How can I kill a Norton AntiVirus 2007 install that's slowing a PC to a crawl?
October 29, 2006 6:14 AM   Subscribe

Norton Antivirus 2007 is killing my wife's PC (I think). How do I get in there and disable/uninstall it. And what should I use instead?

My wife's Dell PC (Inspiron 5100, WinXP Home Edition, Pentium 4) has been happily running Norton Antivirus 2003. Her virus definition subscription ran out, and it cost the same to update the definitions an to upgrade to Antivirus 2007, so I went for it. Now she's suffering through slow restarts, slow launches, and explorer.exe crashes (eating up 100% of the processor after it's been running for any length of time). I can't even get a clean shutdown. I finally have to just power it off.

What can be done? I've tried in vain to pull up the control panel so I can uninstall Norton. Is there a command-line way to do so (I'm familiar with bash, but much less so with DOS)? Is there a way to start it up in safe mode so I can try to fix things?

If I determine this is the problem (and it seems to be--I haven't modified anything else), what should I run instead? This is an older laptop. I need something that won't eat up all the processor.
posted by wheat to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You should be able to use -> Control Panel -> Uninstall. Make sure you get the main application and the automatic update thingy. You'll have to reboot at least once.

Then I'd advise Kaspersky AV. Made with older systems in mind, and generally is rated better. Get a free 30 day trial, I've run it for a while and love it.
posted by Ookseer at 6:25 AM on October 29, 2006

Can't you F8 into safe mode (keep pressing F8 until you get a startup option list. If you see XP graphics, you're too late) and then use autoruns to prevent it loading at boot up and then remove it?

There are also files on Norton's website to 'force remove' Norton AV when traditional methods fail. Apparently you're only supposed to use these when you really have to, but I've used them as a matter of course with success. They seem better able to untangle NAV from the OS then the generic uninstaller.
posted by dance at 6:26 AM on October 29, 2006

Best answer: Then I'd advise AVG Free. It's completely free, is widely used, and has saved the booty of many a buddy.
posted by dance at 6:27 AM on October 29, 2006

(Do'h ignore the first part of my advice. Clearly I'm doing too many things at once and can't read a post.)

Try booting into safe mode (Press f8 on boot), and uninstall from there. If you can't boot safe mode... you got big problems.
posted by Ookseer at 6:30 AM on October 29, 2006

I prefer NOD32 - consistently excellent detection rates and very low use of system resources. You can check AV-Comparitives for some other alternatives.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 6:48 AM on October 29, 2006

I have used all of the programs so far suggested, and would instead recommend AOL Active Virus Shield.

Don't let the name fool you -- this is a free program based on Kaspersky Antivirus (arguably the best commercial antivirus software out there these days) that AOL started giving away a few months ago as a marketing gimmick. It has almost all of the features of the commercial Kaspersky version, and uses Kaspersky virus definitions (which it downloads every few hours).

It's a great piece of software, and much more user-friendly than NOD32 or AVG.
posted by perissodactyl at 7:43 AM on October 29, 2006 [1 favorite]

I second the recommendation to boot into Safe Mode (via F8 during bootup) and removing Norton.

I also second the recommendation to use AVG Free Anti-Virus

While you are at it, I also recommend checking for spyware with Webroot Spysweeper. Spyware can also lead to slow boots and crashing explorer. Spysweeper is the best anti-spyware product on the market.
posted by Argyle at 7:46 AM on October 29, 2006

Then I'd advise AVG Free. It's completely free, is widely used, and has saved the booty of many a buddy.

When I started my computer this morning, I was informed by a popup window that my free AVG antivirus would no longer be free as of Jan. 2007, and they solicited a $70 subscription for 2 years, along with other products.
posted by Brian B. at 8:17 AM on October 29, 2006

I feel for you. I have a suffering Inspiron 5100 too. You might want to backup your important data, wipes the whole damn drive, and reinstall. Its more work but it guarantees that you get everything and it also gets rid of anything else that you may not really need.

As for new apps, I use Avast! for anti-virus, Windows Defender, AdAware, and SpyBot for the rest of it.
posted by ChazB at 8:38 AM on October 29, 2006

I've read good things about Clam Win, an open-source free anti-virus program. But I've not used it.
posted by LeisureGuy at 8:40 AM on October 29, 2006

Best answer: NAV is notoriously difficult to uninstall via standard Windoze methods. Fortunately, Symantec provides an uninstall tool to address this problem
posted by Neiltupper at 9:10 AM on October 29, 2006

Response by poster: Update: I got in via safe mode, but I couldn't uninstall Norton AntiVirus via the Add/Remove Applications control panel. Norton pops a dialog and tells you that you can't uninstall it in safe mode--try it from normal mode. Great design choice there, guys.

