- Well-designed interface
- Good array of security and backup features
- Had problems restoring files from backup
- Poor scores on proactive malware-detection tests
Covers all the bases in an easy-to-use package, but doesn’t completely shine for PC protection.
Norton 360, Symantec’s all-around security, backup, and PC-tuning suite, takes a small step forward with this year’s version 2. The easy-to-use collection of applications costs $79 for three PCs and covers all the bases; but in our tests, its core security protection wasn’t especially good. The upgraded backup feature permits more control than previous versions of the tool offered, and it lets you send files to your iPod, online storage, and traditional backup destinations, but it ran into problems restoring files from online storage in our testing.
The security suite’s well-designed control menu displays four big-button health indicators for PC Security, Identity Protection, Backup, and PC Tuneup. Task menus drop down from each button when you mouse over it.
PC Security covers virus scans and firewall protection; Symantec says the core of its malware detection hasn’t changed, but version 2 adds useful Internet Explorer vulnerability blocking. In detection tests from Germany’s AV-Test, Norton 360 blocked 96.36 percent of AV-Test’s huge zoo of Trojan horses, bots, and other malware–adequate but not stellar performance.
Tests gauging the app’s ability to detect unknown threats came back mixed: The suite detected just 27.81 percent of the thousands of new, nonrunning malware samples thrown at it in scans using one-month-old signatures. But it stopped 80 percent of malware threats in AV-Test’s extensive behavior trials, which measure an antivirus program’s ability to recognize malware based on how the suspect code acts.
Identity Protection adds a toolbar to IE and Firefox to block phishing sites and browser-based identity-theft attacks. The app also manages Web log-ins and can automatically fill Web forms.
Under PC Tuneup, you get options for tasks such as defragmenting your hard drive, removing temp files from Windows and IE, and (new to version 2) cleaning up the Registry.
Norton 360’s improved Backup function permits you to use Symantec’s online storage (2GB for free, and more for a price). But in our tests using a Vista laptop, the program failed three times in a row when we tried to restore files from online; Symantec says that this problem affected only a few users and has since been resolved.
In our extensive performance tests using WorldBench 6 with Firefox, Microsoft Office, WinZip, and other apps, Norton 360 slowed the pace by an average of 8.3 percent on a fairly beefy desktop PC, and by an average of 7 percent on a less-powerful laptop. Results varied greatly from task to task: Disk-intensive tests slowed performance by up to 30 percent; other tasks weren’t hindered at all.
Norton 360 is an easy-to-use program that protects against most Web threats and helps maintain your computer, but you can obtain better protection with security products that may offer fewer features.