Norton Review: Summary
Norton is ranked #1 out of 28 antivirus software.
Norton is one of the few antivirus that includes an unlimited VPN with nearly all products, even affordable ones. The VPN will restore your privacy online and keep you safe on public Wi-Fi.
On top of that, Norton is a leader in identity theft protection. For instance, it can search the dark web for your personal data, like credit card details, email addresses, social security number, bank accounts, and more.
- Malware protection: 100%. Norton averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 protection tests. It is excellent at detecting and removing malware.
- Speed impact: 100%. Norton averaged 6 out of 6 in the last 10 performance tests. It does not slow down your PC.
- Features: 100%. Norton offers anti-malware, anti-phishing, firewall, unlimited VPN, password manager, parental controls, and more.
- Price: 95%. Norton offers better value for money than all competitors, except for Kaspersky, which is slightly cheaper.
Try it risk-free, thanks to the 60-day money-back guarantee.
|Ranking||#1 of 28 🥇|
|Operating systems||Windows, macOS, iOS, Android|
|Discount||Save 60% on Norton|
Below, we have compared Norton 360 Standard to Bitdefender Internet Security with the premium VPN. These are the most affordable products at each brand, which allow you to protect at least 1 PC with the core features:
- Anti-phishing (web protection)
- Password manager
- Unlimited VPN (no data limit)
Test score comparison
We’ve compared the 10 most recent test scores of all antivirus brands. The tests were performed by AV-Test, the German anti-malware test lab. They use three factors:
- Protection (1-6): Antivirus protection against malware attacks.
- Performance (1-6): System slowdown caused by the antivirus.
- Usability (1-6): Frequency of false alarms and disruptions.
We used their results, and this formula, to calculate the final score:
Final Score = 60% Protection + 20% Performance + 20% Usability.
Brands not listed in the table haven’t participated in the analysis by AV-Test. This is usually not a good sign. Because most reputable brands, except Panda, ESET, and Sophos, partake in the test.
We’ve compared the prices of the top antivirus products for Windows. To make it a fair comparison, we looked at what it would cost us, to protect a Windows PC with the following essential features:
- Anti-phishing (web protection)
- Password manager
- Unlimited VPN (no data limit)
A few notes:
- Some brands are missing features, lowering their value for money.
- Prices are second-year prices in the USA, without first-year discounts.
- Prices are rounded up for readability (e.g., $99.99 becomes $100).
Brands have different prices outside the USA. See those on their website.
We’ve compared the user reviews of all antivirus brands. We’ve used the scores and review count of TrustPilot, a leading user review platform. However, take these results with a grain of salt, as some brands actively attempt to increase their ratings.
Personally, we are wary of exceptionally high scores. Especially those by brands such as TotalAV, known for aggressive marketing and sales tactics.
We consider scores between 4.0 and 4.5 good and realistic. Higher scores are dubious, and lower scores indicate that the brand might have a poor product or customer service. McAfee’s scores, for instance, are worrying.
Product analysis – part 1
In the table below are the core products with their features and prices.
The prices shown are from the USA. However, most brands have different prices (and currencies) in other regions. So visit the brand’s website to see the price in our country.
Note that some features, like the identity theft protection features, are accessed through Norton’s website, rather than the app.
Product analysis – part 2
There are a few special products, which we’ve kept out of the table to keep it readable. These are:
Norton 360 for Gamers.
Norton 360 for Gamers is the same as Norton 360 Deluxe. However, it also includes Norton GO (Norton’s Game Optimizer). This feature detects when you are gaming and stops power flowing to programs that run in the background. This leaves more power for gameplay and improves the FPS.
Norton 360 Advanced.
Norton 360 Advanced is the top product in several countries. As Norton does not offer LifeLock features outside of the United States, it offers Norton 360 Advanced. This includes features specialized in identity protection, such as identity restoration support and credit report & score.
Norton 360 Premium.
In countries that don’t have Norton 360 Advanced (yet), Norton 360 Premium is the top product. This is the same product as Norton 360 Deluxe, but available for 10 devices instead of 5.
Norton 360 with LifeLock Standard.
The LifeLock product range focuses on identity theft protection. Standard includes coverage up to $ 1,050,000 in lawyer fees, stolen funds, and expenses. It also includes identity and social security number alerts. And finally, it includes a credit monitoring service.
