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Observation on Norton Security

I just bought a new Fujitsu Lifebook P8010  (which I love).  It came installed with a 90-day trial for Norton security suite.  Here is my observation on Norton:  It is hard for me to imagine a piece of spyware or malware that puts as many spam messages on the screen, exhibits so many bad behaviors, or is so hard to remove as Norton itself.  In the middle of a 30-minute task that was within 30 seconds of completion, Norton just rebooted my computer for some reason.  It spams me with messages every startup, keeps adding its own toolbar to my browser, and I am having a terrible time getting it off my computer.   Norton is perhaps the worst spyware I have ever had on a computer.  Except maybe for the McAfee trial version on my last laptop. 

Posted on March 4, 2008 at 10:11 AM | Permalink


Might I suggest AVG anti-virus? The only way to get rid of Norton's is to wipe the hard drive and reinstall.

Posted by: Jim Collins | Mar 4, 2008 10:26:46 AM

The Norton Security Suite is a mess. Their stripped down AntiVirus is OK. I just switched to McAfee because my cable company offers to provide up to 50 copies. Hard to beat free. It seems to be OK, too. Best bet is to use Firefox and Thunderbird. I have not had an infection in a office of 40 computers.

Posted by: | Mar 4, 2008 10:26:59 AM

I, too, had a similar experience with Norton. I switched to PC-Cillin from Trend Micro and have been much happier.

Posted by: Patrick Brundage | Mar 4, 2008 11:17:10 AM

Linux doesn't have viruses ... I wiped the wife's norton protected PC long ago and installed Ubuntu. Now we use Ubuntu exclusively.

Posted by: bill-tb | Mar 4, 2008 11:36:31 AM

I had the same gawd awful experience - Norton would not allow any apps to run properly, and overrode my admin rights (could not turn it off or remove it). Actually had to run DOS from a boot floppy, and then reformat the HD to get the damned thing out. McAfee just twiddled it's thumbs while spyware invaded. Switched to ZoneAlarm Suite (with SpySweeper riding shotgun), which has worked well for the last 3-4 years.

Posted by: DKN | Mar 4, 2008 11:53:44 AM

Get a mac. Done.

Posted by: | Mar 4, 2008 1:33:24 PM

Same experience w/Norton. I'd get warning messages for sites like MSNBC. Ridiculous.

I use Kaspersky and love it.

Posted by: Dunque | Mar 4, 2008 2:01:04 PM

I agree with the poster above who said that Norton's anti-virus alone is ok. I use it because it is provided free by my university. I've had no problems thus far on two laptops (one XP, one Vista). Though if I had to pay for anti-virus protection I could probably find something better.

Posted by: Barrett | Mar 4, 2008 3:22:29 PM

At home macs. No virus problems since the Victoria Day virus about 20 years ago...

At work? I admin McAfee for about 2000 Win servers in our engineering "data center".

Comment on McAfee. At the enterprise level you have to configure it carefully. We are pretty good at keeping it out of the way of our user community. Some of the antique machines (slow procs, low RAM/HD space) are a pain, but we are transparent on most systems.

The keys are:
-configure it to limit how much CPU it hogs
-don't scan absolutely everything everytime. Attached drives can kill your performance after a restart if you are set up to scan them on boot. And, let's not even think about scanning a resource every time we touch it.
-set up nightly full scans when you won't be using the system (this takes roughly an hour to run on the systems I watch over).
-set up hourly (or longer period if you are brave) memory, running processes scans. These are fairly light and quick.

What will kill your performance is email and attached storage scanning. Do you need to scan outbound email if your system is otherwise clean (probably not). Can you afford to selectively scan inbound email (from questionable sources) and depend upon the hourly/nightly scans to deal with that which slips through 'cause you trusted Aunt Gertrude's puppy dog email?

Ask it to do only as much as you have to and you will find it far less intrusive.


BTW: I got about ten messages from the admin server about various virus goings on while I composed this comment - but then that is a) from 2000 servers and b) it's my job.

Posted by: Rob | Mar 4, 2008 4:11:36 PM

I use Webroot's Firewall program in conjunction with its SpySweeper and Windows Washer programs to keep my computer running. They are very fast, efficient, consume little memory (granted, I have a laptop with a couple of gigs of RAM...) and they do not seem to make my life harder. Highly, highly recommended.

And, no, I'm not a paid shill!

Posted by: Dave | Mar 4, 2008 4:42:29 PM

I do on-site tech support for small business and residential customers for a living. The people who are saying the only solution for getting rid of Norton is reformatting aren't quite on target. Sometimes after you've had Norton for a while and been through several upgrades, it can be virtually impossible to remove; however, on a brand new computer the standard removal process works just fine.

I second the AVG Free recommendation.

