. Norton will show everything it’s deleted, deterred or warned you about. It’s not necessary to protection, but it is a nice way to show your money is being put to good use.
If you’re using a multi-device plan, you can download Norton Studio. It’s a Windows-only application that gives you an overview of all your devices and their current statuses. Premium users can configure parental controls here, as well.
The only thing missing is a secure way to delete files. McAfee Total Protection, for example, includes McAfee Shredder, a utility that rewrites the space where a deleted file was stored.
Even when files are removed from the recycling bin, the data stays written on the drive until it’s overwritten. We’d like to see Norton provide a way to delete this data forever.
Norton Security 2018 Features Overview
1-year plan $ 3.33/ month
$39.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 4.17/ month
$49.99 billed every year
1-year plan $ 4.58/ month
$54.99 billed every year
|Deluxe w/ LifeLock|
1-year plan $ 8.33/ month
$99.99 billed every year
Norton is one of the more expensive antivirus solutions on the market. Its baseline and renewal rates are around $5 to $10 more than most antivirus software. Webroot’s (read our Webroot Antivirus review) comparable suite costs $59.99 annually for five licenses, while Norton renews at $89.99.
A Standard plan comes with bare-bones antivirus protection for a single device. As we mentioned in our McAfee Total Protection review, these sorts of plans don’t do well with the current tech market. It’s not just a single computer, but rather a single device out of all you own.
Deluxe is a better value. Five devices should be enough to cover your computer, laptop, phone and tablet with an extra, wild card slot. It also comes with a web portal to manage your devices.
Premium plans are aimed at families, with support for up to 10 devices. It’s the only plan with parental control and comes with 25GB of secure cloud storage, to boot. Adding more space is expensive, though, so we recommend you subscribe to one of our best cloud storage providers, such as Sync.com (read our Sync.com review).
Norton Security Deluxe
Deluxe with LifeLock is a Deluxe plan with a million-dollar protection package from LifeLock. You get up to $25,000 in stolen funds reimbursement and personal expense compensation, as well as up to $1 million coverage for lawyers and experts.
Norton has some extras available, such as a secured router, Norton Mobile Security and VPN. The router is impressive, but we’d recommend going with a different VPN from our best VPN list. Our favorite is ExpressVPN (read our ExpressVPN review).
Out of the lot, Deluxe is the sweet spot. Premium is geared toward families, and Standard doesn’t make much sense. If you want extra insurance on your protection, Deluxe plus LifeLock works well, too.
You can try Premium and Deluxe using the free 30-day trial without providing credit card information.
Norton is easy to use once you get it installed. The installation has more hand-holding than we’d like, and our first attempt crashed.
After you get into the interface, it’s smooth sailing. Norton organizes its security suite into four tabs lining the bottom of the interface. The first three deal with the software, while the last is a solicitation for more Norton products.
You can run a scan from the “security” tab. Click on the “scan” icon to pull up a window and configure how Norton will sweep your machine. We like how much control Norton gives you, with the ability to change what it scans and how deep it goes.
You’ll find updates for Norton, your scanning history and advanced security settings, such as the firewall and SONAR protection, in the “security” tab, as well.
The “identity” tab deals with your browser. You’ll find links to the Norton browser extensions, password manager and password generator, but, even after installing all of those extensions, it gave us a “setup required” message in the “status” section.
We don’t like the extensions much. Norton takes over your browser with its own search engine and rewrites your home and new tab pages. You can revert these changes in Chrome’s settings, which will, in turn, remove the extensions.
On Internet Explorer, it’ll also install an ugly toolbar.
Norton will show a “setup required” status in your “identity” section if you don’t have the extensions installed, but it’s still monitoring your online traffic. It’ll block suspicious downloads and malicious pages, making the extensions useless.
The last tab is for your PC performance. It’s not referring to how Norton affects your machine, but how much clutter is laying around. You can optimize your disk, change startup apps and delete temporary files. There’s also a graph displaying how much of the CPU Norton is using.
During disk optimization, Norton rarely hit 1 percent CPU usage, while it hit 5 to 8 percent during a scan. Overall, it’s a solid performer that shouldn’t slow down your machine.
We use hards-on testing, in conjunction with lab results, to gauge how well an antivirus protects you. Our tests will be used as a primary factor, but, since we can’t gauge all real-world performance, we’ll consult three independent antivirus labs for their findings, as well.
We started with the Eicar test file to evaluate Norton’s main purpose. It blocked and removed the program from loading, but it took some time to do so. Most antivirus software will block Eicar, so it’s our baseline test.
Next, we used Wicar.org to load malicious URLs, gauging Norton’s web performance. It blocked all 13 of the URLs tested in Internet Explorer and Firefox. Instead of warning you, though, the site simply didn’t load. When the Chrome extensions were installed, warnings were displayed, but Chrome’s malware blocking worked, too.
Last, we used AntiTest for more sophisticated exploits found in trojan viruses. It tests keyloggers, clipboard monitors, registry editors and more. Norton stripped the program of malicious elements, but didn’t delete the file. It showed up in Windows Explorer, but Windows couldn’t load the executable.
Norton Security Performance
Norton scored well with AV-Test. It blocked 100 percent of threats from zero-day malware attacks, with 196 samples used, and detection of widespread malware, with 5,848 samples used. As of April, Norton scored above the 99.5 percent industry average, according to AV-Test.
MRG Effitas is harsher with antivirus and Norton failed its Q1 2018 banking simulation. Note that two-thirds of the test subjects failed this simulation, as well, so it’s not surprising that Norton is grouped with most consumer solutions. It did, however, block a malicious website from a real botnet during MRG Effitas’s tests.
AV-Comparatives shows a better side of Norton. The antivirus scored 100 percent blockage in its May tests. Only 0.4 percent of those blocks were user-dependent, but it’s still a better score than Avast got (read our Avast Pro review).
It dropped from advanced+, the highest possible grade, to advanced in performance tests, but made the standard test bracket for malware protection. The overall grade from AV-Comparatives is lower than normal, because Norton returned 11 false positives out of a possible 80.
Norton offers live chat and phone support, as is typical of antivirus software. You also have a community forum, knowledgebase and video tutorial series for a DIY approach.
The knowledgebase, referred to as a FAQ by Norton, is better looking than most. Articles are organized into categories based on product line and fit with step-by-step instruction and graphics.
It adapts to your recent searches, which we like a lot. Norton will show small screens of the knowledgebase, with links to video tutorials and articles on the subject you were researching, when you navigate to the homepage.
That’s only for some products, though. Norton doesn’t have video tutorials to accompany all articles in the knowledgebase.
We like Norton’s addition of a forum, but not the layout. It mixes the blog and forums, so finding recent topics is difficult. It looks a few years outdated, too, but that’s typical of long-running forums. You’ll have to sign up for a separate account to use the forums, which is annoying.
Chat and phone support are available 24/7. We were connected immediately during testing, but there may be a few-minute wait, if there’s a high volume of questions. Norton maintains a support Twitter account, as well, if you’d rather ask over social media.
Norton scores well in our hands-on and lab tests for protecting your local files and web browsing. The interface is easy to use and comes with enough features to justify the higher-than-average price.
It’s one of our go-to recommendations for single users with a handful of devices or families because of the Deluxe and Premium plans.
It doesn’t come without problems, though. The browser extensions are intrusive and annoying and Norton isn’t clear about why you need them. We don’t like software messing around in browser settings, even if it’s antivirus.
Those extensions seem optional, though. Norton is a great choice in antivirus software, but be sure to check out our other antivirus reviews, if you want to shop around.
What do you think of Norton? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.