Norton 360 with LifeLock Advantage.
LifeLock Advantage includes the same as Standard, but increases the coverage up to $ 1,200,000 and includes several extra features: Transunion credit file lock, phone takeover monitoring, and alerts on crimes in your name.
Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus.
LifeLock Ultimate Plus includes the same as Advantage, but increases the coverage up to $ 3,000,000 and includes several extra features: Credit reports and scores, 401k and investment account activity alerts, home title monitoring, and social media monitoring.
Norton Mobile Security for Android.
Norton’s dedicated protection for Android phones.
Norton Mobile Security for iOS.
Norton’s dedicated protection for iPhones and iPads.
Norton antivirus review
Norton’s malware scanner is among the best in the industry, using a vast malware directory, heuristic analysis, and machine learning to detect threats and provide superior antivirus protection.
It supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices, and offers real-time protection alongside various scanning options. Norton detected 100% of malware samples on our test machine, rivaling only a few competitors like Kaspersky.
The real-time protection is equally impressive, blocking all malware samples in various formats. Norton’s full disk scan took 45 minutes, which is faster than most competitors.
Norton’s antivirus software also provides quick, custom, and smart scans, with schedules that can be set by users. Norton avoids interrupting gaming or movie-watching by not initiating scans or sending notifications during full screen mode.
Norton’s Smart Firewall significantly improves upon built-in firewalls for Windows and macOS. It offers ARP and DNS spoofing protection, SSL man-in-the-middle attack detection, port access detection, and many customization options for advanced users.
In exploit testing, Norton detected every network intrusion, outperforming the Windows firewall. It also placed network ports in Stealth mode, hiding them from public view and making them unhackable.
Norton’s firewall allows users to set access rules for programs and monitor uncommon protocols for suspicious activity. Although most users will prefer the default settings, advanced users can enjoy the extensive range of customization options.
Norton’s VPN, called Norton Secure VPN, is an excellent component of its antivirus suite, offering unlimited browsing data even on basic plans. While other antivirus VPNs often restrict data usage, Norton outshines competitors like Bitdefender and Panda Dome.
It has robust security features such as 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, a no-logs policy, Wi-Fi security, split-tunneling, an ad blocker, and Tor compatibility. Boasting 2,000+ servers across 30+ countries, Norton’s server network is average for an antivirus VPN.
However, it falls short compared to the best standalone VPNs like NordVPN and CyberGhost, which host servers in 90+ countries. Despite Norton’s connection speeds not being the best, they remain adequate for HD streaming and web browsing.
Although Norton’s VPN supports torrenting, it is limited to the standalone VPN app, with P2P traffic allowed only on dedicated servers. Additionally, Norton’s VPN is unable to access Disney+ and Hulu.
Nevertheless, Norton’s VPN, bundled with the Standard, Deluxe, and LifeLock plans, provides encrypted web access globally, an intuitive user interface, and unlimited browsing data, making it one of the best antivirus-bundled VPNs available.
Norton’s integrated password manager stands out among antivirus software, offering more than just basic password storage. Although not as comprehensive as 1Password or Dashlane, it is simple, secure, and a range of advanced features. Key components include 256-bit AES encryption, unlimited password storage, cross-device synchronization, browser extensions, auto-save and auto-fill, password generator, and vault auditing.
Norton’s password manager effectively imports password vaults from various platforms, auto-filling login details with ease. Its vault auditing tool identifies insecure, simple, repeated, or outdated passwords. Norton’s mobile login feature and biometric login support for iOS and Android devices add convenience. Additionally, two-factor authentication (2FA) can be enabled for added security.
However, the password manager has limited account recovery options and no emergency access. Users must have biometrics enabled prior to losing their master password, or they risk losing their vault. Norton allows users to create password hints, but this may not be sufficient for complex passwords.
Despite its limitations, Norton’s password manager is highly ranked in 2023. Offering multi-device sync, secure password generation, auto-saving, auto-filling, mobile login, and vault health auditing, it is easy to use and completely free.
