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Symantec Pledges Less Bloat, More Speed

Every other week, when I host a Security Fix Live chat with our readers, I almost always hear gripes from Symantec users complaining about how various Norton software titles are causing their PCs to operate sluggishly. Well, the folks at Symantec want you to know they are working to improve speed and efficiency in next year's consumer products.

The complaints about Norton products that I've heard from readers have been fairly consistent: problems installing/uninstalling the software, and system slowness after installing the software.

In a chat on Jan. 25, a reader from Toronto wrote: "I use Norton Anti-virus but am convinced it is causing my computer to operate very slowly. Is there an alternative program that is less resource intensive?"

The following month, a chatter from New York complained: "Hi Brian, I've had really bad experiences running Symantec/Norton and McAfee products. They tend to take over and reduce my overall system performance tremendously."

Rowan Trollope, senior vice president of consumer products at Symantec, said the company is on track to meet a series of performance-boosting goals for its Norton 2009 lineup, including Norton Internet Security, Norton Anti-Virus, and Norton 360 (the company's remote data-backup solution).

So, what are those goals? For starters, Trollope said, "un-installation and installation needs to be completely clean." Because older Norton products often left components littering the user's system, Symantec has been stuck with shipping a set of removal tools with every release. "The history of those tools came from the fact that we didn't do a good job of uninstalling ourselves. Our product should be easier to install and remove, and there shouldn't be any need for a separate tool to remove it."

Trollope said Symantec also hopes to reduce the size of its products and the amount of time it takes to install its software. The average Norton product weighs in at a hefty 400 mb; Symantec's engineers have been charged with bringing it down to less than a quarter of that size on disk. Currently, Symatec's products take between eight and 10 minutes to install, but Trollope said its beta versions of the same products for next year are down to 52 seconds.

The company also is focusing on reducing any delay its software causes in the time it takes for Windows to boot up, Trollope said. "Our goal is zero impact to boot time, but we're struggling with that. We've actually set about 45 different metrics for that goal."

In addition, Symantec engineers are experimenting with different approaches to reduce the time it takes Norton to scan files or hard disks. A big part of that effort seeks to harness Symantec's huge user base to learn which files have a high probability of being safe and therefore do not need to be repeatedly scanned. Examples could be Adobe or Firefox files.

"We know today that if a piece of software runs on millions of computers, the odds of it being malware are very low," Trollope said. "But the reverse is also usually true: If you look at millions of systems and find a piece of software that only occurs on one or two systems, the odds of being malware are high."

The process, he said, would work by taking snapshots of common programs and then only rescanning them if there are changes to those files.

Trollope said Symantec's 2008 releases have garnered the highest customer satisfaction results the company has ever seen. But he acknowledged that Symantec is going to have to streamline its products significantly in order to win back customers who have moved on to other products that offer less bloat and more speed.

"It's not good enough to be the best of the worst," he said. "If we set our sights and say we're back on top of the stack, but customers are still complaining, that's not good enough. It's going to take some radical results to change a lot of peoples' perception about us."

What about you, dear Security Fix readers? Are you a former or current Symantec user? Use the comments section below to tell us what products you have used, and your experience with those titles.

By Brian Krebs  |  May 28, 2008; 4:25 PM ET
Categories:  From the Bunker  
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Comments

As a former user of Symantec's Norton Antivirus products for a number of years, I recently switched to Kaspersky.

Don't hold your breath while trying to get technical support for Kaspersky, but this wasn't much better with Symantec. Kaspersky has 'conflicts' with PC Tools Spyware Doctor, even without Spyware Doctor's antivirus being activated, but only 'sometimes,' it seems.

Lavasoft Adaware 2008 [Plus] beta with Adwatch also runs slow -- much slower than Spyware Doctor, but the AdWatch feature is highly effective.

I recently did install Norton Antivirus 2008 on a friend's machine and it seems to be running fine there.

Posted by: qqqqqqqqqq | May 28, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Great news! But I'm afraid by the time it's out, half the crowd will be on Dual Core Intel's anyway. The longer they wait to release, the more powerful the machine in the hands of their target. Slick.

The real problem with Norton, IMHO, was that the "Latest" version they nagged you into buying overpowered a 3 year old machine, which could handle the OEM version it shipped with.

Let's see the others follow suit. The new AVG 8.0 is as bloated as some versions of Norton were / are.

Thanks for the update.

Posted by: JkR | May 28, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

My experience has been positive with their corporate products (Symantec Antivirus Corporate Edition 8.x through 10.x). So, it's a bit perplexing why their consumer products (Norton) don't follow suit.

SAV CE (Corporate Edition) has a small footprint (approx. 50MB, excluding the definition files) and has not had much impact in overall system performance.

Posted by: TJ | May 28, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I am now using my 3rd browser to make this post. Firefox & SeaMonkey has my keyboard spewing 'encrypted characters' partway thru the first 2 post, that had to be redone.

I am a former user of Norton Antivirus for probably over 6 years. I recently switched to Kaspersky [don't hold your breath while calling tech support for Kaspersky -- even worse than with Symantec.

Also Kaspersky has conflicts with Spyware Doctor, even without Spyware Doctor's anti-virus product being installed.

Lavasoft Adaware Pro [with Adwatch] is highly effective and the 2008 beta ed. IS running AdWatch standard.

Spyware Doctor scans the fastest and without Lavasoft Adaware's AdWatch being loaded seems to find from 10 to 20 'infections' [cookies] per session with the WaPo. With AdWatch activated, zero cookies from any source get thru.

As spyware and trojans run wild these days, the primary issue that I have is finding COMPATABLE AND EFFECTIVE antispyware AND antivirus products.

And this time in my 3d browser, this psot has been completed without my keyboard characters going wild on me.

Posted by: brucerealtor@gmail.com | May 28, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

That 3d browser is NOT IE7, but OPERA -- which recently is much more stable than either Firefox or SeaMonkey.

