By Steve Bass | Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 2:14 pm
But I like to see what the dark side is up to, so I recently switched back to Norton. And I’m really happy I did.
Of course, knowing how you always like to hear the dirt, I’ll tell you the back story.
It was at the March 21, 1991 user group meeting that a Norton rep was showing off the company’s latest antivirus program. “Give these a spin,” I said, handing the guy doing the demo a floppy disk filled with live viruses.
Not an unreasonable request, I thought. But that’s just me.
He avoided making eye contact, wouldn’t look at the floppy, and said “no.” That’s it. To a roomful of 350 computer users. “No.”
And it was downhill from there.
Over the years, Symantec’s Norton products grew popular; they also became bigger. They leapfrogged over Microsoft Office to obtain, and keep, the bloatware award. Norton products hobbled PCs by hogging computer resources and hard disk space. Like it or not, you got stuck with Live Update, a separate, massive, tool used to keep every Norton program in the world up-to-date — even if you only owned one product.
And when you’d had enough of Norton, you needed special software and a small backhoe to uninstall it. Live Update stayed with you forever.
Symantec shot itself in the foot over and over–and what really fascinates me, is when it had spare time, it did it again.
It’s always been an open question whether I’m as smart as I look. It’s a question you might be asking, because as I type this, I’m using Norton Internet Security 2011, better known as NIS2011.
I’ve used Kaspersky Internet Security for about four years. I haven’t been happy for the last two. It’s no longer an unobtrusive tool. Its interface has always been confusing; the recent redesign hasn’t helped. It’s a big program and in some spots, thunderously slow.
The upgrade to Kaspersky’s new 2011 version is what killed the relationship: I lost too many brain cells configuring obscure exclusion settings to get a few online programs to work. If I had trouble, I’d guess you might, too.
Of course, synchronicity was waiting in the wings.
Brendon, a decade-long e-mail friend, works for Symantec. Every few months he pitches me to try a Norton security tool. “I’m pestering you about this not because it’s my job (I’m not in product marketing or PR or sales or anything), but because I respect you as an educated power user and would like my product to have a fair shake.”
My argument always starts with one word: bloat.
You’ll like his testy, paraphrased reply.
Oh, that thinking is so 2006!
I’ll admit the products had bad bloat problems in the 2004, 2005, and 2006 variants, and I totally understand the criticism and share in it.
We alienated a lot of the power-user base because of performance problems and focus on the wrong things, and it did a lot of damage to our reputation.
A big change in product management came, and we’ve been very aggressive in attacking performance and footprint, rewriting significant portions.
I was game. It was off with Kaspersky (thanks to Revo Uninstaller) and on with Norton Internet Security 2011.
I’ve had NIS2011 running for over a month, and it’s surprised me. It’s fast and keeps out of my way with no annoying alerts. It also found two embedded backdoor Trojans that Kaspersky missed.
Here are my impressions:
Should You Switch?
If you’re happy with the performance of whatever you’re using, stick with it. Of course, if you’ve been kvetching and need a change, or if the license on your existing security tool is coming up for renewal, consider giving NIS2011 a shot.
And if you’ve had a bad experience with Norton in the past (and who hasn’t?), I’ll tell you first-hand — the current version’s a treat to use.
You can download a 15-day free trial, but don’t run two security programs simultaneously — or even have them loaded at the same time. Make sure to uninstall the program you’re currently using before installing NIS2011.
Amazon has NIS2011 for about $60 for a one-year license for three PCs. (Don’t have three PCs? It’s probably a violation of the license, and I wouldn’t do it, but if you have a buddy…) However, if you have the fortitude to wait for an annoying rebate, Frys.com has the same version for $20 (the deal expires at the end of September).
I can predict the future: You’re going to write and tell me about your favorite security tool. Save your bits and bytes, folks; while I’m always interested in what you have to say (well, okay, not always), I’ve tried nearly every major free and commercial security program there is. I’ve settled on Norton. So there.
[This post is excerpted from Steve’s TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up–it’s delivered on Wednesdays to your inbox, and it’s free.]