Monday, May 12, 2008

Review: Norton 360

I am a geek, yet I am not a computer geek. My knowledge centers around organic molecules and their interactions with each other and with pharmacological substances that humans use. I do know enough HTML to keep me out of trouble, and I am not bashful about tinkering with my computers. I get nervous, though.

Nor nervous enough for some. I spoke to my mother about a website, telling her that she should have a look at it. She said she wouldn't as she worried about what that site might introduce to her computer, her link to bill paying, emailing families, and ever-so-important financial and tax preparation software. I scratched my head over that, a real honest-to-goodness scratch. I know there are viruses, worms, trojan horses, and spyware waiting to infect our computers. Still, even when certain viruses infected other computers in a widely spread pattern, say from finding a hole in a Windows operating system, I've not been a victim of those. I got one small one, I think. Well, heck, I don't know. I was able to reboot the system and get rid of whatever that thing was. Maybe I had some type of anti-virus software from my work as it was an employee laptop.

That incident with my mother got me wondering if the anti-virus, anti-spyware software that came bundled with the modem from my ISP worked. Could I get better? Was a product available that stopped viruses, spyware, malware, worms, and trojan horses? What about identity theft? Any help there?

Well, not three days after that conversation, Mom Central offered me a chance to review Symantec's Norton 360 v 2.0, an all-in-one security solution for daily computing activities. Here's the important part--I put in the disc, ran the executable program, and in a short time was done. I liked that as with three kids around me for a good part of the day, I don't want to be worrying about if the program is taking a hour to load. The product offers a firewall, virus protection, spyware protection, malware protection, Identity Safe, back-up service of 2.0 GB, PC tuneup, and one click support. I've not used the support as I've not needed it. My computer runs as it always has, which I've heard can be a problem for some. Again, not for me.

I have set up the Identity Safe feature, which remembers your passwords for different sites and allows for an auto-fill function if you authorize it. I do quite a bit online at password protected sites. Do I forget my differing passwords? Oh, heavens, do I? The only two I've never forgotten are the primary bank and my email. If you add all of the sites I visit to track credits card activity, investments, insurance, schools, and oh, so many others, my brain begins to fry. I like the identity protection feature.

The back-up service took seconds to set up. For the particular computer I call my own, which is a complete lie as anyone can use it but this one travels to my bed for writing, I want pictures, documents, and the few financial files routinely backed up. You can choose from a list of file types, including music.

As for the PC security, I can only say that my computer runs as it should. I haven't been getting crazy emails, and I've noticed that two viruses have been detected and removed in the two months that I've had the software. I don't notice the virus scans annoying me as I write or browse the internet.

I have one slightly annoying, but I can deal with it feature that I haven't perfected. Let me explain by giving some backstory. Please pardon the dump.

I like typing in the first three letters of the site I want to visit in the address bar of Firefox. If I want to check a friend's blog to read the comments, I type in the first few letters, highlight the address I want in the drop down list . . . Boom! I'm there. I used to bookmark all the blogs I would read. I still do for websites not offering an RSS feed. Because of readers such as Bloglines and Google's Reader, I don't bookmark news sites, blogs, or daily photography pages. By typing in the letters I can arrive at the site faster than opening the reader, clicking on the blog, waiting for it to open. Maybe this marks me as weird, but I like doing it my way.

With the Norton 360 on the laptop, once I close the browser my history is gone. If I open the browser the next morning and want to see what so and so said on whoever's blog? No dice. I must open the reader. You get the idea. I bet I could fix this if I read the user guide.

Guess who hasn't read the user guide? Me. But, I can still open the Norton 360 window, click on the bit I want to check. Since the program is so user friendly, I have no use to read the small user guide. Of course, please add in the fact that I had a serious infection that landed me in the hospital for four days and required such a high-powered antibiotic that I had no energy for the next seven days. One day after I felt close to normal, my grandmother passed away, brining family obligations (but they so didn't feel like obligations because I like my family). Please factor in the funeral followed by a rushed drive to the airport to attend a cherished friend's wedding. I feel lucky to even have noticed that the program works at all!

I like that the program works with Firefox, my preferred browser. I get annoyed, angry even, when a website won't work on Firefox or a security program doesn't work within its framework.

While I received this product for free, I won't hesitate to renew for the $79.99 base subscription of 1 year. That price covers three computers (we have two). There are also parental controls and anti-spam available via downloads for no additional cost. ( I might go for that, providing that I set up a Windows user account for the kids. I haven't yet, but I see it looming on the horizon. I'm going to want to control what those little eyes see.

Lastly, this review wouldn't be complete without a big online hug to the ladies at Mom Central, who gave such support and understanding as I missed two blog dates due to my illness and the death in my family. Thank you, ladies.


jmb said...

Luckily we get a security program with our internet provider cable company and most of these things are incompatible with it plus unnecessary.
Recently when I got my "worm" the help desk there, even after I deleted it, went through my computer and thoroughly checked it out. Unfortunately they removed all my history plus my cookies which was horrible.
I hardly ever bookmark anything and do just what you do. I enter not in the browser bar and there you are. But I do use bloglines. Google reader I do not like as it gets in a mess in a flash. But I do like it if I want to find an old post on someone's blog easily.

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