I'm in (right now) in normal mode. Launching anything takes minutes. But I've finally got the Norton AntiVirus uninstaller running. I'm going to try out AVG Free (for now, so there'll be some anti-virus running to protect the box) and am then going to check out some of these other options. Thanks to everyone for all the help. And keep it coming if you have any other recommendations.
posted by wheat at 9:14 AM on October 29, 2006

Response by poster: Update 2: I got Norton AntiVirus uninstalled and it clearly was the problem. The box started up normall, without any of the delays that had started after I "upgraded" to 2007. Now I'll work on getting my money back from Symantec. I'll follow up on that as well. I'm downloading AVG Free right now. I'm also interested in Clam Win and Kaspersky AV (I might try the 30-day trial of that one).
posted by wheat at 9:30 AM on October 29, 2006

ClamWin is free but it's a VERY slow scanner on older systems.
Also it doesn't offer real-time monitoring ... a deal breaker in my book.

I'd reccommend BitDefender 9. I'm use it on an older systems and it runs well. Plus it has real-time monitoring, a firewall, and email scanning.
posted by w_boodle at 9:50 AM on October 29, 2006

Brian B., I thought that alert offered a couple of for-pay choices and a new free version. It was a bit early...I'll see it again in three weeks.
posted by taosbat at 10:06 AM on October 29, 2006

When I started my computer this morning, I was informed by a popup window that my free AVG antivirus would no longer be free as of Jan. 2007, and they solicited a $70 subscription for 2 years, along with other products.

There's a button near the bottom that says something along the lines of click to download new free AVG version whatever. I haven't done so, though.
posted by moonshine at 10:07 AM on October 29, 2006

I guess I need to look at it again when it reminds me in 21 days. Thanks.
posted by Brian B. at 10:21 AM on October 29, 2006

I actually paid for the AVG/Ewido anti-spyware combo. The two have found some scary stuff that was missed by Norton, Spyware Doctor and Webroot Spysweeper.
posted by Huplescat at 1:50 PM on October 29, 2006

I've ditched Norton in favor of AOL Active Virus Shield, which is basically a free and branded version of Kaspersky. In a recent test, Kaspersky blocked the most viruses of any competitor, and AOL has kindly made it available to everyone for free (and it's not like it throws ads at your or something, as far as I can tell they've just changed the name). Download here:
posted by awesomebrad at 4:13 PM on October 29, 2006

I used to have NAV and had no end of problems. I ended up with AVG and have been very very happy with it. I think it's incredibly easy to use and very unobtrusive. According to the AVG site, "GRISOFT is announcing a new version of the AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition" so it appears that there will still be a free version.
posted by nelvana at 5:23 PM on October 29, 2006

I've used AVG for several years and got no virus. Last year, both local ISPs started recommending it. I asked both why they started doing that and they said it was because AVG started doing auto-updates for the free version.

I had noticed the auto-updates, myself, and had my mom dump Norton Security for AVG and Zone Alarm (and Spybot and AdAware). She gets along just fine with that set-up. When my sister got a new computer this year and had me set it up, first thing: I uninstalled the McAffe suite 'trial' it came with and set her up with the well-seasoned, and more effective, freebies.

Today I called both my mom and sis and told them to hit the 'wait 21 days' link. I do remember one AVG major upgrade that went awry...
posted by taosbat at 5:39 PM on October 29, 2006

Response by poster: I'm running Sygate Personal Firewall (which was free before Norton bought it and discontinued it. You can still get it from tucows). I also have a hardware firewall on my Linksys router. So I figure AVG + Sygate will keep me covered. I'm amazed that the offer this for free. I'm glad to hear that it works for people. I'm going to uninstall Norton Antivirus from our other laptop (my main laptop). Norton AntiVirus always been a memory and processor hog. And I'm mad at Norton/Symantec for wasting so much of my time with this buggy upgrade.
posted by wheat at 5:49 PM on October 29, 2006

Norton AV 2003 was pretty useful but I think they've downhill since.
posted by taosbat at 5:57 PM on October 29, 2006

posted by taosbat at 5:57 PM on October 29, 2006

FWIW the corporate version of Symantec AV has never given me any trouble, on older or on newer systems. It doesn't seem to be processor-intensive and is one of the more unobtrusive security products I've used. I have no idea how a product that appears to work this well becomes the craptastic pile of hell it seems to be in the home user version. Two different teams working on it, or what? Seems like a bad decision - if you hate the home version, why would you push for your company to buy the corporate one?
posted by caution live frogs at 9:28 PM on October 29, 2006

Response by poster: caution live frogs: I've had the same experience. The corporate version is unobtrusive and unproblematic. I guess they try to stuff the home version with "features" so people will feel they're getting something for their $40 bucks.

taosbat: both of my laptops were running NAV 2003 before I upgraded one of them to 2007. The other is still running 2003, but I'm going to remove it and go with AVG Free on both.
posted by wheat at 12:41 PM on October 30, 2006

AVG has a good track record, wheat, and you sure can't beat the price. Good luck!
posted by taosbat at 12:54 PM on October 30, 2006

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