/ Technology

Norton One anti-virus software – is it worth £100?

Man on computer

How much would you pay for anti-virus security software? Nothing? Maybe £25 or so for an all-inclusive package with some impressive sounding protection features? How about £99.99?

That’s how much Symantec is charging for Norton One, its new premium security service. Norton One does have some advantages – you get a year’s protection for up to five devices, be they computers, Android smartphones or tablets.

You also get a very high level of support – not only is it designed to be easy-to-use via an internet-based control panel, but Symantec’s promise of a dedicated Norton advisor within two minutes also sounds great.

Of course, after the first year is up, you’ll then have to pay a renewal price of some sort. Let alone the fact that many of us seem to be doing just fine with free security software these days.

What’s wrong with free anti-virus?

I’ve been using AVG’s free anti-virus and Microsoft Security Essentials over the last few years. This, combined with careful internet-use and a computer kept up-to-date with all of Microsoft’s periodic updates, and I haven’t had any virus problems so far.

My colleague John Bogue, from the Which? Computing team, also hasn’t paid for security software since he bought his first computer 20 years ago. And many of my Which? Tech colleagues seem to do be doing just fine with free anti-virus software as well.

However, our tests have found that some security software isn’t the most straightforward to use, with tricky installation, confusing virus messages and other issues. This is where the selling point of Norton One lies – it’s designed to look as clear and simple as possible, with as much hand-holding as you need.

But for a penny short of £100? Is this the price you have to pay for good technical support? I’ll stick to my free anti-virus software, thank you. Will you?


For a novice PC user, Norton is an easy option since a trial version is often pre-installed on new computers. For those with more experience and time there are much cheaper solutions.

The real cost can be when a user does not have up-to-date anti-malware protection. That may involve paying for the computer to be sorted out and loss of valuable files, especially since those who are not protected are quite likely not to have good backups of their files.

I used to use Norton but found it very annoying to use until I found the far cheaper and as good software – AVG – My only beef about AVG is that Firefox (my browser) updates do not work automatically with AVG safe website scrutiny facility – the e-mail antivirus always works perfectly. Considering how popular AVG is – it is a little remiss of Firefox not to solve the small problems before releasing the automatic update.

I have had no problems using AVG at all – but I do back up files regularly. – been using PCs since 1979.

Is there a workaround Richard? Those who use AVG tend to be those who know a bit about computers and might be able to deal with these problems. I recall that it was advised to temporarily disable anti-virus software before doing any form of software update.

Wavechange – The only thing affected is safe website indicator scan not being compatible with updated Firefox and in all honesty it was an add on that I never really use – I do not just browse the net but take special care. The normal AVG e-mail scan and regular hard disk scans etc are unaffected. The reason I don’t use Norton was because of the very inconvenient switching off of the anti virus for every update – which is not required with AVG. Everybody at my Computer Club uses AVG.

Thanks Richard. Now that I’m retired I don’t have a PC (I’m a Mac user), but get lots of questions and like to try to keep up-to-date about important issues such as anti-virus software.

Colin Samson says:
30 March 2012

I’ve used about nine different antivirus/internet security programmes since 1994. Norton’s software has improved dramatically in the last for years. Norton Internet Security is, in my opinion now the very best such product on the market; simple to use, effective & it works silently in the background using very few resources. I keep trying other “highly rated” software (such as BitDefender’s) but end up disappointed for one reason or another & return back to the “comfort” of Symantec’s Norton software.

However, I begrudge paying for 3 licences of Norton Internet Security when I have only 1 computer! I would certainly NOT pay £100 for 5 licences of Norton One! There should definitely be a per-computer fee so that the software is more affordable to people with only 1 or 2 computers.

hughstjust says:
30 March 2012

I have used Norton 360 over the years and promoted it as the best of a bunch – but Norton tied up vaste amounts of PC resource and seemed to be taking up endless amounts of my time! Then I had a virus and Norton were hopless. I have now moved to AVG (including AVG PC Tune Up) and the whole thing runs seamlessly in the background. It does cost some £60 per annum but It’s worth it for the peace and quiet!

My experience of Norton was never pleasant. Years ago we used Norton on all of our PCs and were left constantly wondering why the PC was horrible and sluggish. As a result, I ditched Norton some time ago in favour of some free alternatives and, apart from a popup telling me I’m safe, I wouldn’t even know it was there.

There is absolutely no need to be spending such ridiculous amounts of money on antivirus software. Simply protect yourself with a well known, cheap or free, alternative and be careful about what you’re clicking on.

Colin Samson says:
30 March 2012

I agree with you when you say that the Norton security software WAS never pleasant. However, it is a completely different story now. Their security software was completely re-written in about 2008 and the improvements were immediately obvious. Norton Internet Security is now completely transformed & uses very little in the way of resources; it is so “silent” that I feel the need to keep checking that it is still running!

Unfortunately, in INDEPENDENT tests of security software, NONE of the free software performs well. The paid for Norton, BitDefender, Kaspersky & G-Data software are far better at stopping malware than any of the free or other paid for programmes.

For the first time thsi year I found that renewing my Norton IS software through Norton was cheaper than buying a cheap copy over the internet (my usual method) and less hassle.

My daughter’s boyfriend uses free software (AVG & Ms Security Essentials) and says how wonderful they are, but he sent me a zip file that contained about 70 files including some business software that I needed but on my computer Norton Internet Security found and removed a trojan in it.

Just use Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE), Spybot and Spyware Blaster and call it a day.

I had Norton pre-installed on my first PC 10+ years ago. I shelled out for the renewal – never upgraded successfully and caused many problems. Found AVG – great! Every PC, laptop and netbook since then I’ve removed all pre-loaded Norton or McAfee programs and used either AVG or Comodo (both free) also Malaware (free) useful for those ‘Trojans’ etc.

hughstjust says:
25 May 2012

I have used Norton 360 over the years but seemed to be spending all my time supporting the software one way or another. Also Norton 360 seemed to be absorbing loads of PC resource – and then I caught a virus and they wanted to charge me loads to sort the problem out remotely. I now pay £60 a year for the AVG suite and haven’t looked back. AVG seems to be working in the background far more successfully and, along with regular MS back ups, all looks fine.

Richard says:
6 July 2012

I use Norton Internet Security. One tip is not to buy renewals but to buy the new version, even if earlier than need to when it’s on offer somewhere. You can then “renew” using the key on the CD sleeve. Also if a new version comes out during the subscription period you can download and install that. I’ve bought NIS (3PC) at under £20 most years which is much less than the official renewal.

Most of the time though I use Linux so am less worried about a lot of the mal-ware floating around.


Blatant noob rip-off

John Dakin says:
6 August 2015

I have Norton, and until recently was very satisfied; but now it is not working at all, possibly due to a virus; so I have paid for a service which is no longer giving any protection; even registry cleanup does not work.

I use Wi-fi at home and Norton would like to sell me extra security cover in the form of Wi-fi Privacy at a cost of £69.99 p.a. (on top of the £49.99 I already pay). Can anyone tell me if this extra cover is worth the money?