NortonLifeLock, formerly Symantec, has changed up its security suite lineup. Norton Security Premium, the suite we’ve reviewed several times, is no more. Now it’s all about the Norton 360 brand that combines Norton’s protection with services from identify theft protection company LifeLock, which Symantec acquired in 2016.
Note: This review is part of our best antivirus roundup. Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.
By our reckoning, the best choice in terms of value and capabilities in the current lineup is Norton 360 Deluxe. There are two other suites above that with extra LifeLock features, but for most people 360 Deluxe hits the sweet spot at $50 for the first year for new users and $100 for returning users, covering five devices.
Norton 360 works with two primary apps. The first is My Norton, a launcher for the actual antivirus program known as Device Security. My Norton is home to other features that come with 360 Deluxe such as Dark Web Monitoring from LifeLock, a secure VPN, 50GB of cloud backup, a password manager, and a link to the Norton website for parental controls.
Device Security looks the same as Norton’s other antivirus apps have for years now. The app has five sections: Security, Internet Security, Backup, Performance, and My Norton. The latter is just a launcher for the My Norton app.
Security is where most of the action happens. Here you can initiate a scan with a wide number of options including a quick scan (the default), full system scan, a custom scan, and a custom task.
The custom scan can check for protection updates, remove temporary files in the system, run disk optimization, and erase Internet Explorer temporary files.
The Scans section can also run Norton Power Eraser for eliminating threats that regular scans can’t deal with, as well diagnostics, and Norton Insight—the program that determines which files should be scanned during a quick scan.
While most people will just need the quick scan and full system scan options, it’s great that all these tools are easily accessible by the user. Beyond scans, the Security section also houses the SafeCam settings for keeping rogue programs away from your webcam. There isn’t much to do with SafeCam, but if it’s ever giving you issues, this is where you can turn it off.
Internet Security features access to the password manager, password generator, and Norton’s browser extensions. As we’ve noted before, Norton doesn’t bother you too much with notifications about its features; however, it does love to notify you from time to time if you don’t have all of the Norton browser extensions installed.
The essential one is Norton Safe Web, which warns you about malicious sites, and puts a green check mark next to safe sites in your Google results and a red “x” next to bad ones.
In our opinion, the other extensions are less important. Norton Home Page and Norton Safe Search are particularly unimpressive and essentially do the work that one extension could. Safe Search makes Norton Safe Search your default browser search engine, and Home Page redirects your browser’s new tab pages and the Home button to Norton Safe Search. In our experience, these two extensions just get in your way. There’s also a Norton Password Manager extension, which is essential if you use this program for storing all your passwords.
Backup is pretty straightforward. Setting it up allows you to keep copies of essential files in Norton’s Secure Cloud Storage. If you don’t want your files in Norton’s cloud there’s also an option for saving it to local storage.
Norton Deluxe also includes some system optimization features including disk optimization, file cleanup, a startup manager, and a graph showing performance history. You can find a lot of these features in Windows itself or in free third-party programs, but if you’re getting Norton 360 anyway it’s nice that they’re there.
The Dark Web Monitoring runs off Norton’s website and lets you add key information such as a bank account or credit card number, phone number, address, insurance policies, and up to five email accounts. If any of this data shows up in a hacked database being traded on the so-called Dark Web, NortonLifeLock will alert you to it.
It notably doesn’t track your social security number, which I assume is part of NortonLifeLock’s Fictitious Identity Monitoring available only in Norton 360 with Ultimate Plus.
We tried testing out Norton 360’s parental controls and they were pretty good once they started working. We added a child profile, and then followed the instructions to install the Norton Family App on the test PC to monitor the child user account for Windows 10.
Norton’s defaults will monitor the child’s account quite aggressively for younger children. Time is limited, all searches are logged and more; however, it took several hours before we could see the PC reflected in the child’s profile on the web interface. That’s just too long, because you need to be able to tweak the protection settings to your liking—especially the time limits. If your child is doing homework and gets suddenly locked out of their PC due to aggressive parental controls, well, that can get annoying. Parents can extend the child’s computer time manually by entering their Norton account password, but it’d be preferable to have full control much sooner.
In AV-Test’s round of testing from May and June 2020, Norton scored 100 percent on the 0-day malware attacks test, as well as the widespread and prevalent malware test.
Over at AV-Comparatives, Norton blocked 100 percent of samples in the real-world protection test from May 2020 with 27 false positives. In the malware protection test, it also scored a 100 percent, with 25 false positives. All in all, the protection results are excellent.
For our in-house performance tests, we saw no significant changes in performance between the PC with and without Norton 360 Deluxe installed.
Norton 360 is a very good suite with a good price. If you’re looking for excellent antivirus protection that won’t get in your way with a good amount of features then Norton 360 Deluxe is the suite to buy.
Editor’s note: Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this article.