There are many Web hosting companies out there, and each one has its pros and cons. I mostly deal with web hosting for WordPress, and when it comes to shared hosting, there are many companies that offer top-notch hosting a WordPress blog. Bluehost is one such hosting company.
Bluehost has created a name for itself with outstanding server performance & in the past 16 years, they have contributed a lot to the WordPress eco-system. Today I will be sharing a detailed analysis & complete review of Bluehost hosting, and you can decide if this hosting is right for you or not.
Disclosure: When you purchase a service or a product through our links, we sometimes earn a commission.
Being a blogger, I know that some of the things we look for in a web hosting service are:
- Reliability to keep site always running
- Affordability so that it doesn’t screw up our budget
- Support when we face technical issues.
- Hardware offering to ensure we are using the best server quality
Table of Contents
- 1 Review of Bluehost Shared Hosting:
- 2 Is Bluehost a reliable hosting for WordPress?
- 3 Features of Bluehost hosting:
- 4 Bluehost plans and Pricing:
- 5 Which Bluehost shared hosting package is best?
- 6 How much does Bluehost cost per month?
- 7 How much resources Does Bluehost offer?
- 8 Is Bluehost easy to use?
- 9 In-built caching feature:
- 10 Is Bluehost Customer support good?
Bluehost offers various hosting packages including shared hosting, VPS hosting, WordPress managed web-hosting and dedicated hosting. Bluehost’s shared hosting package is perfect for your new blog & it comes in 4 different packages.
Before I get into detail regarding Bluehost, let me start with the basics. As a WordPress blogger, whenever I evaluate a hosting company I measure its value based on several parameters:
- Hosting optimized for WordPress
- Disk space
- Ease of use
- Custom Support
I will further explain all this below, allowing you to evaluate whether Bluehost is right for your blog.
Is Bluehost a reliable hosting for WordPress?
My first interaction with Bluehost occurred in 2009 (and I’m still using it in 2022!) when I migrated my client from BlogSpot to WordPress.
The best thing about Bluehost is that their servers are well optimized for a WordPress blog, and this is one of the reasons they are a top recommended hosting service on the official WordPress hosting resource page (see the above screenshot).
For a reliable WordPress host, apart from running the latest version of PHP and MYSQL, servers should be configured to handle the extra load that typically occurs with WordPress. I can verify that Bluehost handles it all very well.
In fact, I have seen Bluehost hosting handling traffic up to 20000/day without any downtime at all. (Using Bluehost In-built caching and Cloudflare to speed up my blog, and recommend the same to you.) Moreover, you don’t have to worry about setting up your caching system.
Features of Bluehost hosting:
Free SSL Certificate:
Google is very serious about the security of netizens & this is why they have made an SSL certificate as one of the search engine ranking factor. Bluehost offers free SSL certificate to every new & existing user. This is very important for any blogger who is starting a new site on Bluehost or migrating an existing website to Bluehost.
For the new site, Bluehost will automatically install & configure SSL certificate. Here is a tutorial for existing site to use SSL offered by Bluehost.
What I really like about them is; a user doesn’t have to be technical to use the SSL (HTTPS version of the site). Everything is straightforward & makes it easier for them to offer a secure version of the site. It’s definitely newbie friendly.
This video teaches you how to use the free SSL feature of Bluehost:
Bluehost plans and Pricing:
Bluehost shared hosting comes in three different packages, and you can choose the one that is right for you according to your unique needs.
- If you want to create only one website, you should buy the Basic package.
- If you plan to host multiple sites, go with the “PLUS” package.
- If your needs who.is guard & site backup pro, you should go for the choice plus package. However, I don’t recommend this package as you can configure the WordPress backup using plugins.
- If you need dedicated IP and more dedicated resource, then opt for “PRO” plan.
My recommendation for most users would be the “plus” package as it offers everything you need and is a complete value for money. (unless you are a business user in need of the dedicated IP).
Grab Bluehost HostingFor a Special Price
With the above special link, you can get Bluehost for as low as $2.95 if you pick up the basic package for 3 years term. You will also be getting one free domain, which will help you to save even more money.
There are also many free goodies like AdWords credits, which will help you to get the best value for your money. You can pay via PayPal or credit card.
For people working from home, Who.is guard is essential for safeguarding your privacy. You don’t want strangers to know your home address and phone number. In this case, grab the prime package for two years or 3.
How much does Bluehost cost per month?
Depending upon the plan you pick, it could cost you from $2.95/month to $4.95/month. Since Bluehost introductory price is applicable only on the first term, you should get hosting for 2-3 years term to make most out of this special pricing.
Bluehost Monthly payment option:
Bluehost only offers the following terms for hosting purchase:
- 12 months
- 24 months
- 36 months
- 60 months
Unfortunately, Bluehost does not offer a monthly payment option. However, here is a few monthly billing hosting.
There is one rule of any reliable hosting “Your website should never go down due to hosting issues”.
I have heard mix reviews about Bluehost Uptime, fortunately, my experience on a Bluehost shared hosting package has been pleasant.
Here is my Bluehost website uptime:
With zero downtime in last 178 days is worth a praise. The credit goes to their recent server architect improvement. Usually, I don’t have high expectations from EIG owned companies, but Bluehost has turned out to be the black swan of EIG owned hosting company.
However, you should definitely keep a check on how you are designing your website. Especially a lot of WordPress users end up using too many plugins which eventually lead to the server crash.
How much resources Does Bluehost offer?
Bluehost offers unlimited hosting resources. This means that you can host unlimited files, (Disk space) and use unlimited bandwidth. Remember, however, that they have certain fair usage policies (Bluehost limit). But the fair usage policy limit is so high that you will probably find it to be the same as “unlimited”. For example, they allow the MySQL size of 3Gb, and here at ShoutMeLoud, we have only 400 MB of the database after 9 and half years of usage!
Unless you are running an auto-script, or auto-blogging, you are very unlikely to reach that limit. They have a CPU limit, but again that’s high compared to other hosting services, and in most cases, Bluehost will transfer you to a more powerful server if necessary.
Is Bluehost easy to use?
Bluehost uses cPanel, which is so far one of the easiest hosting panels that I have come across. In 2022 they have revamped their dashboard to make it WordPress centric. You can still access cPanel from Bluehost Dashboard, but probably you may never have to use it with a newly advanced Bluehost dashboard.
Just for info, most of the shared hosting companies use the standard cPanel, and you will not find it hard to use. In fact, cPanel makes managing your hosting account easier. Also, Bluehost is one of very few shared Web hosting companies which will allow you to access SSH.
Here is how Bluehost WordPress management dashboard looks like:
As I heard, BlueHost are going to constantly upgrade their infrastructure for WordPress. It also makes sense as WordPress is now powering over 27% of the websites in the world. Since Bluehost is now WordPress centric, we can expect superior services in coming months.
In-built caching feature:
Another cutting-edge feature of Bluehost is the inbuilt caching feature. With Bluehost hosting, you don’t need to use any 3rd party caching plugin like WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache. Also, depending on the kind of website that you have, you can configure the level of caching.
If you need help with Bluehost caching, just drop me a message on Twitter @denharsh
Is Bluehost Customer support good?
Compared to other hosting services, I would rate Bluehost’s customer support as 4/5. You can get in touch with them via live chat, email or telephone. In most cases, resolution time is 20-45 minutes, which is an average support time for any shared hosting.
Since Bluehost servers are optimized for WordPress hosting, you will find that you have very few issues with them. Moreover, they have been in the hosting business for almost 17 years, which is remarkable longevity for any web-hosting company.
In a nutshell, for a cost of $2.95- $5.95/month, Bluehost is a reliable hosting company that is perfect for hosting a small or mid-sized WordPress blog.
Bluehost also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you are not happy with their hosting, you can cancel your account within the first 30 days and get a full refund!
Norton 360 Antivirus Review (2022): Is It Actually Worth It?
Norton Review: Quick Expert Summary
Table of Contents
- 1 Norton Review: Quick Expert Summary
- 2 Norton 360 Full Review
- 3 Norton Security Features
- 4 Privacy Monitor
- 5 Device Optimization
- 6 Dark Web Monitoring (Select Countries Only)
- 7 Cloud Backup
- 8 Norton 360 Plans and Pricing
- 9 Norton AntiVirus Plus — Basic Norton Plan
- 10 Norton 360 Standard — Basic Norton 360 Plan
- 11 Norton 360 Deluxe — Best-Value Norton Plan
- 12 Norton 360 for Gamers — Excellent Gaming Antivirus
- 13 Norton 360 Advanced (only available outside US) — Most Advanced International Plan
- 14 Norton 360 with LifeLock Select (US Only) — Basic Norton With LifeLock Plan
- 15 Norton 360 with LifeLock Advantage (US Only) — Advanced Norton With LifeLock Plan
- 16 Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus (US Only) — Most Expensive Norton With LifeLock Plan
- 17 Norton 360 Ease of Use and Setup
- 18 Norton 360 Mobile App
- 19 Norton 360 Customer Support
- 20 Norton 360 — Frequently Asked Questions
Norton 360 is my favorite antivirus in 2022 — it’s got a powerful anti-malware engine, a wide range of internet security tools, an intuitive online dashboard, and good customer support, all for a better price than most competitors.
