Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

April 12, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

SYMANTEC....If there's a software company in America more maddening than Microsoft, it has to be Symantec. Everyone I know who uses Norton Antivirus has a story like this one or worse. How do they manage to stay in business?

Kevin Drum 9:57 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (90)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

I no longer use the Norton program. It caused a bunch of problems and slowed down my computer. And customer support as you say, stinks.

Try Alarmzone. Few people know about it but as the reviews say, it's ten times better than Norton or McAfee.

Posted by: kimster on April 12, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

i've never understood the norton users anyway: the best anti-virus software available is AVG, and it's FREE.

Posted by: nativedancer on April 12, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Get a Mac!

Posted by: jacob on April 12, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with nativedancer; I switched to AVG after years of hell with Norton. AVG is user friendly, updates are easy, and best of all: it's totally free. Would also suggest adding a free firewall such as Zone-Alarm to add another layer of protection.

Posted by: Old Coot on April 12, 2006 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I see that my 'revelation' of using free AVG is not quite a 'revelation' at this point, so just let me add my enthusiastic affirmation that it is indeed the ONLY way to go!

Posted by: Paidi on April 12, 2006 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

get a life, Jacob! Get Linux!

Posted by: nativedancer on April 12, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Avast is better then AVG.

And is free also.

Norton and MacFee have one of the biggest rackets going.

Posted by: caleb on April 12, 2006 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

If I could program, I would program a virus that would infect anyone who posted on a blog to get a Mac whenever a post about virii came up.

Posted by: adam on April 12, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

I like Anti-Virus Guard http://www.free-av.com/ I got rid of all norton crap from my machine and it has been running much better as a result.

Posted by: Sean Galbraith on April 12, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

I stopped using Norton's product a few years agon when I installed their url screening software (prevents access to bad websites). I noticed they were too slow and their memory footprint was extremely high. It is as if they did a very poor job of compiling their in-memory data (a list of all those urls they keep around so they can look up everytime a request is made so they can decide if the request can be allowed to go through or not). As a programmer who cares deeply about efficiency, and as a user whose machine's resources were hogged for no good reason, I had to say No to the product.

Next I got a McAfee package and found that it has its own set of problems. Their product was aggressively filtering out websites based on some predetermined keywords (which I as a user had no control over). For example, if the word "sex" was found anywhere in a webpage (even in a phrase such as "the opposite sex"), that was enough for it to reject the page. Thinking that this is a problem I can easily fix with some configuration, I worked with their tech support, but they were totally clueless. They didn't know about the problem even after I explained it. They couldn't tell me how to configure the set of keywords and couldn't tell me how to disable the keyword filter. On top of that their tech support guy decided to get clever and, after sitting on my problem report for a week, sends me a mail asking me to provide more information (this after I provided that info several times). Clearly he was hoping I would get tired and stop pestering him, giving him an excuse to close out the problem report on his end. I got pissed off and made sure upper mgmt heard from me. After that, kicked out McAfee too. Why waste time on crummy products? Their problems are not a result of lack of availability of technology. It is a result of their lack of appreciation for their customers and their concerns.

Posted by: bt on April 12, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention on the Mac platform they've consistently had some of the buggiest software out there. They've since stopped developing Norton Utilities, but for years their "Disk Saver" program wasn't compatible with the most recent OS. Their virus software isn't too bad now-a-days for the most part (though it's a memory hog) but McAfee is much better in my view.

Posted by: Fred F. on April 12, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

I've been Microsoft-free for years. My whole family uses Linux (web browser, email, OpenOffice), and recently a Mac to do video editing. The 20" iMac is gorgeous. In all these years, zero viruses, zero worms, (so no anti-virus to deal with), minor spam, and fast, stable software. And I'm really impressed with how well the mac can deal with networking -- wireless or wireful, it just works.

I visited my mother at her assisted-living residence, where they have a computer room, running windows of course. My daughter sat down to play solitaire and was confronted with dialogs about licensing, upgrades, registries, ... blech.

Microsoft (and hangers-on such as Symantec) is just unnecessary.

Posted by: The Anti-Kevin on April 12, 2006 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

After some bad Norton Antivirus experiences, I chucked it - and that wasn't easy! - and followed the route of the commenters above.

As Kevin says: how do they stay in business?

Posted by: Jack Lindahl on April 12, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Switched to AVG a long time ago, but my guess is that Symantec stays in business thanks to corporate users; if you are the guy making the choice, you want to cover your ass and you know you won't get fired for buying Norton Antivirus.

Posted by: Carlos on April 12, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Revenge of Gandhi for 300 years of oppression.