Posted by: brucerealtor@gmail.com | May 28, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

The first post by qqqqqqq is when my keyboard started going crazy on me. Don't recall if I was using Firefox or SeaMonkey then and I thought no post had occurred at all.

Opera continues its superior performance in this post also.

Posted by: brucerealtor@gmail.com | May 28, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Regarding both Firefox & SeaMonkey, I DO get a lot of e-mail in Chinese [which I usually make no effort to read.]

And while my yahoo address [my ham radio call sign] was inundated with porn and extend your penis [but alas, not all the way to China LOL] and RX e-mails, they have just recently largely fallen off [the e-mail, that is LOL.]

Now my gmail adr seems to be getting hit with the same kind of garbage. Of course everyone gets all the bogus 'you've won' lottary e-mails and since all of the above folks keep changing their sending e-mail adr's, the span filters are not all that effective --yet.

Posted by: brucerealtor@gmail.com | May 28, 2008 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Stopped using Nortons products in '02, did some testing back '04 and was glad with my decision. Now, I just deploy ESET NOD32. MacAfee isn't much better.

However, if a person is just using a PC for browsing and email, then what are you still using Windows for when you have many Linux solutions available, where the need for AV products is not needed.

D.

Posted by: DOUGman | May 28, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

bruce----stop surfing the pr0n sites, and maybe your computer will not be so f'd.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I have had no probs with BitDefender.

Posted by: gbooksdc | May 28, 2008 8:34 PM | Report abuse

I unfortunately use Norton 360 and it is a continual battle for PC speed. The worst part is when the LUcallback.exe (aka the Live Update call back process), and all its associated files, starts, it won't stop and can't be stopped via task manager even if you have the Live Update feature disabled. When live update runs it brings a computer to a halt. Never again will I buy Norton !!!

Posted by: slowedbynorton | May 28, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

It's not just Norton. I use Trend Micro. Yes, it's completely effective at protecting the computer, but it makes booting very slow and seems to entangle itself in every program such that they all slow. If I want to work with graphics to any serious extent, I need to go offline and exit Trend Micro. Then the computer functions as it used to. I suppose it's a tradeoff.

Posted by: Rainproof | May 28, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

LUcallback.exe is a real pain. I have an Intel E6400 dual core with 2G of RAM running Vista Ultimate, and my system is very well maintained. Still, when the evil LUcallback.exe starts to spin everything slows down so much I feel like I am running Vista on a Pentium I. Except for that, I actually like Norton 360; if you know a "12:00 flasher" (someone who doesn't know how to set the time on their VCR), Norton 360 is outstanding. Even for regular users it's not bad; it does its thing in the background so you don't have to bother with settings.

Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition is great. Fast, light on resources, with all the settings you need.

Norton Antibot: very little resource usage, and on the rare occasions that it kicks in the results are interesting. It's a good "last line of defense" for paranoids.

Posted by: LB | May 28, 2008 9:30 PM | Report abuse

I uninstalled Norton Antivirus from our computer a year ago. The hard drive was making a clunking sound at the same time each day. When I looked at the Event Viewer utility, I noticed that Symantec was running some sort of process on the PC at that time. I installed the free version of AVG, and disabled Norton Antivirus, and the clunking noises stopped happening. We haven't had any other trouble with the hard drive since then.

We cancelled the Norton Antivirus account, and deleted the program from our machine. The AVG antivirus program isn't foolproof, but it seems to be doing a good enough job. (We're pretty savvy about which sites we visit and which email messages we open.)

A few days ago, my husband noticed a charge from Symantec on his credit card bill. Apparently, even though they registered the cancellation of our account, they hadn't notified their billing department, and he'd been charged for another year of service. My husband called the company and managed to get the customer service guy to reverse the charges, thank goodness.

I don't plan on buying another Symantec program. If I were to purchase an antivirus product, I'd probably look into TrendMicro or BitDefender. Does anyone use TrendMicro? It's gotten generally favorable reviews in the sources I've seen.

Here's a webpage I found helpful while I was figuring out how to remove Symantec's programs from our machine:
http://www.pchell.com/virus/uninstallnorton.shtml

If you want to make sure every last trace of Symantec/Norton programs is gone, and you're comfortable editing the registry (it must be done carefully, or you could really mess up your machine), look at this page:
http://www.askdavetaylor.com/how_to_fully_remove_norton_from_pc.html

Cheers.

Posted by: Heron | May 28, 2008 9:32 PM | Report abuse

My college makes me install Symantec software to access the network, so I do it. It really doesn't slow things down on my Mac. I can live with it.

Posted by: rjrjj | May 28, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Norton/Symantec stinks! They've used their market share to get lazy and stop making quality products. Norton was performing so badly 3 years ago that I gave it the boot. Trend Micro PC-cillin was good for a year, then their new release a couple years ago was horrifically slow. So I switched to Kaspersky -- which protected me _very_ well, but asked me five questions every time I did anything. Good program, but it crosses the line into "paranoid" status. It also insisted on scanning all my streaming video, which made the video jerky and unusable.

Recently, I've tested BitDefender and liked it. I am currently testing ESET NOD32, and that is likewise a great program. Both have gotten high marks for detection, and neither has slowed my system significantly. NOD32 seems faster, but I've heard BitDefender is better at catching things. NOD32 also blocked a Vista update a while back, so I'm a little suspicious of it. Probably will go back to BitDefender.

The editors over at CNet still rate Norton as the highest on their list, but if you look at their ratings versus the user's ratings, it looks like the reviewers are on the Symantec payroll. The real users with normal computers often think it's not so great. Norton/Symantec has a lot of catching up to do!

Posted by: Dv | May 28, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Posted by [?]

Actually, if you click on my ID, you'll see why I don't need to surf the internet for porn. LOL

Actually, I am well aware of those kinds of issues and if I wanted to do that, I would at least want to use a program like anonymizer [sp] for freebees.

