Norton AntiVirus 2012 19.5 - Free download and software reviews - CNET Download.com

Norton AntiVirus 2012

CNET Editors' review

The bottom line: Low-impact performance, strong security, and useful features are the hallmarks of Norton AntiVirus 2012, one of the best antivirus suites available.

Review:
Editors' note: Portions of this review are based on CNET's review of Norton Internet Security 2012.

Over the past few years, Symantec has completed a course reversal for its Norton consumer Internet security suites. The massive package of security tools works better than it ever has before, with an impressive set of features, some useful new tools including remote management and download stability analysis, and third-party security efficacy benchmarks that are at the top of the heap. Meanwhile, CNET Labs' performance benchmarks indicate that though Norton doesn't leave the smallest footprint on your system, users should see a minimal impact overall.

Norton Internet Security 2012

Installation
For the third year in a row, Norton's formerly sluggish beast offers a smooth and fast installation operation. Once you run the installer, the program is ready to operate in about a minute--impressively fast, and doubly so considering past performance. The installation process is also the first time that you will interact with Quorum, Norton's behavior-based detection engine. You'll be asked to participate by sending anonymous data to Symantec's cloud. Opting out of the data submission, according to Symantec, will not affect your security.

Running the trial of Norton also requires registering the program. Like many programs, Norton used to force open your default browser and take you to the company's registration Web site. Now you can register from within the program. Uninstalling the software left about 10 Registry entries behind, but no other traces were detectable. Overall, Norton's installation experience was fast and hassle-free, with a minimum of configuration options--but the ones that did come up appeared necessary.

Interface
Norton AntiVirus 2012 contains some changes to the 2011 interface, although the design is heavily reminiscent of the previous version. It keeps the dark theme, punctuated by yellow text, and the contrast works well. Changes this year include a reorganized and streamlined Settings interface; a "pinnable" Advanced screen--so that power users can get about their business faster--which also comes with a CPU gauge; and tweaks to the System Status indicator. This year, the interface feels more balanced between the feature display and empty space.

The simplified layout offers Scans on the left, Updates in the center, and Advanced tools on the right. Clicking on one reveals controls specific to that area of protection. At the bottom of the interface is a wide, short map of the world covered with blinking yellow dots. Each one, according to Symantec, represents a threat to one of its users that has been successfully blocked. The Activity Map visual is cute, but completely irrelevant to your personal safety. More interesting is that below the map there are a series of mobile app-style buttons. In NIS you can access the new Norton Management, Norton Mobile, Norton Online Family, Norton Safe Web, and Norton Backup without having to jump to your browser. NAV only has the Activity Map and Norton Backup.

Features and support
There aren't many new features in Norton AntiVirus 2012, but what's new ought to appeal to the kind of person who wants the souped-up security in this robust suite.

One of the better new features is a change to Download Insight. This community-driven tool originally evaluated files being downloaded for security, but now it looks at their stability for other Norton users, too. There are also metered bandwidth options for people on rate-limited connections, and several interface tweaks to make the program easier on the eyes and to make it easier to find things.

The reputation-based security checks where your programs were installed from and when they were installed, and compares that against data from the 58 million users participating in the crowd-sourced Norton Community Watch to see if any of your programs should be red-flagged. Norton's System Insight component has been bumped up to version 2.0; System Insight is the proprietary internal network that warns you when your programs unnecessarily hog system resources. This gives some extra heft to the system performance map, where you can click on any spike and see what caused it.

The third iteration of Download Insight applies the same reputation-based logic to new downloads, and the fourth version of Norton SONAR (Symantec Online Network for Automatic Response) looks for suspicious software behavior and automatically chooses protective actions. You can toggle how aggressive SONAR is in the Settings window.

Along with the quick scan, the full-system scan, and the custom scan for viruses and malware, you can now have Norton scan your Facebook wall for malicious links. There are also on-demand reputation-based quick scans, full scans, and custom scans for users who want Norton to immediately scan their installed programs. After completing a scan, Norton provides users with a summary report. More-detailed information, including scan duration and a deeper dive into threats discovered, can be read under the History option from the main window. There's also a link that you can follow in case you believe that Norton missed something in its scan, although as reputation-based protection matures, on-demand scanning becomes less of an issue when compared with the "always-on" protection offered here.