As the top-rated antivirus with parental controls, Norton offers exceptional features for Windows, iOS, and Android. It stands out for allowing unlimited device monitoring, surpassing competitors like Qustodio. Norton’s parental controls enable parents to:
- Filter unsuitable web and app content
- Block websites on Windows and Mac
- Manage and restrict Android apps
- Oversee YouTube activity and preview videos
- Supervise search engine queries
- Schedule device usage and time limits
- Track mobile device locations
- Obtain activity reports and set emergency contacts
Web Supervision effectively blocks numerous categories of undesirable websites, with customizable settings based on a child’s age. VPN usage is also prevented. Additionally, the “School Time” mode grants access only to parent-approved educational content.
Despite its excellence, Norton’s parental controls have limitations, as they don’t support Mac or Chromebook devices, and tech-savvy kids may bypass some monitoring features on Windows.
Nevertheless, Norton Safe Family’s comprehensive suite of tools is impressive and user-friendly. The controls are available with Norton’s Deluxe and Advanced plans or as a standalone yearly subscription at $44.99.
Norton’s Safe Web extension offers robust protection against phishing sites, with a user-friendly interface that includes community reviews and detailed reports on blocked websites. Compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge, it outperforms top competitors in detecting phishing sites.
Safe Search, Norton’s search engine, provides color-coded safety assessments for search results, but it’s not always accurate, requiring users to exercise caution.
Norton’s Data Protector effectively prevents ransomware from encrypting files and folders. It successfully blocked a ransomware simulator containing multiple attacks, outperforming Malwarebytes in testing. Even when the simulator was whitelisted, Data Protector continued to defend against various ransomware attacks.
The customizable nature of Norton’s Data Protector allows users to easily add extra files and folders for protection. Overall, it’s an excellent tool for blocking ransomware with high detection rates and customization options.
Norton’s Privacy Monitor protects your personal information from data brokers. These brokers gather metadata to create identity profiles and sell them to the highest bidder. Luckily, privacy laws often prevent data brokers from collecting and selling your information if you request them to stop.
Norton identifies around 25 data brokers with your information and lists them in one place, making it easy to request removal. You can either do this manually or subscribe to Norton’s Privacy Monitor Assistant service to have a Norton employee handle it for you.
Norton’s default system tune-up tools are quick, effective, and fairly comprehensive. The base package includes disk optimization, file cleanup, startup management, and graphical timelines of device activity. Norton’s Graphs feature is particularly helpful for tracking background changes and support. However, the file cleanup feature could be more thorough.
Upgrading to Utilities Ultimate offers an improved system tune-up package. It cleans up browser caches, Windows junk files, and registry files in real time, eliminating the need for manual system scans. It also provides customization options and an automatic system cleanup function.
The Real-Time Boost feature optimizes CPU, RAM, and power usage in real time, similar to Norton GO in the Norton 360 for Gamers plan. This allows your system to run CPU-intensive programs more efficiently. Norton’s built-in tools are effective, but the Utilities Ultimate upgrade provides peak performance at a low cost. The only downside is that it is a paid add-on with most Norton plans, while competitors like Avira include similar features in their premium plans.
Dark web monitoring (not in all countries)
Norton’s dark web monitoring feature searches dark web forums, credit reports, and breach databases to alert users of leaked information. Currently, it is available in 20+ countries, including the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and several European countries. In the US, users can also benefit from LifeLock’s identity protections.
Norton’s dark web monitoring scans for a wide range of personal information such as bank account numbers, credit cards, addresses, driver’s license details, and insurance numbers, among others. Unlike most competitors, Norton employs human agents to infiltrate dark web forums, enabling them to find data others can’t and provide advice if your information is discovered.
Dark web monitoring is always active, and Norton’s team will notify you when your data is found and offer guidance on securing your identity and accounts. For US users, Norton’s LifeLock identity protection services enhance this offering.
Identity theft protection (only in the US)
LifeLock’s identity protections boast numerous features, including credit report monitoring, live identity recovery assistance, legal assistance, credit freezing, and various types of monitoring. LifeLock’s services are among the best available, providing notifications about any activities involving your personal information based on data from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
LifeLock also offers up to $1M in insurance payouts and legal assistance for identity theft cases. Norton’s LifeLock Select plan covers a $25,000 payout for identity theft damages, up to $1M in legal aid, and access to Equifax’s credit monitoring network and LifeLock’s recovery services. However, these protections are only available for US users. Although McAfee provides identity theft protection in the US, Canada, and Europe, its offerings are not as comprehensive as LifeLock’s.
