Norton Security (2015) review
Symantec has changed the way you can buy its Norton Security products. Instead of products released each year under a new name (2014, 2015 etc), you now just have a rolling subscription to a frequently-updated service. There are several options available, called Standard (£30/year), Deluxe (£40/year) and Premium (£50/year).
Aside from increasing the number of licences you can install Norton on (One, five and ten respectively), the increasing tiers also unlock extra features: some useful, some less so. For starters, if you're an individual, you don't really need to worry about the family-focused Premium and you'll probably want to stick with Standard, or Deluxe if you have more than one computer or handheld device.
Protection and Performance
On Windows PCs, Norton Security put in a near-perfect score of 298 out of 300, just a fraction behind the perfect score of Kaspersky Internet Security. It was able to bat off just about every threat we threw at it; it only lost two points for allowing a potential threat to run before neutralising it without the threat causing any lasting damage.
It was also steadfast when it came to the installation of legitimate software: at no point during our testing did it pop up unnecessary warnings about risky software and instead just let us get on with it. This points to well-calibrated threat monitoring software that means Norton won't be a pain to live with day-to-day; one of the main reasons why you might want to stop using any given anti-virus service.
In our new system performance rankings, Norton proved to be among the the least obtrusive packages available. It's not a small piece of software; it takes up 393MB of disk space, but compared to its competition that's comparatively lightweight. System startup time was increased from 17s to 20s with Norton installed, a small price to pay for increased protection. Its scans are pretty quick, too; our first system scan took a little over nine minutes, while a subsequent scan was completed in just over two.
With all the other numbers crunched, Norton Security gets an overall system impact rating of 7%, which puts it in third position behind ESET Smart Security and Microsoft Security Essentials in terms of performance impact.
Away from basic security, Norton has a dizzying array of extra features, although which are available to you will depend on the package you buy.
In the Standard package, you get the extra tools we've become familiar with in recent years, including a password and financial information manager, a password generator and a toolbar for your web browser (if you choose to install it) that provides an additional layer of protection when browsing the web.
There are also system performance tools that let you easily view the programs that run on system startup, ranking them in terms of performance impact. While no different than Windows' own built-in startup tools, you can also set applications to delay their startup for five minutes. A space-saving file cleanup tool rounds up the standard extras.
Delay startup programs that are affecting performance
If you pay for Deluxe, you also get access to Android and iOS apps. You also get a web interface that lets you manage your devices' security remotely.
With Premium, you also get Norton Family, a surprisingly powerful tool for the price. It lets allow you set rules and monitor your children's online activity on both PCs and Android smartphones. It runs as separate application to Norton Security, monitoring web activity, watching for flagged phrases such as credit card numbers and also lets you monitor where your child is via GPS. The GPS feature worked brilliantly; we were able to lock on to our test phone's location instantly, a feature that worried parents will appreciate.
You can track family members through their handheld devices
Norton Security is as good as it ever was, with top-ranking protection, a small system footprint and some decent extra tools. Those extra tools are expensive and £50 a year for Premium is a little steep. Kaspersky Internet Security is the better buy for most people and has marginally better protection.