Its anti-malware engine uses machine learning, advanced heuristics, and a consistently updated malware directory to identify malware — from simple viruses and trojans to advanced malware like spyware, ransomware, and cryptojackers. During my testing, Norton’s full scan and real-time protection were both able to detect every single malware file I tried to download, with minimal system slowdown and no false positives.
Norton also has:
- Web protection.
- Anti-phishing protection.
- VPN (virtual private network).
- Password manager.
- Parental controls.
- Device optimization.
- Cloud backup.
- Webcam protection (Windows only).
- Identity theft protection (US only).
- And a lot more…
Norton is the best antivirus around, but it isn’t perfect. Its desktop app is a little clunky, and its mobile protections are split across several separate apps, which is a bit annoying. And while Norton’s VPN offers excellent security features like a no-logs policy, 256-bit AES encryption, and a good network of servers worldwide, it logs user IP addresses and doesn’t work with all streaming services. That said, Norton’s VPN is still among the best antivirus-bundled VPNs on the market.
While I do have some complaints, I still think Norton 360 provides excellent value. I’m impressed by how many well-built features each package includes. Most competitors offer some extra features along with their basic anti-malware scanner, but almost all of Norton 360’s security tools would be worth buying on their own. Plus, Norton comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee — this gives you plenty of time to test it and see if it’s the right antivirus for you.
Norton 360 Full Review
Norton 360 has a lot more security features than most competing antiviruses. Even on the cheapest plan, in addition to a top-notch anti-malware engine, you also get a firewall, anti-phishing protection, a password manager, 2 GB of cloud storage, and 100% Virus Protection, which means Norton will refund your money if it can’t remove a virus.
Upgrading to Norton’s best-value plan, Norton 360 Deluxe, additionally brings you webcam protection, a VPN with no data limitations, dark web monitoring, parental controls (including the School Time feature that lets you limit your child’s internet usage during school hours), a privacy monitor, and up to 50 GB cloud storage. US users can also get access to Norton’s comprehensive identity theft protections as part of the Norton LifeLock plans.
All of Norton’s packages are priced similarly to competing products like Bitdefender, McAfee, and TotalAV — but Norton also offers a generous 60-day money-back guarantee with all of its plans.
Norton Security Features
Norton’s malware scanner uses a massive malware directory as well as heuristic analysis and machine learning to detect all types of threats and provide an excellent level of virus protection. It offers a variety of virus scanning options plus real-time protection to keep malware from Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.
Norton caught 100% of the malware samples on my test machine with a full system scan — there are only a handful of competitors that can boast a similar malware detection rate (like Bitdefender). For my testing, I used a database of nearly 1,000 malware files, including viruses, exploits, worms, trojans, backdoors, keyloggers, rootkits, zero-day attacks, ransomware, spyware, cryptojackers, and PUPs (potentially unwanted programs).
Norton’s real-time protection is equally impressive. After testing Norton’s full scan, I turned on the real-time protection and tried to download the same 997-file malware database in the form of plain files, zipped files, and even encrypted files. Norton blocked all of the plain files before my computer could even begin downloading them, and it blocked all of my zipped and encrypted malware files the moment I attempted to unzip and decrypt them.
Norton’s full disk scan took about 40 minutes to complete on my PC, which is faster than most competitors (the average full scan time is 1 hour, though many brands take much longer). Norton also offers a variety of other scan options (which you can schedule to run at any time), such as:
- Quick scan — Scans areas where malware is most commonly found, such as temporary files, running processes, and system files.
- Custom scan — Scans specified folders and disk locations.
- Norton insight — Flags suspicious files that you should perform a custom scan on.
One thing I really like about Norton is that it’s designed to automatically detect when your apps are in full screen mode — Norton won’t give you any notifications or initiate any scans (including scheduled scans) while you’re playing games, watching movies, or using any other full screen app. Gamers will appreciate that Norton automatically suspends notifications and scans in full screen mode (Norton ranks among the best antiviruses for gaming).
Overall, Norton’s malware scanner is excellent — the full system scan detected all of my test malware without slowing down my PC, and the real-time protection blocked all of the malware samples I tried downloading. I also like that Norton offers several scanning options, including a quick and custom scan, and I found it very easy to schedule scans.
Norton includes a Smart Firewall that offers significant improvements over built-in firewalls from Windows and macOS. It provides ARP and DNS spoofing protection, SSL man-in-the-middle attack detection, port access detection, and a ton of customization options for advanced users. In my exploit testing, Norton detected every single network intrusion, including a few instances that my Windows firewall failed to block.
You can set access rules for every single program on your PC, as well as traffic rules for all of Windows’s built-in programs, like Network Discovery, File and Printer Sharing, and Remote Desktop Connection. However, most users will just want to let the firewall run on its defaults. Additionally, Norton provides a list of 136 uncommon protocols — these protocols can be used by malware to communicate between devices on a network. Norton’s firewall automatically monitors all of these protocols for suspicious activity and notifies users if they should disable any of these protocols due to a network-based malware threat.
Overall, I really like Norton’s Smart Firewall — it detected all of the network intrusions during my tests, and it offers an impressive range of customization options for advanced users.
Safe Web & Safe Search
Norton’s Safe Web browser extension provides protection against phishing sites, as well as community reviews for suspicious web pages, and an “Isolation Mode” for online banking. It’s available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge, and it detected almost all of the phishing sites in my testing, including sites that Chrome and top competitors like McAfee failed to detect.
One of the things I love the most about Safe Web is “Isolation Mode”, which protects users’ financial information. When you navigate to a financial site, Safe Web will give you the option to put your browser into Isolation Mode, blocking all browser-based intrusions and making your browser window “read-only”, so no harmful web scripts or malware can make changes or steal information from your screen. Hackers can sometimes steal user information by remotely recording your screen’s financial information, so Safe Web’s Isolation Mode makes it impossible for hackers to steal any of the information that’s visible on your screen.
Norton’s Safe Search is a search engine that lets users know whether a website is safe or not. It offers color-coded assessments of search results — green is safe, orange is potentially unsafe, and red is dangerous. Unfortunately, Safe Search isn’t very good. During my tests, it falsely labeled numerous pirate websites as safe, and it offered grey “untested” notifications for most websites that are actually safe.
Overall, Safe Web provides some of the best anti-phishing protection around, plus a secure sandboxed browser for financial transactions. On the other hand, I wasn’t too impressed with Norton’s Safe Search — it isn’t very accurate, labeling unsafe sites as safe and vice versa.
Secure VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A lot of antiviruses include bundled VPNs, but I think Norton’s VPN is one of the very best in 2022. One of the best things about it is that it has unlimited browsing data (even on the cheapest plan). Many other antivirus VPNs either set a cap on your data, such as Bitdefender, or only include unlimited data on their most expensive plans, like Malwarebytes and Panda Dome. In addition, Norton Secure VPN provides industry-standard VPN security features like 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and a no-logs policy, plus extras like Wi-Fi security, split-tunneling, an ad blocker, and Tor compatibility.
It also has 2,000+ servers in 30+ countries, which is about an average server network size for a VPN included with an antivirus package. However, it’s nowhere near as big as a standalone VPN like ExpressVPN and CyberGhost VPN — both have servers in a whopping 90+ countries. That being said, Norton Secure VPN has servers based in 6 different continents, so most users can connect to a server close to them to get the fastest speeds.
However, Norton Secure VPN’s connection speeds aren’t the best. Since VPNs route your internet connection through another server (sometimes around the world) and encrypts all of your data, this process is always going to cause some slowdown, no matter which VPN you use. But because all VPNs handle these tasks differently, all VPNs have different speeds. In my tests, Norton’s VPN wasn’t nearly as fast as some antivirus competitors like TotalAV or Bitdefender, but it wasn’t the slowest either.
This is my internet connection from my local network, without a VPN:
Then I ran the speed test with Norton’s VPN connected to a local server in the US:
As you can see, my download speed was barely affected — with Norton’s VPN on, I was still able to stream HD video and browse the web without any noticeable slowdown.
Here are my speeds connected to a server in the Netherlands from my home in the US:
While my download speeds remained the same as they were in the US, my ping increased, which caused websites to load in about 4 seconds. However, videos started right away.
During testing, I was able to access Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime. However, Norton’s VPN doesn’t work with Disney+ and Hulu. If you’re looking for a VPN to access these streaming sites specifically, see the top VPNs for streaming here.
