By: Charles P. Jefferies
It's still 2009, but Norton couldn't wait for the New Year to release Norton Antivirus 2010. Is this really a security application ahead of its time, or is Norton 2010 just an average A/V suite released a few months too soon? Read our full review for the final verdict.
Norton AntiVirus 2010 (NAV10) is a new security software product for home and home office use. It is advertised to protect from viruses, spyware, bots, and other threats. NAV10 emphasizes proactive security for the end user without compromising system performance; it is claimed to use just over 10MB of memory. Several new technologies for 2010 are included in NAV10. Sonar 2 technology analyzes files and determines whether they should be trusted or not, and Download Insight Protection helps determine the safety of downloads. Insight technology provides users with relevant information on files in their systems, and for more technical users, information about processes in Windows. These technologies are based on a new concept called "reputation based" security that checks files against a Norton database filled with data collected from Norton's user community.
Installation and Activation
NAV10 demonstrates its advertised ease of use when installed. NAV10 is a 75MB download; after starting the installer it takes only one minute and one click to finish. No restart is required either.
After install, the user is prompted to enter their license key and activate their Norton account. This completes installation and activation. NAV10 has the most hassle-free install of any antivirus software product I have tested to date.
NAV10's interface is similar to last year's version (which is a good thing) and improved -- the color scheme is easier on the eyes and information is more organized. The layout is clean and the terminology is friendly enough that novice users can understand. Clicking on the "I" next to each component provides more information.
The two bars on the left represent Norton monitoring performance -- system processor usage is given on the left, and NAV10's cut is on the right. This is basically Norton saying "I'm not taking up your system resources!" Clicking on the performance link opens up the Performance side of NAV10:
Most users will not look at or care about this, but for the more technically inclined, it can be informative.
Overall security status is given in the upper left corner. The Computer section of the interface keeps tabs on local items and allows users to scan and run updates. NAV10 updates itself automatically every hour, though I updated once manually to see it in action:
The Computer section also allows users to see how they have contributed to Norton's worldwide security database by clicking on Insight Protection Details. Norton uses this database to help identify threats. This is very proactive because as soon as one user detects a virus, everyone knows about it and is thus protected.
The Network section of the interface shows how the computer is protected from Internet threats. Clicking on Vulnerability Protection shows a list of programs Norton has protected from threats, and the Network Security Map shows what the name implies -- a map of a user's home network, a wireless security analysis, and information on all connected devices.
IN USE AND EFFECTIVENESS
NAV10 did not interfere with gaming, Internet surfing, or office tasks. It operated silently in the background; I only knew it was running because of the yellow circle icon in the system tray.
To test the effectiveness of NAV10, I used several virus files from Eicar.org, an IT security website. The four files provided for download, which have different extensions including .com, .zip, and .txt, contain viruses. Please see the test description for extensive information on the tests. Antivirus software should detect the files as threats.
NAV10 successfully identified all test virus files as threats, though it did not delete them from the download location. I was surprised at this; even though the files were neutralized and could not do any harm the software should have removed them.
We evaluate the performance impact of antivirus software in three ways:
Our test system is an HP Pavilion dv5t:
Overall System Performance Impact Measured with PCMark Vantage
Prior to installing NAV10 the notebook had the following numbers:
After installing NAV10 I ran the benchmark again:
NAV10 has a less than five percent impact on performance, which is excellent.
The Task Manager reports NAV10 uses just under 10MB of system memory, which is superb by today's standards; the software is indeed very efficient and matches Norton's claims.
Time it took to perform a full system scan
A full scan of our test system's hard drive containing 122GB of data took 44 minutes. NAV10 competitor ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4 took just over 38 minutes by comparison. NAV10 has a feature called QuickScan, which completes in just one minute since it only scans files it has not scanned before.
Norton Antivirus continues to be an excellent and well-rounded security solution for end users. We think Norton is headed in the right direction by using data submitted by its user community to analyze threats. We liked the software's proactive security stance, minimal performance impact, and friendly interface. We highly recommend Norton Antivirus 2010 to home users looking for an effective but affordable security solution.
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