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Symantec Norton Antivirus 2005
Windows platform antivirus protection for files, email, internet, instant messenger.

By Jon Deragon, Visca Consulting
Wednesday, January 19, 2005; 4:00pm EST

The statistics on how quickly your internet connected computer will become infected by viruses, worms or other menaces without adequate virus protection are simply staggering. We aren't talking about months, weeks or even days until infection... we're talking hours! So the real question is, who's going to be your defender against all of this?

Symantec recently launched the new 2005 version of its highly successful Norton Antivirus product, complete with new interface tweaks, a new point of protection and some other goodies. Norton Antivirus 2005 includes the anti-virus software and a 1 year subscription that automatically updates your software with the latest virus information to help it defend off all the latest predators. The software protects your file system (including compressed files), incoming and outgoing emails, instant messenger and your internet connection against viruses, trojan horses, internet worms, spyware, and malicious scripts. It achieves this by watching all of these entry points while running in the background of your computer.

Installation of Norton Antivirus 2005 is simple. The 2005 version features a pre-install scan for detection and removal of viruses that may cause installation problems. After installation another scan of your hard drive is required, so be sure to set aside a block of time for the installation.

Once up and running, the Norton Antivirus 2005 icon resides in your system tray and with a double click you have your complete control panel to its status and settings. The new interface is cleaner, with vital information easily gathered at a glance, but generally similar to the 2004 version. The options button leads to an impressive amount of configurable options affecting all elements of the anti-virus tool. If your email frequently contains viruses, you will certainly want to change how the email virus scanner handles notification as the frequent notices in its default setting were annoying to put it lightly.

For the most part, Norton Antivirus 2005 is non-invasive during your daily use of your computer, once you have all of the notification settings to your desired configuration. Email scanning is swift and seamless (an improvement over the 2004 version), and all other scanning is completely transparent to the user. Virus definition updates are done automatically in the background, and you are notified by a small non-intrusive notice box that pops up from your task bar. A new 'QuickScan' tool can scan your hard drive whenever new virus definitions have been downloaded and installed. With 2005, you are now able to disable anti-virus scanning temporarily or until the system is rebooted for such things as software installations from original discs for example. 2005 requires relatively small resources to run, and does not seem to impact system performance by any perceivable amount.

As for its effectiveness in eliminating viruses, we were frequently alerted by Norton Antivirus 2005 of viruses or worms attempting to connect, save or execute on our computer. Showing that it was hard at work fending off attacks in emails (primarily), on web sites and in downloaded files. However, after a few months of use it did not fully protect from all viruses entering our test computer - as a hard drive scan detected 2 viruses it did not prevent from residing on our hard drive. We would have liked to see the  automated drive scan feature configurable so that if the computer is in use, that it perhaps waits until the system is idol before commencing the scan. The automated scan was known to 'pop-up' at very inconvenient moments, the intelligence to kick in when the computer is idol would be more ideal.

Norton Antivirus 2005 is not without its problems. A known bug which hasn't been resolved causes what we believe to be quite serious system problems if you move the Norton Antivirus 2005 icon from its default folder to another one of your choice; and we have had problems with it reliably updating its worm protection based updates telling us we did not have an up to date subscription.

Overall, Norton Antivirus 2005 makes a solid effort in protecting your workstation. Its ability to protect a multitude of virus types and attack points, almost transparent operation and ease of use make it ideal for most workstations and environments. Users purchasing virus protection for the first time would be highly recommended to purchase Norton Antivirus 2005, users with 2004 should consider it as the pricing is in-line with a subscription update and offers a cleaner interface and more features; users with competing products such as McAfee should consider it especially when coming time to renew their subscription.

Norton Antivirus 2005 minimum system requirements are Windows XP/2000/Me/98, 133MHz - 300MHz processor and 64MB - 128MB of memory (depending on operating system), CD compatible drive, Internet Explorer 5.5 or later; and supports AOL, Yahoo, MSN and Windows messenger clients. Recommended retail pricing is $49.95USD for full version, and save up to 40% for upgrades. Check for rebates and specials at major retailers. Available immediately from all major electronics and computer retailers.

PROS - Improved interface; fast email scanning; transparent operation; easily configured; excellent virus attack point coverage; regular virus definition updates; low system resource utilization.

CONS - Unresolved bugs; automated drive scan sometimes intrusive; allowed some viruses to slip through that it later found during hard drive scanning.

About The Author
Jon Deragon is president and founder of Visca Consulting, a firm specializing in web design, development and usability for businesses of all sizes. His many years in the technology industry has enabled him to write quality, in-depth product reviews to assist businesses make more informed technology purchases. He welcomes any questions or comments you may have regarding his company's services, this review or interest in having your company's products reviewed.

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