While Norton supports torrenting, it only allows P2P traffic on dedicated servers — and you can’t manually connect to a server of your choice. Instead, the VPN automatically connects you to a P2P server, which is always located in the Netherlands. Users in Europe won’t mind, but users in other parts of the world may not have the fastest download speeds. This is not the best, since there are tons of capable torrenting VPNs out there.
Norton bundles its VPN with the Standard, Deluxe, and LifeLock plans. The Standard plan allows you to connect 1 device, the Deluxe plan allows up to 5 connections, and the LifeLock plans allow unlimited connections. Norton’s VPN is also available as a standalone purchase, and you can choose to cover 1, 5, or 10 devices — I think the 5-device subscription offers the best value.
Overall, while it may not be as good as standalone VPNs, Norton ranks as one of the best antiviruses with a VPN because it provides encrypted web access across a variety of servers around the globe along with the inclusion of a strict no-logs policy, an easy-to-use interface, a kill switch, and unlimited browsing data.
Norton’s built-in password manager is surprisingly good — a lot of antiviruses include password managers that only provide basic password storage for a single device, without any of the additional features that make Norton’s password manager special. It may not be as comprehensive as standalone apps like 1Password or Dashlane, but it’s simple, secure, and includes a few useful extra features.
Here’s what’s included in Norton’s password manager:
- Secure 256-bit AES encryption.
- Unlimited password storage.
- Synchronization across PCs, Macs, Androids, and iOS devices.
- Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari.
- Auto-save and auto-fill.
- Password generator.
- Password vault auditing.
All of Norton Password Manager’s features work great. After setting up my master password, Norton gave me the option to import my password vaults from Chrome, Firefox, Dashlane, LastPass, or 1Password. After importing my passwords from LastPass, I navigated to my PayPal account — Norton automatically offered me a small icon in the login fields and filled my email address and password with a single click.
Norton surpasses other antivirus companies by also including vault auditing tools in its password manager. Norton’s vault auditing tool shows which passwords are insecure, too simple, repeated, or too old — and it’s automatically updated, so you can examine your login security each time you look at your password vault.
The vault auditing tool has an “Autochange” feature which can automatically generate new passwords for some websites. Norton’s Autochange is only compatible with a handful of popular sites, but it’s still a useful feature. Plus, Norton Password Manager is the only brand on the market to include this.
Norton’s password manager includes a mobile login option, which allows users to log into their vault using their mobile device instead of their master password. I also like that Norton allows users to log into their mobile apps on iOS and Android devices using biometric login (like a fingerprint or face scan). However, third-party password managers like 1Password are also compatible with TOTP 2FA apps like Authy and USB tokens like YubiKey — I’d like to see Norton add TOTP and USB 2FA compatibility to its password manager.
Norton’s password manager isn’t perfect, though. The first problem I ran into is the fact that Norton doesn’t include account recovery or emergency access — if you forget your master password, there’s simply no way to log into your password vault. The only option Norton gives you is to destroy your vault and make a new one. Norton does let users create a password hint for their master password, but it’s hard to make a good hint for a string of random numbers, letters, and symbols — which is what any good master password should include. Some users may appreciate this lack of account recovery options — it makes it impossible for con artists to gain access to your vault — but I think most users would rather have email account recovery or emergency contact options like LastPass provides.
Norton’s password manager isn’t as robust as some standalone competitors, but it’s ranked as the #1 antivirus with a password manager in 2022. It provides multi-device sync, a secure password generator, auto-saving for new passwords, auto-filling for saved passwords, mobile login, and vault health auditing, it’s easy to use, and it’s 100% free!
Parental Controls (Safe Family)
Norton’s parental controls are some of the very best on the market — Norton ranked as the #1 best antivirus with parental controls in 2022, and it’s currently #3 on our list of the best standalone parental control apps. The parental controls are currently available for Windows, iOS, and Android.
One of my favorite things about Norton’s parent controls is that you can monitor an unlimited number of devices. Other top parental control apps like Qustodio only let you monitor up to 15 devices — so Norton is an excellent choice for large families or families with lots of devices.
With Norton’s parental controls, parents can:
- Accurately filter inappropriate web and app content.
- Block websites on desktop devices.
- Monitor and block apps on Android devices.
- Monitor YouTube activity and even watch a portion of each video.
- Supervise searches on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines.
- Set time limits and schedule usage for all devices.
- Track location for mobile devices.
- Receive activity reports.
- Set emergency contacts.
When it comes to limiting which websites you will allow your kid to access, Norton’s Web Supervision is excellent. It accurately blocked dozens of different sites during my tests — with the ability to block 45+ different categories, including “Cult”, “Hate Speech”, and even “Abortion”. It automatically sets filters based on your child’s age, but it also gives users the choice to toggle all of the parental controls separately. Plus, I love that my daughter can’t use a VPN to bypass any of my blocks.
Norton Safe Family also offers a “School Time” mode, which only allows access to websites and apps that a parent deems to be important for their children’s education — this is an extremely helpful feature for any kids that may be involved in virtual school.
Safe Family also recorded every search, website, and YouTube video that I looked up on my PC, iPhone, and even on my daughter’s Chromebook!
Unfortunately, Norton’s parental control app has a few issues. It doesn’t work on Mac computers, and it’s way too easy for a tech-savvy kid to bypass the web filter and YouTube and search monitoring on Windows.
Overall, I was impressed by Norton Safe Family’s content filtering, app blocking, usage limits, location tracking, and YouTube monitoring features — it’s definitely one of the most intuitive and comprehensive parental control apps on the market. You can get the parental controls bundled with Norton’s Deluxe and Advanced plans, or as a competitively-priced standalone yearly subscription, which costs INR2,460 / year.
Norton’s privacy monitor is a simple but unique feature for keeping your personally identifying information (PII) out of the hands of data brokers. Data brokers harvest metadata from thousands of different sites to build an identity profile, which can include your last several addresses, the names of your family members, your favorite brands, your birthday, and your gender — and these data brokers then sell that aggregated information to the highest bidder. Fortunately, privacy laws in most of the world forbid data brokers from collecting and selling your information if you specifically ask them to stop. So, Norton searches around 25 different data brokers for your information and compiles all of the brokers with your information in a single location.
Norton’s Privacy Monitor can be accessed in the my.norton online dashboard. After you enter your name and date of birth, Privacy Monitor gives you a list of data brokers that have your PII up for sale. The Privacy Monitor then gives you the option to manually request the removal of your information from each individual site, or you can buy a separate subscription to Norton’s Privacy Monitor Assistant service and have a Norton employee tackle the data brokers for you. Norton found 9 sites that exposed my personal information. It was very easy to manually request the removal, and it took me less than 2 minutes to complete.
Norton’s Privacy Monitor is a useful tool that makes it easy to remove personal information from over 25 data broker directories with a few clicks.
Norton’s default system tune-up tools are fast, efficient, and fairly comprehensive, but purchasing the Utilities Ultimate upgrade gets you some of the best system optimization tools on the market. This is what Norton offers for its base device optimization package:
- Optimize disk — Defragments your hard drive.
- File cleanup — Trashes temporary files from Windows and web browsers.
- Startup manager — Allows you to choose which programs run on startup.
- Graphs — Shows a timeline of important activity on your device.
I like Norton’s Graphs feature a lot, which allowed me to see all of the program installs, downloads, virus scans, performance notifications, malware alerts, and system tuneups performed by Norton. Since a lot of Norton’s activity happens in the background, the Graphs feature was a helpful way for me to track the changes and assistance that Norton was providing for me. On the other hand, I don’t like that the file cleanup doesn’t remove browser cookies, duplicate files, or unused program files like Avira and TotalAV do.
Users that upgrade to Utilities Ultimate get a much better system tune-up package.
Utilities Ultimate cleans up cached browser files, Windows junk files, and registry files in real time (so you never have to run a system tune-up scan). It also includes tons of customization options so you can keep specific files like Windows error reporting files, recent downloads, items copied to clipboard, and much more. I really like this automatic system cleanup functionality, which prevents my PC from getting bogged down with junk files. Utilities Ultimate also provides a Real-Time Boost feature which optimizes your CPU, RAM, and power usage in real time.
Real-Time Boost is very similar to the Norton GO game booster feature offered in the Norton 360 for Gamers plan. It works by allocating specific system processes to specific cores on multi-core CPUs, as well as releasing RAM that’s being taken up by idle background programs — all of this means that you get a lot more out of your system. In my testing, my PC was able to run CPU-intensive programs like Ableton Live and Photoshop with noticeably less slowdown while Real-Time Boost was running.
Norton’s built-in system tune-up tools are pretty good, but for users that want their systems running at peak performance, buying the Utilities Ultimate upgrade is an excellent low-cost option. My only issue with Norton’s Utilities Ultimate feature is that it’s only available as a paid add-on with most Norton plans — Avira offers its very similar System Speedup Pro feature as a built-in feature for its premium plan.
