UPDATE: In April 2019, Symantec revamped its lineup of consumer antivirus products. Norton Antivirus Plus replaces Norton Antivirus Basic, which has now been discontinued. Both products are the same, with the same core security features - but Norton Antivirus Plus comes with added 24/7 tech support, 2GB cloud backup, and a two-way firewall. We’re testing Norton Antivirus Plus and will be updating this review in the coming weeks.
While testing Norton Antivirus Basic in our lab, the antivirus software found and blocked 97 percent of the malware samples we used. This is much different than other third-party test labs that gave Norton higher scores. But we noticed issues with the program that left our test computers infected with viruses. However, there were also times Norton Antivirus detected threats trying to come in from online where most other programs didn’t detect the threats.
When we tried to visit a website that had malware on it, Norton displayed a message warning us of the danger. We also were given the option to learn more about the lurking threat. This opened a very detailed report in another browser tab that gave specifics like the type and name of the threat, when it was first discovered, and how many known instances of that virus exist. This isn’t a feature most antivirus programs include, so we appreciated this information.
Sometimes the threat was a virus download. Most of the time Norton stopped the download and again displayed a message with the option to learn more about the threat it blocked. The virus was also moved to the quarantine folder so it wouldn’t get lose and attack our computer. There were times when we couldn’t reach a page because it was no longer active or the server hosting the page wasn’t responding quick enough. Or because the account was suspended. But several of these sites still have virus downloads lurking that Norton Antivirus caught and quarantined. Each time the program stopped a download, it told us where the threat was trying to install itself on our computer.
In some of our tests we noticed that a few virus downloads that Norton claimed to have blocked and quarantined still made it through to our computer. This was frustrating since we wanted to put our full trust in this antivirus program, but it required us to double-check after each threat was blocked just to make sure it really was. We had to install a second antivirus program to find some of the threats Norton missed.
Beyond antivirus protection, Norton scans your system for other weak spots, like outdated software, where hackers and ransomware tend to sneak in. It also includes a password manager to hide your login credentials while you access online accounts. A secure browser feature marks search results so you know which sites are safe before you click on them. The software doesn’t have parental controls, a VPN or a personal firewall. However, these are included with Norton Security Premium, along with 10 user licenses and mobile protections.
Norton doesn’t cause any slowdown to your computer while it’s installed and running. We were able to play games, watch video, surf the web, share files and download programs without any interruption or noticeable lag.
Norton Antivirus Basic is a good program and offers decent protection. We saw a few threats sneak by this program’s protections, but other antivirus test labs gave Norton perfect or near-perfect scores for malware detection.