Norton AntiVirus 2009 with Antispyware

Testing various versions of Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus (NAV) software over the last few years, the WinLabs team has always described the experience as bittersweet. Is this still the case now?

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Norton AntiVirus 2009 with Antispyware
By  Jason Saundalkar Published  January 3, 2009

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Key Specs

HD space: 150MB
Licence: 1
Memory: 256MB
Number of users: 1
OS: Windows 98 / ME / 2000 / XP / Vista

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Testing various versions of Symantec’s Norton AntiVirus (NAV) software over the last few years, the WinLabs team has always described the experience as bittersweet. While the software has always proved highly competent and easy-to-use, it has also always been riddled with a long and arduous installation process, has massive definition updates and, worst of all, completely cripples a PC when performing a full scan.

With the latest version, NAV 2009 with Antispyware, Symantec claims to have solved some of the issues, claiming on the product’s box that the software offers ‘Smart Security, Engineered for Speed’. After testing the software for a month, we’re happy to report that this isn’t just mere marketing speak, as NAV 2009 is noticeably better than all of its predecessors.

The difference is plain to see right from the beginning because whereas installing an older version of NAV took well over seven minutes, the latest version was up and running in less than three minutes (this includes typing in the product key and account information). Great stuff.

Symantec’s latest is also not as much of a resource hog when working; we were able to work on Word documents, send off e-mails and even listen to music without our 2.66GHz dual-core test PC with 1Gbyte of memory grinding to a halt. This means you no longer have to setup scans to run when you’re not working on your machine. Another innovative feature that NAV2009 includes is the ability to change its scanning speed in the midst of a scan. If for example you have to get some work done on the PC and are running a scan at the same time, you can minimise the scan window and this prompts NAV to ask if you wish to change the scan speed so that the PC runs faster at the expense of scanning speed. We’re happy to report that this actually did make a difference to our PC’s performance, as we were actually able to play a standard DivX video with the scan minimised (running the scan at full speed, the video was choppy and unwatchable).

Unfortunately, one issue remains and this is in the form of the definition updates. The first update after installing the software was 15Mbytes and a subsequent update weighed in at 5Mbytes. This is more of an issue for users that still use dial-up connections however, as DSL or cable users would be able to grab these updates in under a minute.

Symantec’s products have always boasted intuitive and welcoming graphics interfaces and, amazingly, NAV 2009 takes this a step further. While we never had an issue with the way the older applications looked, 2009 actually looks even more slick and polished and, as always, far from intimidating. The main screen even boasts a resource monitor and a button to activate Norton Insight. This feature is designed to boost performance by identifying trusted files so the scanner won’t unnecessarily scan trusted files over and over again thus improving scan performance.

For: Quick to install, doesn't take as much hard disk space as previous versions, interface is better than ever, no longer makes your PC unusable when working, resident scanner works like a charm, antispyware is quite up-to-date.

Against:
Virus definitions and program updates are still quite huge in size.
Verdict:NAV 2009 takes a couple of steps in the right direction. While not perfect, we’re happy to recommend it now, even if you have an older PC.

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