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on 21 March 2010

I have always maintained that the most important piece of software you will ever buy will be a virus checker. Now, in these days where computers are pretty much connected to the internet all the time they switched on, a virus checker simply isn't enough. Firewalls and identity protection are now just as important. All these utilities are available as stand alone products but for piece of mind, I believe all products of this nature should come from one source to minimize the chances of conflict between them.

All in one security suites are now extremely common with offerings from companies such as McAfee, Kaspersky and Bullguard all vying for your hard earned cash. Having used all of these in the past, I have to say I have issues with them all in terms of slowing down the performance of the system and behaving in an erratic manner. For this reason, for the past 8 years, I have always decided to go for the Symantec solution, or to use its more common name, Norton. Norton's latest security suite, 360 came bundled with my daughters laptop and has it had a 3 user licence, I decided to upgrade from my earlier version. This version provided support and protection for 1 year with the opportunity of buying a further year's support after this had expired.


To install Norton 360, you need to place the CD into your CD drive and allow the autorun to begin. If you already have any antivirus software or a security suite installed, Norton will ask you for permission to uninstall this before it begins its own setup. It is recommended that you accept this request but I would also recommend disconnecting from the internet at the same time as for a few minutes, you will have no protection from any threats which might be lurking in cyberspace.

Once your previous solution has been removed, Norton will happily install with the only user interaction being the need to enter the 25 character product key which can be found on the inside of the box. Once the installation has completed, your computer will reboot and the latest updates will be downloaded and applied. This can take upto 20 minutes the first time but subsequent updates are done without the user even knowing meaning that your computer is automatically protected to the highest degree as soon as a new update is available.

===Norton 360 Interface===

The Norton 360 interface is something in all honesty, you don't want to become too familiar with. The product is designed to run seamlessly in the background and the only time you need to use the interface is when you want to tweak a setting or if you have a security breech.

The interface is split into four sections, namely Security, Identity Protection, Backup, and PC Tuneup. Hovering the mouse over each of these sections gives additional menu items which allow for simple navigation through the system.

There are also two other pieces of key information on the menu. In the bottom left hand corner, you are able to see the last time the virus definitions were updated. This information is vitally important as if this is reporting its been a few days since the last update, you need to act as typically this updates every few minutes, ensuring you are always up to date. In the bottom right hand corner, you can see how many days of your subscription remain. It is important to renew this subscription before it expires to ensure that you have unbroken protection.


The security section in Norton 360 is without doubt the most important section and you should spend a bit of time in this section immediately after set up so that you know exactly what virus protection you have and how your firewall is configured as there will be traffic that you need to allow through but at the same time, you don't want gaping holes in your defence.


Antivirus software has always been Norton's flagship product. Going back to the 1990's Norton has always been leading the way in combating the most common threats to modern computing. As virus software has become more intelligent in detecting and distinguishing threats, virus writers are constantly changing their methods to try and stay one step ahead of the game. This is why it is imperative to ensure you are running the very latest version of your virus software. Norton 360 scans for viruses each time a files is read by your computer system, you will never know this is happening unless Norton discovers an issue and will then bring this to your attention. You will then have several options available to you, namely, quarantine the file (isolate it away from your normal working files until you are able to establish its use), delete it (this is normally the preferred response if you are not familiar with the file) or ignore it (this is the most dangerous response if you don't recognise the file).

Along with the on-access scanning, Norton will let you schedule or run on demand system scans. There are three types of scan available to you :-

Quick scan - This type of scan will only scan the files and areas of your hard disk where viruses normally attack (such as the Windows directory). This scan only takes a matter of minutes and in my opinion is worth running at least once a week, just for peace of mind.

Comprehensive scan - This scan will check every single file on your PC and can literally take hours to run. I would only recommend running this type of scan if you suspect your security has been compromised in any way. If you do need to run this scan, I wouldn't attempt to use the computer at the same time otherwise you will slow the scan down even more. I would go and do something else but keep revisiting the computer every quarter of an hour or so to check on progress and see if anything sinister has been found.

If you are unsure when you last did a full system scan, Norton offers you some comprehensive reports which will detail when it ran, how long it took, how many files were scanned and how many threats were foumd.

