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Sci Tech    H3'ed 4/23/09

Norton Anti-Virus Fails The Test - Beat by Free Software!

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   8 comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message William Cormier

I haven’t written for a while as my home life has been extremely demanding since I’ve had to play “Mr. Mom” while my sister was recuperating from major surgery. Furthermore, I have been almost speechless with what I have seen in the political arena during the past couple of months - and until I have a better grasp on the situation, I have chosen to remain silent as I watch this made-for Hollywood script play out - and lately, the “script” hasn’t been to my liking.

I began writing about politics when it was obvious the Bush administration was trashing the rights of the general population. My real expertise lies in the fact that I’ve been a career salesman and an IT Professional for almost thirty (30) years. I have been the lead technician and then sales manager in one of Atlanta’s premier service organizations, worked for Digital Equipment Corporation in their support unit (Lead tech there also.), and managed computer stores for others as well as owning my own store(s). I was also a Microsoft Partner and sold hundreds of thousands of dollars of service and computer systems during the course of my employment.

It’s with a certain amount of sadness that I write this review, as I’ve been a loyal Norton customer for years and sold thousands of dollars of their software as it emerged as the best anti-virus software on the market. Some of their utilities are top-of-the line, however lately, Norton Anti-Virus has been failing on several levels. Last year, I noted that some viruses were making it through Norton, and I switched to the full (paid) version of AVG Internet Security. Since that date, I have had zero problems, and even though my IP is assailed with a constant flow of viruses I have been immune to all of the attacks.

My son bought a new Acer Extensa 4220 In January or February. It came with a trial copy of Norton Anti-virus (And maybe Internet Protection bundled together) that was good for ninety days. When he brought the system to my house and began using it on my network, I attempted to network it with my system and share my printer. Nothing would work, and after looking at the incredibly long list of drivers he had, I thought that it might have been a warranty (hardware) issue but did state that something was wrong with his system. I also noted it was running extremely slow, but he could still use it and I was busy on other projects.

When his trial period ran out, I uninstalled the trial version, which had more features than he needed, and purchased a brand new copy of Norton Anti-Virus 2009 online from one of their authorized vendors. My son’s system was constantly displaying messages that he had a virus, he was being attacked by various IP’s, and the messages were so fast and furious it was hard to use his system. This issue began before his trial period ran out. I downloaded their newest version, updated the software several times and after running full scans, my son’s system was still not working properly. It still indicated it was infected (Not by Norton - which stated it was virus free, but by Windows XP-Pro.), and the pop-ups were almost too fast and furious to manage.

As a precaution, I ran two (2) separate cleaning programs and verified that he didn’t have the “Conficker” virus.

I called Symantec’s help desk, and it was a two hour ordeal of being switched from one department to another, two separate times Norton took remote control of our system, and each time we were told that the system had viruses and only the staff at Norton could clean - and this was a service we had to pay for! Since I was sure some of these viruses were on my son’s system while it was being protected by Norton Anti-virus and we had just purchased a new copy. I didn’t believe it was fair for Norton to try and charge us more money for what I believed was an easy matter to resolve. Nonetheless, that was Norton’s stance and they were absolutely inflexible in their belief that it would take a “professional” to clean-up his system. (They also stated that the viruses were stopping Norton from updating its virus definitions properly even though the update process was seamless.) Granted, I am a “professional,” however the actions I took were simple - actions that do not require a computer technician to accomplish.

After getting the run-around for two hours and purchasing a top-of-the-line virus program that didn’t work, I was frustrated and angry. I uninstalled Norton Anti-Virus and installed the free, not trial-ware version of AVG Virus Protection. I ran the scan, and much to my surprise, it “healed” multiple viruses (all of them) and removed a large quantity of Malware from the system that Norton didn’t even recognize. To ice the cake, his system is running faster now and all of the viruses have been healed. Last month, while the system was still being protected by Norton, I installed Firefox on his system and it wouldn’t connect to the Internet. After I ran the free AVG software, I downloaded Firefox again and it worked great.

What’s wrong with this picture? When a consumer purchases top of the line Anti-virus software, they expect to solve their virus problems. Norton’s excuse that the viruses prevented their program from operating properly doesn’t hold water when downloading a free program solves all of the issues. Is Norton admitting they can’t even compete with a free program and their software is so fragile that run of the mill Trojan horses render it ineffective when free programs operate seamlessly? In short, Norton wouldn’t do the job unless we paid them more money - and in my opinion, that’s gouging, especially when said issues are cured by free software.

Granted, free software has its limitations; when a virus is attempting to attack his system, he has to manually hit a button to heal the infection. I run the paid version of AVG Ver. 8.5.287. The program runs seamlessly in the background, updates itself, seems to require less resources and also has Identity Theft Protection. Since I have the paid version, I never have to manually “heal” viruses that are attacking my system, as AVG handles it in the background and I am never aware of the threat. To me, a virus protection program should be configured so that it offers continuous protection, does not bother the user with it’s active virus guard, and so far, I hardly know it’s running in the background - and the impact on the system in general is negligible if noticeable at all.

No. I don’t sell AVG software, nor do I receive a commission if you click through one of the links and purchase the software on your own, or in the alternative, opt to use the free version. My concern is that Norton Anti-Virus cannot compete with a free program, and that’s not what we would expect from one of the industry’s leaders. One reason for this entry is because we are requesting a refund from Norton and there is nothing in their customer support forms that allow enough space to explain the entire issue/problem. I’m still a fan of certain Norton Utilities, however, I cannot believe that free programs outperform Norton Anti-Virus; it would also seem as if Norton is attempting to increase their revenue by withholding virus definitions that their competitors update in a timely fashion.

The purpose of this article is to inform the public that Norton isn’t what it used to be, and furthermore, you could be infected if your system is currently protected by Norton Anti-Virus. A good resource to check your system is TrendMicro. Besides producing some good software, they also offer a free scan of your system called HouseCall. It’s best to use Internet Explorer when using this program, however, it is an extremely good scan, and if your system won’t connect to this service, then it’s possible you may have a virus. Make sure and click OK to the Active-X control that will appear at the top of your page to allow Windows to download their virus database and controls. No system is perfect, but as far as free scanners go, TrendMicro is a product you won’t regret using, and it also cleans-up some of the most common Malware that’s currently plaguing our systems. Yes, Housecall will work even if your system is protected by most anti-virus programs - and you may be surprised, if not angered, by the results.

BTW, this is not an isolated incident:

Office Space Provider Chooses AVG Anti-Virus to Protect Extended Network

Posted by Peggy Albertson
Thursday, 22 January 2009

Walling Data helps Office Suites PLUS boost protection and save money Hickory, NC – January 22nd 2009 - Office Suites PLUS, headquartered in Lexington, KY, provides office space and virtual offices for hundreds of businesses across the country that desire a professional image but need an alternative to long-term leases and traditional office practices[AL1] . Scott Beauchamp, VP of Technology, and his team of three are responsible for managing a sprawling network of 130+ workstations connected to 45 servers spread across 35 locations in 9 states and used by more than 120 employees.

Viruses were falling through the cracks

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My Bio is as varied as my life. In 2012, my twin sons murdered a Journalist in Pensacola, Fl., for 100K worth of "Magic The Gathering" playing cards and buried the body in my backyard. I was once a regular writer here, but PTSD from my son's (more...)

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