Norton AntiVirus 2005 review: Norton AntiVirus 2005

Our test system was a Dell Dimension 8200 running Windows XP Professional, with an Intel Pentium 4 1.9GHz processor and 256MB of RDRAM. With Norton AntiVirus running, our test system scored 94 percent--meaning a 6 percent reduction in overall system speed. By comparison, McAfee also scored a 94. (An Internet-content-creation score of 100 represents the performance of our test system without any extraneous software running.) In a test of scanning speed, Norton AntiVirus took an average of 6.1 minutes to scan a 1.3GB directory, which wasn't as slow as McAfee, which averaged 6.68 minutes.

  Test system Symantec Norton AntiVirus 2005 McAfee VirusScan 9.0 (2005) Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 2004 Computer Associates EZ Antivirus 2005
SysMark 2002 Internet-content-creation (ICC) score 233 220 219 227 233
Normalized score 100 94 94 94 100
Percent degradation n/a 6 6 6 0
Average boot time (seconds) 38.9 71 51 45 47
Scan 1.3GB directory; average scan time (minutes) n/a 6.1 6.68 2.48 2.56

Norton AntiVirus has been tested on Windows desktop systems 10 times since November 2000 by the independent testing organization VirusBulletin and earned its coveted VB 100 Percent title each time. Norton AntiVirus is one of the few products tested to consistently win the VB 100 Percent award. By comparison, McAfee's VirusScan was tested only once, at which time it earned the VB 100 Percent title . Previous versions of Norton AntiVirus have also been certified by the independent antivirus-testing laboratories at West Coast Checkmark, ICSA Labs, and Checkvir.com.

For more details on how we test antivirus apps, see the CNET Labs site.

The good news is that Symantec finally upgraded its customer telephone support to 24/7. Previously, phone hours were limited to Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. The bad news is, phone support still costs plenty, either $29.95 per incident or $2.95 per minute. By comparison, Trend Micro PC-cillin offers free 24/7 phone help for one year.

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Symantec's Automated Support Assistant diagnoses common problems with Norton AntiVirus 2005.

Symantec's help site also includes the Automated Support Assistant, a downloadable utility that scans Norton AntiVirus for known problems. However, the assistant needs more tooling. For example, when we disabled Auto-Protect, Norton's real-time virus scanner, the Automated Support Assistant reported no irregularities on our system--oops. Symantec also offers e-mail support, but you'll need to run the Automated Support Assistant before firing off a query.

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