The bootable recovery tool isn't new, but it now comes with a feature that automatically creates a CD, DVD, or USB-based bootable device. The USB component is especially important on optical-drive-free systems such as Netbooks.

As with the rest of the program, the support options have been streamlined behind a drop-down menu in the top right of the interface. Help opens local support, Tutorials leads to a Web site with extensive how-tos, and the Get Support link accesses the breadth of Norton's customer support in a new window. Here, users can chat with tech support 24-7, explore the user manual, and check out the Norton FAQ and knowledge base. Phone support is also available, although Symantec takes part in the trend to make phone support harder to access by funneling users to online resources.

Performance
Norton's fast installation and comprehensive feature set would be useless without solid performance, and Norton Internet Security 2012 delivers extremely high third-party efficacy benchmarks and strong performance benchmarks.

In a real-world test, Norton 2012 completed a Quick Scan in 2 minutes, 43 seconds; the Full Scan took 1 hour 43 minutes and 54 seconds. While the Full Scan average is comparable to last year's, the Quick Scan was approximately 1 minute and 30 seconds slower than last year's average.

CNET Labs' benchmarks found both Norton Internet Security 2012 and Norton AntiVirus 2012 to have performed well, although not as strongly as some of their competitors. Note that we can't directly compare this year's results with last year's because we upgraded our testing computer from Windows 7 x64 to Windows 7 x64 with Service Pack 1.

NIS 2012 slowed down the Labs' computer boot time by about 11.8 seconds, one of the fastest scores this year, whereas NAV 2012 added an unimpressive 21.2 seconds. This is in line with previous years, which saw NIS do better on boot than NAV.

Both had a very small impact on the computer's shutdown time, slowing it down only by about 4 seconds compared with an unprotected computer. Scan times for both were disappointingly average in the Labs; in previous years, they were aggressively competitive. However, our in-use system performance tests, the iTunes decoding, Microsoft Office, media multitasking, and Cinebench tests, showed both Norton suites having a low-level impact on our test computer. This means that, all things being equal, you're not going to notice much when Norton is running as you go about your computing business.

Security program Boot time Shutdown time Scan time MS Office performance iTunes decoding Media multitasking Cinebench
Unprotected system 40 6 n/a 395 120 342 17,711
Average of all tested systems (to date) 63 15.8 1,136 416 125 348 17,112
Norton AntiVirus 2012 61.2 9.9 1,154 403 125 344 17,007
Norton Internet Security 2012 51.8 10.3 1,066 410 123 343 17,386

*All tests measured in seconds, except for Cinebench. On the Cinebench test, the higher number is better.

In independent threat detection and removal tests, Norton is a top performer. In the AV-Test.org test on Windows 7 from the first quarter of 2011, Norton Internet Security 2011 scored 15 out of 18 overall, one of the better suites tested. The suite had a 5.5 rating out of 6 in Protection, a 5.0 in Repair, and a 4.5 in Usability.

The second-quarter 2011 test, on a Windows XP computer, definitely showed improvement in some areas and regression in others. It scored 13.5 out of 18 overall, a solid midrange score. The suite improved in Protection and Repair with a 5.0 rating out of 6 for both, but Usability dropped to 3.5 most likely due to false positives.

Third-quarter results aren't in yet, but results shared by AV-Test.org with CNET indicate that the suite continues to perform well. It notched a 98.94 percent malware detection rate, higher than the overall average rate of 97.31 percent in August 2011 certification testing, but not as high as some competitors, such as Bitdefender. The suite was able to remove 83.3 percent of active malware infections, only slightly higher than the industry average of 80 percent. In AV-Test.org's zero-day attacks test, Bitdefender blocked 100 percent of the attacks, compared with the average August 2011 certification results of 92.16 percent. The suite also did not find any false positives.

The most recent AV-Comparatives.org Whole Product test, which looks at on-demand scanning, retroactive tests, and "real-world" guards including cloud-based protections, puts Norton Internet Security 2011 toward the front of the class, out of 17 suites tested. Looking at Whole Product test results cumulatively from January 2011 to June 2011 found that AVG came in 13th, blocking 99.1 percent of threats.

