Is Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition finally the Best AV Software?

Jan 18, 2013
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Effective protection, fast, lots of useful features, smooth installation, user interface, 24/7 customer support.

Cons:Somewhat intrusive, expensive, was the issue with incomplete installs solved?

The Bottom Line:

Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition offers good and effective protection and it is solid AV software in many ways. I hope it uninstalls cleanly and completely.

Not too long ago I received the Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition (1 user / 3PC / one year) via the Amazon Vine program. The Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition is essentially Norton 360 2013 or Norton Internet Security but with additional features for backup and recovery and including 25GB of online storage for backups. I installed it on my Dell XPS 8500 desktop since the Kaspersky AV software I had on there was getting close to expiring. I uninstalled Kaspersky and installed the Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition.

I use a lot of different computers and I’ve used and I am using a lot of different AV software including various editions of Kaspersky, ESET, Trend Micro, Webroot, Norton, BitDefender, McAfee, AVG, MalwareBytes, etc. Personally I like ESET the best and I also like MalwareBytes and Kaspersky. I’ve had issues with Norton. However, they’ve seem to have come a long way in addressing people’s complaints. Based on my experience as well as the statistics from the virus bulletin board ESET seems to be the best AV software for detecting and removing malware but Norton is not far behind.

Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition: Installation

The installation of the Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition was pretty straight forward and I did not have any issues. On previous occasions I’ve had installation issues when installing Norton resulting in malfunctioning applications and insufficient protection. On one occasion Norton refused to install correctly because of remnants from an earlier version of Norton that I had uninstalled. It turned out that the uninstall script for Norton anti-virus script left remnants that interfered with the installation and proper setup of the later version.

I liked the fact that you could, if you chose to do so, type in the activation key right at the beginning of the installation process. I hate when you install a product and then it asks for the key after installation is done, and activation fails, and now you are stuck with a dead installation. I like to know beforehand whether activation is going to work. I also created an online Norton account at the same time. If you wish to do so you can wait two weeks before activating.

I should add that Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition is compatible with Windows XP SP2 (and above), Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit), Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit), and Windows 8 (32-bit and 64-bit). They have separate editions for Mac and Android. I have Windows 7 Home Premium on the computer I installed it on.

Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition: Features

Norton 360 Premier (2013) includes a lot of features in addition to the basics like scanning, detecting and removing malware, proactive protection (email/internet, external devices, etc). Additional features include PC tuning, identity theft protection, spam and phishing protection, hacker and worm protection, a firewall, parental controls, and Norton Insight, which manages safe and unsafe downloads. It also includes silent mode, the so called cloud-based Norton management, backup and recovery (online, DVD), which includes 25GB of online storage. I like the way Norton is integrated with Microsoft Outlook (for the spam and junk mail functionality).

I only use some of these additional features and I like to take care of my own backups. Therefore Norton Internet Security 2013 would have been enough for me, but I got this edition for free.

Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition: User Interface

I have to say that the Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition has the coolest user interface I’ve ever seen with any AV software. It includes a lot of functionality and yet it is quite intuitive. The user interface is basically grey in various shades with four big yellow square buttons; security, identity, backup and tune up. Each of the boxes is essentially a drop down box displaying options. For example, the options under security are “View Details”, “Run Scans”, “Run Live Update”, “Manage Firewall”, and “Run Norton Insight”.

At the top there are five tabs “Tasks”, “Settings”, “Performance”, “Feedback”, “Account”, and “Support”. Each of the Tabs lists various things that correspond to actions that you can take. When you click on the “Performance” tab the entire GUI rotates in the screen. You also get a “Home” tab so that you can go back to the default page.

If you want to scan the computer you have several options; “Quick Scan”, “Full Scan”, “Custom Scan”, and “Custom Task”. You can also do a reputation scan of programs and scan your face book wall. One thing I did not like was that the “Full Scan” automatically launched a PC tune up. Since I have had issues in the past with PC tune ups breaking stuff I’d rather have an option for leaving that out.

Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition: Customer Support

One of the main things that you pay for when you buy AV software as opposed to downloading free AV software is customer support. The Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition includes one year of 24/7 chat, phone, and email support. I should say that the 24/7 part is pretty important and not all AV software companies provide this. Typically you are going to have issues after work or during the weekend when you are home. Well assuming it is a computer at home, but the home is what a product like this typically is used for. Not being able to get support because you have a job is pretty aggravating. 24/7 is definitely a big plus and makes Norton’s customer support better than average.

Naturally, if you have issues that need more than answers to questions, suggestions and chat, for example, if you need someone to remotely fix your PC, then there is an extra charge for that. However, that is fairly typical.

Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition: Scanning and Success Rate

When it comes down to it the most important aspect of any AV software is its ability to detect, stop and remove malware. AV software very often fails to do this so this is not a matter of the difference between close to perfect and perfect. AV software that is more effective in detecting and removing malware than some other AV software is certainly much better AV software. To give you an example; the average AV software success rate in detecting and removing malicious root kits is typically around 20%. The success rate for ESET NOD32 doing the same task is 70%. If you knew you had an issue with malicious root kits, which AV software would you pick?

ESET NOD32 has a better track record than Norton but Norton is among the best according to the statistics from the virus bulletin board. Norton’s success rate in regards to detecting, stopping and removing malware is one of Norton’s strong points and the reason why it is always worth considering getting Norton.

When I ran my first full scan on my HP XPS 8500 Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition detected and removed 8 viruses and 84 tracking cookies that Kaspersky somehow had missed. Even though ESET has a better track record one should also consider the scanning speed. ESET NOD32 5 took about 24 hours to do a full scan of 170GB of data consisting of one and a half million files on a computer almost as fast as the HP XPS 8500. Norton 360 Premier (2013) took one and half hour doing the same thing on a 50% faster computer. So the way I see it ESET and Norton comes out about even in that regard. ESET has a slightly better track record but full scans take much longer.

Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition: Quality

In the past I’ve had issues with Norton slowing down applications, startup, and other things, and I’ve also had issues with intrusive pop-ups as well as Norton not working as it should, live update failing, etc. Worst of all, Norton AV software refused to uninstall cleanly and completely leaving remnants behind that caused problems later on. There are apps on internet for cleaning up after Norton. However, Norton intentionally left crap behind when uninstalling it. I’ve had pop-ups show years after removing Norton telling me that I am unprotected and to get Norton now, even though I was using other AV software. In that sense Norton actually was a virus itself. That’s just nasty.

Based on what I’ve seen so far Norton has learned from its past mistakes and it is not as intrusive and it is not slowing things down as much as previous versions. That is a good thing. However, until I actually uninstall Norton 360 Premier (2013) I cannot know if the issue with incomplete uninstalls has been resolved or not. People have been complaining about this quite serious problem for many years, and as far as I know Norton has not issued a statement on this. Therefore I am afraid, but I don’t know, that the issue with incomplete uninstalls remain.

Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition: Summary & Conclusion

I think you can say a lot of good things about Norton 360 2013 Premier, it offers effective protection and it is fast, it has a lot of useful features, above average customer support, and a nice user interface. Many of the issues that I’ve seen with Norton in the past appear to have been resolved. However, it is still slowing things down to some degree and I have to assume that the crappy partial uninstalls are still there. Therefore I am recommending Norton 360 2013 Premier Edition but feel that I should not give it five stars. I give it a four star rating, and I still think ESET NOD32 5 is my favorite AV software.

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