Posted by: lib on April 12, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

I see I don't have any of my Norton SystemWorks group of software products operating on my computer right now, and my virus protection is ZoneAlarm Pro.

While I like the file clean-up and correction tasks in SystemWorks, getting rid of garbled files and other built-up crap, and while I like the little tickers in the corner of my screen showing computer usage, etc., EVERY TIME I INSTALLED SYSTEMWORKS, the software never correctly installed because I had a previous Norton product on the computer. It didn't matter if it was the whole suite of programs, or just one. Norton just said, "You have a previously installed version of Norton. Tough rocks. Go away. To hell with you." I would have to go into the bowels of my computer, into RegEdit, and I would have to manually delete every reference to "Norton" or "Symantec." THEN, I could install my software.

Yes, I would like to have my Norton SystemWorks functioning correctly again--I can't remember why it's presently not--but I don't want to spend an hour or two in RegEdit doing absolute crap so I can reinstall it.

Posted by: sdfasrased on April 12, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

I used to work for one of their purchases.

Most software companies in the mid-to-late 1990's that were new startups in the dotcom boom era, were taken over by venture captialists who hired "professional management" instead of letting the technical founders run the businesses. This is what ran most of these companies into the ground; these so-called "professional management" people were really just golfing buddies of the investors, with MBA's.(which is not a real degree, nor even a real academic discipline).

To be fair, some of these "professional managers" were talented, but most were sheep, and when the herd started to get nervous when the wolves picked a few off, they stampeded (layoffs, outsourcing) in hopes of impressing stock market analysts. They gutted essential technical staff at the time they needed to innovate. They picked up on idiotic fads like outsourcing when they needed to cultivate internal expertise. They applied the best short-term profit analysis to every facet of businesses, and cut anything that didn't look good on paper in the near term.

The end result was the bloodletting we saw from 1999-2003-ish. There's plenty of venture capital out there, and there are plenty of good ideas. The VC's just don't have the slightest clue how to connect them, because they're so enamoured of their golfing buddies.

Oh yeah, and Microsoft didn't get what was coming to them. Nobody has the courage to start a software company right now - and anyone of any moderate size is looking to gobble up smaller players so they can be as big as Microsoft, and have a fair chance at competing (as if size really matters - well, that's what investors think).

The problem is, when regulators fall asleep on the job, and these companies are allowed to over consolidate, the various sub components of these companies - formerly competitors, still DO compete, internally, and these companies cannibalize themselves, because they know that regionalism is the key to long-term job survival (and career stability, career upward mobility).

So these medium-size companies that merge are too busy with infighting and layoffs and cost-cutting to actually innovate - they just try to coast on their brand-awareness and marketshare.

I don't know about Symantec - but my former employer that got bought by them, was run by some of the most dishonest clueless morons I've ever met in my life. I don't know if they got the axe, or if they replaced folks at Symantec - I haven't really been in touch, because I left there as fallout from regional inter-unit infighting.

One thing is certain:
It's becoming more and more obvious - even to non-technical and casual computer users, that the old Microsoft-model of trusted-system computing is just untenable in the long run. You need virus scanners, and adware scanners, and even then, the vendor ADMITS that if you get infected, there is often no recourse other than to wipe the system.

The cause of this is that spreadsheet jockeys were making engineering decisions back when David Cutler was designing Windows NT. And the result was that users have to run their day-to-day activities as balls-out highly privileged user-accounts, which get hijacked by malware, end of story.
Microsoft is going to have to change their security model - or a competior (like Apple, or RedHat) will eat their lunch. It's already begun to happen. Apple stopped working with one arm tied behind their back - now there is no more CPU-compatability barrier. OS X 10.5 will ship with Win32 virtualization built-in. Mac users will be able to run Windows apps, Unix apps, Mac apps. Microsoft will become irrelevant if they don't fix their shit and quick.

I've read that their next OS, VISTA, will have a different security model, with some interesting twists. Judging by their past performance, (and I'm intimately aware of some of their attempts at elegant design) - I highly doubt this new model will work for the vast majority of users. Not as simple as Mac OS works. Will they be able to refine it in time? Who knows? As long as the spreadsheet jockeys and "professional managers" are running the show, instead of *gasp* software engineers, I highly doubt it.

And no - Bill Gates is no more a software engineer than George Bush is a leader.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 12, 2006 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

...about virii came up.
Posted by: adam on April 12, 2006 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

Like you're so brilliant about computers...

Plural of Virus

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 12, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

I've had no problems with Norton, but I run it in a fairly simple mode: antivirus only. Annual subscription is annoying, but never gave me trouble. I've noticed that the subscription system now updates directly instead of giving you a code to feed in. At least on Windows.