Dark Web Monitoring (Select Countries Only)
Norton’s dark web monitoring feature scans dark web forums, credit reports, and breach databases to notify users when their information has been leaked. As of right now, dark web monitoring is only available to users in 20+ countries, including in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and more than 10 countries in Europe like the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. US users can also take advantage of LifeLock’s powerful identity protections — but I’ll get to that later.
Norton’s dark web monitoring scans for a really impressive array of personally identifying information (PII), such as:
- Bank account numbers.
- Credit cards.
- Driver’s license information.
- Insurance numbers.
- And lots more…
Norton improves on most data breach monitors by using live human agents who are paid to infiltrate dark web forums — Norton’s dark web assistants can find data that most companies can’t, and they can give you advice and feedback in the event that your information is found on the dark web. This “real person” approach is much more effective than database-based breach monitors from competitors like Kaspersky.
Furthermore, dark web monitoring is always active once you enter your information — the moment any of your data is discovered floating around the internet, Norton’s dark web monitoring team will give you a notification and instructions on how you can make the necessary changes to protect your identity and accounts.
Overall, Norton’s dark web monitoring is really good, and it gets even better for US users that can access Norton’s LifeLock identity protection services.
Identity Theft Protections (US Only)
Norton’s LifeLock identity protections include a huge amount of features, such as:
- Credit report monitoring.
- Live identity recovery assistance.
- Legal assistance.
- Credit freezing.
- Court record, 401k, social security, and ID monitoring.
I think LifeLock’s identity theft protection services are some of the best out there. The live credit report monitoring gives you notifications about any loans, purchases, investments, rental applications, or credit card applications that include any of your personal identifying information. LifeLock compiles this data from the top three credit reporting services in the US — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. So if anybody is trying to use your information, LifeLock will notice and notify you.
I also like that LifeLock offers up to $1M in insurance payouts and legal assistance in the event of serious identity theft. I don’t have anywhere close to a million dollars, so I was happy to sign up for Norton’s LifeLock Select plan, which only covers a $25,000 payout for identity theft related damages, up to $1M in legal aid for identity theft victims, and access to Equifax’s credit monitoring network and LifeLock’s in-person identity recovery services.
The only thing I don’t like about LifeLock’s protections is that they’re only available to US users. McAfee provides identity theft protection for users in the US, Canada, and Europe for less than LifeLock — but McAfee’s protections aren’t nearly as comprehensive as LifeLock’s.
But overall, Norton’s LifeLock plans are the very best choice on the market if you’re looking to protect your finances, identity, investments, and personally identifying information.
Norton’s Cloud Backup is pretty good — but it’s limited to PC users. Norton’s backup tool is basically identical to well-known cloud storage tools like Dropbox, OneDrive, and iCloud. It offers the following options:
- Schedule backups.
- Back up specific files.
- Remove or save backed up files on your local disk.
- Back up to the cloud or a local disk.
Cloud Backup works pretty well — it automatically selected 50 GB of my important files, most of which were media files like .mov, .jpeg, .doc, and .wav. Advanced users can easily go into the “What” section of the backup settings and manually select which folders to back up.
Norton’s backup isn’t going to win any awards for innovation, but it’s a perfectly functional solution for protecting user data in the cloud (and it’s a good choice if you’re not already using a cloud storage app to protect your data). Depending on which Norton plan you subscribe to, you can get 10-500 GB of storage using Norton’s Cloud Backup feature.
Norton 360 has so many features that I just don’t have the space to talk about them all. Here are some other notable features:
- PC SafeCam (Windows only) — Webcam protection that makes sure your PC’s webcam isn’t being remotely controlled by a third-party.
- Norton for gamers (Windows only) — A special set of antivirus features for PC gamers (more info here).
- Virus Protection Promise — If you get a virus and Norton can’t remove it, you’ll get a full refund.
Norton 360 Plans and Pricing
Norton provides 5 different plans for users around the globe and adds 3 different LifeLock plans for users in the US. Norton’s basic AntiVirus Plus plan is cheaper than Norton’s 360 plans, but it doesn’t include some of the additional features that make Norton 360 a comprehensive security suite. Norton’s 360 with LifeLock plans include all features of Norton 360, plus advanced identity theft tools, like credit monitoring, social security and driver license monitoring, and identity restoration assistance. There’s a generous 60-day money-back guarantee on all of Norton’s plans.
Here’s a quick overview of all of Norton’s plans:
Norton AntiVirus Plus — Basic Norton Plan
Norton’s AntiVirus Plus plan offers the same high level of real-time and on-demand malware protection included with the Norton 360 suite and a handful of extra features, including:
- Smart firewall.
- Norton password manager.
- 2 GB cloud storage.
This scaled back package doesn’t include many of the extra features that come with Norton’s 360 plans, like the VPN, dark web monitoring, parental controls, and webcam protection.
AntiVirus Plus can only be installed on one PC or Mac, unlike the Norton 360 plans that offer compatibility for up to 10 devices, including PCs, Macs, iPhones, and Android smartphones. However, Norton AntiVirus Plus is a great value at just INR820 / year.
While this plan is limited in terms of features, Norton AntiVirus Plus will still do a great job of protecting 1 device from all kinds of malware.
Norton 360 Standard — Basic Norton 360 Plan
Norton’s basic 360 plan provides an impressive amount of features for a single device, and it’s only INR1,640 / year. Here’s what you get with Norton 360 Standard:
- Real-time malware scanning.
- Smart firewall.
- Password manager.
- 10 GB cloud storage.
- Webcam protection (Windows only).
- Dark web monitoring (US only).
A lot of antiviruses put limits on the VPNs, password managers, and other tools in their lower-tier programs, but Norton 360 Standard provides full access to almost all of Norton’s features.
The biggest problem with Norton’s basic plan is that it doesn’t offer multi-device coverage. However, Norton 360 Standard is an excellent choice for users that need protection for a single device.
Norton 360 Deluxe — Best-Value Norton Plan
At just INR2,460 / year, Norton 360 Deluxe is Norton’s best-value plan, and the one I recommend for most users looking for good cybersecurity protections on a budget. It includes all of the same features as Norton 360 Standard, plus:
- Coverage for up to 5 devices.
- Parental controls.
- Dark web monitoring (US, UK, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand).
- Privacy monitor.
- 50 GB cloud storage.
My only complaint with Norton’s subscription model is its lack of flexibility. Many competitors, like Bitdefender, will allow users to add one or two more devices to their plans for a nominal fee — with Norton, the 360 Deluxe plan maxes out at 5 devices, and the only way to get coverage for, let’s say, a sixth or seventh device per year is to upgrade to Norton’s next-tier subscription.
That being said, I think that most users, including parents and families with 5 or fewer devices, will be really happy with the huge variety of security features included with Norton 360 Deluxe.
Norton 360 for Gamers — Excellent Gaming Antivirus
Norton 360 for Gamers offers all of the features included in Norton 360 Deluxe, plus a couple of extras for gamers, including a game booster (Norton GO). It covers up to 3 devices for INR2,050 / year — which is a great deal, especially considering how helpful Norton GO is for gamers.
Norton GO automatically detects when your device is running games and then it reallocates running processes to optimize processing power for games. In my testing, Norton GO performed really well — while I was playing Destiny 2, Norton allowed me to increase my graphics settings without sacrificing framerate! I’m a huge fan of Norton’s game booster, which is in my opinion one of the best on the market (Norton ranked #1 on our list of the top antiviruses for gamers in 2022).
Overall, Norton GO is a really good option for gamers, and it covers up to 3 Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.
Norton 360 Advanced (only available outside US) — Most Advanced International Plan
Norton’s most advanced international plan provides the exact same features as Norton 360 Deluxe, but with coverage for up to 10 devices and more storage space (up to 200 GB) — and at INR2,460 / year, it’s a pretty good deal. If you want to add more than 5 devices to your plan, buying Norton 360 Advanced is a solid investment.
For international users with more than 5 devices to cover, Norton 360 Advanced is the best antivirus software on the market.
Norton 360 with LifeLock Select (US Only) — Basic Norton With LifeLock Plan
Norton’s lowest-tier LifeLock plan includes all of the features of Norton 360 Deluxe, plus a pretty good amount of LifeLock’s protections, including:
- Credit monitoring with Equifax.
- $25,000 identity theft insurance.
- $1M in legal assistance related to identity theft.
- Live identity restoration assistance.
- Social security and driver’s license monitoring.
- 100 GB cloud storage.
Identity theft is serious, but Norton’s LifeLock protections aren’t cheap — they start at INR5,730 / year. That said, if you don’t mind investing a little bit of cash every year into your peace of mind, then Norton’s LifeLock plans are a good investment.
LifeLock’s identity theft protections are some of the best out there — it’s really a big relief knowing that there’s an active insurance policy keeping me protected in the event of a data breach or identity theft incident. And I get a lot of reassurance knowing that I’ll have 24/7 assistance in case something happens.
