[Switch your antivirus] Norton Internet Security Review

Not quite the lightest nor the most powerful suite on test, but a solid performer across our real-world detection and performance tests

Norton Internet Security

Norton Internet Security is packed with custom technologies, bearing airy names such as Insight, Sonar and Pulse. To us these sound like body sprays, but they must be persuasive to some people.

These modules all contribute to the basic job of scanning files, websites and emails for viruses and scams. Insight draws on the experience of other users to work out whether an unrecognised file is likely to be dodgy; Sonar covers behavioural analysis, enabling the software to shut down threats that haven’t been seen before; and Pulse downloads updates every 15 minutes or so, to protect you from new threats as quickly as possible.

It’s certainly a combination that stops viruses: in our real- world malware test, Norton intercepted 98% of our threats- more than any rival save for clean-sweeper Kaspersky. With default settings, though, it proved one of this month’s more talkative packages: while less intrusive than McAfee and Trend Micro, Norton generated enough unnecessary alerts to drag its overall protection rating down to 97%. Those who don’t want to be bothered to have the option of engaging Silent Mode, which suppresses all alerts.

The package includes a few secondary features, including Norton’s signature performance monitor – a component, we suspect, aimed largely at deflecting accusations of resource-hogging. There’s also a network-securiry map and, unexpectedly, a disk defragmenter that runs when your computer is idle.

Along the bottom of the interface, you’ll spy a series of links to numerous Norton- branded services, such as mobile protection and online backup, but most of these aren’t part of the installed package. Some {such as the highly capable Norton Family parental-controls module) can be downloaded and used for free, while others require a separate subscription.

Online backup is built in to the paid-for Norton 360 suite: it comes with 25GB of storage, and can be found online for a modest price premium. Norton 360 customers get the option of a multidevice subscription, which includes the Windows suite and the Android app (see pi30).

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Like Kaspersky, Norton Internet Security offers an extensive configuration interface. We find this slightly less confusing than its Russian counterpart, but there’s still a whiff of the rabbit warren about it, with sub-panes and overlays appearing all over the place as you click around.

Norton’s impact on the performance of our test system wasn’t too burdensome. Versus

Window’s Defender, it scored 91% in our Explorer test and 86% in our applications benchmark, ahead of the group average. In terms of disk space, the default installation weighed in at 528MB, also the right side of average.

In short, Norton Internet Security offers decent protection without bogging down your system unreasonably. It isn’t as laden with features as it first appears, however, and it didn’t take first place in any of our tests. At current online prices, it’s also one of this month’s more expensive suites. For these reasons, it doesn’t receive a wholehearted recommendation this time, but if you see Norton Internet Security on special offer, it’s a perfectly competent choice.

Norton Internet Security
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