I use ZoneAlarm as a firewall. The free version--the purchased versions do a lot more. Ad-Aware watches for adware.

I just ran the "Second Tuesday" Microsoft security upgrades. That's pretty easy, too.

Posted by: tbrosz on April 12, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

I bought SYMC at 8, sold at 30, I'm quite happy with Symnantec, thankyouverymuch.

Posted by: IOKIYAR on April 12, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

...but my guess is that Symantec stays in business thanks to corporate users; if you are the guy making the choice, you want to cover your ass and you know you won't get fired for buying Norton Antivirus.
Posted by: Carlos on April 12, 2006 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

I often ask that question about my HMO.
(how do they stay in business).

Bingo.

This leads to the obvious question:
If a business can not stay in business if they had to rely on consumers - then doesn't that mean that consumers are effectively being cut out of our economy? And if Corporations are becoming more and more the sole participants in our economy, what does that say about so-called free-market theory?

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 12, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

I feel like I've been left out of the party. Norton installs fine, upgrades fine, and hasn't locked up on me yet. :(

Posted by: dfx on April 12, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

On macs Norton was never up to date and screwed with valid files. On PCs it does random auto-crap that slows your computer down.

I think they must have changed management at some point, stopped investing on the technical side, and tried to slide by on name recognition alone.

Posted by: toast on April 12, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Mac can start eating Windows lunch. But I don't expect RedHat to be a threat to windows anytime soon. I have recently started using Linux (used Suse and now RedHat) and the UI is CRUMMY and SLOW. I don't mean to start another windows vs linux war, but Linux has a long way to go before it is ready for consumers. I get by using the command line on Linux and use the UI only when I have to.

Posted by: bt on April 12, 2006 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

dfx -- If you have plenty of RAM you don't notice crappy inefficient software.

Posted by: toast on April 12, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, I would like to have my Norton SystemWorks functioning correctly again--I can't remember why it's presently not--but I don't want to spend an hour or two in RegEdit doing absolute crap so I can reinstall it.

And just imagine if you weren't one of the few thousand people in the world who know how to use RegEdit!

Posted by: Cryptic Ned on April 12, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Microsoft is going to have to change their security model - or a competior (like Apple, or RedHat) will eat their lunch. It's already begun to happen. Apple stopped working with one arm tied behind their back - now there is no more CPU-compatability barrier. OS X 10.5 will ship with Win32 virtualization built-in. Mac users will be able to run Windows apps, Unix apps, Mac apps. Microsoft will become irrelevant if they don't fix their shit and quick."

Apple isn't going to be the one eating Microsoft's lunch. As long as Apple is making boxes alongside of the OS, they'll never get much more than 20% marketshare. And they're going to find it very difficult to ever make the decision to stop making boxes.

Only a software maker can take down Microsoft, and there isn't one on the near-term horizon. It'll have to wait until the OS shifts to the web someday, and someone like Google rules the roost.

Posted by: Petey on April 12, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Some people shouldn't own computers. That woman is the sort of person who used to gripe about changing the ribbons in their typewriter and leaky fountain pens.

Posted by: charlie don't surf on April 12, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Never never never never buy any Symantec product. The company is terminally broken.

That being said, I use Trend PC-Cillin. I'd use one of the free anti-viral programs, but I get Trend free from work.

Ummm...free as in they pay for us to have it, not free as in I pirate it.

Posted by: Chuchundra on April 12, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

I got fed up with Symantec years ago and went with another program (System Suite, by... Ontrack? I can't remember, actually, but they sold their stuff to V-Com) and haven't looked back. I get virus updates almost daily, and I don't have to renew anything. They even provide updates for the -previous- version, and the tech support has been great the few times I've needed it. The anti-virus engine is from Trend Micro, so it's pretty robust.

The main point, though, is that there are alternatives and there's no reason to put up with a lousy product or lousy support. It just encourages them. Hey! Can we apply this to the Bush administration?

Posted by: too_tired on April 12, 2006 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

Apple isn't going to be the one eating Microsoft's lunch. ....
Posted by: Petey on April 12, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah they will, on the OS side.

Probably not on the "platform" side, which will fuel their Office Apps, Development tools and API, and maybe servers, which do remain relatively secure as long as they're kept patched and maintained, and walled off within a protective network sandbox behind a firewall.

But the Win32 Platform - the legacy apps, Visual Studio, .NET, that's going to be a bastion for a long time to come. I'm betting, however, that Mac OS X + Visual Studio (under virtualization) becomes the premier software development platform for Windows apps.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on April 12, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Gawd you guys are tools. Look. She clicked the wrong option... Der! No wonder she's messed it up. Software isn't designed to proof fools.