A feature I like about the antivirus software in Norton 360 is that if you leave your machine idle (unattended for a short while), a quick system scan will take place. As someone who doesn't like to schedule a scan at a particular time, I find this feature really helps me as I quite often leave my PC on whilst going to do other things. By the time I return to my PC, Norton would have finished its scan and would report any results back to me if there were issues.

As well as checking files on your desktop, antivirus also checks incoming and outgoing mail and attachments for viruses. This works with any windows based mail client such as Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express.


With computer hacking on the increase, a good firewall is imperative to keep intruders out. I find the Norton 360 firewall to be very intelligent. By default, all ports on your computer that are typically used by hackers are locked shut by the software. If you require any of these to be opened, you can do this easily.

When you install a new piece of software, the first time you use it, the 360 firewall creates its own set of rules for this particular application. If you do not wish an application to venture out onto the net, you can prohibit it with a few clicks of the mouse button. As well as creating application rules, you can also create traffic rules. What this means in general terms is that, you have full control over what ports can receive traffic and what ports can send traffic. In my experience, I have found I can leave these settings to Norton 360 itself as you would only need to evaluate these if you were under attack and you needed to tighten up your security.


As previously mentioned, new viruses and intrusion methods are being discovered all the time. With this in mind, it is imperative to always have the latest protection installed. This is where Liveupdate comes in. Liveupdate is constantly polling the Norton servers to see if there are any new virus definitions for it to download. If there are, these are installed in the background and you can carry on working quite happily whilst this is happening.

Liveupdate can also be run manually although, if you have the automatic updates switched on, there is not really any need to do this. I am perfectly happy with the job that Liveupdate does. Although this appears to be constantly in contact with the Norton servers, there is no impact on system performance whatsoever and you won't even know it is running as it is that light on resources.


Norton Insight increases computer performance by identifying trusted files which do not need scanning. You can fully monitor which of your files are set to trusted and unmark them if you would prefer them to be scanned each time they are accessed. Norton uses its own library to classify many of the main system files meaning that human involvement here is very small. My advice would be to leave this section well alone and let the software manage itself.

===Identity Protection===

As well as making sure your computer is safe to use, Norton 360 also allows you to manage your identity in a safe and secure manner. With Norton Safeweb, every website you visit is checked to make sure it is safe before you enter it. If a site is marked as unsafe, Norton will give you a warning and also give a reason why the site is unsafe. It is then your own decision as to whether you choose to access this page or not. In my experience, I have only ever attempted to go to one site that was deemed unsafe. I actually took Norton's advice and decided not to proceed with visiting the site in question.

Almost everyone reading this review would have received an email at some time pretending to be from a bank asking you to supply your account details for validation purposes. We all know these emails are fakes but there could be an occasion where you mistakenly click on one of these or get directed to a bogus site by some other means. Norton 360 can work with your browser to detect these fraudulent sites and prevent you from supplying the information they are trying to steal from you. As yet, I am still to visit one of these types of sites but it is nice to know that I have got some kind of protection should I find myself in the darker site of the net.


One of my favourite features in Norton 360 is Identitysafe. Identitysafe allows me to keep all my personal details and passwords in one safe place. What this means is that once I have logged into Identitysafe, I no longer need to fill in personal forms on websites or remember any password for any site. The identitysafe system does all this for me. All I need to remember is the Identitysafe password. What this means is that I don't need to keep a manual or electronic list of all my passwords as now, all I need to remember is one. It also means that if you are the victim of an attack, then keystroke sniffers (a program that monitors your keystrokes and sends them to a third party) will not be able to detect what your usernames and passwords are as you will no longer be typing them in. All of this information is fully configurable and as soon as you log out of Identitysafe, your information is secure again and another user will not have access to your personal details without supplying the password again.


As your data is precious, it is really important to back up often. Most people however, will not have the facility or spare disk drives to back up their information to. When you buy Norton 360, you are given 2Gb of free online data storage where you can upload your backups to. This storage is secure and nobody else will be able to access it. If 2Gb is not enough for you then you can buy extra space. Personally, I prefer not to use this functionality as I have an external disk on which I backup to. Although the online storage is secure, I like to know exactly where my data is. If you do not wish to use the online backups, they can be turned off with the click of a button.


