Top positive review
Solid protection but terribly flawed subscription management scheme
December 4, 2015
I'm a long-time faithful user of Norton products, as evidenced by the fifteen different subscriptions that show up in my Norton account. More on that later. For the most part, I've never had a problem with Norton products. I always opt to buy the retail version because it is far cheaper than their renewal pricing, even their "sale" or "special" pricing. I have yet to catch any malware while under Norton's watch although much of that is also in part due to common sense and experience gained from working in the IT field.
Last year, Norton decided to change to a new subscription model. Some aspects of it are great, such as the ability to finally protect a realistic number of devices affordably under one license. The three device limit was too limited even a decade ago, let alone now. With Norton premium, I can protect 10 devices for a realistic price. Considering the size of my family and the number of computing and mobile devices we use, even that isn't sufficient to cover every device but at least all of the most vulnerable devices like our PC's are covered.
It appears Norton has gone completely cloud based. I ordered the so-called retail package instead of the cloud version from Amazon. I was sent a box with a card inside that had an activation URL and a key code on it. That's it. Honestly, they should stop offering the retail version altogether if that's the case. At least ship the cards in envelopes or something else smaller than traditional sized software boxes large enough to hold a jewel-cased optical disk and instruction manual.
Norton Security Premium works on PC's, Macs, smartphones and tablets. I can speak from both personal experience and feedback from other users that although it technically "works" on Apple devices, it's pretty much worthless in OSX and iOS. It is great on Android and Windows devices, offering true protection and no noticeable performance hit. It can actually do more harm than good to Macs and offers nothing useful at all on iOS devices. Apple owners, save your loot, seriously.
Installation is usually straightforward. In the past, I'd simply uninstall the previous version and install the new version. It seems that recent past versions did a much better job of removing all of the files it installed. The new Norton Security seems to be falling back into some of the bad habits of much earlier versions of Norton, leaving files behind that can interfere with subsequent installs. I had a few hiccups with my new installation and activation that I hadn't encountered in at least the past 3-4 years. Once installed, it offers antivirus and malware protection as well as online protection, automated backup and 25 GB of cloud storage. Basically, I only use the AV/malware portion. It also offers child monitoring features through Norton Family but they can be had for free with a Norton account. In fact, the Premier version of Norton Family will set you back fifty-bucks regardless of which version of Norton Security you own.
Norton goes way out of the way to make retail upgrades... well, actually, there is no such thing because a new retail license is just that, a new retail license. True upgrades have to be purchased directly from Symantec. Despite being offered the option to enter a new product key in my recently expired subscription, it didn't work in either the online management or the desktop client. I had to create a new subscription in my account, uninstall the expired client and download and re-install the client from the new subscription tab. Speaking of tabs, Norton management provides no way to delete expired subscription tabs. I have fifteen tabs for products dating back years and fourteen of them are expired. Each has a button offering to renew but none has an option to delete. It's cluttered and ridiculous looking. I'm almost ready to create a new Norton account because I'm so tired of the messy interface. Despite some good points like dynamic online management of specific device licenses, the entire management scheme seems very clumsy.
So that's my take. Norton Security does a good job of protecting my PC with minimal impact on the resources. It is pretty much worthless on my Mac and iOS devices but they don't really need quite as badly as my other devices anyhow. Plus, I have better options, at least on my Mac. Activation and renewal seem to have gotten clumsier with the new version along with uninstalling. Those minor headaches are no reason to jump ship. Best of all, it protects 10 PCs for pretty much the same price I paid to protect a paltry number of three PC's as recently as a year ago.