Norton AntiVirus Love them or loathe them, everybody has an opinion about Symantec’s Norton security products. Hoping to get more love, Symantec made big changes both visible and invisible in Norton AntiVirus 2012 ($39.99 direct). The new look definitely seems friendlier, with no sacrifice of powerful antivirusprotection.
Norton AntiVirus New Interface
After interviewing users and observing them navigate the product, Symantec’s interface designers concluded that the on-demand scanning and checking for updates are what users do most. The new user interface puts those two features front and center, with almost everything else hidden until you click the Advanced link.
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Norton AntiVirus Specifications
- Norton AntiVirus Type
- Business, Personal, Professional
- Norton AntiVirus OS Compatibility
- Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7
- Norton AntiVirus Tech Support
- Free 24/7 phone, email, live chat; built in support.
The advanced view offers all the status information that was present in the 2011 edition, along with the simple on/off controls for specific features. This is also where you’ll find the indicators for CPU usage by the system and by Norton. If you prefer this level of detail you can simply pin the advanced view in place, making it the default.
Norton’s settings window has also undergone a serious change. The 2011 edition effectively put every single setting in a single scrolling list, with the option to expand and collapse sections. In 2012 the settings are organized in a tabbed window, with major categories Computer, Network, and General across the top. For each of those, tabs along the left select sub-categories. It’s closer to the interface of Norton 360 Version 5.0 ($79.99 direct for three licenses, 4.5 stars), though not quite the same. I definitely find it easier to use.
Norton AntiVirus Multiple Malware Cleaners
The architects of Norton AntiVirus understand clearly that the product must do its job even in adverse conditions. If malware already present on the computer attempts to interfere with installation, the installer launches a preinstall scan to root out that problem. That happened on one of my test systems. After a reboot, the installation finished without further ado. As with previous versions, once you click “Agree & Install” you can just sit back until the installation finishes.
A tougher problem after installation triggered the Autofix feature, which identified the error but couldn’t automatically fix it. A full scan after rebooting into Safe Mode solved that problem. The ongoing battle between Norton’s real-time protection and active malware cause a couple test systems to bog down. Here again scanning in Safe Mode solved the problem. Note that this occurred on virtual machine test systems with severely limited resources. I didn’t observe any slowdown on my physical test computer.
Five of the test systems reported threats that weren’t removed by the scan, with a link to “Get Help”. The help page recommended downloading Norton Power Eraser (Free, 4 stars), which completed cleanup for four of them.
That left one problem system. The help page next recommended using the Norton Bootable Recovery Tool, so I downloaded and ran the wizard to create a bootable cleanup CD. I could have also chosen to create a bootable USB drive, or just save an .ISO image to burn later. NBRT managed to remove the resistant threat that was causing trouble.
You do need to pay attention if Norton AntiVirus says you should get help. In fact, if a full scan finds anything serious it’s probably not a bad idea to proactively run Norton Power Eraser even if it doesn’t ask.
Norton AntiVirus Reputation Scan
A full scan on my standard clean test system took 36 minutes, almost half-again the current average. However, after Norton had a chance to run its reputation scan and whitelist known good files a second full scan finished in just three minutes
The reputation scan checks all files on your system against Symantec’s huge database of known programs. For each file you can view reputation elements including prevalence among Norton users, trust level, and resource usage. Norton’s SONAR behavior-based detection system automatically applies tougher rules to processes with a low trust level.
New in the 2012 edition is a reliability rating. Based on information about program crashes gathered from millions of Norton users, it rates each program as Reliable, Stable, Slightly Unstable, or Unstable. The Download Insight and File Insight features now include reliability information as well.
Across the top of the reputation scan report several tabs let you compare your own system with the community average in three areas: prevalence, reliability, and trust level. A fourth tab reports on the size of the known good files and known bad files database.