I have heard a lot of people who simply do not get on with Norton products. As I mentioned earlier, I have never had any problems at all in the 8 years I have used them. I find Norton 360 to be an excellent product. It just goes about its job with the minimum of fuss and most of the time I even forget it is actually there due to its efficient running. The antivirus, firewall and Identitysafe features are the ones that I use the most and I have full confidence in what they do which leaves me to use my computer with very little worry about being a cybercrime victim. It is imperative that you have some kind of virus and firewall protection. If you are currently reading this without any protection or are thinking about a change, I would wholeheartedly recommend Norton 360 to you.
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VINE VOICEon 10 March 2010
This has the same security engine as Norton's Internet Security 2010 so you know straight away its going to be half decent. Add to this all the extra features 360 offers it does seem appealing.


The starter package still only gives you 2GB of storage which nowadays is pretty pathetic. The new 25GB premier edition starts at £60+VAT, and the prices rise with more storage space.

You can schedule to upload files, and access them from your PC or Norton's own web interface. There are also iPhone & Android apps for you to see your files at all times which is pretty neat.

The simplicity of the backup seems nice at first, but if you want to backup individual files then you'll be adding them one by one, or having to change the filters.

Just getting an external hard drive for the same price would be a much better and easier option instead of paying that much each yeaar. For one your data is right with you and not in the 'cloud', and secondly even USB is pretty quick compared to most upload speeds so the whole process will be much quicker.


Mostly pretty useless as freeware such as CCleaner can do the same job but quicker and for free. Only decent feature here is the updated Startup Manager. It now shows you which entries are common to other Norton users, and also shows the possible red flags.


Over the years it seems Norton has become lighter and lighter. This version seemed to add hardly anything noticeable to my PC. I am running on i7-920 with 6GB RAM but even older PCs with Core 2 Duo should not notice any big changes.


The first screen shows 4 simple divisions for each of the settings it controls. Looks nice and simple, but when you actually go into one of the 4 menus lots of settings are apparent and jargon is everywhere.


Checks most boxes, would work well for its intended market for users who are less technical. They probably wont ever have to go into those deeper settings anyway. But the main sting is the price, is too expensive and adding the backup makes it quite shameful.

I would recommend skipping this and maybe doing:

- windows backup or acronis backup to external hard drive
- norton internet security 2010
- CCleaner for free tuneup
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on 25 March 2010
I have been using Norton anti-virus and utilities for around 7 years and always found them easy to use and the software automatically updated itself and kept my PC free of viruses and other nasties. It also backed up my PC automatically....or so I thought.
When the motherboard on my 4 year old PC died and I bought a new PC and thought it would be easy to restore all my backed up files onto it using Norton 360. How wrong I was! Having connected up the external hard-drive with the backup on it, firstly, Norton would not recognise the hard drive or the backup files and kept telling me it could not backup backed up files. I eventually copied the backup files across to my new computer manually. When I tried to restore these files, Norton just copied over 70Gb of bitmap files with loads of letters and numbers in the names from one drive to the other. There was no way I could identify or even open them. I went to Norton's technical support who spent over 8 hours online, at one time I stayed up till 1.00 in the morning, accessing my PC and looking through it and all the files and folders. They restored, backed up, opened and closed files,folders and programs. They could not open any of the backup files or know how to restore them. I soon came to the conclusion they had little idea what to do. Often, nothing would happen for 10 or 15 minutes until I prompted them to confirm they were still there, whereupon the cursor would move and some dialogue start. Had they been away for a coffee, gone to sleep, had a chat with a colleague? I had no idea and watching someone else move the cursor on your screen for 2.5 hours is not my idea of fun.
Eventually I gave up with them, switched my PC off and physically removed the old hard drive from my old PC and installed it in my new one and ...hey presto!...the files were all there.
Now I could have done this at the outset by various means (hindsight is a wonderful thing), but Norton should have provided a complete restoration of these files in a matter of clicks. It did not and if my old hard drive had gone wrong or the files been deleted, they would have been lost for good; 7 years of family photos, my entire mp3 music library, my wife's work folders, all our address labels, my son's GCSE coursework and a whole load of other important stuff.
My conclusion is that Norton make good anti-virus software, although there are alternatives, but their backup is useless. I will never use it again and I'm not sure how much I would trust Norton in future. Anyone tried Clickfree?
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on 2 May 2010
When my trial version Internet Security on my new PC expired I invested in Norton 360 v4. I heard some feedback from friends that Norton slowed up their PCs but I thought this was just exageration, especially as all the PC magazines seems to give them good reviews.