Posted by: IOKIYAR on April 12, 2006 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

Norton Antivirus is obviously part of the al Qaeda conspiracy to destroy Western Civilization. So far it's been a smashing success. It takes advantage of the fact that corporations are run by MBAs who don't understand or even care about what they manage (they buy the Symantic junk by the millions and install it on their corporate systems and the computers people buy), and average computer users who just wants their computers to work without having constantly mess with them.

The best way to fight al Qaeda and the soleless corporations is to use AVG and Zone Alarm. They're free, they work, and they won't screw up your computer.

By the way, did you ever try to uninstall the Symantic stuff?

aa

Posted by: aaron aardvark on April 12, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK
Apple isn't going to be the one eating Microsoft's lunch. As long as Apple is making boxes alongside of the OS, they'll never get much more than 20% marketshare. And they're going to find it very difficult to ever make the decision to stop making boxes.

They'll probably keeping making both, but the two operations, I'd bet, will become less intimately entangled sooner rather than later -- it just simply makes sense with the recent direction of the company for them to eventually start making the software avaiable on third party hardware, while continuing to sell the gold-standard hardware for that OS.

That being said, yeah, the most likely way Microsoft gets unseated is that Google or someone like them is going to prove that Sun was right in the mid-late 90s, just right too damn soon.

And I've had Norton for years with no problems except that the performance drag gets in the way of some games if you don't disable anti-virus when running them.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 12, 2006 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Uh. Anti-virus software is stupid.

Even when I used to use a Windows machine (say at work), I disabled it as quickly as possible. You can avoid viruses by doing a few very simple things:

1) patch the machine regularly
2) don't open files from the internet if you don't know what they are; this includes emails from people you know

You don't need to run AV software all the time (and it really bogs a machine down). If you have something you need to run or open but aren't sure about, scan just that file. It forces you to have some discipline about how you use your computer, and to think about things from the perspective of security.

Also, never use Internet Explorer. The fact that they're still frequently finding bugs in it that allow an arbitrary site to install software without the user agreeing is a sign of a deeply broken product.

Posted by: phleabo on April 12, 2006 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

I've tried AVG on two Windows 98 machines and after it's installed, shutdown doesn't work. Or at least it hangs (when I suppose you could turn off the machine).

AVG works fine on XP and W2K, but I have Norton for the 98 machines.

Posted by: Quiddity on April 12, 2006 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

Love you guys, but the "Nerd Alert" is going off. I'm gonna jump down a thread and bash Tiger. You guys keep jerking off to PC Magazine, though. Out!

Posted by: Pat on April 12, 2006 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

I had a subscription that had expired, Symantec gladly renewed my subscription. When I went to download the new liveupdate virus definitions I found that the version that they accepted the subscription payment for ( a 2 year renewal if I recall). was no longer supported.

Posted by: paul on April 12, 2006 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

As it happens, a related post on Bruce Schneier's blog today:

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/04/what_if_your_ve.html

Posted by: John on April 12, 2006 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

I know some people who work at Symantec. Give me 50 bucks, and I'll go to one of their houses and be mean to them for you.

Posted by: craigie on April 12, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Dumped Norton years ago. Many others that work better and use far less system resources. Try NOD32, Avast, Trend (PC-cillin) or several others from smaller companies.

Too bad this thread devolved into the endless Windows vs. Apple vs. Linux bu$hshit. Use what you like and what works for you.

P.S. I a few years or less there will be no MacOS just Windows on Intel Macs. Apple wil sell more systems that way and Jobs wants (and needs) the money.

Posted by: red_neck_repub on April 12, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

dfx -- If you have plenty of RAM you don't notice crappy inefficient software.

In Cathy's case, I doubt that RAM had anything to do with her purchasing both the Canadian and US installs online and viewing some Symantec messages in Italian. Unless her RAM is possessed, and that's something that most virus software can't detect...

Posted by: dfx on April 12, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

spazmantec

Posted by: koreyel on April 13, 2006 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

I have Norton for the 98 machines.

I think the problem is "the 98 machines".

Posted by: gq on April 13, 2006 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

I have Norton for the 98 machines.

I think the problem is "the 98 machines". Alas, I occassionally need some ancient software that only works on 98. Grrr...

Posted by: gq on April 13, 2006 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

stop using computers.

only the NSA wants you do keep using them.

Posted by: albertchampion on April 13, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Note to PeeCee Windows users who need Symantec's sNorton Anti-virus (or sNorton anything for that matter): I don't care.

Posted by: bryrock on April 13, 2006 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

I dumped NAV for Avast a couple years ago. Avast is free for personal use and has automatic updates of program and database. No virus problems. I also use the free version of zone alarm (router based firewall too) and the antispam Qurb which is now part of Computer Associates. Adaware and Spybot search and destroy round out my protection.

