While Norton had a reputation in the past for hogging resources, this has been much improved since 2006. The latest version builds on these improvements by adding more features, without compromising performance. I have upgraded from the 2010 version (for free, since I had a valid subscription), and I let the upgrade centre uninstall the old version and re-install the new version. The entire process took just over a minute and a half, plus a restart of the computer. (Seriously!)
After installing, I ran a quick scan of my computer, which took 30 seconds, followed by a full scan which took just under an hour. This is certainly comparable to other security suites, if not better, so performance shouldn't be a worry for anyone considering this package. I was also using my computer while these scans were taking place, so the times may be a little longer than if the computer was idle.
This package is also set up so that updates will take place around every 5 minutes, and scans (both quick and full) will occur when your computer has not been used for 10 minutes. This time can be adjusted to suit your own preferences. Once you return to the computer, the scan instantly pauses, and will resume when the computer is idle again.
Packed into this suite are many features, some of them new for 2011. As expected, it contains a firewall and virus and malware sweeping tools. But in addition to this, many other features are included. Firstly, applications which are running on your computer are analyzed, and if they are deemed to be safe by Norton, they are eliminated from future scans, thus saving time. Downloads are also examined, and any which are found to be dangerous are blocked. Another feature is SONAR protection, which looks for unknown threats by looking for suspicious program behaviour and blocking it. Browsing the web is also protected through Safe Web and Norton Identity Safe, which tells you which web sites are safe before you visit them, and stores your passwords securely, thus eliminating the need to remember many different user names and passwords.
New features for 2011 include a facebook scan, which scans links posted to your homepage. This shows which are safe and which are dangerous. This can be posted to your wall if desired to inform other of the results. Performance alerts have also been included, which let the user know if a program is unexpectedly using a lot of resources. This can however be turned off for any applications you trust. Finally, Norton Rescue Tools is another new feature, which can be used in the event that your computer cannot be restored by any other means. These work by creating a safe boot environment, from which the malware can be eliminated.
As can be seen, this really is a comprehensive package which contains everything the user could possibly need! Performance is certainly not an issue anymore, neither is the range of services on offer. If there was anything I could complain about, I'd say that perhaps the user interface isn't as user friendly as previous years, although it isn't terrible! They also have introduced links to other Norton services such as online backup, which I'm not terribly keen on, as it's very expensive for all you get. Additionally, at the bottom of the home screen, an activity map has been introduced which shows where all the latest threats are occurring. To me, this serves no useful purpose other than aesthetics. None of these things however would prevent me buying this package, or encourage me to roll back to the 2010 version, as to me, it's still the best package on offer.