Dump Norton and McAfee Anti-Virus?

Category: Security

I got a new computer and my friend is telling me that the first thing I should do is remove the Norton antivirus software that came with it. He calls it 'bloatware' and recommends some free program instead. I've always used Norton or McAfee for security, so I'm nervous about switching. What is your opinion?

Is It Time to Uninstall Norton and McAfee?

Norton Antivirus and McAfee Antivirus are the two leading names in consumer antivirus software. But Norton has been losing market share in recent years, slipping from 57 per cent in 2007 to 46 per cent in 2010. McAfee has been struggling in the consumer realm, too. Should you consider ditching McAfee or Norton in favor of a free antivirus solution?

There are problems associated with being Number One in your industry. Norton, and to a lesser extent McAfee, have been on top of the antivirus heap for so long that they've lost touch with their users, argue some critics. Instead of being concerned with the end-user, the two companies have focused on making deals with computer makers to preinstall their software on virtually every Windows PC shipped. McAfee went so far as to sell itself to Intel Corp. in 2010, for an estimated $7.7 billion.

Then there's "feature bloat," a common complaint levied against market-leading software including Microsoft Windows. Norton Antivirus and McAfee Antivirus spent years adding new levels of protection to their products, even when users complained that they didn't know what the features did or how to turn them on or off. Both antivirus programs suffered withering criticisms that they slowed down other computer operations intolerably. In some cases, an excess of zeal to snare every suspected malware program caused Norton and McAfee to disable legitimate programs, sometimes causing thousands of computers to lock up.
Uninstall Norton AntiVirus

Another complaint about Norton, in particular, is the difficulty of uninstalling its products completely. The Windows Add/Remove Programs feature leaves behind many registry settings and files which can interfere with the operation of other antivirus programs and regular applications. Some users find that they cannot get rid of Norton or McAfee without reformatting their hard drives and re-installing Windows.

Bigger Is Not Always Better

Customer service also tends to suffer with success. There are innumerable complaints of long hold times with Norton and McAfee customer support; lengthy sessions with overseas customer service reps that did not fix problems; and even charges for extended support that did nothing.

Hackers write their malware with the biggest targets in mind. Many malware payloads specifically look for Norton and McAfee products, seeking to disable them or exploit known vulnerabilities in obsolete versions. The latter tactic works because many end users don't bother to keep their antivirus software up to date.

You should know there are several software vendors that provide Internet security tools for free. Avira, AVG and Microsoft all have effective anti-virus and anti-spyware offerings that can be downloaded at no charge. My article Free Anti-Virus Programs lists several more than you can check out.

Norton and McAfee charge $30 to $60 per year for updates of their programs and antivirus definition databases. Their products score highly in effectiveness, and provide protection to millions of PCs. If money is not a factor, and you're not experiencing any of the problems that many people have with Norton and McAfee, there may not be much incentive to switch.

But in my opinion, the free anti-virus programs provide excellent protection. I dumped Norton 7 years ago and have never regretted it. Tens of millions of users worldwide use free anti-virus programs to protect their computers, so why pay good money for something you can get for free?

Have you dumped Norton or McAfee? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Dump Norton and McAfee Anti-Virus?"

(See all 123 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Dave
06 Apr 2011

I dumped Norton yeaaars ago when I couldn't update it and the only support was an unintelligible "knowledgebase" article concerning Norton Ghost.


Posted by:

lenr
06 Apr 2011

I checked out the FREE download for AVG. The download is a 30 day trial. Then you have to purchase for $54.99 to

activate it after that. Hardly FREE.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Not true. You must be looking at the free trial of the paid version. You can get the FREE version at http://free.avg.com


Posted by:

Jake
06 Apr 2011

Honestly, I don't see what the problem with Norton is. I have a year old computer running on Windows 7 with the free Norton Security Suite from Comcast. And you know what? It is the best security I've ever had, and I've tried nearly everything.

Viruses used to be a serious problem for me. I'd spend entire days running my computer on safe mode and deleting every virus on it. Now, Norton practically vaporizes them without any effort from myself. I actually feel bad for viruses!

Maybe not all setups of Norton are great, but I can tell you one thing: Norton Security Suite is amazing, and it even updates it's library of known viruses automatically every hour or so. I'd say that's pretty good.


