Monday, November 1, 2010

Norton AntiVirus 2011 - first impressions

If you know me, I've been a faithful Norton AntiVirus (NAV) user for quite a long time. I wasn't particularly crazy over NAV a few years back, but in recent years, NAV has dramatically improved and today, it is, IMHO, one of the best antivirus solutions out there.

As part of my subscription, Norton offered me a free upgrade to the latest 2011 version. I installed it without hesitation, and I'm bursting with excitement to share my first impressions with you, because good has become even better.

Firstly, installation was lightning fast - super easy and fuss-free. After a reboot and an activation screen, NAV is setup and ready to use.

Norton AntiVirus 2011 main screen
This is the home interface for NAV 2011. I think it's comprehensive without being too intimidating. New in this version is a map which shows worldwide cyber crime activity for the past 24 hours. Cool. Only gripe with this new UI is that the system status at the top could be more prominent.

NAV sidebar gadget (top)
Norton also provides a sidebar gadget for Windows, which shows you at a glance your system status, and provides two buttons below - one to launch NAV with the Activity Map, and the other with Norton's online backup.


NAV, back in the XP-era, always had a reputation of being big, intrusive, bloated and a memory hog.  But with this version, I can confidently say it's far from that.  NAV 2011 is a full-featured antivirus software which doesn't compromise on performance.  It is blazing fast, lightweight, and doesn't slow down your system.  Everything feels snappy.  LiveUpdate works fast, the main screen is almost instant start-up, and scan times are the BEST I've seen from any security software.  Doing a quickscan (after running Norton Insight once) only took me 15 seconds.  Mind-blowing!

NAV's performance screen - allows you to see how much resources its sapping up

I don't have scientific test results to convince you, but I'd say that Norton AntiVirus is very effective, both in protecting you from threats and removing them.  Ever since I've used Norton, not a single threat went unnoticed - even those minor tracing cookies gets picked up in scans.  And ever since I've used Norton, my computer has not been infected with any malware.  That's all I can say - it is pretty darn good.  Provided, of course, you update virus definitions.

Norton Facebook wall scan
New in this version are also two new type of scans you could perform - one is a reputation scan (checks the trust level, age and prevalence of programs and processes on your computer) and the other one - now this is interesting - is a Facebook wall scan, which scans your facebook wall for potentially dangerous website links.  Very innovative. 

Settings panel
At first look, the settings panel is intimidating.  There's so many things for the user to tweak, so many options and settings.  The one I'd recommend to adjust is to turn on Microsoft Office Auto Scan.  You could slowly ploy through the other options and adjust them as you please.  If not, the defaults are fine.

Norton Insight

Norton Insight
So how does Norton accomplish it? A full-featured solution without the bulk and the heft? It's every security company's dream right? This is where the intelligence lies - Norton Insight.  What Insight does is to scan your computer processes against Norton's list of safe processes.  Once it has been trusted by Norton, any subsequent computer scans performed will skip through scanning those processes, thus achieving quick scan-times.  Very smart, and works extremely well.


This is just my first impressions of NAV.  If you're the kinda guy who will only be convinced by charts, graphs and numbers, Google for another review.  But if you're a normal home-user like me, and you're looking for a standard anti-virus software for PC protection, hands-down, I'd recommend Norton AntiVirus 2011.  It is excellent in almost every aspect. 

If money's an issue though, you could also consider the free and excellent Microsoft Security Essentials.  It's good, but not quite up-to-par with Norton.

No comments: