Norton 360 Deluxe reviewon March 18, 2024 at 12:48 Tech Advisor

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At a Glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

Strong antivirus protectionWide protection against major online threatsSimple, straightforward features

Cons

Performance impact on some PCsUser interface would benefit from consolidationUpselling of additional services

Our Verdict

Its interface is a bit unruly, but overall Norton 360 Deluxe offers strong antivirus protection and an excellent spread of protective features that include a password manager, VPN access, automated cloud backups, and Dark Web Monitoring. PCs with modest hardware can experience a performance hit during scans, however—something to consider if you often work heavily with new or altered files.

Price When Reviewed

£29.99 for the first year

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Of Norton’s offerings, the Norton 360 Deluxe plan hits an ideal sweet spot of wide protection and affordable pricing. It’s an excellent all-in-one solution for those who would otherwise be more lax about security if they had to maintain each piece separately. For example, if you’re more likely to use a password manager if it’s part of same user interface as your antivirus, then all the better.

Not much is outwardly different still since we last reviewed Norton 360 Deluxe, though the company continues to work on and evolve its back end. Arguably, that’s the more important focus, especially as AI enables bad actors to be more sophisticated with malicious behavior.

What has changed is other rival antivirus companies joined with Norton under a single owner. Parent company Gen Digital now owns Avast, AVG, and Avira in addition to Norton, and during a press briefing, Gen shared plans to power all its antivirus software with a single engine and focus more on the features offered by each of its brands.

That’s welcome news, because Norton 360 Deluxe’s main Achilles heel isn’t its performance, but rather, how it presents its features to users. And that’s a drag on an otherwise excellent product.

Further reading: See our roundup of the best antivirus software to learn about competing products.

What does Norton 360 Deluxe include?

Norton groups its many plans under two main umbrellas: Antivirus and All-in-One, with notable overlap in features. Though access to more online protections is always good, keeping the options straight can get a little overwhelming. 

Norton 360 Deluxe offers a wide range of features for its price.

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Norton 360 Deluxe stands out among the bunch as an all-in-one plan that protects against major online threats, without extras you may not need, like identity theft assistance. Protections against online threats includes antivirus, malware, and ransomware detection, a built-in firewall, malicious link and attachment screening, dark web and privacy monitoring, and webcam safeguards. You also get 50GB of storage for cloud backups, access to Norton’s password manager and VPN, parental controls, and PC utilities that include the ability to monitor for outdated software.

Some features, like the privacy monitoring, can be upgraded to include help with scrubbing you from data broker sites. And Norton lets you know it, too. Despite already having paid for a plan, you won’t be immune from upsells of additional subscription services.

How much does Norton 360 Deluxe cost?

When purchased through Norton directly, the Norton 360 Deluxe plan costs £30/$50 for the first year, and then reverts to a higher full price of £90/$120 afterward. Plans come with a 60-day money-back guarantee. Be aware that Norton automatically enrolls you into auto-renewal at sign-up.

Norton 360 Deluxe (5-devices)

£29.99/$50 for the first year

£89.99/$120 per year thereafter

You can use Norton 360 Deluxe as an individual or family plan—Norton only limits use by number of devices, which you can spread across Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS as you choose.

Compared to rivals, Norton doesn’t favor number of devices over features (or visa versa). Instead, you get a good balance between the two on this mid-tier all-in-one plan. If you really need more devices, you can upgrade to Norton 360 Premium (aka Norton 360 Advanced in the UK), which isn’t widely advertised on the website. Costing only a little bit more (£35/$55 for the first year and £150/$140 for every year thereafter), it doubles the number of protected devices to 10 and cloud storage to 100GB.

You can buy a license for Norton 360 Deluxe through online retailers.

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As with other antivirus suites, you can save further on Norton 360 Deluxe (and Premium) through third-party retailers, including our own digital store, Amazon, and Newegg. These plans vary more in number of devices and length of subscription, which can help you get a better deal for your situation. That’s especially so during major deal periods like Black Friday—just this past year, we saw a one-year subscription drop to just $20 for Deluxe, and $25 for Premium.

Key features of Norton 360 Deluxe

Installation and user interface

To get Norton 360 Deluxe on your PC, first purchase a subscription and then download the installation file.

When that’s complete, you’ll first see the My Norton interface—which is only one of the two you’ll interact with. It has a modern, streamlined look, and Norton 360 Deluxe’s major features can be accessed through it—scans, updates for the program, the VPN, the password manager, dark web and privacy monitoring reports, cloud backup, and parental controls. You can also jump straight to the secure browser and software updater, as well as settings, notifications, and help files. In a nice touch, your subscription status (that is, days remaining) is listed in the upper-left corner.

For the most part, this view is simple and clear, but it does have some quirks. One is the lack of a back button while navigating through submenus (like in settings). Another is the limited settings.

Norton 360 Deluxe’s interface has two different views, and you have to bounce between both to get access to all features.

To access deeper settings, you’ll need to switch to the Classic view. It lets you customize the behavior of antivirus scans, the firewall, backups, and protections for email, apps, and your webcam. You can also tweak administrative settings for the Norton app, like if remote management or silent mode is enabled. 

You can hop over to Classic view by choosing Device Security > Open in the My Norton view. This interface has a more dated vibe, with four tiles that let you access features (Security, Internet Security, Backup, and Performance). Tap on any of them, and the full options reveal themselves in the middle of the screen. A fifth tile is dedicated to switching back to the My Norton view.

Several features can only be accessed through the Classic view, like webcam protection settings and the password generator.

The Password Generator tool is only available through the Classic view.

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With this dual interface setup, your best bet to not get too lost is to click around and get familiar with each layout. One tip for data nerds: You can look at reports about your usage and scan outcomes over time.

As for notifications—Norton does err on the side of more pop-up notifications about status changes and activity, but you can turn them off pretty easily. That’s unfortunately not the case for the app’s promotion of additional paid services.

Virus, malware, and threat protection

Real-time protection

Norton 360 Deluxe protects your PC from real-time threats in several different ways. It scans new or altered files that you’ve added, opened, or downloaded; controls access to files and folders that could be targeted by ransomware; and monitors apps for unusual activity. USB drives are also scanned by default as well, as are network drives and scripts in Microsoft and Adobe documents. Norton 360 Deluxe also strips away scripts when downloading documents. And email on your PC is checked for sketchy links and malicious attachments, both incoming and outgoing.

When you’re on the web, 360 Deluxe will check websites to see if they’re secure and if they’ve been compromised—but only if you have the Norton Safe Web extension installed. Norton 360 Deluxe also limits access to your webcam (“SafeCam”).

Scheduled and manual scans

Norton 360 Deluxe’s default schedule is a monthly full scan—but you can change its frequency with surprising precision. (Want to run it every 15 hours? Not a problem.) You can also set a schedule for the other default scan types: Quick Scan, Drive Scan, Folder Scan, and File Scan, or create your own custom scan to add to the list.

Advanced users may find the settings for each scan limited. The full scan, for example, only lets you choose to scan within compressed files, remove infected folders automatically, scan network drives, and delete low risk and tracking cookie files. The other default scans have even fewer settings, and there’s no option to run a complete, exhaustive deep scan. It saves on system resources—and won’t hit your PC as hard, if you don’t change your file collection much after the software does an initial pass of all your files—but if you like to manually run thorough scans, you’ll be disappointed.

Norton 360 Deluxe offers broad, fairly comprehensive protection, but there are extras that don’t really serve much use, too.

You can edit the settings for scans to change their location and how often they happen.

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Additional features

Browser extensions

For comprehensive protection, Norton provides several browser extensions to improve online safety. The ones related to web safety are Norton Home Page (which changes your default to Norton’s rendition of a start page), Norton Safe Search (which changes your default to Norton’s search engine), and Norton Safe Web (which scans links and adds a green or red badge to let you know if they’re safe or not to visit).

Not all of these are universally helpful, though—most people who already have a preferred home page and search engine will only find value in Norton Safe Web. And weirdly, installing only Norton Safe Web is circuitous on Chrome. I could only get it onto my test PC by going through the Norton 360 Deluxe app, which forces you to first install Norton Home Page and Norton Safe Search.

The Norton Safe Web browser extension screens links in search results.

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Fortunately, since I went through all that, you can use this direct link for Norton Safe Web to the Chrome Web Store. Why the extension doesn’t turn up when running a search for it isn’t clear.

Separately, you can install Norton Password Manager, as well as Norton Family (which monitors web browsing habits). The password manager is the most polished (and in my opinion, useful) of all available extensions. At most, you’ll really only want to use Norton Password Manager, Norton Safe Web, and possibly Norton Family.

Cloud backup

To have Norton back up your most important files, you’ll need to first set up this feature within the app. If you accept the default settings, cloud backups will upload everything except video and email files in your Windows document folders (i.e., Pictures, Documents, Music, etc). You can change the file types, as well as add or exclude files and folders. You can create different backup rules (called a “Backup Set”), but can only save to one location per backup set.

Speaking of save location—this feature really only seems to be for cloud backups. If you choose a local location, Norton 360 Deluxe doesn’t seem to work properly. On more than one PC, I couldn’t get Norton to save the files to an external drive, even though the confirmation dialog said it had.

Attempting to back up to a local drive did not work when I tested the feature on more than one PC.

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So if Norton’s cloud backups will be your first backup system, you unfortunately won’t be able to use it to properly cover your butt. It’s definitely better than nothing and a good start, though. And if you already have a good backup protocol in place, setting up these cloud backups least further ensures that ransomware can’t lock you out of your most important files.

Password manager

Norton’s password manager is simple but good—a refreshing change from services that feel stripped to the bone. Setup is easy, too. Norton asks you to create a separate vault password, then prompts you to download a recovery key. (You can’t recover your account otherwise if you forget your vault password.)

Afterward, you can use the Norton Password Manager mobile app to enable passwordless authentication for logging into your vault. It greatly simplifies an otherwise cumbersome system where two passwords are required to access your vault (once to get into your Norton account, then to unlock the vault), and it’s seamless, though the authentication approval is a little slow to register. You can access your vault through the website, a browser extension, or the mobile app.

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One odd quirk I encountered during my review period: You only see different font colors for numbers, symbols, and letters when generating a password, but not afterward. You also can’t set the clipboard to automatically clear after a certain time if you copy a password.

VPN

The interface for Norton’s VPN is clean and easy to understand, but almost too simplified. For starters, you can only choose your location by country and not a specific city. Also, your settings are limited to toggle switches for turning on auto connect, auto VPN (VPN activates on unsecured Wi-Fi networks), the kill switch (blocks internet access if the VPN abruptly disconnects), and ad tracker blocking. You can also add apps to the split tunnel feature, which keeps the VPN from routing their traffic.

Speeds while using the VPN were inconsistent during my light testing—for example, while connected to the U.S. server, I got anywhere from about 88 percent of my normal download speed to as little as 29 percent. If you’re stuck on a slower connection, that could hurt a lot.

Norton’s VPN settings are bare-bones.

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Countries supported are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.

You can only access the VPN through the My Norton interface.

Parental controls

You can set up Norton 360 Deluxe’s parental controls quickly. Just install the Norton Family app, as well as the Norton Family browser extension, on your kid’s PC. Then set up a child profile for them. 

Once in place, you can track web, search, video, and app activity, as well as restrict access based on time of day. On iOS and Android, you can also restrict access based on app (Android) and get alerts if the device leaves a specific location.

Norton’s parental controls (“Norton Family”) are accessed through a web browser.

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Like the rest of the Norton website interface, statistics and settings are streamlined and easy to navigate, though there are some limitations. For example, you can only monitor YouTube and Hulu site usage on mobile in Norton’s mobile browser and not within apps or website embeds.

PC utilities

Included with Norton are several PC tools—though most are duplicates of existing Windows features. 

Optimize Disk is Norton’s version of Windows Disk Defragmenter—and honestly, not necessary. According to Norton, it only focuses on defragging of hard disk drives. You’re better off using Windows for disk optimization, which already treats hard drives and SSDs with the appropriate protocols.

File Cleanup gets rid of temporary files held by Windows and any lingering Internet Explorer files. (Yep, Internet Explorer—presumably, Norton’s serving people clinging to dead versions of Windows; Edge is not yet supported.) Again, you can use Windows’ own tool for this.

Yes, Norton still concerns itself with Internet Explorer files. (Legacy Windows users…it’s time to upgrade, friends.)

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Startup Manager lets you view and manage which apps automatically launch with Windows startup. You can easily use Windows’ own management setting for this by typing startup apps in Windows search.

While there’s nothing wrong per se with using these utilities—Norton’s attempt to centralize them isn’t a bad impulse—introducing a third-party into the mix is extraneous. The only real interesting tool is Graphs, which shows you a history of system use (installations, downloads, optimization, virus detections, quick scans, and alerts).

Dark web monitor

You can give Norton information like your email addresses (up to five), physical addresses, phone numbers (up to five), mother’s maiden name, driver’s license number, insurance info (up to five), credit card numbers (up to 10), bank account (up to 10), and gamertags (up to 10).

If you’re like most people, you’ll get an instant hit for your email address(es) if you use them often, but the list isn’t nearly as comprehensive as using HaveIBeenPwned.com’s lookup tool. I consider this as an extra method for getting an alert, but not something to rely on for full coverage.

Dark Web Monitoring keeps an eye out for leaked data about you.

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Privacy monitor

Data broker websites scoop up information about you from public records and other databases that buy data. (The latter is why privacy policies are so important—companies that you interact with can and do sell your information.) Depending on what they find, these websites can put your name, birthdate, current and past addresses, phone numbers, and relatives into just about anyone’s hands, and removing yourself from these sites can be like playing Whack-A-Mole. 

Norton asks for a surprisingly minimal amount of information to run a search for you on these types of sites—but the results aren’t as comprehensive as some other services. You’ll also have to pay for an upgrade to Privacy Monitor Assistant to have them handle the leg work of removing your info.

Secure browser

For those who don’t want to deal with keeping Chrome secure, Norton 360 Deluxe offers an alternative—Norton Secure Browser. It’s based off the same Chromium code as Google’s browser, but the experience is more locked down. 

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Out of the gate, Norton Secure Browser comes with the Norton Password Manager, Norton Privacy Guard (which blocks trackers and some ads), and Norton Safe Search Plus (which verifies links) extensions installed, and it only supports a limited number of optional browser extensions. (You can still install extensions for big rival password managers such as Bitwarden, Dashlane, and 1Password, so you’re not completely locked into Norton’s ecosystem.)

Overall, it’s a Chrome-lite experience, which has the upside of narrowing how much trouble you can get yourself into. On the flip side, it’s not fool-proof. You can’t install a separate ad-blocker, like uBlock Origin, that blocks sponsored links. In fact, the Safe Search Plus extension will put a green checkmark on some sponsored links for downloads that are not the official, primary site—which in my book opens up users to potential risk.

Customer support

You can get help directly within the app, both from the My Norton and Classic views. Norton also offers support pages and community forums on its website, as well as technical support through social media, chat, and phone assistance. For simpler questions, the in-app help and support pages are a good place to start, while the forums and company support are better for troubleshooting.

Incidentally, if you’re looking for the version info for your Norton app installation, you can access it through Help > About.

Updates and maintenance 

Virus and app updates run automatically by default, but you can run the LiveUpdate feature manually if you want to check for pending updates. It checks for any changes to the antivirus protection, process protection, and Norton app.

Performance

In tests performed by leading security research institutes, Norton generally performs well—at least when it comes to online protection. In AV-Test’s zero-day attack and malware tests for September and October 2023 (the most current as of this article’s publishing), Norton detected 100 percent of the threats. 

Similarly, in AV-Comparatives’ real-world protection test for July through October 2023, Norton blocked 99.8 percent of the 512 test cases. However, it also had 17 false positives when blocking domains or files, one of the highest numbers among the software packages. (For comparison, ESET posted zero false positives, while AVG and Avast had two.) In practical terms, this could cause unwanted hassle or stress when trying to access a legitimate website or start a download.

AV-Comparatives

Meanwhile, when tasked with the 10,007 samples in AV-Comparatives’ September 2023 malware protection test, Norton 360 scored a 86.0 percent offline detection rate, 99.7 percent online detection rate, and a 99.98 percent online protection rate, with 12 false positives. Generally, the online protection score matters most—but the offline detection score highlights how heavily Norton relies on an active internet connection for full protection. In contrast, rival Bitdefender tops the charts with a 98.2 percent offline detection rate, while still also offering a 99.98 percent online protection rate and fewer false alarms (just 4).

Norton did not participate in AV-Comparatives’ November 2023 Advanced Threat Protection Test, which evaluates a security suite’s resistance to more sophisticated, targeted attack methods like malicious scripts and fileless attacks.

AV-Comparatives

For PC performance, Norton 360 Deluxe can have a notable effect on common tasks. You’ll see it less in everyday activities, as evidenced by PCMark 10, a benchmark that simulates web browsing, video chatting, gaming, and file editing in open-souce programs like GIMP and LibreOffice for images and documents. When idle in the background, watching for real-time threats, Norton 360 Deluxe had virtually no impact on PCMark 10’s test scores. But if a full scan ran continuously during the benchmark, the results dropped by about 6 percent.

When using Microsoft Office apps (as simulated by UL Procyon), the performance drop gets bigger—an almost 10 percent dip during a full scan, and roughly 6 percent at idle. That difference grew biggest when running our Handbrake encoding test, with a 22 percent decrease during a full scan and 11 percent on idle.

One thing these numbers don’t show, however, is how Norton typically handles full scans. After an initial full scan, subsequent ones look for changed or new files—which speeds up the scan time and the drag on system resources. And full scans are scheduled by default for off-hours.

Still, if you handle files often—especially if you’re on a mid-range or budget PC—Norton’s effect on your PC performance is something to consider.

Should you buy Norton 360 Deluxe?

Norton offers a lot—but its strength is its Achilles heel, too. You get broad, fairly comprehensive protection, but there are extras that don’t really serve much use, too. This security suite would benefit from a unified interface and a lighter impact on system performance. But if you’re seeking an all-in-one solution, this one still ticks the right boxes.

Editor’s note: Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this article.

This review originally appeared on PCWorld.

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