Symantec – Norton Anti-Virus 2000 review

protection against virii, trojans and worms
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The recent spate of scripting viruses, including the notorious ILOVEYOU virus, has been a stark reminder of the importance of protecting your PC from external attack. Symantec’s Norton Anti-Virus is one of the most well-known anti-virus packages, and with the newly released NAV 2000 version 6, it now covers all flavours of Windows from 3.1 to Windows 95/98, Windows NT and 2000. No doubt a version is on the way for Windows Millennium Edition too.

Installation on a previously unprotected Windows 2000 machine began smoothly enough. Selecting the appropriate operating system launched the install process for Windows NT/2000. At each step of the process, the information was clearly set out and where choices had to be made, the default settings were mostly sensible. A virus scanner is only as good as the database of viruses that it knows about, and like all of the best scanners, Norton includes the ability to download database updates to keep the system current. This process, which Symantec has christened LiveUpdate, can be scheduled to occur once or twice a month. The suggested default time for these updates is in the middle of the afternoon, but for home users paying for the phone call it makes sense to change the time of the LiveUpdate to something off-peak.

The install process also correctly recognised the e-mail client on the machine and asked whether e-mail scanning was required. This seamless integration with what, in this case at least, was a non-standard package was a nice touch.

Registration of the software also takes place over the internet, in this case before the installation has completed. Once the registration process was completed, and again everything went extremely smoothly, the LiveUpdate process was kicked off. This took over 25 minutes over a 56Kbps dial-up line, which was something of a surprise. A warning about the size of the download would have been a good idea.

It was at this point that the install process went awry. At the end of the download the connection was kept open rather than being closed, and it was only when the machine had to be rebooted that the line was dropped. Unfortunately that was not the only problem. Once the system was rebooted NAV reported errors and would not load. Trying to uninstall was no good as it reported that one of the files needed for the uninstall program was corrupted. Trying to manually copy the affected files from the CD made no difference.

The problem was solved by attempting to re-install – though this time without selecting a LiveUpdate as part of the process. The second time around it was successful and the program went on to scan the hard disk, looking at all types of files and scanning inside archived files such as ZIP and CAB files. Subsequent LiveUpdates have tended to be trouble free and fairly fast, though annoyingly the Internet connection must always be manually broken.

NAV2000 includes a scheduler, which is used to schedule regular scans of the hard disk as well as LiveUpdates. It can also be used to schedule other programs, which makes it a useful utility to have around.

In operation the program is unobtrusive, even when scanning incoming e-mail, and an icon in the Systray is the only reminder that the program is active. Although the numerous scanning options are highly configurable, for the most part the existing defaults provide a level of security which is more than adequate.

Company: Symantec

Contact: 01628 592 222

On the whole NAV 2000 is a fine product, despite the installation glitch, and the only niggle is that the LiveUpdate procedure does not disconnect from the Internet when it is finished, making unattended operation wasteful or even dangerous from a security point of view.