Norton Antivirus 2011

Norton Antivirus 2011 is a great choice thanks to its strong malware detection and smooth interface.

Norton Antivirus has been a strong performer in recent years, and this year is no exception. Norton Antivirus 2011 ($US40 for a one-year, single-PC license as of 11/23/2010) comes in first in our roundup of 2011 paid antivirus products. It does a very good job at detecting and removing malware, and it has a smooth interface.

Installing Norton Antivirus 2011 is a breeze: The well-designed installer requires you to click through only two screens before it begins installing. Norton's products also check to see if you have any incompatible security utilities installed beforehand, so you don't end up with a problem later -- a thoughtful touch.

Norton Antivirus has an attractive, polished interface: The main screen shows on-off toggles for its various protection features, as well as a map showing the global cybercrime activity over the last 24 hours. I found the map to be a little gimmicky, and the on/off toggles may be a little confusing at first glance to less-experienced users (though tooltips appear as you mouse over the setting names). One nice interface touch: When your PC is at risk for whatever reason, Norton will put up a "Your Computer is at risk" warning in red text, with a large "Fix Now" button next to it.

In malware detection and removal, Norton Antivirus put out strong all-around scores. It detected 98.7 per cent of malware samples in traditional scanner-based detection tests (these tests rely heavily on signature-based malware detection). This is a very good score, but it trails the $50 Panda Antivirus Pro 2011, which detected 99.8 per cent of samples.

Norton also put up strong scores in the blocking of real-world malware attacks (a measure of how well a product can block actual malware): Norton completely blocked 24 of the 25 samples thrown at it, but it did miss one sample completely. No paid antivirus application we looked at fully blocked all samples, and only one scored higher than Norton on this test (Comodo Antivirus Advanced completely blocked 24 attacks and partially blocked one attack).

Norton detected all active malware infections in our tests; it removed the active components of an infection 80 per cent of the time, and was able to completely remove the infections 60 per cent of the time -- both above-average scores.

If there's one area where Norton Antivirus could improve, it's speed. Norton put up good scores in our speed testing, but not top-notch results. It completed an on-access scan of 4.5GB of files in 4 minutes, 32 seconds. This is better than the average of 4 minutes, 59 seconds, but behind the top-performing product, which completed the test in 3 minutes, 35 seconds. Its on-demand scan speed of 2 minutes, 1 second is also above average, but again, it's below the top-performers in this test.

All things considered, Norton Antivirus 2011 is a great all-around package, and is worth considering if you're in the market for new antivirus software.

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