Norton 360 Version 3.0 Review

Symantec is a big name in the security industry, and Norton 360 is one of the flagship products of the company that delivers all-round online protection for home PC users.

A major reason for the software’s popularity is that it bundles together a solid antivirus and anti-spyware package with additional utilities such as identity protection, backup and restore capabilities, and PC tuneup tools.

While the main functions of the security suite are still basically the same ones found in prior releases of the application, Version 3.0 of Norton 360 includes some major advancements that really make the product shine in the performance department. Additionally, Version 3.0 features extra protection against hackers with the inclusion of a new automatic botnet blocker.

Download and Installation

Symantec has taken extra care to ensure that the download and installation process of Norton 360 is as quick and painless as possible. After clicking the file link, an automated sequence begins that downloads the software and begins installation as soon as that download is complete. If the Internet connection is lost or if the user wants to wait and install the program at a later time, a shortcut to the application will be created on the PC’s desktop that can be clicked to resume the process when the user is ready. Installation does not require a reboot and, assuming a broadband connection, Norton 360 can be ready for use in less than five minutes.

Ease of Use

The user interface of Norton 360 is clean, uncluttered, and very intuitive. Actions are grouped into four categories on the main window of the application: PC Security, Identity Protection, Backup, and PC Tuneup. From this main window, users can also quickly check on the PC’s status and be warned of any problems or actions that need to be taken. Clicking on any of the categories will bring the user to a new window with more details about the functions of that grouping. All in all, the interface of Norton 360 is extremely easy to navigate – even for those who are not so technically inclined.

Figure 1: Norton 360 User InterfaceFigure 1: Norton 360 User Interface

Performance and Features

Although Norton 360 has long been a popular choice of PC users, past critics have complained about the intensive system resource usage found in previous versions of the security suite. Symantec has responded to this issue admirably with Version 3.0 by providing a product with an enhanced performance engine that’s fast, efficient, and uses minimal resources. As a result, users shouldn’t even realize the application is running at all unless it happens to be in the middle of a scan or major backup.

Figure 2: Norton 360 Backup SettingsFigure 2: Norton 360 Backup Settings

In the area of PC protection, Norton 360 is definitely top of its class. The comprehensive security package defends against viruses, spyware, bots, worms, and practically any other threat that exists out there in the online world. The two-way firewall and automatic botnet blocker provide additional protection from potential hackers. All security options are completely customizable for those with specific needs, but nontechnical users shouldn’t let the variety of choices worry them as the default settings for these options are perfectly fine for the average user.

The backup utility in Norton 360 allows users to specify multiple backup sets so that different collections of files can be scheduled for backup at varying intervals. With this functionality, users can back up their most important files on a daily basis and still schedule more complete backups weekly or monthly. As part of the yearly subscription price, Norton 360 provides users with 2 GB of online storage for backups.

The collection of PC tuneup utilities in Norton 360 contains a number of tools to make sure your computer is running at an optimal performance level. In addition to cleaning up unnecessary file clutter, these tools include a diagnostic report that analyzes and repairs system and hardware issues, a registry cleaner, and a startup manager that lets users reconfigure which programs load during the initial boot phase of the computer. All of these utilities can be set up to run automatically when the PC is idle, scheduled to run at regular intervals, or manually run at any time.

Norton 360 PC Tuneup Details

General Recommendation

As an all-in-one solution for security, backup, and PC optimization, Norton 360 is hard to beat. The enhanced performance engine found in Version 3.0 of the security suite makes the software an even better choice than before – good enough that those who avoided Symantec products in the past due to resource issues should consider giving the application another look. It’s an especially good choice for those homes with multiple PCs as each purchase of the software allows you to install and use the product on up to three machines.