Posted by: Ian S on April 13, 2006 at 12:54 AM | PERMALINK

I'm what - the third person? - who hasn't had any problems with Norton antivirus. I run a simple system, Windows XP (Extra Profit!!) with Norton antivirus and (just begging for trouble) the default Microsoft "firewall."

I run an old HP machine, but it handles what I need it to do.

Posted by: Zandru on April 13, 2006 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

"That being said, yeah, the most likely way Microsoft gets unseated is that Google or someone like them is going to prove that Sun was right in the mid-late 90s, just right too damn soon."

Yup. The Thin Client revolution is just like the Video on Demand revolution. People are constantly talking about them for so long before they actually happen that folks forget that it's true that they are going to actually happen someday.

Back in the early 90's, Time-Warner ran some ungodly expensive VOD project in one town in Florida to figure out the technology before the technology was ready, and everyone thought they were burning money for no reason. But today, I pay Time-Warner a lot of money every month for both client-side VOD with my Time-Warner supplied DVR and server-side VOD for a limited supply of movies. It's still not the 'God's Movie Jukebox' originally promised, but Time-Warner is making many times over what they spent on their demonstration project.

And likewise, the OS will move onto the net eventually. Who knows if it'll take 5, 10, or 20 years, but it will happen. And then consumers will finally not have to patch Microsoft's bad decisions anymore.

Posted by: Petey on April 13, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

RAM's not the problem with most AV software; it's processor and disk access problem. If you have a dual proc machine, you notice it less, but it still sucks. Plus if you have on access scanning, there's always overhead and more RAM won't fix that.

Posted by: phleabo on April 13, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

The Norton AV trick is that you have to go to the store each year and get the new version on CD and get a $20 rebate for sending in a page of the old manual or CD.

I've seen reviews on AV's all over the map. Seems to be more of a personal preference than anything. I saw one test review in which Norton AV found, as I recall, 97% of deliberately installed viruses, and AVG and Avasti only about 85%. I've seen Norton rated #1 by "experts" and in last place. I use AVG on my #2 computer and have used Avasti, which has kind of a precious user interface and a silly yearly re-registration.

My old Win98 computer was bogging down, and I removed Norton AV, and it became reborn, dancing around like a spring chicken. Norton puts just an enormous amount of stuff on your computer. Big footprint.

McAfee never worked for me--always problems. I like the Sygate free personal firewall much better than Norton's or McAfee.

Because of that review I saw that Norton found more viruses than AVG, I continued this year with Norton, but with reluctance. Norton gives problems with outgoing mail scans--had to turn that off.

Posted by: myron on April 13, 2006 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

what bryrock said.

Posted by: nova silverpill on April 13, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

When I last ran NAV, which was no later than 3 years ago. It found several viruses, but could clean none of them, though there were hacked together cures for each all over the web.

There is a simple four step process for not getting viruses, worms, adware or spyware in Windows:

1. As mentioned above, don't use internet explorer. Delete all IE icons and make another browser the default so that you don't use it by accident. If you absolutely have to use it, you can still get to it by typing a web address into a windows explorer window.

Other browsers do not allow bad software to be installed on your computer without your say so.

2. Don't use Outlook. All email viruses work through Outlook. They will not infect you if you use something else.

3. Use a broadband "router". This simple step will make your system almost unhackable from the outside.

4. Update Windows all of the time. Several viruses and countless script kiddies still take advantage of exploits that are years old.

Posted by: Boronx on April 13, 2006 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

switched to McAfee -- years ago. can't give you a horror story because i've blotted out all the memories.

Posted by: secularhuman on April 13, 2006 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK

4. Update Windows all of the time. Several viruses and countless script kiddies still take advantage of exploits that are years old.

Some of those updates can do in your computer also. I had this one (no remedy available):

Your CPU uses the Prescott core with 1MB of L2 cache on the die and it turns out that there is a bug in the microcode of all Prescott processors that causes them to lock tighter than a badgers sphincter when XP SP2 tries to boot.

Posted by: Myron on April 13, 2006 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK

I have to say I'm not a big fan of Norton Ghost 9.0. I did not like the product enough to upgrade to 10. I believe that acronis true image has a good reputation. Think I'll try that next.

Although I'm pretty happen with my Norton Anti-Virus. I hope people are just getting the Norton Anti-Virus and not Norton's more bloated package which I think is called Norton Internet Security. Just a bunch of unneccessary and even anoying features and you've got to pay more obviously.