Dennis Technology Labs, a member of the Anti-Malware Testing Standards Organization (AMTSO), found in January 2011 that Norton Internet Security 2011 earned an overall protection score of 142 (PDF), tied with Trend Micro. Norton also had zero false-positive warnings during the test.

Following the path blazed by Norton 2009 through 2011, Norton continues to build a strong performance record based on excellent detection, fast scan times, and low false positives. However, it's clear that according to some tests, there's been some small slippage.

Conclusion
Norton AntiVirus 2012 contains only core security features. All the useful extras you'll have to upgrade to Norton Internet Security to get. In that respect, NAV is much too similar to the free security suites out there, and unless support or the slightly better protection is a major priority for you, we recommend one of those instead.

Norton Antivirus 2013 - Protect your PC from viruses and online threats - Download Video Previews:

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All User Reviews
  • All versions:

    2.5 stars

    out of 682 votes

    • 5 star: 175
    • 4 star: 62
    • 3 star: 46
    • 2 star: 72
    • 1 star: 327
  • Current version:

    2.2 stars

    out of 42 votes

    • 5 star: 10
    • 4 star: 2
    • 3 star: 2
    • 2 star: 2
    • 1 star: 26
  • My rating:

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1-10 of 42

  • 1.0 stars

    "Norton functions like malware"

    August 29, 2012  |   By dx58so

    Version: Norton AntiVirus 2012 19.5

    Pros

    NONE AT ALL

    Cons

    SONAR is a terrible idea, the heuristics engine is useless and flags legitimate software as dangerous. The malware scanner is slow and inconsistent. Strong malware easily bypasses Norton software and uses it against you therefore it is prone to hijacking. The firewall can be broken with little effort. The customer support does not want to fix your problem they want to charge you for the phone call and the service of telling you that you need to reformat your PC. Take it from a software engineer, this is BAD NEWS!

    Summary

    Do not under any circumstances use Symantec's products unless you want to support your local computer repair shop, then by all means,they will love you.

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (1) (1)

  • 1.0 stars

    "Lags computer"

    July 27, 2012  |   By Enlightarts

    Version: Norton AntiVirus 2012 19.5

    Pros

    I cant think of any

    Cons

    It slow down computer considerably and uses a lot of ram ALL of the time. Did not catch things that other programs that were free did.

    Summary

    It seems like norton gets the best reviews from cnet, pcmag and other pro reviews, but regular people mostly think it sucks. Why is that? Is norton paying these companies to give good reviews? Cnet gives it 5 stars / average user rating 2.5 stars. Thank goodness for user reviews.

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (2) (1)

  • 5.0 stars

    "This is a very good product being reviewed by morons"

    June 25, 2012  |   By HCSGuy

    Version: Norton AntiVirus 2012 19.5

    Pros

    Low system resource use
    Catches nearly all viruses
    Doesn't tend to mess up your computer

    I repair computers and fix viruses for a living. I see a lot of different AV software and how well it protects peoples' systems. There is no antivirus that can protect the system from its user if they do something dumb enough, but Norton Antivirus is the best I've seen. Here are some actual facts to compare to the reviewers writing in all CAPS:

    - In the last 18 months, I've removed 1000s of viruses from hundreds of computers. In that time, not one computer with a properly updated Norton has come across my desk, not one.
    - I've installed NAV on dozens of customers' computers who have previously contracted a virus. Not one of those machines has come back with either a virus or problem of any sort.
    - NAV consistently rates at the top of its class in independent tests

    Cons

    If Norton get your credit card, they'll automagically charge you for an update every year. Moreover, that's about the most expensive way to buy the product. I'm also not crazy about their SONAR product interfering with your downloads because "Not many people download this program". You then have to go through 3 or 4 steps to download a file you want. For some naive users, this might just save them from downloading the latest virus, but I find it a tiny bit annoying.

    Summary

    I'm not a fanboi for this product, I don't even use it on my own computer (I use Avira). NAV used to suck until they re-wrote it a few years ago, it could suck again some day, but the 2011 and 2012 versions just rock.

    Haters are going to hate, don't let the reviews you see on here dissuade you from using Norton.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

    Was this review helpful? (4) (6)

  • 1.0 stars

    "Are There ZERO-Star To Rate This?"

    June 16, 2012  |   By privatejohn

    Version: Norton AntiVirus 2012 19.5

    Pros

    There's None.

