Norton AntiVirus 2004 Professional review:

Norton AntiVirus 2004 Professional

NAVP 2004 adds two major capabilities. First is its enhanced detection of compressed files. Previous versions of NAVP detected viruses embedded in ZIP and other compressed formats during manual scans. NAVP 2004's real-time scanner finds and deletes these hidden viruses on the fly--as they are being downloaded, for example--adding another layer of protection.

NAVP 2004's second new feature is the capability to detect and destroy spyware, adware, and hacking tools that may be lurking on your hard drive. NAVP 2004 is the first antivirus app to include this feature. However, the free standalone utilities, such as Lavasoft's Ad-aware and Spybot Search and Destroy, ferret out these same annoyances much better. For example, in our tests, NAVP 2004 failed to find a malware component uncovered by Ad-aware 6.0 in a follow-up scan. (We ran Ad-aware immediately after the completion of a Norton system scan.)

The professional version of NAVP 2004 also includes licenses for two separate PCs.

In our CNET Labs' tests, NAVP 2004 caused a 4 percent drag on our test system's performance. McAfee VirusScan Professional 8.0, on the other hand, produced no perceptible drag. But NAVP 2004 scanned our 1GB drive much faster than McAfee did. Here are our complete test results:

  Test system Norton AntiVirus 2004 Professional McAfee VirusScan Professional 8.0
SysMark 2002 Internet-content-creation (ICC) score 233 223 234
Normalized score 100 96 100
Percentage of degradation N/A 4 0
Average boot time (seconds) 40.8 52.72 48.38
Scan 1GB directory, average scan time (minutes) N/A 3.59 4.75

Norton AntiVirus has been tested on Windows systems six times since 2000 by the independent testing organization &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Evirusbtn%2Ecom%2Fvb100%2Farchives%2Fproducts%2Exml%3Fsymantec%2Exml" target="_blank">VirusBulletin and earned its coveted VB 100 percent title each time. By comparison, McAfee's VirusScan has been &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Evirusbtn%2Ecom%2Fvb100%2Farchives%2Fproducts%2Exml%3Fmcafee%2Exml" target="_blank">tested and earned a VB 100 percent title only once. It's hard to draw any meaningful conclusions from such limited data. Previous versions of Norton AntiVirus have also been certified by the independent antivirus testing laboratories at &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Echeck%2Dmark%2Ecom%2Fcheckmark%2Fproducts%2Ehtml" target="_blank">West Coast Checkmark, &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eicsalabs%2Ecom%2Fhtml%2Fcommunities%2Fantivirus%2Fcertification%2Fcertprod%2Eshtml" target="_blank">ICSA Labs, and &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eav%2Dtest%2Eorg%2Fdown%2Fspecial%2F2002%2D07%5Fmarket%2Den%2Exls" target="_blank">AV-test.org.

Like McAfee, unfortunately, Symantec charges for its live tech support via phone: either $29 per incident or $2.95 per minute. We tried the free alternative: e-mail. The form was hard to locate, but techs were responsive, answering within 24 to 48 hours. Unfortunately, Norton does not offer online tech chat, a feature McAfee offers (with mixed results) for its VirusScan customers. The Automated Support Assistant, another feature accessible via the support site, is a convenient way to download product upgrades and keep your copy of NAVP 2004 up-to-date. Symantec's free online knowledge base is a helpful do-it-yourself resource.

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