Maybe I am getting these items because some folks like my photo in the WaPo. LOL

Posted by: brucerealtor@gmail.com | May 28, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Regarding slowness with McAfee. The default install for McAfee AV is to do on-access scanning of files for any file read AND write.

Scanning every file that is read from the disk will slow things down..and IMHO not really needed. Setting the on-access scan to only do scans of files during writes will speed things up quite a bit.

It's done via the VirusScan Console; go into the Properties of the On-Access scan task.

Posted by: RickH | May 28, 2008 11:33 PM | Report abuse

I've used Symantec/NAV for years, and each year they add features no one cares about and make the user-interface less friendly. And then they just plain screw it up so it doesn't work.

I finally had it with Symantec when I installed NAV2008, and 2 minutes after a flawless installation, everything in NAV went red, and a message popped up telling me I needed to uninstall and reinstall the software. Wondering why Symantec's software was so intelligent to know it was screwed up, but too stupid to have prevented its being screwed up in the first place, I called Symantec tech support to find if there was another fix rather than what the message suggested.

It was almost impossible to get tech support, but once I did the CSR asked me to use a Symantec uninstall tool, but he neglected to tell me it uninstalled anything from Symantec. Then to cover his back side when I complained (too late, alas)that I didn't want to remove other normally functioning software, he lied and told me he had first asked me if I had any other Symantec software on my machine and had informed me this, too, would be uninstalled. I then spent an hour and a half on the phone with Symantec tech support trying to get everything loaded and running again. To make matters worse, the special Symantec uninstall utility was also full of bugs, wouldn't run properly, and had to be restarted more than once.

The whole process was a nightmare. When I finally asked to speak to a supervisor, he informed me any time I install any new Symantec software, I needed to first uninstall ALL Symantec software, then re-insall ALL of it again from scratch? Does this sound like a company that knows what it is doing? Several of my acquaintances have experienced similar problems with NAV 2008. If Mr. Trollope believes his 2008 product releases are garnering the highest satisfaction ratings ever, I would suggest he is either lying, rigging the results, or deluded, or that perhaps the ratings were higher because all of the intelligent users switched to a competing product.

Posted by: tired_of_Symantec | May 28, 2008 11:58 PM | Report abuse

I am using Norton360 and have no problem with speed. Then again my box has enough horsepower to play Crysis. Norton360 is easy to set up and then forget about it.

Posted by: John | May 28, 2008 11:59 PM | Report abuse

We had Norton AV for a couple of years on our home machine several years ago but ditched them after getting socked with a one-two punch of an undetected virus getting through + non-existent consumer/tech support in trying to resolve the problem. I think that it was the lousy customer service that really did it for us. Any company that contemptuous of its customers can go suck eggs.

Posted by: sc | May 29, 2008 1:18 AM | Report abuse

I've been using Norton 360 2.0 for about 2 months. It is light on system resources, although on two XP machines, I get error messages when shutting down system as a Norton component sometimes hangs. I also run it on a Vista machines where it runs with no problems.

Watch out for Norton automatically debiting your credit card each year for subscription. They make it difficult for you to cancel auto renewal of subscription.

Posted by: babylon | May 29, 2008 2:30 AM | Report abuse

Not one of these comments states the obvious solution to Symantec bloat - Ditch Windows! I've been using Ubuntu Linux for two years and haven't missed keeping up with and paying for anti-spyware, anti-virus, etc., etc.
Sure, I have Clam AV on my system but that is only so any Windows users do not get an infected email from me.

Posted by: joblo | May 29, 2008 2:41 AM | Report abuse

Switching from Sym. Corp.Edition Version 10 to 11 makes the performance problems even worse. When I talked to Symantec customer service before upgrading to v.11 the lady assured me, that performance will me much better than with the previous release. Quite the opposite is true. Also a problem with anti virus software in general is, that it cannot really been trusted for security. We run a mailserver with symantec protection installed, but we had to have a general quarantine for all types of compressed files since antivirus protection will usually miss up to 30 percent of the viruses coming in for example zip files.

Posted by: cmontagne | May 29, 2008 3:00 AM | Report abuse

Symantec customers have been making these complaints word-for-word about Norton products for at least 15 years, and the company has always been promising to do better next time. And perhaps it does. My experience with installation, upgrading, etc has been extremely discouraging. On the other hand, I haven''t succumbed to any Web attacks so far ... .

Posted by: kunino | May 29, 2008 4:16 AM | Report abuse

"What about you, dear Security Fix readers?"

I have to confess to a near pathological pathological loathing for Symantec and the Norton products. As your readers report, they're bloated, hamper fast booting, and generally slow a machine down. My Sony Vaio came with a whole dratted suite of Norton stuff -- Sony are one of the most notorious OEMs for bundling "crapware" as I didn't realize at the time I bought it. This suite even came with an application that tried to take over from the Windows Security Centre. So many applications in this "suite", so many, just so many ... and all one needs is an antivirus, and an faster, more effective and lighter-weight one than Symantec make at that.

Look at how many steps there are to _fully_ remove Norton from your machine:

http://www.askdavetaylor.com/how_to_fully_remove_norton_from_pc.html

The product is a complete disgrace. And it's a disgrace that so many OEMs do deals, so that you get on your PC without wanting it.

I went through all the steps in the "Ask Dave Taylor" article. But months later on I ran CCleaner, and it found orphaned Symantec/Norton entries in the Registry. And even after that, whenever I hadn't updated by AV for awhile, the Windows Security Centre would come up with a message to the effect that I had *two* antivirus programs on my system and both were out of date. So I suppose there must ***still*** have been some Norton entries in the Registry somewhere.

Anyway, I replaced it with Eset's NOD32, which is light, fast, and effective. After a year of using that, I switched to the free Grisoft AVG. I don't think it's quite as good, but it is free. I believe Kaspersky is also light, fast, and very effective, and I read at CNet that Kaspersky uninstalls cleanly. I think I'd chose NOD32 or Kasperksy over a Symantec product any day. If I didn't feel like spending the money I'd download AVG and still feel confident that I'd got something better than Symantec was offering.

