Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It’s been too long since my last confession… over a year in fact, but there’s something that I just have to get off my chest. Last summer, I committed a truly heinous act: I reviewed a security product from Norton and I enjoyed it. “Nonsense!” you cry, but I simply speak the truth.
Going against every negative feeling I used to hold about Norton products, I approached Norton 360 4.0 with a clean slate. Past crimes of sending my computer plummeting into crashes were forgiven, and I found myself looking at a product that not only seemed to be full of great features, but also light on my system resources. It was unobtrusive, efficient, and yes, I liked it.
So here we are, 12 months down the line. This isn’t the first we’ve seen of Norton 5.0 – a beta was released last Christmas, a present sure to delight even Scrooge himself when waking up on Christmas morning, fully protected from all the nasty viruses that the internet has to offer – but now the completed product is out, and available to the public with new and improved features to show off to the world. Is it worth the £60 cost of a yearly subscription, or are you better off looking elsewhere, to the likes of PC Tools’ Internet Security and Microsoft’s Security Essentials?
The user interface of Norton 5.0 is mostly unchanged from the previous version, and it still sports a custom look without a conventional Windows look. I’m not a fan of applications that use custom Window appearances over Microsoft’s own, but Norton 5.0 does it in a subtle and sleek manner, unlike the old fashioned and bulky appearance of PC Tools’ offering.
The scanning window has remained unchanged from the previous version, so we won’t dwell on that too much. Instead, let’s take a closer look at a couple of new features that have been included in the latest version.
One such feature is ‘Application ratings’, which analyses all of the applications that are running on your computer, and shows you how much resources it is using. All of the applications on my machine scored ‘low’ on resource usage (which is a good score; high resource usage would be bad), except for Dropbox which, surprisingly, had a moderate use of resources. Although you could view this information with less eye candy in task manager, it’s nice to have a complete list of what your applications are doing where you can pick out the potential bottlenecks. Speaking of bottlenecks, unfortunately, Norton 360 became unresponsive the first time I performed a scan of my applications. This occurred a number of times during my testing, so it seems as though there are a number of stability issues which need to be addressed here.
As well as allowing you to monitor what applications on your computer are doing, Norton 5.0 also offers an improved ‘tune-up’ feature, which keeps all the cogs turning as smoothly as possible in the background while you do what you’ve got to do.
It seems as though many of the new features in Norton 360 5.0 are mainly centred around a more holistic view of computer security. Rather than update the core security features themselves – admittedly, there’s only so much that one can do with a malware scanner – the Symantec team has included some more utilities to help you take care of your computer as a whole. While this is useful for users who are buying Norton brand new, it doesn’t make it worth the upgrade for previous users, so I’d suggest holding off if you still have a remaining subscription left of Norton 4.0.