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Norton Internet Security 2012 review


A horrible user interface drags down this well-featured and effective suite

Review Date: 19 Apr 2012

Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith

Price when reviewed: £21 (£25 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

5 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
3 stars out of 6

Symantec’s Insight Protection system draws on data from the huge community of Norton users to make reputation judgments about unknown code as it arrives on your system. It’s a clever idea: unfortunately, in our tests, it wasn’t enough to put Norton on top, leaving it with a detection score of 96%. Still, that’s respectable, and Norton’s long history of high scores is encouraging. It also gave the green light to all our harmless false-positive processes.

What troubles us is the user interface, which follows the style introduced in the 2010 edition. We found it cluttered then, and two years of upgrades haven’t helped. It’s overloaded with switches, links, buttons, tabs and gimmicks such as an Activity Map, which shows “worldwide cybercrime for the last 24 hours”. A less practical use of pixels we can hardly imagine.

Norton Internet Security 2012

This isn’t merely an aesthetic issue. The main features are reasonably easy to locate, but adjusting the program’s many settings and finding one’s way around is frustratingly illogical and inconsistent. It isn’t even clear from the interface exactly what’s included: click on Mobile Security, Online Family or Online Backup, and you’ll be invited to install or sign up to other services.

There are good features in here. Network management lets you keep an eye on all your Norton-protected PCs. Identity Safe lets you store passwords in the cloud, so you can log into all your secure sites from any Norton-equipped computer.

Norton Internet Security 2012

The Startup Manager and application monitor make use of the same community monitoring data as the Insight Protection system. This means users can view running applications, and also get an idea of how common and well trusted each process is – handy for identifying rogue software.

Norton Internet Security was once known as a bloated suite, but this 2012 edition added an unremarkable 209MB to our test system’s memory footprint – only 22MB above this month’s average – and raised boot time by one second. A quick system scan took 32 seconds, but this should be irrelevant as Norton scans your PC automatically whenever it’s idle. All told, it’s a well-featured and effective security suite. For £25 a year, though, we expect something nicer to use.

Author: Darien Graham-Smith

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User comments

Why is this review so late?

Norton Internet Security 2012 came out towards the end of 2011.

By SimplyGrey on 11 May 2012

Watch the renewal price!

I have used NIS for the last few years and am generally happy with it so was happy to renew......until I saw they were trying to charge £39 for it. You can easily get it new from places like @ £13.25 currently. To be fair Norton will match this price but it is an old fashioned rip off so beware.

By Phatnick on 29 May 2012


I'm surprised that no mention is made of a serious and yet unresolved flaw with NIS. I bought my multi-licenced version as a result of positive reviews and price. On 2 PCs NIS installed without a hitch, the 3rd seemed to be taking rather a long time it was then that I discovered that NIS was merrily deleting all my programs including W7. Nothing worked to recover my programs (files were intact) so I installed a beta version of W8 which I find has a limited capacity compared to W7.

By conistonwater on 21 Jun 2012

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