    Cons

    HEAVILY BLOATED!
    SLOWS UP PC.
    FALSE-POSITIVES AND FALSE DETECTIONS!
    HIGHLY EXPENSIVE WITH LOWEST QUALITY PIECE OF ****!
    Need A 4GB RAM Just For Detecting Malware. (YOU **** ME?!)
    LOTS OF BUGS And ERRORS.

    Summary

    Totally CRAP! There Are LOTS Of Cheap Yet Effective (And Some Are FREE!) Antivirus That Won't Let You Down. Avast!, Avira, ESET And Others.
    Avoid THESE: McAfee, And Norton / Symantec. Even A New Computer Users PISSED Off With This Crap (And Even n00bs Will NOT Recommend This).

    Other Notes: There Are Some So-called "5-star Rating" Comments Concerning This **** Product Which I Think It's Just Paid Off By The Publisher(s). Do NOT Trust Them. EVER!

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

    Was this review helpful? (5) (4)

  • 1.0 stars

    "Takes actions without asking or even telling you"

    May 16, 2012  |   By pjcamp

    Version: Norton AntiVirus 2012 19.5

    Pros

    Industrial strength protection
    Low system impact

    Cons

    SONAR technology silently deletes files

    Summary

    The last version of Norton introduced a set of heuristic protection tools, among them one called SONAR. It is basically a reputation engine. If some particular file is, in Symantec's judgment, used by an insufficient number of people, then it is treated as a virus and removed from your system. That in itself is annoying, but what turns irritation into a MAJOR BUG is that Norton does not tell you what it did. No warning, no asking for permission, no informational popup telling you what is going on and why, not even a history log. It is up to you to figure out why that program you thought you had vanished without a trace. Making major alterations to my system, silently and without my permission, is the one behavior I simply will not tolerate. Yeah, you can turn off the "feature." And the next time Norton updates, it will turn itself back on. I've been testing Avast on another machine and so far I'm pretty happy with it. I don't see the point in paying for antivirus any more, and certainly not in paying for deliberate irritation.

    Reply to this review

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Symantec are just useless money hoggers"

    May 3, 2012  |   By sanvinayak

    Version: Norton AntiVirus 2012 19.5

    Pros

    Not a very big resource hog
    Fast and easy installation

    Cons

    I tested norton personally against a few viruses and some virus killed norton completely and also the net connection. Norton couldnt repair itself and i had to use kaspersky rescue disc to save my system

    Bad detection and protection
    Cluttered interface
    Expensive and no VFM

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (4) (2)

  • 1.0 stars

    "awful program"

    May 2, 2012  |   By commander2001

    Version: Norton AntiVirus 2012 19.5

    Pros

    none doesnt have any

    Cons

    everything price,doesnt stop all viruses

    AVAST is the way to get get norton off this site

    Summary

    go for avast its more better

    Reply to this review

    Was this review helpful? (3) (3)

  • 4.0 stars

    "improved, faster!"

    April 24, 2012  |   By mfrman

    Version: Norton AntiVirus 2012 19.5

    Pros

    Much faster load time, I'm the only one of my friends not to get hit with a virus lately, (don't use exploder, of windows firewall)

    Cons

    None i can find

    Summary

    Free with Centurlink, take it, don't stick with the freewares

    Reply to this review

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  • 5.0 stars

    "I think it's good :)"

    March 5, 2012  |   By Maniac_34

    Version: Norton AntiVirus 2012 19.5

    Pros

    I've had really good luck with this antivirus I'll keep supporting Symantec. However I think the reason why people are saying it slows down their machines is because their machine is crap. Or they don't know how to personalize their SONAR exclusions and any other settings.

    Cons

    None to be found

    Reply to this review

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Never Buy Norton products"

    March 4, 2012  |   By Observer29

    Version: Norton AntiVirus 2012 19.5

    Pros

    It updates regularly but waste of money

    Cons

    It doesn't stop viruses.have been using norton 4 a couple of years & it's a ripoff.2 months into service and all 5 computer went down i thought maybe something i did but every year it's d same result take ur money but don't produce.You will be spending more money cleaning you computer using NORTON.

    Summary

    People Norton is a Ripoff.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

    Was this review helpful? (2) (7)

Results 1-10 of 42

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