But these days I use my Mac more. From the first boot, when I didn't find Norton Internet Security -- or any other unwanted, resource-hogging, importunate "trial software" -- it was love at first sight. I think that not only will Symantec have to sort themselves out, the Windows OEMs will have to rethink what deals they strike with whom or watch their sales further eroded.

Posted by: Mike | May 29, 2008 4:45 AM | Report abuse

After about 6 years of Norton, we switched four of our computers on our home office network to ESET Smart Security (NOD 32) because Norton was taking over the CPU. The oldest PC at 3.5 yrs has a 3.4 Ghz P4 with 3 GB RAM with XP-Pro and runs lots of accounting software. With Norton boot time was horrible (2-3 minutes) and the system would get bogged down in some of the accounting document generation. The boot after installing ESET was lightning fast (<1 min) and still is. All programs run faster, too.

ESET set up was pretty easy but we needed to go into the manual rules mode to get network printers to talk with the PCs. Once that was set, ESET has run itself.

Other comments mirror our experience with Norton after uninstall. LUCallBack continued to run in the processes on each machine after uninstall. Toasting that program gave each PC a little more speed.

Some shy away from ESET because of price. We essentially extended the life of our PCs by a year or more with a $30/machine piece of software. Not a bad return.

Posted by: Cedar | May 29, 2008 5:24 AM | Report abuse

I am also a former Norton AV user who began having trouble around 2001. Installing wasn't a problem, but when I began getting that bright red "kiss of death" window, uninstalling was a bear - I had to have a techie do it. Now I am using Computer Associates - seems good enough, but when my subscription runs out in July I will try AVG which is free and supposedly quite good.

Posted by: tmurt | May 29, 2008 6:12 AM | Report abuse

I have been dealing with anti-virus software packages since the mid 90's, going far enough back in time that McAfee was still shareware for download and Peter Norton's name wasn't associated with Symantec but was the maker of first-rate tools for the PC. 15 years can make a major difference in a lot of things, especially in the computing world. No longer can you clean a system by booting to a floppy drive (although you can do it booting to a USB drive), and those programs have grown from a simple virus scanner into all-in-one packages that don't play nice in the Windows environment.

Nearly all of the anti-virus packages I've worked with have some quirk about them. Either they're bloated, they slow down the system, or they don't update often enough to catch a lot of today's malware that's rampant on the Internet. For 64-bit OS users, the situation is even worse as the major companies have yet to produce a 64-bit version of their software that's priced at the same level as their 32-bit counterparts. I run both Windows XP x64 and Vista 64-bit, and from experience finding a virus scanner for them can be difficult. If you're lucky you can get the Norton Corporate Edition package, but they want $500+ for a 10-license package. Not economical for a single-use system. Computer Associates offers a home-use version, but it's not always as up-to-date on viruses as other packages. Free packages such as Avira Personal Edition will run on the 64-bit environment, but you have to tolerate the advertisement when it does a daily update.

Companies tend to forget that people want a program that will scan their systems, not be intrusive to the point of near unusability, and has a very low maintenance profile. All of the virus companies will do the first, but the last two are going to be challenges, especially given that the malware writers are always going to stay at least one step ahead in the game.

Posted by: Tal Greywolf | May 29, 2008 6:27 AM | Report abuse

I had been a user of Symantec's (Norton) products for 17+ years easily but found the products as described, bloated and difficult as h$@* to remove.

Adding insult to injury was their new policy on renewing subscriptions, wherein they'd -- without any warning via email or otherwise -- charge your credit card to renew the subscription without your knowledge, and would justify the charge(s) by stating that you gave Symantec the authority to charge your cc when you agreed to the Terms and Conditions. I've switched to Iolo System Mechanic which seems to operate much better than Symantec's bloatware.

I really miss Norton Confidential but I'll gladly trade the reduction in bloatware for it. I think that Symantec got used to "setting on top of the mountain" relating to its market share and now with customers switching to other vendors they've now seen the "error of their ways."

Posted by: Reginald D. Spence | May 29, 2008 7:06 AM | Report abuse

I stopped using Symantec 3 years ago when their Norton System Works product killed my son's laptap. Their products slowed my computer, were very difficult to delete, and were expensive. I have a variety of products today that seem to do as well in finding viruses & spyware, and use fewer system resources.

Posted by: Bob Shreve | May 29, 2008 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Symantec has ALWAYS been slow and downloads unwanted software during installs. I found that the easiest and only complete way to uninstall was to reformat the computer.

Posted by: Matthew | May 29, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Until resently (1 month) I was using Norton 360... As described... slow slow slow... The constant scanning of indvidual web pages when web surfin, made for very long waits between switching screens. The erroro messages that Norton 360 has stopped working and requires you to re-start your computer were especailly bothersome. It just ate up too much system resources. I switched to PC Trends.. I'm way happy now!!

Posted by: Rick T | May 29, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I had used Norton products for years and started having more troubles. My Windows XP started having weird troubles and even a remote Norton Scan failed to find troubles. I then disabled it and ran tests with Mcafee and found that it looked at fewer files than Norton but took longer and still found nothing wrong. Windows support said to run Windows care live but it would not run. I then ran a remote bitdefender scan and it found the Norton Files were the ones that were infected. I cleaned and then deleted the Norton files with "the Norton removal tool". The Windows Live One Care now ran fine. I deleted it and I then tried to download the latest version of Norton and the same troubles came back and the files were infected again. I don't know if they were infected at the server level or I had a malware program so I finally switched to using Spyware Doctor to scan the system and then switch it off to not be a memory hog. It did find a bunch of troubles that the other programs did not. I now use Trend Micro Internet Security to clean and catch viruses and enable Spyware Doctor once a week to keep my system clean. I use Norton from a CD to clean up the trash file buildup and to check out Windows registry files for mismatches. By the way I was using IOBIT Windows Cleaner until I had real bad troubles with links being erased for many of my graphics programs. It does clean out a lot of scattered temp files and gain a lot of disk space but you can't fine tune it. The trouble is programers tend to leave links for their programs in "their" program's TEMP file locations. Unfortunately IOBIT will not let you send them technical notes unless you pay for their product that you now know is not working right. I found the combination use of the Trend Micro and Spyware Doctor keeps my system clean and fast.