Posted by: joe on April 13, 2006 at 3:44 AM | PERMALINK

i use a mac, therefore i don't worry about internet viruses at all, at least for the time being. viruses aren't written for macs!

used to use norton disk doctor, but since OSX came along, i just use disk warrior to fix any major problems. OSX automatically runs disk first aid every time i boot up, so stuff gets constantly fixed. also on macs running OSX, you should periodically go into the "utilities" folder inside the "applications" folder and find the "disk utilities" app, and the do the "repair permissions" operation. this fixes code that's gotten out of whack.

damn, apple is finally being smart by allowing widoze to be installed on macs! it's a double-dog DARE! %^D windoze is PAINFULLY inferior to OSX, and now people will have the opportunity to see for themselves!

Posted by: surreal neal on April 13, 2006 at 3:57 AM | PERMALINK

Every new virus generate a hundred million for Norton. You all have gotten yourself in a trap.

Posted by: Matt on April 13, 2006 at 4:25 AM | PERMALINK

Virus writers don't bother writing for Mac because with a 3% market share it isn't worth their effort.

The catch is that a lot of developers of useful software don't write for the Mac for the same reason.

Posted by: JS on April 13, 2006 at 4:32 AM | PERMALINK

Tired of hearing this explanation.

Windows market share is inflated by millions of corporate purchases for single use - cash registers and the like.

The proportion of Mac users much larger in home space, and among college students.

Macs aren't burdened by security holes like IE, Outlook and the general system configuration in Windows.

You can be sure the virus writer that infects the Mac OS X for the first time will be a hero in that twisted world (and coincidentally at Symantec and McAfee!).

I have happily used Macs for years without serious problems, but have spent many happy :( hours erasing the hard drives on my family and friends' Windows machines and reinstallig the OS to solve infections.

Just sayin'

Posted by: gs on April 13, 2006 at 5:29 AM | PERMALINK

to answer the original question: norton and mcafee stay in business because of corporate IT buying decisions and hardware OEMs like dell (the "free" install that come with your "free" OS when your new PC shows up). I would be very surprised if retail sales of new copies, i.e. you download and install it or buy the cd, amount to more than a few percent for either of them. it is deeply ingrained in the corporate buyer's mindset that free can't be as good as paid-for and the market leaders must be best; as somebody analogously said long ago "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM".

Posted by: supersaurus on April 13, 2006 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

Dumped Norton AV when I got my new PC last year. Never could get it off my old Win98 system, which it nearly brought to its knees. Bad stuff. Now use F-prot.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on April 13, 2006 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

and the "maddening" factor? changing from M$ to another OS has a much higher barrier to entry than changing from antivirus solution "X" to antivirus solution "Y". if you switch to Apple you not only get to learn a new OS but you have to buy expensive hardware along with it. if you switch to Linux you have to decide how much the absence of your favorite app is worth...this time of year one might consider for example the loss of TurboTax.

Posted by: supersaurus on April 13, 2006 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

Didn't Kevin have this discussion several years ago (or was that on CalPundit)? Based on that discussion, I switched to Avast at first, but that bizarro GUI on a slow machine was impossible. I finally switched to AVG and have been happy with it. (Except it seems absurdly slow when downloading messages from the mail server and then transferring them to Outlook Express.)

Posted by: Theo on April 13, 2006 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

McAfee is just as bad - half the time the anti-virus software doesn't load and then you have to log in to their damn website to "verify" your subscription. Pisses me off, given the $75 annual subscription fee. I may try the freeware that was discussed here - thanks to all.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on April 13, 2006 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Without actually telling you to "get a Mac", you might consider that there's a reason that answer keeps popping up when you write about computer problems, no matter how much you plug your ears and say la-la-la-la-I'm-not-listening. Here in the reality-based community, we recognize that being a member of a minority has its advantages when a new virus/worm is sweeping through the dominant monoculture.

But, even though I DO have a Mac, I also have a firewall box on my network, and I also run a (Mac) program called "Little Snitch" that warns me whenever any program attempts an unauthorized connection to the net. I do NOT run any Norton products.

Norton's just a disaster. We tried to use it on PCs around 1998-2001, and it just slowed things down and got in the way (to be fair, we were doing software development in Java, and Norton had this idea that it cared a lot about Java programs). Not One of the technical staff was ever dinged by a virus or a worm, despite collecting quite a few in our in-boxes.

To be fair, Norton's not the only disaster. In the world of disk recovery (yes Mac disks can also crash) MOST of the tools that purport to help (Techtool Pro, Disk Warrior) did not. One (ProSoft Data Rescue) did. They signal that it works because he for-free download will tell you what files it can recover, and then you buy the product to get your files. It's a real up-yours to the competition, if you think about it.

