I had been running Norton Personal Firewall 2002 and Norton Antivirus 2002 for over a year, and was very happy with them. But it was time to pay up to renew my anti-virus updates, so I decided to take a look at what their latest software could offer. NIS 2004, which includes both a firewall and an antivirus capability, has some new features that the 2002 version doesnít have, including parental control, a spam blocker, a pop-up blocker and spyware detection.
I have no kids, so parental control was not an issue. My spam situation is under control, so I didnít think I needed that. I got a free pop-up blocker from Google, so I didnít need another one of those either. However, I am concerned about spyware Ė nasty programs that somehow get onto your system and log all your keystrokes. Someone controlling such a program could use it to get your passwords, credit card numbers and bank account numbers.
Given that I had to pay up anyway, I thought the spyware protection would be worth the extra bucks to upgrade to the new Norton software.
I wonít claim that I did a thorough review of NIS 2004, but I will say that my impressions were negative from the very start. Although I disabled the anti-spam features, I could not get rid of the extra anti-spam buttons that kept appearing in Microsoft Outlook. And unlike Norton 2002, NIS 2004 did not integrate nicely into my existing installation of Norton Utilities. Previously I was able to access all features from one program, but now I had to use two very slow-loading programs to access all the Norton capabilities. The pop-up suppressor didnít seem to work as well as Googleís, so I disabled it.
But the worst thing of all was that Internet Explorer slowed down considerably. For some websites, it slowed to a halt. ABCNEWS.com took literally forever to load up. All the while, my CPU meter was at 100%. I tried disabling parental control, but to no avail. The effect on Netscape Navigator was different: Netscape accessed websites reasonably quickly, but the Netscape program itself took forever to load.
Searching the internet, I found that online retail sites and magazines all gave NIS 2004 positive reviews. However, I found one site where users could review the product, and most of them hated it for its usability and poor performance. There was one very positive user review that claimed that all the negative reviews were just competitors badmouthing Norton. To the contrary, I chose to believe that the one positive reviewer was in fact a Norton employee.
Enough was enough. I uninstalled NIS 2004. This also required me to uninstall all other Norton products on my machine (of which there was just one). I then reinstalled and reconfigured the Norton 2002 products. This leaves me a little nervous because previously I had all my firewall and virus settings just right, and now Iím worried I forgot something. But, success! My comfortable environment has been restored, and my system performance is back to normal.
And Iím sure I can find a perfectly good anti-spyware program somewhere else.