Posted by: Don Armstrong | May 29, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I dumped Norton many many years ago and switched to Zone Alarm Security Suite. That was good until I got a new PC with Windows Vista in March 07 that came with Norton. After I booted my PC for the first time I immediately uninstalled Norton but it was a failed effort because it Norton had already dug deep into my system. Visa was extremely sluggish and I knew the problem was Norton. I finally uninstalled all instances of Norton and cleaned out registry and Vista was operatiing like a champ. I then installed Windows Live Onecare and will never use Norton software again.

Posted by: NPGMBR | May 29, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Until about 3 years ago, I had used Symantec products exclusively -- antivirus, their Ghost backup software, etc. Then I realized the many problems my computers were having were because of Symantec's bloated software.

Also, I always had a terrible time getting them to respond to my technical support requests. Often, I was simply ignored.

So I switched to BitDefender, and I love it. It's quick and easy to install and operate. It generally ranks fairly high in the ratings I've seen.

But the best part is BitDefender has a toll-free technical support phone line. Their response time is often immediate, and they give a thorough answer to your problem.

Posted by: John | May 29, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

My GF uses Lavasoft and finds it unobtrusive. (I use a Mac, so no worries at all.)

Posted by: amicus computatrum | May 29, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I personally stopped using any Symantec/Norton products years ago, and try to help friends move to free alternatives - my personal AV choice is Avast.

As far as Symantec's promise to reduce the bloat, I wonder if it isn't almost too late. Just like Real Networks saying "we're better now! no really!" Sorry, Real and Symantec, but you're on my permanent blacklist now.

Posted by: 23060 | May 29, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

...and here I am waiting to get rid of Windows Live as it is so slow and controlling of my computer. Now I read that the others aren't much better.
And what's with Yahoo? Has their spam filtering failed?

Posted by: Ken Cady | May 29, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm running Norton Internet Security 2008 on a 2002 desktop computer with only 512MB of memory, and have no real complaints. I chose NIS08 because it was a PC Magazine Editor's Choice.

Before installing NIS08 I used Norton Removal Tool to uninstall Norton Antivirus. Yes, Symantec needs to redesign their uninstall routine so that this isn't necessary.

Most importantly, Symantec clearly "Gets It", that performance is important to users, and that performance can be a significant advantage in the marketplace.

Posted by: JohnJ | May 29, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I stopped using Norton about 2 years ago when it completely crashed my new computer using Windows XP Media. A company rep told me that, even though Norton was factory installed, it didn't play well with XP Media. I now use AVG (on the advice of the Dell rep).

Their customer service is abysmal, but no worse than any of the others and the program appears compatible with my computer.

Posted by: s. borders | May 29, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

@brucerealtor

"Now my gmail adr seems to be getting hit with the same kind of garbage."

Most likely because the full e-mail address is posted where a spam web crawler can collect it. I don't have a WaPo account, but I would think it can be set to NOT display the full e-mail address.

"Of course everyone gets all the bogus 'you've won' lottary e-mails"

As generalizations go, that's false; there are measures to protect your e-mail addresses from being collected by spammers. The first is don't freely post your entire e-mail address anywhere online. If you must, spell it out using words "at" and/or "dot" (without quotes), such as emailaddress at something dot com

Posted by: TJ | May 29, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I use Norton 360 version 2.3.0.9 on 6 family computers and I'm perfectly happy with it. 4 of the 6 are on a LAN, which includes a notebook wireless connection, one is in a business, and the last is at my granddaughter's house. Once all the duplicative programs are eliminated, there should be no problem with speed. I used the Beta version when introduced and went with the production version as soon as it was released.

Posted by: Brad L. | May 29, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I went to Norton because McAfee was awful. Norton was a resource hog. I ended up abandoning my subscription and using free AVG antivirus and the Windows firewall and my system runs much better. A friend has been using free AVG for seven years with no problems.

Posted by: Joe | May 29, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I used Norton products for several years, and got tired of the slowdowns, expense, incessant nagging for updates, and the fact that I couldn't use MS Outlook Express while it was loaded.

I uninstalled for the last time more than a year ago and have never looked back. I use a free protection system that works just fine (Avasti).

I'll never use another Norton product. Improvements are coming waaaaay too late.

Posted by: Billcarr | May 29, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Just forget Symantec, they have taken our money and slowed us to a halt for years. Because of this, I will NEVER load a Symantec product of any type again. Try Avast Home Edition (avast.com, or download.com) and guess what? It's free, and you will hardly notice it's there.

Posted by: citigreg | May 29, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I don't know who at Symantec told you it takes only a few minutes to load their Norton Internet Security 2008 package, but that is not correct. Try 45 minutes minimum with a long period where the new software unloads the old stuff. Then you find out that the brand new stuff you just downloaded has updates! That takes yet more time. Finally, it wants to do a complete scan of your system, which if you were upgrading from a previous Norton product is less than a top priority. I hope someone from Symantec reads this and gets the message about how annoying their product really is in the minds of an average user.

Posted by: djysrv | May 29, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

For over three months, I have tried to update our Norton site. The result
continues to be:

Error: "LU1812: An update failed to install. A program that was part of
this update failed ..."when running LiveUpdate

I have looked at their web-site, and there does not appear to be anyway to
contact them? In additon, Norton fails to recognize our password?

