Has Symantec learnt from its Norton 360 mistakes?

Has Symantec learnt from its Norton 360 mistakes?

Summary: Today, Symantec released Norton 360 Version 2.0, but I wonder whether the security giant has learned from its past mistakes?


Today, Symantec released Norton 360 Version 2.0, but I wonder whether the security giant has learned from its past mistakes?

Is it better to over-promise and under-deliver or vice versa? For me personally, I think it's wiser to over-deliver in the hope a customer will come back for more, but this doesn't appear to have been the case for Norton 360.

Read the comments to the blog posted a year ago about Norton 360 Version 1.0 and you'll see what I mean.

Back then Symantec promised to unite storage management and security for the small business with antivirus, identity protection, firewall, automated backup, online backup, 24-hour support, PC Tune-up and more all wrapped up in one product. It was, you could say, a "simple all-in-one solution". This year the features have expanded a little, but according to Symantec's vice president of product management, Tom Powledge, performance is the key.

"The amount of RAM we use in the background is right about the same [as the previous version of Norton 360]. Scan times are lower, boot times are lower, the UI [user interface] launch time -- the time it takes IE [Internet Explorer] to launch -- are all better in the order of 10 to 15 percent better," Powledge told ZDNet.com.au.

Symantec claims it should only take 34 seconds to boot your machine when using Norton 360, 1.7 seconds to launch the user interface, and that it only consumes 7-10 MB of RAM. On all fronts, it claims to perform twice as good as the "industry average".

I hope for Symantec's sake this is true, because according to this blog, there are at least 40 users of Norton 360 who won't be back for version 2.0.

Readers complained that once they had installed Norton 360 version 1.0, their PCs experienced severe performance troughs. Even faithful Norton antivirus users became annoyed after upgrading to 360.

Others complained that Live Update did not function properly, Live Backup only worked intermittently, and that Norton 360 in fact wiped out backed up data.

I tested out Norton 360 for about two months last year, and though I cannot attest to the more dramatic problems others faced, I found the automated backup function to be not-so-automated and un-seamless. The user interface was beautiful -- offering the sense of a central control panel -- but did it work when I hit the button to resolve the backup issues threatening my system? If only it worked as good as it looked.

It's unfair to compare Norton 360 with the free AVG AV software as some of the readers have, but at least with AVG antivirus, the signature updates are seamless and unobtrusive -- the way security updates should be. But as a user -- besides AVG offering a free basic version of its software -- I like it because it delivers on a simple promise, and not a fantasy of how information might be managed in the future.

Which brings me back to Symantec's habit of over-promising and under-delivering.

A telling feature of Norton 360 that indicates Symantec's promises have been overzealous is the online backup service. Sure, for AU$399, you can get protection as well as stuff 25 GB of data down the tubes and into its datacentre. But like one reader found out, what they don't tell you is the recovery rate: 17 hours per 1GB. With a 25 GB service, as the reader pointed out, it would take 18 days to do a full recovery.

Ironically, it was a Symantec storage architect that taught me about the concept of a Recovery Point Objective (RPO) -- an estimate of how long before your business falls over if you can't access your lost data. With an minimum possible RPO of 18 days, it makes the so-called online "backup" more of an archive than a repository you could rely on in a real life disaster.

So has Symantec learned from its mistakes? Let me know if your experience matches the promise or whether Symantec has over-promised yet again.

Topics: Security, Storage, Symantec

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Has Symantec learned from its mistakes with Norton 360?

    In my opinion, NO! I have been a very unhappy Norton 360 1.0 user for the past 7 months. I have had numerous problems with the software, the most notable one being that LiveUpdate would never run automatically. I always had to run it manually after first deleting every reference to it in task manager. I had sort of gotten used to doing it that way and was resigned to enduring the remainder of my subscription, but more problems arose and it finally got so bad I had to uninstall and reinstall the product. It worked a little better--LiveUpdate seemed to work OK--but I now had new problems such as the program crashing daily (often taking everything else with it) and forcing me to restart the computer. I also began having trouble with internet explorer crashing, which didn't use to happen. After numerous emails to tech support people, I was told the new version of 360 was out and I could download and use it at no additional cost for the remainder of my subscription. Hoping the new version was an improvement over the old, I downloaded it, but so far am completely underwhelmed by their "improvements." Now my computer sometimes runs painfully slow, and Norton still crashes on a regular basis. I am also having connection problems--boxes pop up and say I need to connect to the internet when I'm already connected--which didn't use to be the case. I am about at the point where I am ready to delete everything Symantec-related from my computer and try somebody else's software. I will definitely NOT be buying anything else from Symantec.
  • Norton 360 V2

    It seems to me that since I upgraded to Norton 360 V2 many programs are shown as live on the Windows Taks Manager, e.g. multiple copies of Excel, Word, Outlook - they don't close down completely when not in use. i wonder if this is related to Norton 360 V2. Also when shutting down the computer, I regularly have to manually close the Norton file ccSvcHst.exe to complete the close down.
    Has anyone else found these issues?
  • Has Symantec learnt from its Norton 360 mistakes?

    No, I think not. Actually I was quite happy with 360 v1 as I have been with all previous Norton products.
    However, when I installed v2 the ccSvcHst.exe process started running consistantly between 80 and 90% cpu. I've had the Symantec on line support guys look at at it 3 times no and none can fix it. The last guy actually had the gall to tell me that it is supposed to run in the back ground and that everything is normal! Well, I guess I'll start looking around for a better product.
  • Auto scan will not shut off

    Version 1.0 was better, in that you could set task scheduling to manual. Now, it refuses to accept 'manual scans' and scans automatically on start up. I can't seem to find the help forums that was available when 2.0 was still in Beta. If anyone can tell me about the Symantec Beta Forums, that would be better than calling India for help. lol. thanks
  • NORTON 360 is a waste of money

    As an IT professional I purchased a multi user license for Norton 360 to install virus protection on a number of work computers.

    Every work computer with Norton 360 promptly started having issues with outlook and internet explorer amongst other things.

    The productivity of the employees using those computers rapidly fell since they were spending so much of their work time troubleshooting Norton 360 issues.

    My productivity also fell since no sooner had i fixed one issue another one would appear.

    I rate the Norton 360 product as a complete rip off and recommend anyone using it to uninstall it and move to any other anti virus platform.
  • Going back to Norton 360 Version 1

    I actually liked version 1 of Norton 360. It ran well and rarely caused any problems. This may be a first, but I actually was a happy symantec customer. But then again you already can guess where this story is headed. I got the notice to update to version 2 this weekend and after updating My computer no longer shuts down without the ccsvchst.exe error message. I have to manually close the process which is a real pain in the butt. In the various comments here it's clear that Symantec has no clue on how to fix this and the support guys are useless. I will go back to version 1 until they can fix their own mess.
  • Norton 360 V2

    Norton 360 promised to be a complete antivirus/spyware solution. I recently caught a especially nasty spyware that the program neither prevented nor removed. I sought help from Symantec's virus removal team at $100.00 and they removed the worst infection. After that I ran other spyware scanning programs and they kept finding spyware on my system. I contacted the virus removal team again and they removed another spyware. Their answer was to just look with Norton 360 (what I didn't find would't hurt them). Since they couldn't satisfy me that my system was free of spyware, I went through many hours of a clean install. I have also seen that on the backup feature it seems to keep appending files to the backup location so the backup files become more and more bloated. It may be headed toward just absobing whatever storage capcity I provide. I haven't found a setting yet to tell it to overwrite backups after using a certain percentage of storage space. This program seems to need a lot of work. They may be proud of using so little RAM, but if malware just sneeks right through, I would rather buy another stick of RAM and have my computer protected.
  • Norton 360 V2 Programs Not Shutting Down

    I'm having this same issue. I constantly see multiple versions of Dreamweaver.exe in Windows Task Manager.
  • Norton 360 v2

    I'm having the same problems, Windows XP won't shut down and Office programs keep running after I close them. All this has happened since I upgraded to 360 v2. I had major problems with v1 before upgrading. When my current subscription runs out I certainly won't be renewing with Symantec, they've lost me as a customer.
  • Norton 360 V2 Programs Not Shutting Down

    I'm having exactly the same problems. Even though I close a program (Excel, Word, Dreamweaver, Outlook) and it is no longer visible on the desktop, Task Manager shows the program as active. I also have to regularly close ccSvcHst.exe manually. When I kill the active programs (that are suppose to already be shut down), via Task Manager, I do not have to manually kill ssSvcHst.exe at system shutdown. All of this started after installing Norton 360 V2.
  • Norton 360 v2

    Problems with programs still running in the process even after program windows close. This is most definetly down to V2 of the program. Also the ccSvcHst.exe on my machine when running the V2 would not automaticly close on shutdown and would require a manual input to END Now. I have migrated three times across to v2 after complete Norton Removal tool has done its bits. No problems experienced in V1. But bewarned going back to v1 after V2 means that anything you had backed up in V2 is not available for restore in V1 and reduces the amount of available Storage space. Symantecs tech support's only option every time the problem was pointed out was to uninstall and reinstall. This was down 14 times over 1 weekend with the problems still remaining. reverting back to v1 is the only current way to get some program processes to close correctly or you will have to continue to manually end them. My PC was weighed down with applications that had not been closed correctly and was a significant draw on resources. V1 Never going upto V2 till they really sort the product out its worse than a BETA release.
  • Symantec not big on customer retention

    Dont worry, Symantec are used to losing customers.

    I manage the IT for a family business and every year I cringe when it comes to renewal time since you cant renew Corporate Edition online. Usually takes about three weeks of to-ing and fro-ing, trying to get hold of the right person and getting sent the wrong license file multiple times. One is lead to believe that renewal is not something they do often.
  • Symantec

    I cannot believe people still even buy Symantec. It's like a cancer and even when you remove it, it leaves traces embedded all over your computer. I have ben using McAfee for years and along with defender and updates from Microsoft I have captured any virus, spyware, trojan etc. Give them the flick
  • Norton 360

    I bought Norton 360 with my new laptop. When I started the laptop I found a Fujitsu Siemens and Symantec had got together and frovided a 90 day free Symantec antivirus programme on the laptop. I e-mailed as well as on-line messaging the Symantec corporation and asked them if I should wait the full 90 days and then install my new Norton 360 programme. I also asked what I should uninstall of the free programme first. I received no reply whatsoever. I installed Norton 360 after the 90 day free virus programme had finished, having first unistalled all I could of the free virus checker programme. The programme did not load up fully claiming there were 6 items unfinished and later stating one item could not be automatically fixed. I was unable to log on to my Hotmail account as it said there were security certificate issues. Not knowing what else to do, as Symantec will just not reply to anything asked of them, I eventually took the laptop back and the supplier, I believe messed the system up even further. Once they had gone so far they decided to reinstal Windows and even this failed. My laptop has just returned from Fujitsu Siemens having been returned as faulty. To there credit Fujitsu Siemens have returned it to its original state - remember it had worked for 90 days just fine - and then Norton 360 came on the scene.
    I have e-mailed Symantec wandering just what to do now - to reload or beg for version 2 to be supplied to me. I just do not know what to do.
    Symantec have ripped me of and judging by the blogs here they are doing just this worldwide.
    In what other industry would any company be allowed to get away with such low levels of service. Symantec - never again, I just do not know how they get away with this level of robbery. Potential buyers beware. It's a rip-off.
    Should I load AVG instead?
  • Norton 360 V2

    I was a fairly happy V1 user. Had very few problems but nothing that actually caused despair.

    I have a 64 bit system and i am running Vista Ultimate in 64 bit mode. 360 v1 worked fine with it and all seemed well. I recieved the notification about V2 and it's far superior performance and foolishly bought the upgrade. First and foremost i had 30 days of my subcription left which automatically disappeared on the upgrade (this is also the case if you purchase a new subscription) and took some time to resolve through the online help. Then i noticed a severe reduction in performance. one day it took 10 minutes to just start Outlook. I searched for the problem and it was simple it was doing a scan. 2 days later the performance of my PC returned and i could work as normal. This scan happened twice a week and lasted 1-2 days, and my blood began to boil. I contacted Symantec on their online help and all the operator did was clean my HDD which i pointed out to him that 360 was supposed to do. This had no effect. The second guy told me it would be better to reinstall the software. The performance has been moderately better since the reinstall but still not good. If you have a 64 bit system maybe you should avoid 360 i have not heard of anybody with these same problems.
  • 2 virus scans a day on auto AND manual

    Didn't really have any problems with v1 of 360 but v2 takes the P!
    I have found a temporary solution is when a scan starts to run and slows down my system I open 360 and choose to run a virus scan. If you do this you will notice it has already started and you can then press skip - so no need to restart the PC. If i dont get a fix for this soon I'm removing it from all my family's PCs.
  • Norton 360 V2

    You are correct re ccSvHst not closing on shutdown. There is an amendment to registry that fixes this. Finally, Norton admits that programs are not closing and still showing in task manager. The faulty candidate is according to my research likely to be AppMgr32.dll
    However, I cant get to a high enough level in Symantec to explain to them the issue
  • Scrap Norton 360 v2 and upgrade to NIS2008

    Hi Folks, I spent much of today on "Chat" with Symantec support to resolve this problem with Norton 360 v2 keeping programmes loaded in memory after you have closed them. In the end they agreed to refund my license and then charge me the upgrade cost to NIS2008. They then proceeded to remotely uninstall Norton 360 and install NIS2008 on my 3 PC's. Additionally they started my subscription from today and added an additional 60 days to it, so all in all they turned a bad situation around and kept me as a customer. I had threatened to change to Mcafee.
    I can confirm that NIS2008 runs fine. Applications are closed and removed from memory as they should be. Each of my PC's appears to run faster as well, particularly Internet Explorer. I recommend you insist on Symantec upgrading you to NIS2008.

    Regards ... Gary
  • Norotn 360 v2 leaves progs running in Win task

    Alas I was not given that option to NIS2008.
    I spent many hours and only after 4 different techs got offered Norton 360 v2 from v1. However, the url they gave me was a public release of v2, and it did not accept v1 product code. In the end I reverted to a purchased v2. just to get some AV loaded. Norton just dont follow through or escalate issues beyond their capability.
  • I don't like N360

    I won't touch N360 V2. After a year of V1 turning my PC into a snail and about 10 other minor annoyances including problems with live update and the backup function I wouldn't touch another Symantec product witha barge pole. How this company could put such rubbish on the market is a mystery.