Having been playing around with it for a few months, I’m now recommending Norton Internet Security 2004 to all my clients in need of virus/firewall protection. While it’s perhaps a little cumbersome for those of us who like full control over everything we do, I think it’s great for the average user. It has the advantage of ease of use, updating itself automatically and working pretty damn well. Also, it’s a one-stop-shop for antivirus, firewall, parental control, spam filtering (well, kinda) and privacy controls. Norton being a large company, you can also be pretty sure they’re not going to go bust in the near future; they also have a very large knowledge base which has helped me solve a fair few problems I’d never have got around otherwise.
The main disadvantages seem to be: it’s a bugger to fix if something goes wrong file-wise, as it’s deliberately designed not to let other programs alter it; Windows startup takes longer, and older computers are noticably slower with it running; people tend to get a bit confused by the many ‘do you wish to allow this to connect’ windows; it’s important to drum into people that it’s a subscription service and that another fee is due after a year or it’ll be effectively useless (it doesn’t help that Norton do their best to talk you into actually upgrading it when your time’s up, which is substantially more expensive than just renewing the license); the initial updates can also be prohibitively large for dialup users, for example the ‘parental control URLs’ update was 20mb by nine months after the release of NIS 2003.
NIS 2004 is a wallet numbing £54.99 if you want to download it from the Symantec online store (perversely, that’s exactly the same price as having it posted to you.) However, if you go to the dabs.com download store you can download it for £44.99. Stores such as PC World tend to have it for £49.99, or £24.99 if you buy it with a PC (!).