NORTON INTERNET SECURITY RANT

The “Norton” brand name used to be synonymous with high-quality computer utilities. Sadly, there are almost no programs in its consumer lineup now that are good enough to recommend.

Norton Internet Security is the suite that includes Norton Antivirus along with a firewall, parental controls, and some other features. It’s priced aggressively and it’s pushed hard as an “upgrade” when it’s time to renew an antivirus subscription. In the next few weeks there will be a new promotional blitz when Symantec adds an antispyware component.

Don’t buy Norton Internet Security. Don’t install it. It’s a mess. If you installed it and your system is working fine – that’s great. Get back to work. But if your system is crashing or running slow or you lost your Internet connection, there is no solution that’s more cost effective than uninstalling it and throwing it away.

I’ve been wrestling with Norton Internet Security for years now, and for the last year it seems like it’s broken virtually every system I’ve seen it on. I’ve spent hours trying to figure out how to get network traffic flowing thru its firewall, or how to configure its impossible parental controls. I’ve had systems crashing left and right, or slowing down drastically, where nothing has worked until I removed Norton Internet Security. Do a Google search and you will discover that Norton Internet Security has filled the world with sadness and anger and frustration and hate.

Symantec has outsourced its consumer tech support to India. Many people report they can’t begin a conversation with tech support until money has changed hands – in some cases, more than the cost of the program. Here’s a story of one dismal encounter with Symantec support.

I still recommend Norton Antivirus 2005 – the standalone product. It’s getting a bit bloated and buggy itself, but it’s still better than anything else I know of for doing its job quietly and keeping itself up to date. (Anything is better than the Mcafee products, which are still hopeless.)

My current recipe for reasonably safe computing with a minimum of fuss: Windows XP with Service Pack 2; Norton Antivirus 2005; and Microsoft Antispyware. It’s a mixture that is proving to be safe and conservative and those computers keep working longer than the ones with other combinations of security programs. Stay safe!