Do I need Norton Internet Security?
January 13, 2017 3:09 AM   Subscribe

Just got notice from Norton about re-up, and it's now up to $110. Is there a cheaper or maybe even free way to protect my computer?

Do I really need something that is expensive and really bloating/slowing my computer? What are the freebe or low cost options the kids are using this year? Money is really tight since my insurance premiums went sky high in November and these days I barely have the cost of a six-pack. So I'm hoping to find something that will work and not cost me.

I did a little looking around and was immediately in over my head. I don't know what these programs (AVG,Comodo,Avira etal) would really do for me. So I'm asking the Hive Mind Computer Aces. Please, some advice?

Many thanks.
posted by james33 to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Personally I'm a fan of BitDefender. It also is on the pricey side, though I'm pretty sure my most recent purchase was less than $110. I'm happy with its performance so far.

I strongly recommend against AVG, I tried it for two years and it caused me nothing but trouble the entire time.

I lightly recommend against most free programs, because generally with things like that, if you aren't paying, you are the product. When it comes to computer security, that makes me uncomfortable enough that I'm willing to shell out for something I feel I can trust. However, if someone else knows something free that really stands up to this, I will cheerfully admit to being wrong.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 3:15 AM on January 13, 2017

Norton has always had a bad reputation for being bloatware, and for making slower PCs run like crap. I've used Avast and Panda's free offerings a lot, and both were unobtrusive and effective (although I turned off Avast's speech thing, because it's very annoying.) I've also been a fan of MalwareBytes in the past - I still keep it installed to do a manual scan from time to time.

What I probably wouldn't do is actually pay for a security product; the free products have kept my PCs virus-free for the last decade, despite my downloading and installing all sorts of crap.
posted by pipeski at 3:31 AM on January 13, 2017 [7 favorites]

To add to that last bit, a lot of the paid-for products are essentially the same as the free versions in terms of protection against malware. Where the paid-for products differ is that they tend to offer extra bells and whistles, such as their own firewall, plus layers of idiot-proofing that help to mitigate the more egregious mistakes that grandparents and teenagers make when using the Internet.
posted by pipeski at 3:36 AM on January 13, 2017

If you are using Windows 10 and your online behavior is sane, you are very likely OK using its built in security tools.

IMO, it is difficult to get an realistic assessment of the effectiveness of competing security products. Vendors obviously have a motive to frighten users. Reports from individual users are always anecdotal. (And users do not always know when their system has been successfully attacked. Would you know if your machine had been made part of a bot network distributing malware?)

Whatever software you use, be sure to keep it current. No security software will protect against new threats it has not been updated to recognize.

I would not use any free software unless it received the same updates, at the same time, as its paid counterpart. I'd also want it to include more than virus protection. Primary threats today are malware distributed via mail, web content, etc. These are not viruses. For example, if you, or someone else using your PC, lacks the discipline to avoid clicking on random links in mail, then you need an effective anti-phishing tool.
posted by justcorbly at 4:10 AM on January 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

Do not use the free version of AVAST on an old computer, (like something running Windows XP). It slowed down my computer so much I had no choice but to uninstall it. This, after running it for a year or so.

I uninstalled it last week and I'm so glad I did.

FWIW, my computer was free.
posted by qsysopr at 4:17 AM on January 13, 2017

Whenever I've had to configure a computer for relatives or friends, I've used Microsoft Security Essentials (i.e. the default MS product). It's free, it works, it's painless.
posted by outlier at 4:18 AM on January 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

I personally sick with the free one in Windows 10, but I'm cautious and I do tech for a living. If you want a strong paid product, I'm a big fan of ESET.
posted by deezil at 4:19 AM on January 13, 2017 [7 favorites]

Check for deals on Norton - I got a 5 device version 6 months ago for $20 for the entire year.

Microsoft Security Essentials has really lost its efficacy in the last few years and is low-rated.
posted by getawaysticks at 4:29 AM on January 13, 2017

Check your ISP. I have Comcast and my Norton Security Suite has been free for years, but they don't really promote it.
posted by kimberussell at 4:50 AM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Windows 10 - I use the built in Windows Defender and I have Malwarebytes. Both are highly rated by the tech support subscriptions that I have. Never have had a problem. And Defender automatically updates to keep current. I have tried paid versions and found they did nothing better than what I am using.
posted by JayRwv at 6:28 AM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

The 'windows defender' that comes with works perfectly fine., and doesn't play well with others necessarily. This is assuming you're on windows of course..
posted by faustian slip at 7:45 AM on January 13, 2017

Just make sure it is turned on of course!
posted by faustian slip at 7:46 AM on January 13, 2017

I use Malwarebytes.
posted by Lucinda at 8:00 AM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've never found a third party product that didn't eventually end up degrading my system's performance in some weird way. I'd just stick with Windows Defender and Malwarebytes.
posted by selfnoise at 8:51 AM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a related question open right now. From my research it's 50/50 on whether Windows Defender is all you need; the main complaint is that it doesn't catch some of the more obscure malware that the testing shops test against. Lifehacker recommends Avira for a free third party alternative.

Avoid Norton. Avoid Avast. These programs can significantly slow down your system, in some ways causing as many problems as the malware you're trying to avoid.
posted by Nelson at 9:07 AM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

No, you don't need Norton.

Windows has a built in firewall and virus checker which are both perfectly adequate and have been since Windows 7. Just uninstall Norton and, when you reboot, Windows will turn back on the built in solutions. You can double check by going in to "maintenance" in the system settings.

Norton does claim to "protect your identity". I don't know what that is but, if you really feel you need that, then there is probably another company out there doing the same for better and/or cheaper.

As a bonus your PC will probably run faster!
posted by mr_silver at 9:28 AM on January 13, 2017

Thanks for all the great answers, so many of them gave me lots to think about. One thing I should have mentioned is that I'm using Win7/64.

Microsoft Security Essentials might be a possibility, or perhaps BitDefender. I have about 20 days until they shut down Norton, so I'll keep this open for another day and see if I get any other tips. Thanks again to all of you!
posted by james33 at 9:32 AM on January 13, 2017

I run Win 7/64 and use the built-in Security Essentials. It's a little outside the scope of your question, but I also run my browser with NoScript and I find that I never have virus/malware problems while people I know, including those with Norton etc. seem to constantly "catch a virus" on their computers.
posted by werkzeuger at 7:16 AM on January 14, 2017

« Older Help me find the best videos of dances in public...   |   How to overcome weakness in non-verbal... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.