Currently, you may order and download Norton AntiVirus 2007, but packaged editions won't hit retail stores until after October 1, 2006. Norton AntiVirus costs $39.99 for a single license. Because of a product agreement between Symantec and Yahoo, some of our installations of Norton AntiVirus 2007 included the installation of Yahoo Toolbar. To proceed without installing the toolbar, remember to uncheck the Yahoo Toolbar option when prompted.
Norton AntiVirus 2007 occupies 180MB of hard drive space yet runs only a handful of processes when active. By comparison, McAfee VirusScan Plus occupies only 75MB but spawns several processes that, when active, could drain system resources on older PCs.
Should you ever decide to remove Norton AntiVirus 2007, you'll need to use the Microsoft Windows Add/Remove Programs console. Note that by removing Norton AntiVirus prematurely you may lose some or all of your remaining subscriptions with Symantec. After a reboot, we were happy to find no traces of Symantec files or folders; however, we needed to delete a few residual Symantec references from the System Registry, something that only advanced users should do on their own. Still, this uninstall process is much improved from previous versions', and it's far better than McAfee's uninstall process, although it's not ideal.
As noted, the Norton AntiVirus 2007 interface has been redesigned and simplified. Instead of having different desktop windows, Norton Protection Center and Norton AntiVirus open as different tabs within one window. The new Norton Protection Center includes several useful information links. For example, click "Learn more about transaction security," and you'll actually arrive on a landing page that defines phishing, pharming, and crimeware, with more links to full articles on these subjects, and Norton moved the Buy Now product-listing button to a small upper corner of the screen. By contrast, McAfee's Security Center sends you to its online store.
We also like that Norton AntiVirus 2007 displays your system's green-yellow-red security status in a new sidebar, independent of which tab you might be on. Like McAfee, Norton offers a single Fix Now button. But unlike McAfee's Fix button, Norton accesses another screen where you must select what to fix and so on. For people who want to tweak what's wrong, that'll be fine; but most home users will simply want whatever's wrong fixed and might be annoyed with the extra step.
The Windows Update status is one area where we appreciated having the option to reconfigure our settings. We like to have Microsoft notify us of any new updates so that we can download and install them at our leisure; the default setting within Norton is that the updates be downloaded and installed immediately. By going to General Settings - Options, however, we were able to tell Norton to accept our preference and mark our system as secure.
We also found the redesigned virus-scan results page cumbersome. After identifying and removing what's considered malware by Symantec, there are times when you'll have to choose how to handle additional items, which you do with a drop-down menu offering Fix, Ignore, and Exclude. While some may appreciate the granularity here, most home users will simply want to fix the problems en masse and move on.
Unlike McAfee, which redesigned only its interface, Norton redesigned its interface and rewrote much of its underlying code. Thus, its antivirus and antispyware scans occur simultaneously, and perhaps in response to past reader comments, Norton AntiVirus 2007 can now throttle its scanning engines so that either the full system scan or the Quick Scans will run in the background, giving priority to applications such as Microsoft Word. Here, McAfee could learn something from Norton.
Deeper under the hood, although not advertised, Norton AntiVirus 2007 absorbs much of Symantec's discontinued Norton Personal Firewall product. But you'll have to look hard to find it: the firewall settings are rebranded as Internet Worm protection under the Virus and Spyware Protection Options page. Here you can enable or disable signature files and inbound and outbound firewall rules, as well as automatically stop all communication with the Internet--useful if there's a pernicious worm on the loose.
And Norton AntiVirus 2007 incorporates some enterprise technology in defending your PC against rootkit threats. Norton AntiVirus 2007 uses Symantec Veritas VxMS enterprise technology to compare files within the directory to files on the volume level. This quickly ferrets out suspicious or known malware and rootkits operating on your system.
What's noticeably missing from Norton AntiVirus 2007 is antiphishing technology. McAfee VirusScan Plus, for example, includes the McAfee SiteAdvisor toolbars for both Firefox and Internet Explorer. For similar protection from Norton, you'll have to buy Norton Internet Security or wait until later this year for Symantec's new Norton Confidential (currently in beta).
Norton AntiVirus 2007 improves on last year's CNET Labs' performance test scores, although Norton turns in a mixed bag of results overall. On our iTunes test, Norton AntiVirus 2007 lost ground compared with last year, taking 208 seconds as opposed to 184 seconds last year. On our Sorensen Squeeze test, Norton AntiVirus 2007 improved, taking 317 seconds compared to 326 seconds last year. Norton showed the most improvement with individual file scans; it took only 117 seconds and 320 seconds last year. But in terms of boot speed, Norton lost ground, taking 4 seconds longer--66 seconds as opposed to last year's 62 seconds. To find out how we test, see CNET Labs' How we test: software: antivirus page.
We refer to test results from two leading independent antivirus testing organizations to determine how well a product will protect your PC. In the latest test results from AV-Comparatives.org, Norton AntiVirus 2006 earned an Advanced + (highest) rating, catching 98 percent of all malware tested, and from CheckVir.com, Norton AntiVirus 2006 was one of eight products to earn its Standard (highest) rating.
For antispyware protection, Norton Antivirus is one of the better antispyware apps we've tested. In exclusive testing by CNET Labs, Norton Antivirus 2007's active shields identified and blocked six out of eight spyware samples we attempted to install. For scanning and removing existing spyware samples, Norton Antivirus 2007 caught six out of eight. As for the removal itself, Norton Antivirus 2007 removed spyware residue in six out of eight cases.
Symantec has redesigned and enhanced its technical support for Norton AntiVirus 2007. However, the 32-page manual, which is available online, is surprisingly light, almost useless when it comes to critical information; the index is only two pages and doesn't cover antispyware settings, for example. The updated automated online technical support service works with only Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher. Fortunately, the FAQ knowledge base still works in both IE and Firefox. If you still can't find an answer, Symantec offers live technical-support options. In our tests, free online chat required about 15 minutes of wait time, free e-mail averaged about 72 hours for a response, and a live conversation over the phone required a $9.95 charge and a 30-minute wait. But to use any of these options, we were required to first fill in our name, address, e-mail, and telephone number (apparently, having the required Norton account doesn't help you access these services).
By rewriting much of its code and focusing upon virus and spyware prevention, Symantec makes Norton AntiVirus 2007 one of the premier antivirus products on the market. If we gave an award for "Most improved antivirus product," it would go to Symantec.