Norton 360 with LifeLock Advantage (US Only) — Advanced Norton With LifeLock Plan
At INR15,690 / year, Norton’s middle-tier LifeLock plan is significantly more expensive than the LifeLock Select plan, but it could be worth the price for some users. Norton 360 with LifeLock Advantage offers coverage on up to 10 devices, 250 GB of cloud storage, and improved identity protections from LifeLock, including:
- $100,000 identity theft insurance.
- Credit file lock.
- Phone number monitoring.
- Fake identity monitoring.
- Enhanced social security monitoring.
As a reviewer, it’s not really possible to test Norton’s claims about LifeLock, which can be pretty frustrating — for example, I’m not entirely sure if the LifeLock Advantage plan would really detect social security fraud more effectively than LifeLock Select.
However, the concrete benefits of LifeLock Advantage are apparent in the numbers — users get coverage on twice the amount of devices, 4x more identity theft insurance payout, and 150 GB more of cloud storage than on the LifeLock Select plan.
If you’re using more than 5 devices and expanded identity theft protections are important to you, then Norton 360 with LifeLock Advantage is a great option. Plus, it’s got a monthly subscription plan for users on a budget.
Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus (US Only) — Most Expensive Norton With LifeLock Plan
I’m not going to lie — I think Norton’s LifeLock Ultimate Plus plan is overpriced. However, Norton’s top-tier plan is a really impressive piece of security software designed to connect users with a massive infrastructure of digital and physical security tools — if you’re looking to protect the most devices with the best protection in the world, this is the package for you.
For INR24,520 / year, these are the improvements that Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus offers over Norton’s other plans:
- Coverage for an unlimited number of devices.
- 500 GB of cloud storage.
- $1M identity theft reimbursement.
- Credit monitoring from all 3 credit bureaus.
- 401k and stock monitoring.
- Home title monitoring.
- Court document records monitoring.
- Social media monitoring.
If you have a really large family, a significant amount of assets that need protecting, and you absolutely want the utmost in cybersecurity protection, both online and offline, then Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus is the best internet security package on the market today.
Norton 360 Ease of Use and Setup
Norton 360 is a big program. Even its lowest-tier package includes a wide variety of features that other top internet security suites don’t have. Just like with any large software, there is a learning curve when it comes to using Norton — the company made some pretty good design choices to make the program easy to figure out, but there are also a few pretty poor choices that make some features more difficult than they need to be.
Norton is simple to download and install. Just choose your operating system from the my.norton website, download and run the installer file, and Norton 360 will automatically be running on your PC or macOS (mobile protections are a little different, but I’ll get into those in the next section).
Once you have Norton installed, it gives you 2 options for the user interface: My Norton, and Classic. My Norton is the default interface — it’s pretty good, although I’m not sure why half of the window is dominated by an anonymous mountain climber.
Clicking on Device Security in the “My Norton” window takes you to Norton’s Classic view, giving users the option to run virus scans, check for web protections, back up data, and run Norton’s performance optimization tools.
Clicking the “My Norton” symbol will bring you back to the home screen, where you can access Norton’s VPN, dark web monitoring/LifeLock protections, password manager, Utilities Ultimate feature, and parental controls. Unfortunately, I had a surprisingly hard time getting Norton’s desktop app to do anything other than run antivirus scans. I found myself repeatedly clicking on the Parental Controls button or LifeLock protections with no success (they seem to exist just to remind you that you have the protections, but they don’t actually connect you to those features on your desktop).
The good news is that there’s an alternative to Norton’s desktop app — during my time with Norton 360, I found myself returning time and again to Norton’s online dashboard.
The my.norton web dashboard is cleanly laid out, responsive, and includes all of Norton’s features — it’s a much better user interface than Norton’s desktop app. I was able to configure my parental controls, access my password vault, look at my cloud storage, and check out my identity theft settings with a few clicks.
Overall, Norton is easy to use and intuitive, and it has more features than almost any other competitor. Users may need some time to get used to Norton, but I’m fairly certain that even non-technical users will be able to understand and use all of its features pretty quickly.
Norton 360 Mobile App
Norton’s mobile protections for Android and iOS are both really good — but I wish the company would bundle all of Norton’s security tools into a single app.
Norton offers a ton of protections for mobile users:
- Malware scanner (Android only).
- App advisor (Android only).
- Web protection.
- Wi-Fi network monitor.
- Safe Web & Safe Search.
- Device security.
- SMS spam filter.
- Secure calendar (iOS only).
- Password manager (separate app).
- Parental controls (separate app).
- LifeLock identity theft protection (separate app).
I really like Norton’s App Advisor which scans both apps that are about to be downloaded and apps that are already installed. The App Advisor for existing apps lets you know which of your apps have no privacy risks, which apps are installed in the last 30 days, and which apps are using more battery than normal.
I also really like Norton’s web protections for mobile and the Safe Search browser that filters out harmful websites from search engine results. Norton’s SMS spam filter is great, too. It blocks unsafe smishing texts on both iPhones and Android devices. And the Secure Calendar feature for iOS blocks spam and phishing messages that arrive in the form of iOS Calendar notifications.
The rest of Norton’s mobile security tools are really good — my only complaint was with the amount of apps I had to download. Norton should include the password manager, LifeLock, and Safe Family app in a single app.
In terms of overall device security, Norton provides some of the best mobile antivirus apps on the market — they provide malware protection and app security for Androids and Chromebooks, they include web and Wi-Fi protections for all mobile users (including iOS), and all of Norton’s separate apps for password management, parental controls, and identity theft protection sync up well with Norton’s desktop app and online dashboard.
Norton 360 Customer Support
Norton offers customer support via telephone, live chat, frequently asked questions (FAQs), troubleshooting guides, and a community forum. While I like most of these different platforms, I don’t like how Norton’s support page is disorganized and all of the platforms are difficult to find and navigate. For example, the phone number isn’t listed anywhere on the site. Instead, I typed in “Norton Phone Number” in the search bar on the support page, which provided a link to another link to get the phone number. There’s a 1-click button to open live chat, but you first have to deal with a virtual assistant. And the only way to find troubleshooting guides is through the search bar. But the good news is that once you find what you’re looking for, Norton’s support is great.
I really like that Norton’s phone support is available in dozens of different languages, including English, German, Dutch, Turkish, Mandarin, and Arabic. Some of these languages are only available for phone chat during regional business hours, but I was able to chat with a surprisingly large number of agents in different countries 24 hours a day. By comparison, competitors like Malwarebytes only offer support in a few languages. First, I spoke with a support rep in Bogota, Colombia who was able to access my Norton subscription and add LifeLock to my account when I encountered a bug on the Norton website. The rep was patient, knowledgeable, and helpful — this was honestly one of the more positive phone support experiences I’ve ever had with an antivirus provider.
All of my experiences with live chat representatives were extremely pleasant, professional, and helpful. I also like how a live chat rep is qualified to provide remote assistance, which lets them access your computer to fix any of your issues. You can also message Norton on Facebook and Twitter. The FAQs and troubleshooting guides are also good, and I often found that I didn’t need to escalate my issue to a live agent. The community forum is not that good, though. Most of the posts don’t get answered, and in the posts that were answered by a Norton rep, it took multiple days. If you’re looking for faster and better responses, I recommend calling Norton or contacting a live chat rep.
Norton’s customer support team is pretty good. It’s available in more languages than any other product I’ve tested, and its phone and live chat representatives are generally extremely helpful and knowledgeable. There are also really informative FAQs and troubleshooting guides. My only beef with Norton’s support is it’s not designed well and it’s hard to find contact information and other details. However, Norton provides far superior support than many of its competitors.
Is Norton 360 the Best Internet Security Suite for 2022?
I’m very confident in calling Norton the best antivirus software on the market in 2022. Norton stands above the competition in terms of malware detection, internet security tools, mobile protections, useability, and value.
Norton detected every single malware file in my testing — including newer malware threats like ransomware files, cryptojackers, rootkits, and adware. Its anti-malware engine uses a vast malware directory, advanced heuristics, and machine learning to synthesize the best parts of traditional and modern antivirus detection. There are a few other programs with near-perfect detection rates — McAfee and Bitdefender, for example — but Norton’s layered approach to malware protection remains the best.
Norton’s web protections are really good, too. The Safe Web extension offers anti-phishing protection that is better at detecting phishing sites than Chrome or Firefox, and it also provides an “Isolation Mode” that provides an extra layer of security during financial transactions.
Norton also has comprehensive parental controls, a good password manager, and excellent dark web monitoring (which uses real people to discover data breaches). For users in the US, Norton’s LifeLock protections provide a huge network of PII (personally identifying information) monitoring tools, as well as between $25,000-$1M in reimbursement in the event of identity theft.
I don’t love Norton’s VPN — it logs user IP addresses and doesn’t work with some streaming sites. However, the VPN is good for secure browsing, the dashboard is easy to use, it’s bundled with most of Norton’s plans, and you can buy it as a separate purchase for a pretty affordable price.