I am not pleased with their service, and each time I turn on the computer,
the Norton button glows orange with a white X in it to irk me.

Posted by: T Eastman | May 29, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I have always been saddened by Peter Norton, whom I have respected for years, letting a crappy software manufacturer use his name. I guess money talks, and competence walks. Too bad.

Posted by: Pete from Arlington | May 29, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

When I upgraded from XP-SP2 to XP-SP3 I started getting errors from my Norton AV 2005. I couldn't fix the problem with a try at uninstall/reinstall of the AV - I had to resort to Norton's Removal Tool, which removed ALL the Symantec and Norton products on my PC. I still had to delete numerous folders/files and registry settings to clean out the Norton stuff. That isn't the first time I had such a problem - but it will be the last. I have now REPLACED ALL the Symantec/Norton products I previously used with MUCH BETTER programs, including ESET Smart Security, and I am very pleased with the results. I will never use another Symantec/Norton product.

Posted by: ALEX H | May 29, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I switched from Norton to Kaspersky a year ago, and I find that the impact on my computer speed is MUCH less, and I've been virus-free.

Posted by: TMU | May 29, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I used Norton utils for many years, back to DOS and when Peter Norton actually ran the company. Gradually, Symantec got more and more bloated, slowed my system, and trashed 3 computers when I tried to upgrade or uninstall.

As I built new computers, I avoided Symantec like the plague. For years now, I have been running other AV (first CA and now Bitdefender) and Zone Alarm Pro, along with several Spyware packages ad hoc. And Acronis for disk imaging.

Mr. Trollope can make all the promises he wants. But, the wounds go too deep. Many of us would not use Symantec anything if they gave us a free copy.

As for support, I have never had a need to contact either Zone Alarm or Bitdefender. Bitdefender even has a "Repair" mode that rebuilds the install.

Posted by: NortonBgone | May 29, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I used Symantec products for over 12 years. About 5 years ago I gave up and switched to Avast antivirus. It works, doesn't slow the computer down and doesn't break like Symantec's products. Symantec got fat and happy and the quality of it's products went down the more fat and happy it got. As a former Missourian, Symantec needs to show me they've changed.

Posted by: Andrew | May 29, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Why do you people complain so much? I've used Internet Security (Norton) for a few years and recentley upgraded to the 2008 version and LOVE IT! It works great, doesn't slow my pc down, and is very user friendly. Sometimes I think that the people that have problems probably already have a bunch of junk on their pc's or have no clue what their doing. OR are trying to install the program on a piece of s#$%t pc, sorry but it's probably true.

The one neg though is the virus scan it takes so freaking long!

Stop crying.

Posted by: Ed in VA | May 29, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"And what's with Yahoo? Has their spam filtering failed?"

I have two Yahoo! Mail accounts, and I rarely get spam in either account. I use one purely for personal messages, and one for receiving messages from companies and organizations with whom I do business online.

I'm very careful about visibly posting either address online. If you're using your email address as your username on blogs and in newsgroups, or if you have it listed in regular email format on any websites you manage, you're toast. Spammers use programs to find publicly posted email addresses. That's how they find their "customers."

If you reply back to spam messages, and/or click on the "unsubscribe" link in any of them, the spammer will know your email address is live, and you'll get hit with more spam.

If you get a spam message in your inbox, mark it as spam, and forget about it. This'll help Yahoo! refine its spam filter.

The last thing you can do is actively discourage people from emailing you mass-forwarded messages (the ones that include a lot of people's email addresses in the header information). People who send these out are a little more likely to have their computers hit by spambot engineers, and if that happens to them while you're in their address book, you'll get sent the resulting spam messages. If asking people not to send you these things discourages them from emailing you in the first place, so be it. (I realize this isn't always practical, but I've encouraged emailers who regularly waste other people's time by sending out those mass mailings to keep in touch with me by phone instead.)

Brucerealtor, I wish you would figure out what you'd like to say ahead of time and post one message at a time, rather than adding several in a row with related messages. It's one thing if you realize afterwards you've forgotten an important detail or noticed something someone else posted that you want to address, but seeing several messages submitted in quick succession by the same person gets annoying after a while when it occurs frequently. Plus, every time you post using your Gmail address listed, you're making yourself a bigger target for spammers! I'd advise changing your username to something other than your email address, and then using it to post messages here judiciously. Thank you.

Posted by: Heron | May 29, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

waaahhh wahhhaaaa my pc is a piece and I don't know how to install norton whaaa whaaa ,

Posted by: ed n va | May 29, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

oh one more thing, 45 min? to install whatever man you must have been half retarded on a fully retarded computer

Posted by: ed n va | May 29, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Much of the comments over issues of speed really help me to appreciate my system. I have an 8 y/o Compaq with a celeron processor and 2m Ram. I live in the country where dial-up or $70.00 per month "satelite" high speed are the only choices I get (of course I have dial-up). If Norton 360 is slowing down my computer, I have no way of knowing since it already runs so slow. Hurray for old technology - it thumps the convenience and the "want it now" mindset enabling me to even further enjoy life. Happy surfing to you while I stroll in my paddle boat!

Posted by: SteveyP | May 29, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't have any anti-virus program on my computers. Instead I make regular backups and wipe each computer at least 1 a year. What good is a security system is it hinders your ability to use the system it's protecting?

Posted by: Bart | May 29, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I use AVG Free and Ad-Aware, which are both available from download.com. Why would anyone pay for anti-virus software in this day and age when the free tools work just as well? Commercial anti-virus software is the biggest scam on the Internet. What these companies charge for one year of updates should cover 10 years of support. Stop paying these exorbitant prices...


Posted by: Steve | May 29, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I have repeatedly purchased Norton only to uninstall it and fume. The product has been awful for years now. It is about time they did something. However I am not using their product. Their customer service also is awful and I doubt that has changed. Heck, Norton is like a virus that we knowingly install.

