Norton Internet Security 2012 review

A horrible user interface drags down this well-featured and effective suite

Darien Graham-Smith
19 Apr 2012
Price when reviewed 

Symantec’s Insight Protection system draws on data from the huge community of Norton users to make reputation judgments about unknown code as it arrives on your system. It’s a clever idea: unfortunately, in our tests, it wasn’t enough to put Norton on top, leaving it with a detection score of 96%. Still, that’s respectable, and Norton’s long history of high scores is encouraging. It also gave the green light to all our harmless false-positive processes.

What troubles us is the user interface, which follows the style introduced in the 2010 edition. We found it cluttered then, and two years of upgrades haven’t helped. It’s overloaded with switches, links, buttons, tabs and gimmicks such as an Activity Map, which shows “worldwide cybercrime for the last 24 hours”. A less practical use of pixels we can hardly imagine.

Norton Internet Security 2012

This isn’t merely an aesthetic issue. The main features are reasonably easy to locate, but adjusting the program’s many settings and finding one’s way around is frustratingly illogical and inconsistent. It isn’t even clear from the interface exactly what’s included: click on Mobile Security, Online Family or Online Backup, and you’ll be invited to install or sign up to other services.

There are good features in here. Network management lets you keep an eye on all your Norton-protected PCs. Identity Safe lets you store passwords in the cloud, so you can log into all your secure sites from any Norton-equipped computer.

Norton Internet Security 2012

The Startup Manager and application monitor make use of the same community monitoring data as the Insight Protection system. This means users can view running applications, and also get an idea of how common and well trusted each process is – handy for identifying rogue software.

Norton Internet Security was once known as a bloated suite, but this 2012 edition added an unremarkable 209MB to our test system’s memory footprint – only 22MB above this month’s average – and raised boot time by one second. A quick system scan took 32 seconds, but this should be irrelevant as Norton scans your PC automatically whenever it’s idle. All told, it’s a well-featured and effective security suite. For £25 a year, though, we expect something nicer to use.

Price when reviewed 
25inc VAT


Software subcategory Internet security

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes

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