In summary, Norton’s LifeLock plans are the top choice for safeguarding your finances, identity, investments, and personal information.
Norton’s Cloud Backup, available for PC users, offers a reliable backup solution similar to Dropbox, OneDrive, and iCloud. It provides options to schedule backups, select specific files, and choose between cloud or local disk storage. The tool automatically backed up 50 GB of my essential files, with advanced users able to customize file and folder selections in the backup settings.
Norton’s backup may not be groundbreaking, but it effectively safeguards user data. Depending on your subscription, you can access 2-500 GB of storage with Norton’s Cloud Backup feature.
Norton’s software updater conveniently updates programs on your computer. When I tested it on my Windows 11 machine, it identified 11 outdated applications and updated them effortlessly. Norton updates a few programs at once, avoiding excessive resource consumption. If a program fails to update, Norton provides a specific reason, allowing you to address the issue and update successfully.
The software updater also offers the ability to exclude certain programs from updates, although it’s not recommended for security reasons. Additionally, Norton can automatically update programs, sparing you the hassle of manual updates. While it doesn’t update drivers like Avira, Norton’s software updater remains a reliable way to protect your computer and save time.
On top of the above, Norton offers PC SafeCam for webcam protection, a spam filter, and a Virus Protection Promise that refunds users if Norton can’t remove a virus.
Installation and user experience
Despite its many features, Norton 360 maintains ease of use and setup. After downloading and installing the software, users can choose between the My Norton and Classic interfaces.
For beginners, Norton provides a feature setup wizard, explaining each feature and recommending actions. Device Security in the My Norton window leads to the Classic view, offering virus scans, web protection, data backup, and performance optimization tools. Users can schedule malware scans from the home screen.
However, some desktop app features, like Parental Controls and LifeLock, proved difficult to access. Instead, the my.norton web dashboard provides a cleaner layout and easier access to all features. Norton 360 may require an adjustment period, but users will likely find it user-friendly and packed with more features than most competitors.
Norton’s mobile security for Android and iOS is impressive, but it would be better if all features were combined into one app. The numerous mobile protections offered include malware scanner, app advisor, web protection, Wi-Fi network monitor, VPN, Safe Web & Safe Search, device security, SMS spam filter, secure calendar, password manager, parental controls, and LifeLock identity theft protection.
The App Advisor, which checks apps before and after download, effectively identifies privacy risks, recently installed apps, and abnormal battery usage. Norton’s web protections and Safe Search browser safeguard mobile browsing by filtering out dangerous websites.
The SMS spam filter blocks harmful texts on both Android and iOS devices, and Secure Calendar for iOS prevents spam and phishing through calendar notifications.
While Norton’s mobile security tools excel, the number of separate apps needed is a drawback. Combining password management, LifeLock, and Safe Family into one app would be more convenient.
Overall, Norton’s mobile app provides top-notch device security for Androids, Chromebooks, and iOS devices, with malware protection, app security, and web and Wi-Fi protections.
Additionally, Norton’s separate apps for password management, parental controls, and identity theft protection integrate well with its desktop app and online dashboard.
Norton presents an impressive variety of customer support options such as phone, live chat, FAQs, troubleshooting guides, and community forums. Despite some disorganization on their support page, the assistance provided is top-notch.
Norton’s phone support, available in numerous languages like English, German, Dutch, and Mandarin, outshines competitors who offer limited language options. Although contacting phone support requires filling out an online form and obtaining a verification code, the support representatives are patient, knowledgeable, and helpful.
Live chat is accessible with a 1-click button, but users must initially interact with a virtual assistant. Once connected, live chat reps are highly professional and even qualified to provide remote assistance. The FAQs and troubleshooting guides prove to be resourceful, but the community forum falls short, with most posts unanswered or taking several days for a response.
Overall, Norton’s customer support excels in language availability and the quality of phone and live chat assistance. Though the support page’s design could be improved, Norton outperforms many competitors in this area.
Norton, previously known as Norton Security, is arguably the best security suite, excelling in malware detection, internet security, mobile protection, usability, and value. It detected all malware files during testing, including ransomware, cryptojackers, rootkits, and adware, thanks to its extensive malware database, advanced heuristics, and machine learning. While McAfee and Bitdefender have similar detection rates, Norton’s multi-layered strategy outperforms them.