Posted by: rcc_200 | May 29, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I upgraded to 360 because it promised me faster boot times...WRONG. I now start up the boot, login and then go away for 10 minutes. I have 1 Gig of memory, and am now installing 2 gig, to try an get it to go faster. I have Kaspersky on my other machine and the boot up time is shorter by half. I'm going to end my suffering and go to Kaspersky, the Russians seem to do it better.

Posted by: Bill Dusterwald | May 29, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm... I run a Mac so I'm not accustomed to needing these types of programs :-)

Posted by: derek | May 29, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I am running Norton 360 and does not give me control over the processes it's running. As example, certain activity on you computer that affects CPU usage will often trigger Norton's email scanner bringing your system to a halt. This is the most annoying feature I've found with Norton 360. My only other complaint is the interface is lousy. I tried Windows OneCare, liked the interface, but the virus protection was sub-standard. I'm ready for a Mac, and the virus software is the major reason.

Posted by: sferris... | May 29, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I used to use Symantic security software. Every year each update slowed down my computer more and more. And the hassle with uninstalls didn't make me look at it very favorably, either.

I'm too wary of trying it again since there are other products that do the same thing without hogging system resources.

Posted by: EL | May 29, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I too was very frustrated with Symantec's products over the last few years. I solved my virus problems for good. I bought a Mac. I doubt I'll ever go back to Windows now.

Posted by: Dave Wilson | May 29, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I just recieved notice of the Norton Anitvirus update. Thought would 'speed up' my system. Foolish me it threw the WinXP OS in to a loop at startup and crashed my system. Had to do a system recovery. Saw the notices that they (both) are aware of this issue, why the heck is it on the net???

The Norton people really don't give a rats about their customers.

Posted by: Peter | May 29, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I switched to Vexira Antivirus by Central Command, it's fast and small with no conflicts! Has antivirus, antispyware built-in. I don't see any slow down at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm a former Norton System user. Every release made my notebook run so slowly that I uninstalled it a few months after purchase last year. I'd rather take my chances going "naked" than to be bogged down like that.

Posted by: Denise | May 29, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Don't go on the intermet with any Microsoft program. Learn to use your firewall.

Posted by: Dave Mckenzie | May 29, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

The techies have stayed away from NAV for a few years now. Unfortunately, lay people recognize the name and yellow box, or get a trial version preinstalled on a PC and take the easiest course by subscribing. I spent a large part of this past weekend trying to help a customer whose NAV 2008 couldn't update itself, with two calls to offshore tech support in vain.

I recommended Trend Micro until this year; the 2008 version is bloated and its antispam component consistently crashed my Outlook Express. ESET Smart Security looks good to me these days.

Posted by: Richard | May 29, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

After ten years of Norton/Symantec customer neglect and confused update installations I switched to Trend Micro --- it isn't perfect, but it IS a lot less imperfect...and it ranked well in several on-line tests of malware, Trojans, virus etc. Trend also has a flexible three seat license that is economical and easy to configure or reconfigure.

Posted by: Greybeard | May 29, 2008 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I'm really surprised at some of the posts. I've used Symantec products for quite some time and thought they weren't very good in 2005 and 2006. In 2007 they improved and now I have NIS 2008 on 2 machines and 360v2 running on the other 3 and all of them work great with no issues at all. My kids love the automatic backup features and haven't had any issues at all with the new ones slowing down systems. Take a look at the new 2008 consumer products, they rock compared to previous years.

Posted by: Jerry | May 29, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

haha symantec f you in the face, i want a refund from all the lost cpu cycles wasted your application was sucking up. let me guess your scanning algorithm went something like this

while (true) {
icon.spin();
}

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Another McAfee/Symantec/Norton user-- corporate and home versions.

I can confidently recommend Eset NOD32 for home usage. I've installed it on 6 computers from ranging from 450Mhz to 3.2Ghz, all Windows 2K and XP.

Norton/Symantec users will notice that their machines boot faster under NOD32; that NOD32 desktops update more quietly in the background while using fewer system resources; that they scan more quickly (again using fewer system resources); and that NOD32 maintains a smaller memory footprint.

Again-- the older your machine, the more you're aware of system resource constraints caused by hoggish desktop apps and services. I've found NOD32 to be a very good citizen on the desktop. License bundles are reasonably priced, and tech support has been efficient. Opened tech issues were tracked effectively to resolution.

Posted by: sbgardne | May 29, 2008 10:39 PM | Report abuse

I have a two year old Gateway computer with Windows XP. Had NAV and never had any problem until I installed NAV 2008. Now, my computer crashes any time I try to run a game or if I open several internet sites at the same time.

I contacted Symantec by email. First, they sent a solution that had nothing to do with my problem. Then they sent a suggestion that I disable the automatic live update, the worm protection, and removable media scan settings, when I use CDs. This didn't work. I gave up and stopped opening a lot of windows and stopped playing games until I find something else for virus protection.

Symantec sent three follow-up emails, asking if their fix had worked. I didn't reply to any, until the third when I sent a reply asking them to stop bothering me.

Then they sent a survey, in which I rated every aspect of their product as low as possible. Because it is. When I clicked the link to complete the survey, my computer crashed.

I still have NAV installed, with the automatic update turned off, and I am looking for suggestions to replace it.

Thanks, Brian, at least I know I'm not alone in this problem.

Posted by: JBV | May 30, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I stopped using NAV in 2002, and McAfee long before that. When Symantec started with that Undelete feature or whatever on the Recycle Bin (which I think was with version 2003), I began looking at other options. I think I then used Inoculate IT which was free and it seemed to work quite well, but before too too long it became *unfree* and I believe CA replaced it with their ETrust EZ Antivirus software, which didn't seem too bad. I then heard about Eset NOD32 and it sounded pretty good (it was touted as *not* being a resource hog) so I checked it out and I've never looked back. NOD32 rules. If you look at the process list in Task Manager, it only has 2 processes running (the kernel and the user interface) with total memory usage at about 30 MB. It's non-intrusive and it does its job very well. lol, look at the process list on a machine with a recent version of Norton! You almost need a separate dedicated computer just to run it! :-P

Posted by: Loco | May 30, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

TJ

Thank you for the observation about the spam crawlers.

