My review below is mostly unchanged since the last release of Norton 360. The product I was provided with for review this time, the 2013 Premier edition, differs from the standard edition of Norton 360 by including 25 GB of online (cloud) storage vs only 2 GB in the standard edition. Considering that Symantec charges almost $60 just to add 25 GB to your Norton account, the minor price increase for 360 Premium makes it an economical choice for those people using the Norton online backup technology.
Note that Norton's online storage is accessible only by its backup (and restore) component of 360. You cannot drag and drop files there, as you can with other cloud storage services. To email people links to files in your storage, you must use a web interface - but you cannot upload files there.
Tip to all Norton users: the LiveUpdate process does NOT download free product updates to which you are entitled. From time to time, click on the Support menu and then "Check for New Version". Even if you are running, say, version 2012, when version 2013 comes out during your 12 month license term, you are able to download and install it free of charge.
You probably know somebody that everybody in the family calls to fix their computers when they slow down or have problems. Yeah, I'm that guy. Now that I've (finally) discovered Norton 360, I'll be spending less time with the relatives once they buy copies.
I've used Norton Internet Security for years and have recommended it often, particularly in recent years when Symantec made it run faster and leaner. I never went for Norton 360 before receiving a review copy because frankly I couldn't really understand what it was from a quick glance.
Norton 360 does everything Norton Internet Security (NIS) does, and more, but with a different interface.
It includes firewall and antivirus protection as well as Identify Safe, identical to NIS. (Your NIS settings and Identity Safe vault all migrate if you switch to 360 from NIS.) Identify Safe is primarily a password manager, saving and entering your passwords for you under the protection of a single master password so that you are more likely to use appropriate, complex and site specific passwords for the web sites that you visit.
360 includes features in two areas beyond NIS: Backup and PC Tuneup.
The PC Tuneup portion automatically cleans up things including:
1. Removal of Windows temporary files (no more searching %temp%, %tmp% and all of the other places that these things hide)
2. Removal of Internet Explorer temporary files
3. Startup Manager - controlling the many hidden programs that launch when you start your computer. Way easier than running MSConfig, the Norton 360 Startup Manager lets you mark non-essential startup items as "delayed" - so that your computer starts up in a jiffy, and then these things are launched somewhat later (reported to be 5 minutes) by 360 itself. For example, there is a Microsoft Office and Adobe Reader item in most people's startup group. These allow Office applications and Reader to launch faster when you need them, but at the cost of slowing down the time before you get control of your mouse when you start your computer. With 360, you get your desktop sooner - and these things can still get launched, just a little bit later. (Or you can disable them - which has no affect on the functionality of Office or Reader - just makes them launch slower.) Etc.
4. Registry Cleanup - the Windows Registry is a single, huge database that all software on your computer stores settings in. The bigger and more cluttered it gets, the slower the computer runs. 360 can find entries for software that has been uninstalled and did not clean up after itself and tidy things up.
5. Internet Explorer history cleanup - nothing special, other than it can be scheduled to run at times you choose
6. Disk Optimization - defragmentation is essential to fast disk performance on Windows machines. The defragger that comes with Windows itself is fine, but must be run manually. The Norton 360 one can be scheduled to run automatically, eliminating the issue on most computers of the user either not knowing how to defrag, or continuously forgetting to do it.
All of these tune-up activities can be set on a schedule to keep things running smoothly.
Finally, 360 adds a Backup service that can backup via the internet to the "cloud", or to local media. This is useful and adds to the completeness of the product, but the user interface is so poor, that I take one star away in this review.
Symantec gives you 25 GB of online storage with your Norton 360 Premier registration. You can purchase more, but at a hefty charge relative to competitors. You can access this storage through a Norton product or the n360.backup.com web site; you would have to upgrade your license annually to maintain this 'cloud' backup. But, the backup service can run automatically, incrementally uploads only files that have changed, and knows where they came from if you need to restore a file right back to its original location. This is an excellent option for off-site backup of really important files that would make your life miserable if the disappeared in a fire or explosion. But, of course, it is slow to transfer large files.
Note: your files backed up to online storage are only as secure as your Norton account login password - hackers could try to access your files via the web interface which is accessed purely with your Norton account login credentials. And, the web interface can be outrageously slow. On the plus side, the web interface to your online storage has a search function so that you can quickly find the file you're looking for. On the downside, the web interface is supposed to include a "Purge" command to allow you to delete files to free up space. This command does not appear for me, however.
You can also backup to thumb drive, optical media, a hard disk, or a network location (mapped to a drive letter).
The negative about the backup system is that you do not have a normal Explorer-like browser tree to select or exclude the files to be backed up. Instead you have a horrendously ugly long scrolling list of full path names to files - no enclosing folder, nothing, to make it easy to browse and find files that you want to exclude/include. There is not one person who I help with their computer troubles who would have a slight clue as to what these long file path names mean relative to their data. I just don't know what Symantec was thinking of, putting this in a program otherwise designed for everyday Windows users rather than tech geeks. It is not just this list, but the whole backup process which would confuse my less techie friends and relatives - they need a wizard to lead them through the process.
One last thing I like about 360 is that in the Activities and Scans window, there is a checkbox to shut down the computer when activities are complete. So, there's no excuse not to save energy when you leave the computer for the night - let 360 download updates, do backups and Tune-up activities, and then allow it to shut your computer down when it is finished.
on February 1, 2013
I've used Norton 360 for a few years. Norton sells it in retail stores but it is such a hassle to renew once you are signed up. I think they do this to encourage us to renew on their web site at a higher price than you can buy it retail and then they don't have to share the revenue with anyone. Another thing to keep in mind is if your Norton license runs out, all protection stops, it doesn't just stop updating like it used to, now it turns itself off until you pay them more money.
Last year I lost my Identity Safe file when it made me reinstall to renew. You have to be very careful to buy the exact same product each year. This year I bought a retail product online and got to spend an hour on Norton's web site because even though I clicked Renew, it set it up as a new product and didn't keep the days I had left. I had to go to several places on Norton's web site, through all the non help help, they want you to read first, before you talk to anyone,and finally after several tries to leave feedback, I got to Live Chat only to wait ten minutes to get a conversation started. They told me because I put in a new product key, (your only choice with a retail product), it started a new license vs. Renew like it told me it was going to do. So the days I had left were wiped out and I now have to enter the new product key on all three computers rather than renew it on one and have it flow to all three.
Of course if you have an hour to waste, navigating Norton's web site and plenty of time to wait to have a chat session, they will restore the days you lost on the license but you'll still have to go back and enter the product key on each system, (the license allows up to three PCs). Norton needs to find a better, simpler way.
One other thing to keep in mind is that if you use the Identity Safe, any Firefox update can break it and often will. If you let that happen to you and you don't write your logins and passwords down somewhere else, you won't be able to use them until Norton issues an update that is compatible with the new version of Firefox.
There has to be a competitor with a better product.
on January 14, 2013
Initially, I could not install the product with the enclosed instructions. When I called for assistance, instead of help, what I received was little aid but a lot of sales talk for additional products. The cheapest was $99.00 for a one-time aid. I had been through this marketing scam with Dell and spent $450.00 for various band-aids, afterward wondering what just happened. I fixed my registry with a different Registry Optimizer ($29.95) and was able to get the Norton product installed. My computer's performance deteriorated in speed and showed me messages I had never seen before. One message was "CPU is reaching capacity". The poor performance has been a one-way descent into non-performance. Totally inoperative my PC is now telling me "Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: <Windows root>\system32\hal.dll. Please re-install a copy of the above file." Huh??
on December 10, 2012
I've been using Norton 360 for several years now, and have no real complaints. It pretty much does what it says it will do.
I've never used the online backup before, because with only 2 GB of storage, it wouldn't accomplish what I wanted to do. Actually, in the past I haven't used Norton Backup to backup locally on my computer either; I backup my files on my own.
But since the Premier version advertised 25 GB, my subscription was running out, and it was on sale, I went for it.
The installation went fine; no hiccups. But the day after I installed it, I decided to try the online backup. IT WILL NOT WORK. There's a glitch that won't let me even attempt to use ANY backup settings; online is completely out, and if I want to backup locally, it will NOT allow me to configure what files to backup. It will let me backup it's own 'Default set' only (which on my computer relates to 40GB).
So I called Norton's support number. After the normal 15 minute wait, I got someone off-shore who was obviously reading off of a troubleshooting sheet. All she would recommend to do is to uninstall it, then reinstall it. She also assured me that this would work, because NOBODY was calling in with a problem like this. (Are you buying any of this? I wasn't, but figured I'd play the game).
Needless to say, the uninstall/reinstall didn't work. So now it's back to the phone waiting lines I guess.
If and when I get this rectified, I'll update this review.
OK, part 2.
After waiting a few days later in the 'que' for another 15 minutes, I got 'BinWa' or whatever his name was to 'review my case'. Eventually he took over my computer with remote access, played with a few buttons and did who knows what else, and now the backup works.
I still think, however, that the online backup feature is not nearly as 'smooth' as it could be. Norton pretty much demands that you backup your whole computer; if you want to be selective in what gets backed up, you pretty much have to go through your whole computer folder by folder.
I've used other backup programs in the past, and they're much easier to use. Perhaps Norton is trying to get you to back up the whole thing in case of catastrophic hardware failure, but I'm a little uncomfortable putting ALL of my files, especially financials, out into cyberspace somewhere.
Come on Norton, you're better than this!
on January 2, 2013
I've used Norton for years and it's worked quite well for me. Recently they made a change on their storage that's more than annoying. I had set up my backup for the program on both of my computers and it was working fine. Then instantly both of them were telling me I needed more storage with constant warnings. After looking into it, it's asking for me to purchase more storage space for my files. So since it happened on both my computers at the same time without much change, it's apparent that they shortened my backup storage and demanded extra money to keep it updated. So now I gotta pay $40 more if I want to keep it updated when I had already previously paid for the backup service. Definitely gets me questioning my customer loyalty after pulling this move.
So be aware, when they say it has storage, it's now very limited. Almost non-existent unless you're willing to pay extra.