CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Norton AntiSpam 2005 review: Norton AntiSpam 2005

Persistent performance issues with Norton AntiSpam 2005 have soured our opinion and lead us to recommend MailFrontier Desktop instead.

Daniel Tynan
2 min read
Symantec Norton AntiSpam 2005
When the first version of Symantec's Norton AntiSpam debuted last year, it earned CNET's top honors. This year, however, Norton AntiSpam 2005 relinquishes its spam-fighting crown to MailFrontier Desktop. While both products integrate into Outlook or Outlook Express, Norton was substantially less effective at stopping spam and in our tests was far more troublesome to use.

Installing Norton AntiSpam isn't nuisance-free. Once the software copies to your hard disk, Norton updates itself and asks you to reboot. You'll also have to activate the program within two weeks, or Norton AntiSpam will stop working. Activation is a painless process but a hassle nonetheless. After you reboot and launch Outlook or Outlook Express, Norton AntiSpam asks if you want it to set itself up as a toolbar inside the program. It's good that the app asks, but we expected Norton AntiSpam to integrate more efficiently with Outlook.


Norton AntiSpam 2005

The Good

OK spam-blocking accuracy; blocks foreign-language e-mail; integrates into e-mail client; scans Yahoo Mail in-boxes; built-in ad blocker.

The Bad

Extremely sluggish performance; limited support; poor accuracy while filtering Yahoo mail.

The Bottom Line

While Norton's AntiSpam 2005 seamlessly integrates into Microsoft's e-mail clients, it has performance issues. And it's neither as easy to use nor as accurate as MailFrontier Desktop.

From there, Norton AntiSpam works like MailFrontier Desktop does, shunting suspect spam into a separate folder and letting you flag missed spam or legit messages by clicking toolbar buttons within Outlook or Outlook Express. In theory, the app learns what is spam and what is not. At its default setting, Norton AntiSpam trapped slightly less than 90 percent of the junk, with about 10 percent false positives in informal tests. That made it less effective than MailFrontier Desktop, which trapped more than 90 percent and had fewer false positives. Worse, Norton AntiSpam 2005 was extremely sluggish. On several different test beds, it took about a minute to move a single piece of spam from our Inbox to the Norton folder. Often we couldn't do anything else with our test system until Norton AntiSpam had finished. (Symantec's technical support was unable to explain this behavior.) Simply deleting the junk would have been faster.

You can use Norton AntiSpam's convenient control panel to configure how strictly the app filters your mail and how it handles images, forms, and other spammer tricks.

Norton AntiSpam 2005 comes packed with features, such as built-in banner-ad and pop-up blockers. You can also control how the spam filter handles HTML mail, images, and e-mail containing Web forms and scripts. The program can filter out e-mail in more than two dozen languages, from Abkhazian to Zulu. You can also use it to scan your online Yahoo Mail for spam, though in our limited tests it trapped about a third of the junk while blocking about half of the legit messages. Your mileage may vary.

If you want live tech support for Norton AntiSpam 2005, Symantec will charge $30 per incident. You can also e-mail questions for free once you've worked your way through the (largely useless) Symantec knowledge base. But while Symantec's autorespond e-mail promised an answer in four or five business days, we waited several more days for a response. For software with serious performance problems, that's too long to wait.


Norton AntiSpam 2005

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 9Support 6