Norton Internet Security 2009 review

Price when reviewed

The first thing you need to know about Norton Internet Security (NIS) 2009 is that it’s fast. Symantec has spent years working to shed its reputation for sluggish software, and its latest effort sets new standards for responsiveness. Click on the System Tray icon and the main interface leaps up in a fraction of a second.

It’s lightweight, too. We used a bare Vista system that took 35 seconds to boot to an idle desktop, with memory usage of 475MB. Installing Norton increased boot time by just six seconds, and raised the RAM footprint by a mere 22MB. Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 eats 15MB more.

Norton tries to keep out of your way while you’re working, too. By default, scans are now only run while the computer is idle. And the new Norton Insight system reduces CPU and hard disk workload by ignoring processes found to be virus-free by other Norton users. More importantly, when pitched against our selection of current malware threats, NIS 2009 scored a 92% detection rate – the same impressive score as Kaspersky.

Since this is the full NIS package, you also get Norton’s “quiet” two-way firewall. The name isn’t an exaggeration: in all of our tests it remained completely silent. And it’s comprehensive and highly configurable.

Other features include the identity safe, which lets you send personal credentials over the web without having to type them in, and a browser plug-in to keep you safe from phishing sites and browser exploits. With 2009 this component gains Firefox compatibility.

All told, NIS is now a realistic alternative to Kaspersky. Just two gripes prevent us from placing it atop the A List. First, the interface is over-complicated. And second, Kaspersky is cheaper.

But neither of those issues is a show-stopper, and Symantec deserves praise for delivering excellent protection in such a nimble package. Some will still be wary, but if ever a brand deserved a second chance, this is it.


Software subcategory Internet security

Operating system support

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

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