Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2014 Review: Internet Security Software
|Visit Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2014 Website|
|The best at protecting you and your computer. New version has vastly improved performance, Windows 8 enhancements and a wide array of new and updated features.|
[Editor's note: Norton is currently offering NextAdvisor visitors an exclusive 25% off discount on their 2014 software. Click any of the Norton links from NextAdvisor and use the coupon code SYMANTEC25US when checking out.]
Norton continues to dominate the security software world with the release of its 2014 security suite. A simplified interface and enhancement of features make it the top security software suite that we reviewed.
Like previous years, installation is lightning fast — just a couple of minutes — and, blissfully, does not require you to restart your computer. Upon completion, the software helpfully offers hints to get you started.
Let's be clear, the sheer number of features that Norton offers can make their interface confusing, but Norton does its best to organize and explain features as thoroughly as possible.
This year's Norton maintained the same streamlined interface from last year, with a couple of minor tweaks — such as moving the sidebar menu to the bottom. The majority of the home page is taken up by 4 large buttons: Threat Level, Scan, Live Update and Advanced. Threat level is a stationary button that shows you at a glance what your current security level is as well as central processing unit (CPU) usage by Norton and your system. It changes color depending on what's happening within your computer — green means secure. Scan takes you to the scanning options menu, Live Update lets you run updates and also tells you when you last updated and, lastly, Advanced takes you to the menu of advanced options.
The bottom navigation lets you access the extra features Norton offers, including Zone, Manage, Mobile, Family and Backup. New this year, Zone lets you download and activate cloud sharing (with an offer of 5GB free to start). Manage helps you operate Norton on all the devices you've installed it on. Mobile allows you to immediately download Norton for your phone by scanning a QR code. Family brings you to the heart of Norton's parental control section. The final feature that you need to scroll over on the navigation bar to access is Backup, which allows you to access Norton's online backup service.
Up top are the behind-the-scenes features, including settings, performance statistics, feedback, account information and support.
Norton's interface makes it easy to navigate through the series of menus and options, and returning back to the main page is a snap. There isn't very far you can go into most pages, so you don't need to worry about getting lost. Hovering over the text of different options brings up a description of what each is so you don't have to blindly click to figure it out — handy for those of us who might be less than tech savvy. Even better, in the Advanced and Settings sections, you merely have to toggle each option on/off with the click of a button. While Norton does a pretty good job of explaining their vast array of features, a few are simply mysteries — such as the option to "pin" the Advanced View window. Toggling this on and off and going back and forth to other screens didn't seem to have any obvious effect.
Antimalware and Antivirus
Norton continues to offer plenty of high-performing protections against malware and viruses. Some of the top features include:
Insight Network and Community Watch: The insight network collects data from all the computers that Norton is installed on to help stay ahead of any new viruses or malware that may pop up, while community watch tracks the majority of files on the Internet to provide comprehensive threat monitoring from a global standpoint.
SONAR Behavioral Protection: Proactively protects you from unknown threats by detecting dangerous behavior based on the behavior of your applications.
Identity Safe: Create a secure vault password and then store all of your logins, credit card information and other personal data for completely secure shopping, banking and browsing.
Windows 8 App Remediation: New for Windows 8, this feature scans your apps for threats and removes them if necessary.
Intelligent 2-Way Firewall: Helps block strangers from accessing your home network.
Historically, Norton's antivirus product has done very well in testing from AV-Comparatives. Although they were not included in the most recent round of testing, Norton has done particularly well in the Whole-Product Dynamic Test which measures how well the program's various security components work together to protect the PC.
The performance tracker retains its sophistication, tracking everything from how many CPUs to how much memory you are using — as well as how much memory Norton eats up to show just how efficient the program is. You can also get performance details on all of your installations, downloads, detections, alerts and scans. Also included is a Startup Manager that lets you know which applications are taking up the most memory while your computer is booting up (and turn them off or delay them).
Running scans is simple and only slowed our computer down a little bit. You can choose from a basic Quick Scan, Full Scan or Custom Scan. Social media users will also enjoy the Facebook wall scanner, which connects to your account and scans your wall and newsfeed for potential threats.
Notifications are unobtrusive and small, and you can toggle "silent mode" to prevent any update sounds from disturbing when streaming video or playing a game.
Norton always does well when it comes to independent testing of its performance, historically scoring 3 out 3 stars in testing from AV-Comparatives, an independent antivirus testing organization. Norton was one of the only systems to score "very fast" in every test category and had the highest overall score for the variety of tests.
Norton Internet Security 2014 continues to offer top-notch protection with all the bells and whistles you could dream up. The addition of special security for Windows 8 and the option of Zone cloud storage keep Norton at the top of its game for what's around the corner.
System Requirements: Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
* AV-Comparatives ratings on a variety of tasks related to the antivirus and anti-malware product. "Known Malware" refers to a product's ability to catch pre-identified viruses, while "Unknown Malware" refers to its ability to detect brand new viruses. Older scores may reflect previous software versions.
AV-Comparatives. Score indicates overall effectiveness in a variety of tests over time. † indicates that company did not take part in all tests. See reviews for details.*Averaged 2010/2011 scores for each company's antivirus/anti-malware product by independent testing agency
**Score indicates impact of antivirus product on system performance. Average of performance tests by AV-Comparatives.
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