The Safe Web extension provides superior anti-phishing protection and an Intrusion Prevention System, enhancing security during financial transactions. Norton’s features also include robust parental controls, a reliable password manager, and exceptional dark web monitoring, with LifeLock protections for US users offering PII monitoring and identity theft reimbursement between $25,000-$1M.
Although Norton’s VPN has some limitations, it is the option available. Norton’s comprehensive suite offers unparalleled malware protection, a wide range of internet security tools, and excellent value for various users. Test Norton risk-free with their 60-day money-back guarantee.
How do we test antivirus software?
The best antivirus software offer virus protection, identity theft protection, and privacy protection for Windows, macOS, and Android. Some also offer security features for iOS and Linus.
To evaluate which providers are worth your money, we run 11 tests:
> Test 1: Anti-malware protection test
We analyze antivirus software’s capability to detect and eliminate known and unknown malware, using heuristic analysis for behavior monitoring.
We conduct in-house tests and analyze those from labs like AV-Test, SE Labs, and AV-Comparatives to determine the best malware protection.
Malware includes adware, keyloggers, ransomware, rootkits, spyware, trojans, viruses, worms, and more. Other cyber threats, usually not classified as malware, are (zero-day) exploits, hacks, identity theft, phishing attacks, scams, and social engineering.
> Test 2: False positives test
False positives occur when antivirus software misidentifies legitimate software, files, or websites as malicious. We rely on AV-Test’s large-scale analysis of false positives in its usability test to guide our evaluations.
> Test 3: System performance test
We measure the CPU load during antivirus software system scans and consider AV-Test’s performance results on the slowdown caused by antivirus software when opening websites and handling software.
> Test 4: Firewall test
We evaluate two-way firewalls that filter incoming and outgoing data and allow users to set rules to regulate data streams. We use the ShieldsUP! test to determine if the antivirus software blocks all ports.
> Test 5: Password manager test
We assess password managers’ ability to create, store, and autofill secure passwords, as well as additional features like two-factor authentication and biometric login.
> Test 6: Virtual Private Network (VPN) test
We evaluate built-in VPNs on their security, privacy, speed, compatibility with streaming services, unlimited data access, and support for peer-to-peer networks and torrent clients.
> Test 7: Parental control test
We examine parental control features, such as screen time rules, website/app blocking, and real-world location tracking. We test these features on a device and attempt to circumvent them, checking if the activity is accurately reported in the parental control admin.
> Test 8: Anti-phishing protection test
We evaluate antivirus browser extensions that block phishing sites by installing them and attempting to visit dangerous URLs.
> Test 9: Ransomware protection test
We assess security suites’ ability to prevent data encryption through exploit prevention and behavioral detection during ransomware attacks.
> Test 10: Bonus features test
We test any additional cybersecurity tools such as:
- Ad Blocker
- Dark web monitoring (identity protection)
- Email protection
- File encryption
- File shredder
- Gaming mode
- Microphone protection
- PC maintenance features
- Secure browser (hardened browser to protect your online banking)
- Secure cloud storage (cloud backup)
- Spam filter
- Startup optimizer
- Tune up tools
- Virtual keyboard
- Webcam protection
> Test 11: Operating system and multiple devices test
Operating system and multiple devices: We test antivirus software on Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices and award bonus points for unlimited device protection.
> Test 12: Ownership and reputation test
We analyze the trustworthiness of antivirus companies, especially concerning customer data. We read press releases, news articles, and privacy policies to determine their reputation.
Sources and tools
Below are the sources and tools we’ve used to test the antivirus software:
- Apple Platform Security
- AV-Comparatives Consumer
- AV-Test Android
- AV-Test macOS
- AV-Test Windows
- GRC Firewall Test
- Microsoft Defender
- SpeedTest VPN
- Trustpilot Security Software
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most frequently asked questions.
Is Norton a good antivirus program?
How do we test antivirus software?
We analyze the protection from malware, the performance impact on a PC, and the number of false positives. On top of that, we test various security features such as the firewall, password manager, VPN, and more.
Author: Tibor Moes
Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab
Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.
This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.