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Norton Security streamlines nine previous products into one antivirus protection subscription. Actually, it goes far beyond antivirus protection as a result of a radically innovative product strategy. While Norton’s competitors continue to pursue a more complicated product family architecture – one that perhaps exposes the most technically naïve and financially challenged consumers to danger – Norton Security collapses all of its consumer antivirus software products into one unit, jam-packed with features. More important than features, however, is performance. And Norton Security is quite a performer, as we shall see.

When the respected independent test lab AV Test ran Norton through a continuous series of tests along with two dozen competitors during March and April of 2014, it emerged with outstanding results on the Windows 8.1 platform. Although while visiting websites and downloading software Norton took one second longer than the industry average, the tradeoff was that it produced perfect scores in the protection and usability test sections. You can’t get something for nothing, and those Norton competitors that produced faster performance were not able to match Norton’s perfect scores in tests to determine effectiveness against malware attacks.

There were two malware protection tests: one that exposed Norton to 20,646 samples of malware discovered in the four weeks just prior to the beginning of the tests, and one that exposed Norton to 138 samples of brand-new malware, also called zero-day malware. Norton achieved perfect scores for both of the malware tests. In comparison, the industry average for the test containing 20,646 malware samples was 98 percent effectiveness. The industry average for the zero-day malware protection score was 94 percent. Just because Norton happened to achieve perfect scores during a 60-day test period in early 2014 does not mean that it will always stop every threat. Even the best antivirus software is going to occasionally let a threat slip in. To that end, Norton provides a 100 percent virus protection guarantee. Whereas many of the top antivirus software publishers charge extra for malware removal service by a technical support representative, Norton provides the service for free. If the support person fails to remove an infection from your PC or Mac, Norton will refund the price that you paid for Norton Security. No competitor matches such a guarantee.

During the past few years, the best virus protection software publishers have offered many products with only slight differences in feature lists. The entry-level antivirus product level might provide antimalware and antispyware capabilities, but might not include anti-spam or antiphishing unless you pay a few more dollars for the internet security version. And that version might not contain a couple of features that require upgrade to a premium version, which might fold in a password manager and a secure online vault, for example.

As if antivirus, internet security and premium internet security PC antivirus products do not represent sufficient choice, there are also Mac-specific versions as well as an all-in-one version that covers PCs, Macs, Androids and iOS devices from a single license. Norton Security is that all-in-one product that replaces all previous versions as a superset of them all. If you can overcome price sensitivity, we think you will agree that Norton has made the right strategic product decision. Many people who have not studied internet security and who are pinching pennies might think that they are doing a good thing by buying an entry-level antivirus product. And they are certainly safer than if they relied on the security built into Windows. However, by rolling every possible feature into a product that now replaces the previous collection of only slightly differentiated products, Norton is raising the safety bar for every consumer.

In addition to malware protection, Norton Security maintains your privacy and protects you from unsafe websites and suspicious downloads. You can manage all of the devices under Norton protection from your online account, which lets you add new devices or move protection from one device to another. If someone steals a device running Norton Security, you can use the service to locate the stolen device, make it scream, remotely wipe it or lock it to protect yourself and your data. The only available upgrade is Norton Security with Backup, which, for an additional $10, adds 25 GB of secure online storage.

A Norton Security subscription includes 24/7 customer support by telephone or online chat.

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Norton Security Summary:
9.2/10

Norton Security lets you protect up to five devices with a single license and to manage the installations from a convenient online account. In addition to protection from malware, Norton Security also protects you from phishing attempts. At tests conducted by respected independent software labs, Norton Security accomplished perfect protection and usability scores, which it achieved at the expense of only a barely perceptible impact on system performance. By eliminating the tiered ladder approach to consumer-grade security products, Norton Security provides all residential end users with complete protection far above typical entry-level antivirus software.

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Norton Security 2015

Pros
A single Norton Security license protects up to five devices, which can be any combination of PCs, Macs, Android smartphones and tablets, as well as iPhones and iPads.

Cons
In independent tests, Norton slowed host computers an average of four seconds – one second longer than the average. The context here, however, is that it achieved perfect malware detection scores at AV Test.

The Verdict
: 9.23/10

Norton Security is a world-class security product with excellent protection and more security features for more devices than any of its antivirus software competitors.