Symantec has done a great job of maintaining its number one spot in the security market and this is in no small part down to Norton 360, the “user-friendly” alternative to Norton Internet Security that’s aimed more at consumers and adds backup and tune-up to a wealth of cutting-edge tools.
Norton 360 4.0 is boosted by a range of significant improvements but many of these will already be familiar to those who followed the widely publicised release of Norton Antivirus 2010 last year. For the uninitiated, they represent the changing face of system security and are driven by the new Quorum and System Insight tools.
Quorum is a reputation-based security solution that uses a database of Norton Community users to “predict” how safe a file is and allocate it a trust level, allowing for faster and more reliable scans. It works alongside System Insight, which reports CPU and memory usage along with running processes, detection events and performance monitoring, offering a superbly effective way to find out more about threats and processes that significantly impact a system.
This new approach offers significant advantages and while not everyone will be interested in the information provided, the performance benefits hold obvious appeal to all. A quick scan using the software took just 10 seconds; compare this to the already impressive one minute on the same test system seen in the last version.
360 integrates these components in a similar way to the other products in the new range, with users able to “flip” the main interface around to view charts and related information. It culminates in what is by far the most comprehensive and informative analysis of a system provided by a security package to date, and for many will be significant enough to warrant an upgrade in itself.
Delving deeper into the 360-centric improvements we feel it’s worth mentioning that the software really is a breeze to install and get started with. In just under two minutes it pops up in the system tray without requiring a restart or the need to trawl through registration / activation / setup wizards before you’re protected.
360 retains the straightforward interface that will be familiar to previous users, splitting the tools available into PC Security, Identity Protection, Backup and Tuneup. Status reports are available by selecting any of these, while key functionality such as running a scan, managing the firewall and creating a backup appear in corresponding drop-down lists. While 360 clearly places an emphasis on usability by tucking more detailed access out of harm’s way, the settings menu still offers very comprehensive control for those who require it.
Aside from the improvements highlighted above, the new version of 360 doesn’t add any radical new features of its own, but does improve some areas that have been criticised in the past. Parental controls are now accessed online via Symantec’s OnlineFamily.Norton software, a free package that allows you to monitor and control usage and a vast improvement over the previous system.
Backup has also been improved and the 2GB of online storage offered as standard has been bolstered by the fact that it’s now possible to retrieve files from any computer simply by logging into your account. Files can also be shared by sending a secure link to a download via email, which is an extremely handy alternative to battling large attachments.
When you throw in an industry-leading firewall, comprehensive anti-malware and online protection and the ever-useful set of tune-up tools, we’re struggling to find fault with the software and have no hesitation in offering it a hearty recommendation.