I am not entirely looking forward to running running PC programs on the Mac. Some of the PC attacks are actually vectored through the applications, and the Mac versions of these apps can be vulnerable (there was a recent problem with Excel), and the Mac is merely hardened against attacks, not invulnerable. In a bird-flu world, the last thing you want to do is go adding bird DNA to your genome.

Posted by: dr2chase on April 13, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

Symantec is one of a group of large software companies that acquires rather than develops technology. And as anyone in corporate America knows, by the time the MBAs, Wall Street and the execs get done looting the company, development and support suffers. When they outsource help desks, pray that someone knowledgeable wrote the help scripts in use, since there is no training or knowledge whatever beyond them.

AV products are a curious beast. I support 50k users on corporate versions of the products which can be challenging enough. The consumer versions of these products are generally nothing like the corporate ones. The consumer versions are bloated suites of generally non-integrated pieces (AV, antispam, antipopup, privacy etc etc). Makes for wonderful marketing, (after all, aren't more features better?), but in reality, there ought to be a disclosure that implementing all features will likely prevent you from doing anything meaningful on the web, or receiving email.

An addtional question, to the one Kevin asked: How do companies like Symantec continue to receive "Editors Choice" reviews from magazines like PC-Magazine.

Posted by: RickG on April 13, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Apple isn't going to be the one eating Microsoft's lunch. As long as Apple is making boxes alongside of the OS, they'll never get much more than 20% marketshare. And they're going to find it very difficult to ever make the decision to stop making boxes. Posted by: Petey on April 12, 2006 at 10:58 PM

Yeah, that worked so well for NeXT, died a few years after they stopped making their own boxes, and Be, who also died a few years after they stopped making their own boxes too.

There isn't a single company that has been successful when they decide to go all software against Microsoft.

Sorry, but it's on the hardware that Apple makes the majority of it's profit.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 13, 2006 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

I think I'm going to dump Norton this year. The "renewal" process is... well, you only have to Google "Norton renewal" or "Norton subscription" to come up with years'-worth of complaints by users that they don't get what they paid for. I won't up your irritation level by describing the way they cheat, but why and how states attorneys general haven't stopped them in their tracks as scam artists beats me!

Posted by: PW on April 13, 2006 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like to point out that upwards of 20% of end user computers hooked up to the internet are infected with some species of spyware, virus or trojan. A significant number of viruses and worms flying around the internet are for malware over six months to a year old. Recent proof of concept viruses have been released for the mac and for linux so you're seeing the thin edge of that wedge already.

I work in the industry and look at these numbers every day. The idea that everyone should just dump their AV software is insane in light of those infection rates and the only thing really protecting linux and mac is they historically have a very low market penetration so aren't a good target for building your bot net.

Don't like Symantec? Fine don't run it but for the love of God run something to clean your malware ridded computers.

Posted by: nulltensor on April 13, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

We have about 75 computers running Norton at work and have never had a problem. Furthermore, the Microsoft firewall for XP Pro is excellent.

I would guess that people having problems with Norton have older versions of Windows, and are having a variety of problems. Anyone not using XP Pro should be deported.

Posted by: Jeff II on April 13, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

a lot of this is probably an older hardware/software issue...

my laptop's a Centrino Duo running XP(home) with Norton 06 and everything runs perfectly...have Zone Alarm but haven't needed to use it.

Posted by: Nathan on April 13, 2006 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I don't go near Norton anything. One really, really bad experience with it taking over my Windows box and not letting go...if I remember, I gave up and reformatted.

For system recovery, Google 'Knoppix' and download the .iso (free) - you can boot into a ice Linux GUI from the resulting CD and grab whatever you need from the HD. Love this.

I handle 15 real estate offices and a couple thousand users, all with a corporate version of McAfee, and the corresponding ePO that updates every couple of hours. Problem-free for the most part; I'm a believer.

Posted by: Noam Sane on April 13, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

That should be a 'nice' Linux GUI. Not ice. Though that would be cool, haha. Get it? Cool ice. OK, gonna go jump off the roof now.

Posted by: Noam Sane on April 13, 2006 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, one more thing. That lady's green wallpaper is to die for.

Posted by: Noam Sane on April 13, 2006 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Could it be because you use Microsoft Windows, which is an enourmously difficult system to program for, and is marketed to people who are utterly cluesless?

Posted by: Crissa on April 13, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, I'm sure that's it, Crissa.

Posted by: Noam Sane on April 13, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

I don't use any AV software at all these days. It's rather simple to avoid viruses, as most of the virus-writing tricks are well known by now. I find spyware to be the real threat, although since switching to Firefox that hasn't been much of a problem either.

