Unfortunately, unlike its major competitor, McAfee VirusScan, NAV 2003 scans ZIP files during the extraction process--after you've downloaded them. We'd feel safer if NAV inspected ZIP files during the download.
To measure system performance with NAV 2003 active, CNET Labs used BAPCo's SysMark2002, an industry-standard benchmark. The Internet Content Creation portion of SysMark measures a desktop's performance running off-the-shelf applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder, and Macromedia Dreamweaver. (We did not run the Office Productivity portion of the benchmark because it incorporates McAfee VirusScan 5.13.)
Our test system was a Compaq Evo W4000 with a P4 2.4GHz processor and 512MB DDR RAM, running Windows XP Professional. An Internet-content-creation score of 100 represents the performance of our test system without any extraneous software installed or running. With NAV 2003 installed and running, our test system scored a 95--a 5 percent reduction in overall system speed, which is reasonable and should not be noticed by most users. We plan to compare this result with that of other products in the near future.
To determine whether NAV effectively blocks viruses, we compared its performance in a number of independent antivirus-testing laboratories. Previous versions of NAV have been certified by the independent antivirus-testing laboratories at West Coast Checkmark, ICSA Labs, and AV-Test.org. In Virus Bulletin's tests with live viruses, NAV earned the coveted VB 100 percent rating in each of the three most recent Windows tests. We plan to measure NAV against these independent sites and compare NAV's results against those of other antivirus products in the near future.
The program's built-in help provides good information on the arcane terminology of virus protection. The help menu also includes links to Symantec's support site, where you'll find a wizardlike tool that steps you through common problems, including software bugs and virus definitions. Unfortunately, Symantec's phone support is expensive at $2.95 per minute (up to $300 maximum) or $29.95 per call. And if you hit a snag at night or on weekends, forget it; the phones are staffed only Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT.
Norton AntiVirus 2003 is a top-notch virus buster. If you love to exchange files with your instant-messenger pals, NAV 2003 is worth the $29.95 upgrade fee. And if you're looking for your first antivirus app, NAV is a good buy at $49.95.