Norton AntiVirus 2003 review: Norton AntiVirus 2003

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Scans and cleans instant-messenger attachments; includes helpful wizards for novices; interface is easy to use; solid track record against viruses.

The Bad Makes only minor improvements over 2002 version; scans ZIP files after they download; provides limited protection for AOL users.

The Bottom Line For zapping viruses, worms, and other malicious code, you can't go wrong with Norton AntiVirus 2003. But current AntiVirus users need not upgrade.

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There's a lot to love in Norton AntiVirus 2003. Its interface is simple enough for beginners yet offers plenty of flexibility for discerning geeks. It scans and cleans attachments from popular instant messengers--a first for Norton AntiVirus (NAV)--and automatically repairs infected files without troubling you. Plus, its script- and worm-blocking technologies stop e-mail viruses, including SirCam and Klez. If you use the Net on a Windows machine and are looking for your first antivirus program, this $49.95 package will serve you well. Current NAV users, however, should stick with NAV 2002--version 2003 doesn't justify the $29.95 upgrade price. There's a lot to love in Norton AntiVirus 2003. Its interface is simple enough for beginners yet offers plenty of flexibility for discerning geeks. It scans and cleans attachments from popular instant messengers--a first for Norton AntiVirus (NAV)--and automatically repairs infected files without troubling you. Plus, its script- and worm-blocking technologies stop e-mail viruses, including SirCam and Klez. If you use the Net on a Windows machine and are looking for your first antivirus program, this $49.95 package will serve you well. Current NAV users, however, should stick with NAV 2002--version 2003 doesn't justify the $29.95 upgrade price.

Installation and interface
We found only one noticeable glitch in NAV 2003's otherwise easy installation. Although NAV 2003 includes an automated installation wizard, MSN Instant Messenger users must reboot their PCs after NAV 2003's setup; otherwise, NAV won't automatically scan IM attachments. Except for that, this version's smooth setup is an improvement over last year's.

Out of the box, NAV's default settings provide solid protection against e-mail-borne viruses, SMTP-based worms (which bypass e-mail clients such as Outlook to send copies of themselves on the Internet directly), and Trojan horses by scanning incoming and outgoing e-mail, then automatically repairing infected files. NAV scans file downloads in AOL, MSN, and Yahoo IM applications. (Note: NAV works with only AOL's Internet IM program, not with the IM feature that comes with AOL's standard online program.)

In terms of interface, NAV 2003's main screen lists its primary features--Auto-Protect, E-mail Scanning, Script Blocking, and so on--and shows the date of your most recent virus definition update. On the left, a list of scanning options allows you to scan individual drives, removable or floppy disks, folders, or even individual files by simply clicking the appropriate menu item. NAV sets its default system scans to run weekly at 8 p.m. on Friday. Let's hope you're not online socializing then because the full system scan ties up the CPU and renders your PC useless. In fact, we wish NAV gave an estimated completion time for these lengthy system scans; on our test 1.3GHz Athlon PC with a 20GB hard drive, a full scan took 33 minutes.

Feature set
NAV boots with Windows and runs in the background, sniffing out rogue code while you work, and downloads current virus definitions from the Net automatically. And like version 2002, NAV 2003 scans both inbound and outbound e-mail in POP3 clients such as Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, and Eudora. (Sorry, AOL mail users, you're out of luck.)

NAV 2003 offers few notable enhancements over last year's model. In addition to scanning downloads from IM programs, it now blocks worms in outgoing e-mail. The company claims that NAV 2003's virus definitions are smaller and, hence, faster to download, but we haven't noticed a significant improvement in update transfer speeds.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Norton AntiVirus 2003

Part Number: 10021186
MSRP: $49.95 Low Price: $9.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Category security applications
  • Compatibility PC