Norton AntiVirus 9.0 for Macintosh review: Norton AntiVirus 9.0 for Macintosh

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.0
  • Setup and interface: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Service and support: 5.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Provides regular updates; works in the background.

The Bad Expensive tech support; poor in-application help documentation.

The Bottom Line Norton AntiVirus 9.0 for Macintosh stops Mac users from unwittingly spreading PC viruses.

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Few new Mac-specific viruses or worms have popped up in recent years. That's not to say that Macs are immune to malicious viruses and worms; in addition to sharing Microsoft Word macro viruses with PC users and passing on PC viruses to Windows users, Mac users should expect new maladies to strike the Unix-inspired OS X. Fortunately, Norton AntiVirus (NAV) 9.0 for Macintosh starts protecting upon installation, automatically scanning downloaded and e-mailed files. The program includes a one-year subscription to Norton's monthly (and emergency) virus definitions and protects against new problems immediately via the LiveUpdate feature, which can be customized. These are but a few of the reasons that Norton AntiVirus has been one of the top Mac utilities over the ages and remains so today. On the Mac, Norton AntiVirus 9.0's installation takes less effort than a finger snap. Simply double-click the CD icon, and there's a folder in your Applications directory containing read-me files, links to news at Symantec's Web site (not updated for version 9.0 as of this writing), and three new applications: Norton AntiVirus (NAV), LiveUpdate, and Norton Scheduler. The three apps work in a hierarchical manner, with LiveUpdate searching for current updates, the main program itself, and Scheduler offering automation of the scanning and updating process on a user-defined schedule. You can also get to LiveUpdate and Scheduler through the main AntiVirus application interface. By default, the installer automatically places a NAV 9.0 QuickMenu item in the menu bar.

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The NAV 9.0 interface offers access to the other included applications, such as LiveUpdate and Scheduler.

The application interface is at once minimal and not minimal enough. You can browse via tabs to find individual files or disks. A drawer lets you select a mix of tools, from launching the LiveUpdate application to viewing a list of known viruses. However, for a single-purpose application--NAV 9.0 exists only to scan for viruses--the interface is way too complex. It needs only a box where you can select a target and a Scan/Repair button. For example, there's no need for a Preferences button when you can easily access these options through menu listings.

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The NAV 9.0 interface offers easy access to the new AutoProtect feature.
Norton AntiVirus 9.0 for Macintosh doesn't offer revolutionary changes over the previous version. One minor revision is that LiveUpdate will update only the virus definitions you don't already have; we were unable to test informally whether this speeds disk scans, but it does speed updates. The new AutoProtect feature sniffs out viruses hiding in archived files, and a new Quarantine function (accessible via a drawer button) cordons off files you or NAV 9.0 place under suspicion.

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While the first scan takes a while, subsequent scans examine only new or changed files.

Perhaps the best new feature is protection against the legions of PC-native viruses, taking NAV 9.0 out of the realm of just-in-case security and into the teeming world of cross-platform protection. The first scan of your hard drive with Norton Antivirus 9.0 for Macintosh takes the better part of an hour (for mid- to large-size disks). Fortunately, you can keep working during the scan. Subsequent scans sift through only new and changed files, speeding up the process greatly. We experienced no system slowdowns during normal use.

Also, in addition to finding a few Word macro viruses, NAV 9.0 caught several PC-specific viruses or worms, such as the Klez worm, on forwarded files and e-mail. While such viruses won't affect your Mac, they can be spread to other Windows users in a mixed office environment. NAV offers protection to your whole office, not just your machine. Technical support for Norton AntiVirus 9.0 for Macintosh is a mixed bag. Online tech support requires a medium amount of navigating Web pages, however, as of this writing, neither Symantec's Late-Breaking News Web page nor the online Help Center had been updated with information specific to 9.0. We hope this will change. Also, in the in-program help file isn't very helpful. But, in a nice and nostalgic move, Symantec does include a printed and nicely made manual that is clearly written and informative.

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It's not exactly a fount of information, but the manual is pretty complete.

Unfortunately, toll-free telephone support costs $29.95 per incident.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Norton AntiVirus 9.0 for Macintosh

Part Number: 10067159 Released: Jun. 1, 2003
MSRP: $69.95 Low Price: $12.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jun. 1, 2003
  • Category security applications
  • Compatibility Mac