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on April 13, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Norton! AARGGHH!! Their antivirus fouled up two of our computers so badly, we had to pay several hundred dollars to the Computer Geek God in town to make them usable again.

After paying for a license to use it on two computers, when it came time to renew the subscription, their site took our money for both computers, but would only allow one download/install. To make matters worse, we were unable to uninstall it sufficiently to allow another AV program to run properly.

The Norton Security suite is even worse. When it's running any web page larger than a few Kb won't load.

Posted by: BrazenlyLiberal on April 13, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget about ClamWin. Uses the ClamAV scanning engine - has updated DAT files almost daily, and for me has run very well.

http://www.clamwin.com/

Posted by: Mike Baptiste on April 13, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

How is AVG free? Free trial certinaly but free? What?

Posted by: MNPundit on April 13, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

AVG free page, there is a free version for home users missing a few non-essential sounding bells and whistles.
http://www.grisoft.com/doc/289/lng/us/tpl/tpl01

I beleive I will give it a try tonight, my norton expired a while ago and thier licence renewal software is aparrantly unable to cope with the fact that I let it lapse for a few months.

Posted by: jefff on April 13, 2006 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

dr2chase:

In a bird-flu world, the last thing you want to do is go adding bird DNA to your genome.

Good one!

Posted by: tbrosz on April 13, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

I went to the referenced site, and looked around. I noticed the pajamas icon, and thought "Maybe not all PGM folks are idiots", and then I started reading:

Like Charlie Brown with Lucy and that football, every year I optimistically renew my Norton Anti-Virus, hoping that maybe this time it won't be pure hell.

"Okay", I thought, "Good analogy, but if she keeps doing that, she can't be too bright."

As I read further, I started shaking my head at both her predicament and her foolishness for sticking with it.

And then I looked at her blogroll and saw the "Blogs for Bush" section, and had a revalation: It's the same thing. She's a Bush supporter, so *of course* she'll stick with the same broken course, over and over again, no matter how badly it's turned out before or how badly it will keep turning out!

Oy!!


(FYI - I've avoided Symantec at home for quite a while, and have finally dumped McAfee and loaded AVG. I join the chorus in recommending it!)


Posted by: Jeff on April 13, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Someone posted that nothing will happen until microsoft is down and someone like google rules... so to speak...

I've been thinking about that. Google has an interesting plan, which is to take, in my opinion, everything out of the operating system and put it into a browser, and serve it up themselves. Leaving only a lonly OS and some utilites to actually run the pc.

Interesting concept.

However.... in the long run, past all the cheers of killing the MS beast... will be the google beast, which hosts/owns all of our data: email, calendar, searches, applications, data (it's coming). So then we will have a new beast....

I'm not really complaining, just explaining that we are close to a tipping point from one extreme to another. Apparently there are only two computing models, locally owned or actively hosted with the operating instructions (OS) somewhere in between.

For some reason I think there must be another model.

Regarding Norton: works for me. I never renew, just keep getting updates. Maybe i did something wrong? or am just happy with the current version?? it's not the version of Norton that's important, it's the latest virus definition file that they put out that you have to get.. They prey on people's ignorance of what is actually needed, just like AOL and others....

Cheers!

Posted by: AC on April 13, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Time for that monthly comment (since you seem to bring up the myriad problems/hell/aggravation of Windows on a monthly basis) that you and many of your readers could save yourselves years of aggravation by simply switching to Mac (or Linux for that matter). In EVERY measurable way but one,* Macs are SUPERIOR. Period.

I know you hate it when we remind you of this, but that doesn't make us any less right.

*Games. Ya got me there, time-waster.

Posted by: Charles Martin on April 14, 2006 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

Couple of quick comments:

MAC users: Yes, there are MacIntosh viruses. In fact, the first computer virus I ever encountered was a MAC virus. Are there as many as for Windows? No. Think of it as a percent of market share.

I've seen Norton work well and work poorly. Works better on a well-maintained machine (Disks cleaned up periodically and compressed, old programs removed, and the PC configured to NOT load every application on startup). That said, it can screw up the best of PCs. It's a memory HOG.

The corporate versions are better than the comsumer versions. Symantec wants to be a big corporate player, so that's where the emphasis goes.

Posted by: laughingsong on April 14, 2006 at 5:44 AM | PERMALINK

Too many comments, but here's another.

Our office uses Kaspersky antivirus, and while I don't love the interface, in my experience they have one of the best (if not the best) virus databases in the industry. I switched from Norton three years ago when a trial version of Kaspersky eradicated a pesky infection which Norton didn't even notice.

Posted by: Ken Bowers on April 14, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly