Symantec’s latest edition of the company’s package offering all-round PC security and protection is Norton 360 v4. This product comes with a one-year licence for up to three users. Following the product’s installation you will need to activate the software within 15 days it the product will cease working. The activation process requires the entry of a 29-character activation key and brings with it access to an account that includes free updates, 2GB of online storage and technical support. In the case of the latter, as yet I am not in a position to comment on the quality of this support as the need has not arisen.
Norton 360 divides its functionality into the four main areas of PC Security, Identity Protection, Backup and PC Tuneup. These areas are clearly shown in the program’s main interface with each one being represented by a large icon along with its current status. Ideally you should be presented with four green “Protected” labels. If not then a mouse click on the appropriate icon will reveal the tasks, such as a scan or back-up procedure, that need to be carried out by the software.
At any time you can hover the mouse cursor over one of the categories to see a list of tasks and features covered by that particular area of the program. Taking the subject of PC Security first (after all it does hold the prime position on the left of the program’s interface), you can run scans, LiveUpdate and Norton Insight plus manage your Firewall and view details of the various tasks covered by the program. Scans are designated as Quick, which targets common area, Comprehensive or “Let me Choose” by cherry-picking from a list of options. You can accept the default Firewall settings with program and traffic rules plus intrusion and browser protection or make adjustments to suit your own needs. While LiveUpdate provides the means to get the latest definition updates, Norton Insight allows for the smart scanning of files by identifying those items that can be trusted based on feedback from users. These trusted files can be ignored thus improving performance.
Identity Protection gives you options, as you would suppose from its title, to manage issues regarding identity protection. You can turn on/off settings. Confidential data can be stored in an area referred to as an Identity Safe. An option is available to locate the Identity Safe on a local drive or removable media.
The Backup section contains options to run a backup, create and manage jobs by selecting the what, where and when issues. You can also restore anything you have backed up. Backups can be stored locally or using the supplied online storage. There is an option to increase the online storage capacity but this does require an additional cost.
The final section deals with options to carry out various tune-up activities. If necessary you can optimise your hard disk and clean out unwanted Internet Explorer and Windows temporary files. A Diagnostic Report provides feedback as to the status of Norton 360, your operating system, resources, start-up programs, hardware profile, inoperable hardware devices, network connections, system Restore points and any processes that are currently running. Finally there is a Startup Manager module allows you to turn on/off entries or adding a delay to specific items to help speed up your start-up routine. In most cases you are given a general indication as to the resources used by each item in the list.
While the functionality already mentioned is available upfront at the user’s discretion, Norton 360 is busy beneath the surface as it carries out its anti-virus and anti-spyware tasks. These tasks are carried out without any worries being caused by false positives. The software just goes about its business without requiring any user intervention or being too demanding with regards to system resources.
Priced at £60 for a three-user licence, Norton 360 version 4.0 is well worth considering. The software provides all-round protection set out in a package that is straightforward to use. System requirements consist of a 300MHz processor, 256MB of RAM and 300MB of available hard disk space running Windows XP (SP2) and later.
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