Once upon a time, Symantec's brand of Norton security software had one of the most confusing lineups around -- products included Norton 360, Norton 360 Multi-Device, Norton Anti-Virus and Norton Internet Security. Trying to decide which product was the best for you -- not to mention the best priced -- was no picnic.
Thankfully, that has changed. There's now just a single piece of security software, Norton Security, which combines the tools and features from the previous packages into one product.
Those who want not just security for multiple devices, but also a variety of Windows tools, will find Norton Security a top choice. For $49.99 a year, the Deluxe version offers protection for up to five devices on Windows, OS X, Android or iOS. (There is also a Standard version costing $44.99 that protects a single Windows PC or Mac, but for an extra $5, it's definitely worth going with the Deluxe version.) The $69.99 Premium version adds 25GB of cloud-based storage, parental controls and protection for up to 10 devices.
As is common with other security suites, Norton's Mac version is a bit bare bones. It also falls down in iOS, but shines with Android. Overall, though, the Windows version is the star of this protection suite.
The Windows version of Norton Security offers a range of tools well beyond security, and encompasses useful performance tools such as a startup manager, disk optimizer and file cleanup. Everything is presented in a main interface with four large icons representing the software's main features: Security, Identity, Performance and More Norton, which allows you to install Norton on other devices (by emailing a download link) and shows their status.
Although it's relatively clean looking, I found the interface somewhat confusing -- at first, I wasn't sure how to drill down to get at the tools in each feature. For example, when I first clicked Performance, I was immediately able to find information about when my PC was last optimized and cleaned up, but I couldn't find any of Norton's performance tools.
It turned out that, in order to find the tools associated with each of the four categories, you have to first highlight the icon and then click a rather discreet down arrow at the right side of the main screen. Once I did that, I found a wealth of tools. For example, under Performance there's a disk optimizer, file cleanup, startup manager, and graphs that trace your PC's current CPU usage as well as its activity over time, including history of downloads, installs, optimizations, malware detections, malware scans, and alerts.
Those who like to customize their security will want to go to the Advanced section of the Security category (found by clicking on that down arrow), where you can turn on or off individual security modules, such as the firewall, email protection, browser protection and others.
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