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Norman Virus Control 5.0 review:

Norman Virus Control 5.0

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The Good Good virus detection; flexible scanning schedule.

The Bad Won't remove e-mail viruses before they reach your in-box; expensive; no free phone support.

The Bottom Line Norman Virus Control 5.0 delivers solid, unobtrusive virus protection for single users or networks. It's expensive, though, and could use some of McAfee or Norton's extra features to justify its price.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.0 Overall

Review Sections

Some antivirus vendors treat home users differently from corporate clients by offering watered-down versions of their apps. But not Norman Virus Control 5.0. This desktop software uses the same antivirus scanning engine as the Norman Virus Control for enterprise systems. That alone makes this product a robust challenger to McAfee VirusScan 7.0 or Norton AntiVirus 2003. Unfortunately, that industrial-strength underpinning makes Norman slightly more complex than what the average user needs. We'd prefer a more user-friendly interface and a few additional options for our $60. But for the best of the underdogs, Norman is our choice. Some antivirus vendors treat home users differently from corporate clients by offering watered-down versions of their apps. But not Norman Virus Control 5.0. This desktop software uses the same antivirus scanning engine as the Norman Virus Control for enterprise systems. That alone makes this product a robust challenger to McAfee VirusScan 7.0 or Norton AntiVirus 2003. Unfortunately, that industrial-strength underpinning makes Norman slightly more complex than what the average user needs. We'd prefer a more user-friendly interface and a few additional options for our $60. But for the best of the underdogs, Norman is our choice.

Leave default settings on
Norman Virus Control 5.0 installs easily, using a standard Windows setup program. Once installed, a system tray icon offers access to the program's functions. Right-click to view a pop-up menu of functions: scan hard disks, initiate a virus scan, or use Internet Update to schedule automatic virus definition downloads. Though Norman's controls are mostly straightforward, we found the many sections and subsections of the Configuration Settings menu a bit confusing. Fortunately, the default configuration will suffice for most users.

Norman includes some excellent features not found in most antivirus software. For example, we like the Task Editor utility, which schedules targeted scans of specific folders. So, for instance, you could tell Norman to scan your Downloads folder at the same time every day and schedule a complete disk scan once a week. With this feature, a network administrator could create schedule files and distribute them to end users. You can also set Norman to run a slower scan that uses less CPU resources, preserving overall system performance.

Two-step virus removal
When we tested Norman on a system infected with the Gibe worm, the software's real-time monitoring detected the infection but failed to take any action. We had to run the on-demand virus scanner manually to find and remove the worm's files from the hard drive. Ideally, antivirus software would remove the worm immediately upon detection, as the Norton app does, without any need for you to start a virus scan.

Unfortunately, Norman Virus Control lacks an essential protection feature: the ability to scan incoming and outgoing e-mail, which would remove viruses and worms before they ever reach your in-box or are sent to someone else. This missing tool is a major gaffe, since most of the latest and most virulent pests use e-mail to propagate. You're still protected, because Norman won't let you open an infected attachment or transfer it to your disk, but it would save time and hassle if the software kept viruses from arriving in the first place.

Simple but not better
Without such crucial elements, Norman seems pretty expensive. A single-user license costs $59 for one year, $79 for two years, and $94 for three years. Officially, these prices don't include free phone support, only e-mail support.

Though Norman offers a good level of virus protection, its high price and lack of e-mail scanning put us off. Other contenders, such as Norton AntiVirus 2002, offer more features for less money. But if you want the best of the underdogs, you can't go wrong with Norman.

Read CNET Labs' test results

Take me back to the roundup

Norman Virus Control offers a variety of configuration settings, so many, in fact, that it can get confusing.

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