Posted by: drew | Mar 4, 2008 6:32:32 PM

http://service1.symantec.com/SUPPORT/tsgeninfo.nsf/docid/2005033108162039 is the only Norton AV app I use.
Trend Micro at work, AVG Free at home.

Posted by: P51D | Mar 4, 2008 6:37:56 PM

http://service1.symantec.com/SUPPORT/tsgeninfo.nsf/docid/2005033108162039 is the only Norton AV app I use.
Trend Micro at work, AVG Free at home.

Posted by: P51D | Mar 4, 2008 6:38:45 PM

It really astonishes me that people put up with this nonsense. There are entirely viable alternatives, two mentioned by other posters here.

In what other area of your life do you allow vendors to exert so much control? If your car or TV or vacuum cleaner put you to the same time-stealing expense, what would you do?

Posted by: Betty | Mar 4, 2008 7:01:43 PM

Fist step upon arrival of a not-previously-know 'puter at SLHOTP is to get rid of what over "AV" lump is installed. Second step is to install F-Prot. Third step is to put it on the network and start looking for updates. and along the way, I install Spyware Search and Destroy and a couple of other tools hostile to intrusive software.

Posted by: Larry Sheldon | Mar 4, 2008 7:09:15 PM

Try NOD32 by Eset. Works very well with Vista and does its work in only a few seconds, unlike the Norton which took about five minutes before it would let me do anything.

Posted by: John H. Costello | Mar 4, 2008 7:33:22 PM

If you need to remove Norton products, search the Symantec support site for the "Norton Removal Tool". As of right now, here it is:

Download and run the Norton Removal Tool

Warning: The Norton Removal Tool uninstalls all Norton 2008/2007/2006/2005/2004/2003 products and Norton 360 from your computer. If you use ACT! or WinFAX, back up those databases before you proceed.


Posted by: Angus S-F | Mar 4, 2008 7:57:33 PM

It amazes me Symantec stays in business. When I was doing tech support at an ISP a few years ago, at least one call a day would be from somebody who had lost all connectivity because Norton IS went insane. (McAfee was another big offender in this area.)

I have no AV or other third party security software on this XP box. It has never had any infections of any sort. Nor have any of my other systems with the exception of a laptop I lent out for just a few hours. I'd sometimes feel like I've missed out on all the fun if I didn't get called upon by foolish sorts to fix their machines. They get to sacrifice some system resources to the AV gods.

Posted by: epobirs | Mar 5, 2008 2:34:10 AM

I will agree with the above posters who mentioned Linux. On the Distrowatch site, my preferred distribution (PCLinuxOS) is 1st or 2nd most weeks. I have used it full-time since November and have been very happy. Another version you could try is MEPIS.

Posted by: Tom G | Mar 5, 2008 9:52:12 AM

Man, I got over Norton ten years go. Everything you've said about it, Warren, was true back then, too. Horrible stuff.

Posted by: Billy Beck | Mar 5, 2008 10:09:09 AM

My wife purchased "NORTON 360" when my old protection expired after about 6 weeks an error occured said I must uninstal or damage conputor. When trying to fix witch involved turning control over to someone in India they said for $90.00 they would fix it! Symatec and my self parted company I do have the freeware virsion of their firewall installed Thanks Sygate.good ridance Norton. Mike

Posted by: Michael Hill | Mar 5, 2008 10:28:47 AM

Meh - you couldn't pay me to use consumer-grade antivirus software from any of the big three (Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro). Symantec Endpoint Protection 11 (the corporate version) isn't horrible, and it's a big step up over version 10 for killing spyware.

The important thing to keep in mind is that antivirus software in general is less effective these days. Your best bet to stay safe is to use antivirus software in conjunction with Firefox and the Adblock and Noscript plugins.

Posted by: ErikTheRed | Mar 5, 2008 11:38:01 AM

ESET (+1) Great product.

Comodo Firewall. Free, highly configurable, works on Vista 32-bit.

Your Uninstaller (http://www.ursoftware.com/). It'll find every hook, file, and registry key associated with any program and wipe all remnants off of your system. There is no need to "wipe your system and start fresh."

Tiny Watcher (http://www.donationcoders.com/kubicle/watcher/). This keeps track of changes to your system and lets you know about them. Very handy.

Posted by: skh.pcola | Mar 5, 2008 11:48:54 AM

McAffee is just as bad. Both are like using chemotherapy to treat a cold.

Posted by: Jeffrey Ellis | Mar 5, 2008 1:32:53 PM

"McAffee is just as bad. Both are like using chemotherapy to treat a cold."

I disagree. The better statement would be "Both are just like using leeches to treat a cold."

Posted by: Larry Sheldon | Mar 5, 2008 1:46:43 PM

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