In this instance, that finally makes sence. As one former Justice of the US Supreme Court once noted 'I can tell porn when I see it." LOL

Posted by: brucerealtor | May 30, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I'd had the usual problems with Symantec: bloat, difficult uninstalls, and so on. But what finally made me drop them forever was when I found out exactly WHY one of our computers started crashing.

After a couple of days of dinking with the system, I found a warning article on the Symantec site. A particular patch to NAV loaded through LiveUpdate would cause system crashes. "Uninstall NAV and reinstall - problem solved."

The thing that killed Symantec forever for me? I downloaded the fatal patch from LiveUpdate SIX MONTHS AFTER they published the notice that it would crash systems.

That was it. No more Symantec, ever again.

Posted by: jjjdavidson | May 30, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

@jjjdavidson: Where did you find that article?

Posted by: JBV | May 30, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Norton realizes this. However I suspect they now have a bad reputation for bloatware and being slow. They used to be a great company and now aren't. I have the fastest (or near to that) computer right now. It's an over clocked, multi core with tons of fast ram on a great mother board. It will run Norton's newest products, but I will NOT run that on my system. Why would I want to kill off some of my speed? I installed it on a slightly older system made in 2005 and it brought the system to it's knees. You know what? The new Norton was WORSE than having a virus.

Even a virus wouldn't have slowed it that much. If it were a virus that didn't steal info or ruin files then it would be better to have that than the system crawl due to Norton. The next step is for Norton to actually make it faster for real. I know they make claims they will, but making it 5% to 10% faster and then tooting their horn isn't good enough. It's way too slow and needs to be about twice as efficient as it is. Or at least 35% faster. Let's hope they live up to their promise.

Posted by: jz | May 31, 2008 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Peter Norton should sue to get his name back.

Posted by: Faye Kane, Homeless Brain | May 31, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

My favourite Symantec product is the removal tool. As a busy computer tech, I will only service clients who do NOT run Symantec products...no one has yet disagreed.

Posted by: Terry | May 31, 2008 11:26 PM | Report abuse

I use Norton Anti-VIrus and did not know until I read this that it was responsible for the slowness of operation of my computer.

ALso I use WinFax software which also gives trouble. Lately I have been unable to Scan To Fax which is quite annoying.

Posted by: Ivan | June 1, 2008 1:41 AM | Report abuse

For the brave at heart: I had a reasonably quick Windows XP Pro box at a client's place that was being badly bogged down by Norton AV + associated crud. I tried Symantec's removal tool which, of course, didn't work so I decided to have at the Registry. I searched the Registry for "Symantec" and deleted all 100+ (200+? 300+?....I lost count) keys, etc. with that string in them. Rebooted the machine and now it behaves itself. This is not a hack for the faint-hearted, it's time consuming, one really bad goof and you'll be reinstalling XP but it did clean the machine up very nicely.

Posted by: Hal Smith | June 2, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

I drank the Kool Aid and used Norton's products for about 6yrs before slow performance and poor execution protecting my Win XP machine caused me to go to AVG last Sept.
A stubborn trojan caused me to re-image back to the Dell factory settings last month and with AVG going to 8.0, I decided to change to the McAfee AV provided by Comcast. Anyone have experience with this vs AVG? Any thoughts on which is better at keeping the bad guys away?

Posted by: rlhob | June 4, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate the feedback generated in response to this article, and I understand much of the frustration expressed. There are few things more aggravating than buggy, slow and bloated software! No engineer, including me, would stand up in defense of a product causing users so much pain.

The point that I most want to convey is that we have listened! Since I became head of our consumer product team in 2006, I have reviewed thousands of customer comments, through message boards, blogs, support calls, articles and interviews. The feedback has been resounding and unambiguous - and as a result, we have reengineered our technologies and completely rebuilt our products.

We have come very far in the past few years - and I am proud of the software that we are putting out today. But I am even more proud of the potential for what we can do in the future! There is no perfect answer - there never will be - but I truly believe that our products once again represent the best technology in the world - and hope that those of you let down in the past will take another look!

Posted by: Rowan Trollope | June 5, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

@Rowan Trollope: You don't identify yourself as a Symantec employee, but if you are, here are some things you should know:

1. NAV email support people do not read messages carefully, reply in broken English, and supply solutions that do not work. Then, they pester with follow-up emails asking if the problem is fixed.

2. NAV uses so much system resources that it crashes any program that uses more than minimal animated graphics. Even crashes a Tetris-type game that was designed for Windows 95.

3. NAV disable options do not work. The little flickering light on my computer and the spikes in the system resource graph tell me it's still running.

4. No one has been able to tell me how to turn the thing off completely, short of uninstalling it.

5. Do you know how to completely disable NAV?

6. You may be proud of the software, but are you proud of the support offered?

Posted by: JBV | June 5, 2008 7:05 PM | Report abuse

@Rowan Trollope: Please ignore first sentence of previous post - I wasn't paying attention and the article clearly identified you.

Posted by: JBV | June 5, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Thank God my symantec subscription expired this month, I have NIS2007 and it really was hogging all my resources. I had to disable automatic updates to reduce the resources it used, but with every update I performed manually, it reset itself back to automatic and still LUCALLBACK launched every hour. Now I just have to decide which one to buy, from what I read here, ESET NOD32 and Bitdefender look like good choices, any thoughts on PANDA???

Posted by: charliemex | June 5, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Brian,

People have held Norton in low regard for over ten years. That Symantec react now - after ten years... LMAO

Posted by: Rick | June 7, 2008 5:10 AM | Report abuse

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