Norton AntiVirus 2010 Review

Norton AntiVirus 2010 (NAV 2010) is the latest release in Symantec’s line of basic security applications for the home PC. In addition to being compatible with XP and Vista, NAV 2010 is also able to provide frontline protection for PCs running under the new Windows 7 operating system, both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

The main function of NAV 2010 is to safeguard PCs from external attacks. In particular, the software protects computers from viruses, spyware, worms, and a host of other threats. A nice added bonus of the antivirus package is the inclusion of tools that help diagnose system slowdowns and optimize application performance. This latter feature can help identify problem processes even if the issue is not security-related.

Download and Installation

Compared to most security applications, NAV 2010 is a breeze to download and install. There is a single automated wizard that packages both the download and installation processes together, so users can literally have the software up and running within a couple minutes of purchase. If this combined process is interrupted for any reason, an icon is placed on the desktop of the computer, making it easy to resume installation at a later time.

User Interface

The NAV 2010 user interface sports a contemporary design that’s both pleasing to the eye and highly functional. The main view of the interface gives a high-level summary of the antivirus program’s current status, including items such as CPU usage, which components of NAV 2010 have been enabled or disabled, and when the last update of the application occurred. From here, you can click on any item to receive additional information, modify program settings, or run an immediate scan.

Figure 1: Norton AntiVirus 2010 User InterfaceFigure 1: Norton AntiVirus 2010 User Interface

Product Features and Performance

When it comes to security software, one of the most common user complaints is that the application ties up too many system resources and, as a result, slows down the PC. In this area, NAV 2010 truly excels. Even while running a full scan of the entire computer, the software tends to use less than 10 MB of memory. While the CPU usage of NAV 2010 is intensified during system scans, it is remarkably low the rest of the time. When not running a scan, the application sits silently and unobtrusively in the background, just as a real security tool should.

Figure 2: NAV 2010 Memory Usage During Full ScanFigure 2: NAV 2010 Memory Usage During Full Scan

In further efforts to keep the system resource usage of NAV 2010 at a minimum, the application can be directed to perform three basic types of scans – a quick scan, a full scan, or a custom scan. A quick scan restricts itself to analyzing those areas on a PC that are targeted most often by viruses and other threats.

A full scan, as the name implies, performs a thorough investigation and checks for security threats in all of the nooks and crannies of the computer. With a custom scan, users can specify which files, directories, and drives should be analyzed.

This latter type of scan is particularly useful for checking individual files that appear suspicious in nature or scanning designated download directories.

Figure 3: NAV 2010 Full System Scan ResultsFigure 3: NAV 2010 Full System Scan Results

As with most other security products, NAV 2010 does offer the option of scheduling scans at user-designated reoccurring times. This is a great feature for those who know that they’ll never be using their PCs between 11:47 p.m. and 2:12 am or some other seemingly random time period.

However, the default option for scan scheduling in NAV 2010 is based on the more efficient, and generally more useful, recognition of system idle time. Basically, the application will recognize when the PC has not been in use for awhile. The default time for this is 10 minutes, but that can easily be changed to any amount of time the user prefers.

The software then takes advantage of this free time to run a scan. This feature helps ensure that the computer is as safe from security threats as possible without disrupting the working environment.

In addition to the antivirus capabilities, NAV 2010 also provides tools that allow users to obtain easily understood information about processes running on their PCs.

Simply click on the Application Ratings link on the main screen of the user interface and a separate window will appear that lists all running processes along with their trust level, resource usage, and other details. An additional click on any specific process provides additional information that can help diagnose system slowdowns even if they’re not virus-related.

Figure 4: NAV 2010 Application Ratings ListFigure 4: NAV 2010 Application Ratings List

Overall Recommendation

NAV 2010 is an excellent choice for the average home user looking for solid virus protection. The intuitive user interface is easy to understand and use, making it suitable for even the most novice of users.

Additionally, the efficiency and effectiveness of NAV 2010 place it high on the list amongst competitive products, especially when it comes to identifying and eradicating threats without hogging the PC’s resources.