Overall, Norton is the best all-around internet security suite you can find — it provides unbeatable malware protection, it bundles almost all of the internet security tools available on the market into a single program, and it provides an excellent value for virtually all types of users. You can try out Norton risk-free with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Norton 360 — Frequently Asked Questions
Is Norton free?
Norton isn’t free — there are some decent free antiviruses out there, but none of them contain anywhere near the level of malware protection and internet security features included in Norton’s 360 packages.
For users on a budget, the Norton 360 Standard plan offers excellent antivirus protection for a single device. Norton offers a pretty good first-year discount and you can try all of its features risk-free with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
How does Norton’s malware scanner work?
For real-time protection and virus scanning, Norton provides a multi-layered approach, including:
- Malware directory.
- Heuristic analysis.
- Machine learning.
Most antivirus software uses a malware directory, cross-referencing the code of each scanned file against hundreds of thousands of known malware files. Norton’s malware directory (which is top-secret) consistently ranks among the best on the market.
Norton also uses heuristics and machine learning to detect zero-day threats. Heuristics analyze the code of new files against known malware, flagging potentially unsafe files that contain similar code.
Machine learning analyzes files based on their behavior, looking for actions and source code that are similar to the malware files that have been given to Norton’s machine-learning interface. If a piece of malware tries to embed itself in your root files, or encrypt your system files, or connect to your Wi-Fi network, or perform any other malware-like operation, then Norton can block and flag that malware file, even if it’s a zero-day threat that isn’t contained in any malware directory.
What’s the best Norton package?
Norton 360 Deluxe is the best choice for most users. It provides a ton of useful features for up to 5 devices across Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. But if you’re only trying to protect one device, Norton 360 Standard includes almost all of the same features for a single device.
In the US, Norton also offers 3 packages with LifeLock’s identity theft protections. Users looking for the very best protection, with the most identity theft insurance and coverage for unlimited devices, should invest in Norton 360 with LifeLock Ultimate Plus. However, most US users will be perfectly happy relying on Norton 360 with LifeLock Select for a more basic but still adequate antivirus + identity theft protection package.
Does Norton work for iPhones, Androids, and Chromebooks?
Yes. Norton provides mobile apps that work for iOS devices, Androids, and even Chromebooks.
- For iOS users. Norton 360 is better described as a “security app” — it’s not an antivirus, because iOS devices can’t get “viruses”. However, I still think Norton is worth downloading for iOS — it provides Wi-Fi protection, a secure VPN, a password manager, LifeLock identity theft protections, and also Norton’s excellent Safe Family parental control app.
- For Android users. Norton 360 provides all the same protections as Norton’s iOS apps, but it also includes a malware scanner, which scans for malicious code in every app and file you download.
- For Chromebook users. We’ve gotten some confused emails about Norton’s Chromebook coverage, and if you contact Norton, they’ll even tell you that “Norton isn’t designed for Chromebooks”. That may be true, but Chromebooks are designed to run Android apps, and Chromebooks have access to the Google Play Store. Norton Mobile Security on Chromebook looks a little funny, taking up only a smartphone-shaped third of the screen, but the app scanner, Wi-Fi scanner, VPN, password manager, and Norton Safe Family parental controls all worked perfectly well when I tested Norton on my Chromebook.
Norton 360 Antivirus Review
The lineup of Norton 360 products offer almost everything you could ask for from antivirus software.
Norton 360 Standard, Norton 360 Deluxe and Norton 360 with LifeLock include the most complete antivirus-software and identity-protection-service combinations you’ll find today.
Pros and Cons
Table of Contents
- 1 Pros and Cons
- 2 Today’s best Norton 360 Deluxe deals
- 3 Norton 360: Costs and what’s covered
- 3.1 TODAY’S BEST NORTON ANTIVIRUS PLUS DEALS
- 3.2 TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 STANDARD DEALS
- 3.3 TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 DELUXE DEALS
- 3.4 TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 FOR GAMERS DEALS
- 3.5 TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 PREMIUM DEALS
- 3.6 TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 WITH LIFELOCK SELECT DEALS
- 3.7 TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 WITH LIFELOCK ADVANTAGE DEALS
- 3.8 TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 WITH LIFELOCK ULTIMATE PLUS DEALS
- 4 Norton 360: Antivirus protection
- 5 Norton 360: Antivirus performance
- 6 Norton 360: Security and privacy features
- 7 Norton 360: Performance and system impact
- 8 Norton 360: Interface
- 9 Norton 360: Installation and support
- 10 Norton 360 review: Bottom line
+Excellent malware protection
+Backup software, online storage, password manager, webcam protection
+Unlimited VPN service
+Optional LifeLock ID identity protection
+Light background performance impact
-Gets expensive quickly
-No file shredder or file encryption
-Heavy slowdown during full scans
Today’s best Norton 360 Deluxe deals
With features such as a password manager, backup software, online storage, parental controls, unlimited VPN service and three different levels of identity protection along with excellent malware protection, the Norton 360 2020 antivirus lineup offers some of the most complete security (and privacy) suites around.
Norton’s nine different Windows antivirus packages are for people who prefer everything in one place, who would rather not mix-and-match applications and services — and who can afford Norton’s prices. All this integration gets expensive quickly as you add features.
Norton’s malware-scanning engine uses a lot of system resources during full scans, and no Norton package offers file shredding or encryption. But if you’re looking for a single solution to cover your digital security and privacy from every angle, look no further than Norton.
None of its competitors offer as comprehensive an approach to security. Kaspersky offers similarly excellent malware protection and a full range of extra features, but its product lacks identity-protection options. McAfee does offer identity protection, but it lets more malware through.
If you want to combine some of the best identity-theft protection with some of the best antivirus protection, one of the three Norton 360 with LifeLock plans is for you.
Norton 360 Standard subscription options:
- Norton 360 Standard for $19.99 per year
Norton 360: Costs and what’s covered
The nine Windows antivirus products of the NortonLifeLock family can protect anything from a single PC to a household’s worth of computers and mobile devices along with the identities of their users.
There’s no free Norton software, but there’s a 60-day satisfaction guarantee on the paid products, as well as Norton’s Virus Protection Promise of a refund if the software can’t keep your system clean. The list prices are higher than comparable products from other antivirus vendors, but you can often find substantial markdowns. It’s worth checking our Norton coupon codes for the latest offers.
The entry-level Norton AntiVirus Plus protects a single PC or Mac and works with Windows 7 through 10. (Norton representatives told us AntiVirus Plus unofficially runs on Windows XP and Vista.)
TODAY’S BEST NORTON ANTIVIRUS PLUS DEALS
AntiVirus Plus costs $60 per year and offers features normally reserved for more expensive suites, including a two-way firewall, a password manager and backup software with 2GB of online storage space.
The next step up is Norton 360 Standard, which protects a single PC, Mac, phone or tablet. It boosts the online storage to 10GB and, on Windows, includes online banking and webcam protection.
TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 STANDARD DEALS
Norton 360 Standard offers unlimited access to Norton’s Secure VPN virtual private network, which on its own costs $50 a year. It also includes LifeLock monitoring of your personal information on the dark web.
As of June 2021, all versions of Norton 360 were being updated to include Norton Crypto, a rather surprising feature that lets you use Norton software to mine and hold the Ethereum cryptocurrency. Norton 360 Standard lists for $85 per year.
For $105 a year, Norton 360 Deluxe covers five devices, regardless of platform. It adds parental controls and gives you up to 50GB of online storage and five simultaneous VPN connections. It maxes out all of Norton’s core antivirus features; the next five products add device licenses, online storage and identity protection.
TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 DELUXE DEALS
Norton 360 for Gamers is a three-license version of Norton 360 Deluxe designed specifically for PC gamers. However, the license does cover Mac, Android and iOS software. It costs $100 per year.
TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 FOR GAMERS DEALS
Norton 360 Premium, available at retail stores but not on the Norton website, expands the Deluxe antivirus and VPN coverage to up to 10 devices and 75GB of online storage. It lists at $100 per year at online retailers, although the Norton website price list(opens in new tab) has its subscription cost as $125 per year.
TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 PREMIUM DEALS
Norton 360 Platinum, also retail-only, goes for $130 per year, covers up to 20 devices and offers 100GB of online storage.
The top three products add increasing levels of LifeLock identity protection to Norton 360 Deluxe’s antivirus features.
Norton 360 with LifeLock Select, $15 per month or $150 a year, monitors your Equifax credit file. If your identity is stolen, you’ll be reimbursed up to $25,000 for stolen funds, $25,000 for expenses incurred and $1 million for lawyers and experts. The antivirus protection and VPN connections are limited to five devices, but you’ll get 100GB of online storage.
TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 WITH LIFELOCK SELECT DEALS
Norton 360 with LifeLock Advantage covers 10 devices for $25 a month, or $250 a year, and provides 250GB of online storage. You’ll get up to $100,000 for expenses and stolen funds each. It also monitors your bank and credit-card accounts, scans court records for your name and watches for fraudulent use of your Social Security number.