Anyway the installation is pretty quick - under 2 minutes - but unfortunately this is as good as it gets. Since I installed it now takes me around 3 minutes just to boot up. Browsing the web is painstakingly slow - just loading pages like Hotmail and BBC Sport can take minutes. I wonder if all the site checking functionality of 360 is really necessary or the cause for this poor performance.

My PC is only 1 month old using a dual core processor, Windows 7 and 3gb RAM - and I have so far only have used 20gb of the 500gb hard drive. So I don't have any of the clutter that can normally slow your PC performance that security solutions get blamed for.

I am so frustrated by this experience I have decided to write of the £60 investment I made in 360 and go buy Internet Security another vendor.
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VINE VOICEon 24 May 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Norton is my preferred internet security now that I've installed this and checked it out.

It has very easy to use access screens which are displayed very well, thereby providing even novice PC users with a simple package of security which they should have no problem understanding, unlike some security software which are so complicted you need to spend ten years in a university to understand it.

This software blocks viruses, spyware, trojans and worms it gives you a pulse update every fifteen minutes to ensure continued new protection. It guards against web attacks, stops threats unrecognised by traditional antivirus techniques and monitors and secures home networks.

It also blocks phishing and stores and secures logins, passwords and personal information.

There is a fine backup system which allows you to retrieve lost files and comes with a secured 2GB worth of online storage space for any files you want to backup this way.

The PC Tuneup is very well controlled and does actually work well.

I'm very impressed with this product so it seems churlish to point out one minor flaw but as that is what these reviews are for here it is....

It can and does slow down my PC while it is compiling the automatic update quite significantly at times to an almost freeze of systems, hoever as it doesn't last long it's worth the price for the superb protection that it generally gives.

One star off for that minor but annoying failing.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I stopped using Norton as few years back as their software slowed my PCs down too much. V4.0 is billed as 'fast and light protection for your netbook PC', but it was so slow and heavy when installed on my main desktop PC I decided not to risk running it on the netbook (especially with the known problems regarding getting Norton off your system when you no longer want it!).

Using 360 put websurfing back to the old dial-up speeds and my general PC speed (initial boot up, opening applications etc) slowed to the point where the system was virtually unusable.

There are better packages out there and most of them are available on-line for free.
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on 16 January 2014
i would not buy this product. it is expensive and, at times, slows the computer to a crawl. at risk of getting too technical, it seems to have too many fingers in too many pies.
for those reasons, i would try others if i were you. if you run windows, their own thingy is perfectly good, free, and runs mostly unnoticed
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on 11 July 2013
The system is fine and for a number of years regularly used it, then when my PC broke down the engineer asked why....he suggested replacing with the free microsoft system which has now been in situ for a year and solved all problems. so why pay when this free option is available???..
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VINE VOICEon 9 May 2010
I've been using Norton 360V3 for over a year now on three PC's of varying vintages (old to ancient) with no problems at all, but when my year's licence ran out I decided to upgrade to V4. I un-installed V3 as instructed with the Norton tool and then installed V4.

Firstly, for some reason I cannot access my Norton Account, although the licence has been recognised. I suspect the site is down at present as a non-Norton PC can't get it either. This means an irritating popup on every boot. More importantly, I'm certain this software loads the computer harder than before - not a problem if your computer is an up-to-date model, but on my old PIII it's certainly an issue compared to before.

Another concern is reports that once installed, it's still all but impossible to completely remove it, even with the Norton tool. This may not be an issue, as irrelevant registry items would just sit there (hopefully), but even so....

As for the rest, this software works well I found and is much as before, the features explained well in another review.

I basically like this software and what it does, but there are reservations sadly..
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've been using Norton Internet Security 2009 for the past twelve months, and have found the protection second-to-none - so Norton 360 is the natural progression now my subscription needs renewing. Thankfully, the installation disk seamlessly removed the previous Norton product before installing in a short time with absolutely no problems at all.

Apart from a slightly swisher interface, the product looks familiar to previous users of Norton products, with easy access to the core features - security, backup and PC tune-up. A very welcome addition is the inclusion of 2GB of online storage in the backup facility - very handy as an emergency, off-site / away-from-home store for your most valuable files.

With licences to use the product on three PCs, AND the facility to download a version from the Internet for your non-CD netbooks and portable Windows computers, Norton 360 offers excellent, accessible and unobtrusive protection for all your computing.
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