Norton Antivirus 2006
Symantec is arguably one of the best-known names in security software, and its long-standing range of Norton Antivirus product has been a popular choice on the desktop for homes and businesses.
- Comprehensive antivirus and malware system
- Spyware blocking not active enough
A new centralised management interface and impressive attention to detail makes up for below par anti-spyware capability.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
When you first go to install the software, Norton runs a full scan of your computer to check for viruses that might disrupt the installation. It's possible to bypass the scan, but it only takes 10-15 minutes and helps ensure that the application will install successfully.
After installation and reboot, a quick-start wizard appears to activate and register the software with Symantec. Anyone familiar with previous versions will immediately recognise the distinctive yellow interface with a menu frame running down the left-hand side, but Symantec has updated the product slightly for 2006. The interface is now built around the Norton Protection Center, which is designed to act as a one-stop-shop for users to check the status of virus definitions, set scans, and get advice. It's pretty Symantec-oriented, though, and many options link directly to the Symantec site, where you can buy software to help perform tasks like recovering files. It's also a little cluttered, and new users could be daunted by the options.
Symantec doesn't include a firewall application in NAV, but instead offers a separate stand-alone application (Norton Personal Firewall) and an integrated product that includes both antivirus and firewall in one (Norton Internet Security). Instead of the firewall component, buyers are provided with an Internet Worm Protection system designed to block the spread of worms over the net.
The bulk of the application handles scanning, though - both on files loaded up over a network and locally. The scanning engine takes a look at all incoming and outgoing email as well as instant messenger correspondence (the most common instant messaging clients -- AIM, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger - are all supported from the box). There's also a spyware scanner and an adware checker as well as tool to block malicious applications from running on your PC. The spyware blocker effectively managed to detect a piece of known spyware, but only after it was installed on the PC. It failed to block the installation outright, but offered detailed information that helped us decide that running the application was a no-no.
One issue we encountered during testing was relatively slow email scanning. The Norton engine can take up to around 15 seconds to check and send an email - it's not disruptive, but it can be a bit of a hassle if you're in a rush to send a message before heading out.
Though it's a little resource-intensive, Norton Antivirus 2006 is a reasonable upgrade for existing users. The Norton Protection Center may not be to everyone's liking, but it does offer a single interface to drive functions and provide details of issues, and Norton's attention to detail is impressive - provided you're careful with spyware.
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