You’ll also get Phone Takeover Monitoring, a new feature that began rolling out in January 2021. It prevents SIM-swapping and port-out scams in which strangers hijack your phone number, often with the intention of hijacking cryptocurrency or mobile-payment accounts.
TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 WITH LIFELOCK ADVANTAGE DEALS
Finally, Norton 360 with LifeLock Unlimited Plus lists for $35 a month. or $350 a year. and increases the insurance coverage for expenses and stolen funds to $1 million each. It monitors your retirement and investment accounts, plus your files with all three major credit bureaus, and, as of February 2022, your Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
It also covers an unlimited number of devices and VPN connections and includes 500GB of online storage. Because of the dizzying number of options and features, we think it’s the best internet security suite you can buy.
TODAY’S BEST NORTON 360 WITH LIFELOCK ULTIMATE PLUS DEALS
Norton’s Mac antivirus software (which we’ve reviewed separately, although it’s not sold that way) supports the current and two previous versions of macOS, but the parental controls, backup software and webcam protection are only for Windows.
Android phones and tablets need version 6 or higher to run Norton Mobile Security (also reviewed separately), and the somewhat toothless iPhone and iPad apps run on the current and two previous versions of iOS. There’s no Norton Linux software.
- Best Android antivirus apps
- The best Mac antivirus software
- Best Windows 10 antivirus
Norton 360: Antivirus protection
Each NortonLifeLock product defends against malicious email attachments, phishing attacks and spam as well as malware. If the program’s defenses can be adjusted, and Norton’s Silent Mode can prevent updates, pop-ups and other interruptions during movies or games.
There’s a quick-scan button on the program’s main screen, and full or custom scans are three clicks away. You can also scan any item by right-clicking it in Windows Explorer, but unlike many antivirus programs, Norton won’t automatically scan USB drives when they’re plugged into your PC.
If your PC gets so stuffed with malware that Norton can’t clean it, Norton’s Bootable Recovery Tool(opens in new tab) can help. Put the downloadable software on a DVD or flash drive, and it will reboot the computer in a secure Linux environment for comprehensive cleaning.
Norton 360: Antivirus performance
Along with Kaspersky, Norton’s malware engine is among the best at protecting Windows computers.
from January 2017 through December 2020. Its otherwise perfect winning streak against previously unseen “zero-day” malware was marred by a single miss in April 2020, when it got a 99.5% detection rate.
Only Kaspersky matched those numbers (and broke its winning streak in the same month), although Kaspersky’s malware engine was arguably better “tuned” as it picked up only eight false-positive detections over that three-year period compared with Norton’s 35. (Norton’s false-positive rate has been going down.)
The two brands jockeyed for the lead in evaluations run by Austrian lab AV-Comparatives(opens in new tab) in 2020. Norton detected an average of 100% of malware from February through May 2020, ahead of Kaspersky’s 99.9%. The tables were turned in the July-October 2020 tests, in which Kaspersky averaged 99.7% detection to Norton’s 99.5%
But Norton got a total of 72 false positives over the course of 2020, while Kaspersky had just two. The latter’s malware-detection engine may be better tuned.
Latest test results as of January 2021
In the October-December 2020 sets of tests run by London-based SE Labs(opens in new tab), both Norton and Kaspersky detected every piece of malware.
Yet Norton neutralized one piece of malware after installation without blocking it outright, and also misclassified 6% of benign websites and pieces of software as possibly malicious. Kaspersky and McAfee were perfect at both.
Norton stumbled a bit in the labs’ July-September 2020 tests, however, letting through one piece of malware to compromise the test system. Kaspersky had a perfect score.
Norton 360: Security and privacy features
All Norton products, starting with Norton AntiVirus Plus, include a two-way firewall, an unlimited password manager and a file-backup program.
They also include the company’s Safe Web browser extensions, which work with Internet Explorer, Edge, Chrome and Firefox. Safe Web’s Isolation Mode renders the contents of known dangerous sites as read-only. If you connect to a banking site, Norton runs the browser session in a virtual machine.
Norton’s Secure VPN comes with Norton 360 Standard and above. Unlike other antivirus companies, Norton doesn’t tease you with a free limited-data offering and then make you pay for more — you get unlimited VPN data from the get-go.
You can hide your location like a digital James Bond, or just stream localized movies and sports as if you were in London or Mexico City. It took us an average of 6.5 seconds to connect to Norton’s VPN, but the VPN’s encryption and routing cut our usable bandwidth by half.
You can set Norton’s excellent parental controls, included with Norton 360 Deluxe and above, to block age-inappropriate material, schedule screen time and see the locations of individual children.
LifeLock identity-protection services come with Norton’s top three plans, as detailed above. LifeLock is the most comprehensive of the best identity-theft protection services, but its high prices (even when bundled with Norton antivirus software) may not justify the expense for many people.
However, none of the Norton antivirus packages has a file shredder, a file-encryption tool, a true hardened browser or a file roll-back in case of ransomware infection. Bitdefender and Kaspersky offer all of these.
Norton 360: Performance and system impact
System performance impact as of January 2021
Norton’s malware-detection engine takes up few system resources in the background, but a lot during active scans. You’ll want to set your scans to run during off hours.
To measure Norton 360 Deluxe’s performance impact, we used our custom benchmark test, which measures how long the CPU takes to match 20,000 names and addresses in an Excel spreadsheet. Our test machine was a Lenovo ThinkPad T470 with a 2.5GHz Core i5-7200U processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state storage holding 43.3GB of files.
Before we installed any antivirus software, it took the system 8.2 seconds to finish the benchmark task. The completion time rose to 8.6 seconds after Norton 360 Deluxe was installed. This 4.9% background performance loss is among the smallest we’ve seen.
A full scan raised the benchmark-completion time to an average of 12.4 seconds, representing a 51% decline in performance. But among the seven paid antivirus products we’ve reviewed recently, Trend Micro Maximum Security and McAfee Total Security did even worse during full scans, the latter with a whopping 96% slowdown.
With Norton’s quick scans, the performance drop was a more acceptable 22%, the second-lightest of the bunch behind Kaspersky.
ESET Smart Security Premium had the lightest active-scan impact of all, with an average 11.8% performance drop during full scans. Its background load also came in light at 2%.
It took Norton 360 Deluxe 18 minutes and 20 seconds to run its first full scan and index all 446,354 files. That time dropped to 6:34 in subsequent scans, after the software learned what to skip. Norton’s quick scan took 1 minute and 16 seconds to churn through 12,126 files. That’s a bit longer than Kaspersky Total Security’s quick scan, which looked at nearly four times as many files.
Norton 360: Interface
Norton’s Classic interface has the familiar screen icon with green, yellow or red indicators, while the new Launch interface has a calming picture of a mountain climber on the left and a right-side column of key security tasks, like Device Security, Dark Web Monitoring, Secure VPN, Cloud Backup and Password Manager.
In Settings, you can adjust or control just about every aspect of the program. Below the surface are dozens of individual settings that can be turned on and off. The online dashboard at https://my.norton.com(opens in new tab) is one of the most thorough antivirus portals.
Norton 360: Installation and support
The Norton installation process begins with a 3.5MB beachhead installer. Once you accept the product license agreement, the full 226MB installation program downloads and runs.
Installing Norton 360 Deluxe took us 9 minutes and 30 seconds, but it would have taken longer had we opted for LifeLock ID protection. We would have had to enter a lot of personal information and run through a gantlet of questions to establish our identity.
The Norton desktop interface includes a direct link to the company’s support website, and all the programs include full 24/7 technical assistance. You can contact support technicians by phone, online chat or email. Norton’s support site has a slew of self-serve options, including instructional videos.
Need even more help? The company’s Ultimate Help Desk service provides expedited access to technicians, four tune-up sessions a year and service reports for all your computer-related issues, not just those related to Norton products.
Subscriptions to the Ultimate Help Desk service cost $150 per year (for one PC or Mac), or $20 a month (for up to three systems). There’s also a one-time service providing similar advice and information for $70 if you’re technically flummoxed and have deep pockets.
Norton 360 review: Bottom line
With one of the most complete (and crowded) lineups of personal digital-security and privacy products, NortonLifeLock can protect a single computer or an entire household’s devices.
Between the unlimited VPN, the password manager, the parental controls, backup software, online storage and the comprehensive identity-protection services, Norton offers pretty much everything you could ever need — but it can quickly get expensive as you add more options.
If you’d rather mix and match these various services, or you don’t need them all, Kaspersky Total Security has excellent malware protection, a password manager, backup software and parental controls plus items Norton lacks, such as a hardened browser, file encryption and file shredding.
Bitdefender Premium Security swaps out the backup software for unlimited VPN service, but its malware protection is a half-step down from Norton’s. McAfee Total Protection + VPN offers identity protection as well as unlimited VPN, but has an even lower caliber of malware protection.
