Norton security products have been on a roll ever since they redesigned everything from the coding to the overall interface back in 2007. The program itself has many tweaks underneath its hood and offers protection like no other. Moreover, Symantec has maintained two different full-bodied products to cater to different individuals right from the tech-savvy to the not so tech-savvy person. While Norton Internet Security is aimed at advanced users, Norton 360 comes fine tuned with all the latest features that NIS 2010 has, plus it also includes backup features along with PC tune-up options.
To start with, the Security Suite is divided into four main sections which include PC security, Identity protection, Backup and PC tune-up. Hovering over any one of the four sections brings forth a list of tasks that allow you to either run a scan, backup files or run optimizations at the click of a button. A few common aspects that are noticeable between the two Security Suites is the “Flip” option that gives an overview of the overall performance impact that Norton and other system files have on the machine. To get a more detailed analysis of the chart you can switch to the last 10 minutes/30 minutes or extend it to a day, week or month (Default being 90 minutes). In addition the top half provides a summary of the applications installed/downloaded, total number of detections and quick scans. In addition to the hourly LiveUpdate downloads Norton 360 makes use of Pulse updates. This feature basically fills in the gap between hourly updates by providing small incremental updates every couple of minutes.
The 360 is not only limited to the previously mentioned tasks but you can access a plethora of features via the task panel. Here again the overall number of tasks are grouped in three categories – General, Backup and PC Tuneup. Even with over 16 options available the interface is very neatly organized allowing you to shift focus from one task to another without getting lost. Speaking about backups the Security Suite allows you to either backup selected data to Norton’s online storage space (limited to 2 GB) or choose to store your files locally on a separate hard drive. Backup schedules can either be set to Automatic or you can choose a weekly/monthly or manual modes. Having said that, the backups will not restore your drive from a system crash as it doesn’t create an image of your drive but creates copies of files. You can also add or exclude files and folders from being backed up.
PC Tuneup consists of a Diagnostic report tool, a Startup Manager, Registry Cleaner, Norton Insight and Norton Tasks which basically allows you to view CPU and memory usage. The Diagnostic report gives a detailed overview of the programs and hardware installed which can be used as reference to help find and fix problems. Moreover the application is not only limited to detections based on virus definitions but also obtains information about programs from the Norton Online Community that keeps an updated record of known good files and questionable files.
As the name suggests, the Startup Manager allows you enable or disable unwanted applications from starting automatically. In addition, applications can also be delayed from starting up with Windows thereby allowing your system to start up slightly faster. While having a registry cleaner is always good, the thought of not being able to preview or review changes to the registry is always a dicey affair. This is one noticeable drawback that the Norton 360 has with its registry cleaner. Even though we didn’t face any problems using the registry cleaner, having a backup option is always better than not having it at all.
Unlike Norton Internet Security, Norton 360 consists of quick controls that bring in a more direct approach when enabling or disabling services. For instance if the need arises to turn off LiveUpdate or Norton’s Tamper Protection all one needs to do is access the Suite's settings via the interface and uncheck the respective service, whereas in NIS 2010 you would need to scroll through various settings to turn them off. This definitely is much easier and simpler to comprehend. Furthermore the already mentioned tasks and settings have been categorised separately making navigation a breeze.
With its overabundance of features you definitely would assume that the product would be nothing less than a memory hog, after all it is Norton. Wrong!! With coding rewritten from scratch Norton 360 is a flawless little product that definitely surpasses most Security Suites. The program installs in less than 2 minutes and leaves a very small memory footprint when idle; less than 20 MB!! Moreover there is also a significant improvement in scan speeds as the application took less than 5 minutes to scan 10 GB of data. Now that’s commendable. Firewall is another aspect that works flawlessly and whatever be the situation the program will never greet you with a pop up when an application requires to connect to the net as all rules are assigned automatically.
To be honest, Norton 360 is one of the best Security Suites that you can currently invest your money in followed by Norton Internet Security 2010. The Norton 360 Security Suite retails for Rs 3,200 (3 user license) and Rs 1,795 (Single user license). While they both offer the same rock solid protection the 360 is aimed at users who not only want security but also find the need to backup important files, run disk optimizations and clean up junk; all this without even twitching a finger. However, if you are not too keen on the PC Tuneup and Backup/Restore feature you can blindly pick up NIS 2010 for a slightly lower price.
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