In other words, no software company covers all aspects of modern-day security as completely as NortonLifeLock. It’s truly a one-stop shop for all your digital security and privacy needs — if at a premium price.
Review: Anova Precision Oven
If that sort of tinkering sounds like fun, allow me to introduce you to your favorite new appliance, the Anova Precision Oven.
A countertop marvel, the Anova acts like a normal oven, but also uses steam, a remarkably efficient heat-transfer method that is the favorite of restaurant chefs everywhere. Faithful readers might ask themselves at this point, isn’t Anova the sous vide company? Yes! And that’s where the magic of steam comes in—a steam oven allows you to get sous-vide style results without the bag.
“With steam, you can sous vide in the oven,” says Montgomery Lau, executive chef at Bacchus Restaurant in Vancouver, “It replaces sous vide in the pro kitchen.”
Steak is a classic example of where sous vide’s low-temperature treatment excels. Easy to overcook on the stove or the grill, a thick steak is hard to screw up in sous vide. Put it in a Ziploc, put the bag in a pot of water heated to the temperature to which you want to cook the steak—129 degrees Fahrenheit for a lovely medium rare—come back in an hour or so, pat it dry, and quickly sear the top and bottom in a hot skillet. Since it’s already cooked through, all you’re after in this last step is some nice browning. In the Anova oven, I set the temperature, cranked up the steam, put the steak on a sheet pan, slid it into the oven, and went for a run. When I got back, I patted down the ribeye, seared it quickly, and sat down to a perfect steak. It’s about as hands-off as good steak gets.
Pork tenderloin, beautifully pink from top to bottom, took the same amount of non-effort. The next day I made a quiche with a pleasing, near-custardy texture.
Behold, the power of steam, a restaurant kitchen superpower (you’ll hear chefs refer to it as a “combi” oven) now trickling down to we home-kitchen mortals. While you can certainly do regular oven things in it like bake, convection bake, roast, or broil, in the Anova the big change is steam. For this, there’s a large water tank that sits on the right side of the oven and lets out the occasional gurgle.
It’s worth noting that it’s a countertop behemoth, almost 2 feet wide and 1.5 feet deep.
(I should also disclose that I was paid to moderate panels as part of a 2019 smart home technology conference run by Anova’s owner, Electrolux.)
What makes steam special? Its ability to transfer heat. Open a hot, empty oven and stick your hand inside. Bad idea, but you can probably keep it in there for a few seconds with no ill effects. Now imagine doing the same thing over a steamy tray of cauliflower in the same oven. Extra-bad idea, which might net you a quick trip to the ER.
This heat-transfer ability helps some things cook quickly, but it really opens up the door to simplified low-temperature cooking. “Old-fashioned” sous vide is impressive, but those bags are a drag. I love making fried chicken for a crowd on my wife Elisabeth’s birthday every (non-Covid) year, using a stack of gallon-sized Ziploc bags, each with a couple pieces of chicken in it. I cook them sous vide, then dunk them in batter, followed by a quick dip in hot oil. Sous vide simplifies the technique considerably: With the bird already cooked, you’re just transforming the batter into crunchy goodness in the oil. The end product is stellar, but damn, I feel guilty dumping all of those bags in the trash at the end of the night. (For what it’s worth, I’ve tried reusable bags, but they’re a project to clean.) With the Anova oven, you could put the chicken pieces on two 16-by-12 sheet pans and hit Start, skipping the bags altogether. If you’ve got the room on your countertop and $600 in your pocket, it’s a game changer.
“With combo ovens, you can sous vide in volume,” chef Lau tells me. “It’s real estate.”
Plus, while I learned there are limited steam-oven recipes available to the home consumer, there are plenty of sous vide recipes that you can easily adapt to to the oven. One evening I made salmon, dividing a filet into individual portions and cooking them slowly, coming back to the oven to find each piece glowing like a translucent jewel, then quickly crisped the skin in a hot pan. I love the low and slow cooking of fish—it makes it hard to screw it up—and this was so much easier than transferring delicate filets from a sous-vide bag full of oil and fish juice, and a step up from what you can do in a home oven.
I had similar success with low-temperature, high-steam ribs, letting about a rack and a half cook away all day then slathering them with barbecue sauce and zapping them under the broiler. These are not sit-in-the-smoker-all-day-quality ribs, but if we ever go back to working in offices, we could put these in on the way out the door in the morning and return home to a fancy-easy weeknight dinner. On the easier side of easy, I cooked chicken breasts, one of sous vide’s greatest tricks, here translated into a steam-oven version, making them as good as they get in well under an hour. I also learned that the Anova was great at heating leftovers; put the food in, crank the steam, and come back in a few minutes.
I also had a lot of fun and ate quite well with higher-temperature steams. I pulled up Samin Nosrat’s 2019 article in The New York Times lauding food writer and editor Carla Lalli Music’s preference for steaming sweet potatoes. Here, I riffed on Nosrat and Music, but using the Anova oven at 350 degrees and full steam instead of a steamer basket. In a normal oven, sweet potatoes seem to sorta succumb to the heat as they cook. In the Anova, they cooked through in a spry 35 minutes and emerged with a lovely, fudgy texture. They were fantastic.
The food I was most excited to try was whole crab. My chef friend Hamid Salimian turned me on to the steam oven technique they use at Popina Cantina in Vancouver, which leaves the flesh incredibly tender. Hamid sent over the recipe, and I did my best to adapt it to the Anova. The results were excellent, especially considering that it was my first stab at crab and extra especially because I made a garlic parsley butter to dip it in. It was much less of an ordeal than setting up a giant tub of boiling water. It also made me wonder how the oven would handle lobster, but by this point, I’d already just about stretched my food budget to its limit.
Finally, I tried making some bread, as pro bakers love baking with steam and I wanted to see what they were on about.
“I like it because it allows loaves to expand fully during baking and aids in producing an attractive, shiny, crispy crust,” says Evan Andres, owner and head baker at Seattle’s much-lauded Columbia City Bakery.
I made the Jim Lahey no-knead bread that I normally make at home in a cast-iron pot, but using Anova’s sourdough boule recipe for time and temperature guidance.
I struggled a bit getting those shiny, crispy results that chef Andres would praise. In the Anova, the dough sprang up impressively quickly, but I had trouble getting it as good as my normal loaf—the crust wasn’t quite as crusty and the interior, known as the crumb, had a whiff of raw flavor to it. This isn’t as much of a knock on the Anova as it might sound; it just meant I’d have to tweak the times and temperatures to get the results I wanted. Andres suggested a few ideas, like turning the heat down and switching the heat source, and my second loaf came out better than the first.
Not everything went perfectly with the Anova, starting with a couple of physical problems. I found the keypad—essentially the outward-facing part of the handle—to be surprisingly fiddly, occasionally making it difficult to quickly dial in the desired temperature or time, and causing me to wish for little dials. (Watch a video to see what I mean.) There was also an occasional rattle from the back of the machine. It usually went away as it heated up, but it prompted me at times to lean a heavy peanut butter jar against the rear panel to solve the problem.
Lastly, I noticed some disconcerting hairline cracks that had formed in the oven-facing side of the water tank. I’m not 100 percent sure when they appeared, but yikes. I could also never figure out how to turn the oven light on or off, because it isn’t currently possible. How you can forget such a detail in an oven this well thought out befuddles me, but a company rep hinted that the option would be forthcoming in a firmware update. Finally, the oven is absolutely huge, and you might not have the counter space for it.
Taken together, similar faults would sink a lesser product. With the Anova, it gives me a moment’s hesitation, but I’m still giving it a strong recommendation. That said, I might wait it out a bit to see if any of these small flaws become larger issues or go away with the second version.
One thing I should note is that I never fully connected the oven to the internet or to my phone. I’m always much more concerned about the core abilities of something like an oven, and I’m a staunch believer that you shouldn’t have to use your phone to control the basic functions of your kitchen devices. Besides, who wants to accidentally turn pleasurable cooking time into a doomscrolling event? Connecting does give you the ability to do things like choose a recipe from the app and sling it over to the oven where the times and temperatures can be teed up for you. It’s a perk, if you’re into that kind of thing, but I can’t state strongly enough that that is not the point of this machine. Thankfully, Anova appears to understand this and left the word “smart” and the lowercase “i” out of the device’s name. You know, like the iSteam, or the Steam Smart, or the iSteam Smart, now with Bluetooth.
Finally, this isn’t the company’s fault, but I’ll get really excited when something like the Anova countertop oven becomes the Anova built-in oven. A few built-in steam ovens do exist, but for the time being, they’re prohibitively expensive. Most people aren’t getting rid of their built-in ovens, and it’s a little goofy to have two. That said, if you can spare the space and are a natural tinkerer in the kitchen, the appeal of the Anova is undeniable. Even with its imperfections, it’s pretty damn solid. Using steam is an exciting and approachable new direction in our home kitchen, and this oven is pointing the way.
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