Posted by:

Tom
06 Apr 2011

I was using AVG Free for several years but last year watched as a virus blew right through my AVG anti virus program. I have a few clients who experienced the same problem.

I have sinced switched to Norton which I have bought for $20 on sale at my local office supply store. The plain Norton Anti virus is better than the more pricy versions with way too many bells and whistles. So far we have had no virus problems since switching.


Posted by:

Terry
06 Apr 2011

my computer guru removed Norton years ago & installed AVG Free; has worked beautifully since!


Posted by:

creafish
07 Apr 2011

i get free norton through my workplace, i switched to mse about a year ago when i reformatted my pc, i was reluctant to reinstall norton, turns out mse is much easier to use. i'm getting less phone calls from family and friends who depend on me for support. in most cases i've switched them from avg to mse.


Posted by:

Unnikrishnan S
07 Apr 2011

Norton can be removed completely using the 'Norton removal tool' that Norton provides for free. The same goes for Mcafee.


Posted by:

Bill
07 Apr 2011

Like one of your earlier posters Tim I stopped using Norton & McAfee and AVG last year. I also now use Avast and find it excellant. I also use the free PCTools firewall, which is surprisingly good.

The Microsoft Security Essentials is also a good AV tool.

We use McAfee in work but it slows down the older PCs there too.


Posted by:

coolsimon
07 Apr 2011

Got a Dell Inspiron recently, got rid of Macafee on day one and installed the excellent Avast. An hour later I installed spybot & Adaware. Re every aforementioned product, I am so satisfied I walk around with a grin like a cheshire cat. On previous computer I had C-cleaner. Cant be certain this didn't slow me down a fraction, fab product, but in two minds.


Posted by:

DM
08 Apr 2011

NEVER used Norton. USED to use McAfee, way back when when it was, in my opinion, a "better" product. After the company got too big for it's britches and customer service went virtually down the drain, I dropped them, too. Although their Stinger Tool is definitely worth having. Started using FREE versions of anti-virus and liked AVG, but even that one became cumbersome taking up huge amounts of memory. Today, I am VERY happy with AVAST FREE. It doesn't use extreme memory, it stays out of the way, and it does what it's supposed to do. What more could you ask for?


Posted by:

Forester1
08 Apr 2011

I used AVG for a long time, but have found Microsoft Security Essentials to be every bit as good and often less intrusive. I had problems with AVG tying up too much CPU some times.


Posted by:

Nevada
09 Apr 2011


Who are these people who have to format their computers in order to simply remove Norton or McAfee? They MUST be absolute idiots! They shouldn't even be using a computer from the sounds of it. Please introduce me to one of them so I can give them a well-deserved slap!
I've worked on all kinds of computers, a lot running Norton products and have NEVER ever in 15 years had an issue uninstalling it. Yes the support lines are a nightmare, but once you are thru if you know what you are talking about you can get fast resolution. If you do decide you want to go with Symantec, then the plain Norton AV is fine, no need for the super fancy version.
The same with McAfee, I have removed it easily time after time. I would however never advise anyone to use their product. If someone really does want one or the other, then I would advise using Norton.


Posted by:

HappyBoyVMK
11 Apr 2011

I got a tip from a college computer security instructor recommending a free security suite called Comodo. I have been using it now for a few months now and am quite pleased with it. The instructor still recommends Norton, if you want to pay, but, like Bob says: why pay?


Posted by:

Pete
30 Apr 2011

I had used Pete Norton's utilities as far back as when he still had pimples. It was straight DOS and was fine until just around the time Symantic. It got progressively worse as it grew into some sort of borg-like moster. I have personally had issues with it and can understand how folks have had issues as it infiltrates other programs (Quicken) and the whole computer. So - to the smart-guy who wants to slap somebody why don't you come here to NJ and slap me? You can find me at the Jackson American Legion.


Posted by:

Jon
17 Aug 2011

I made the mistake of buying McAfee just over a month ago.

It had been pre-installed on my acer iconia - herself thought I needed a pressie!

I bought the exact same McAfee internet security set from Amazon at about £20 - instead of the around £50 special offer for buying direct from McAfee.

Great so far, clever me.

For the benefit of the clever clogs' who think that McAfee's deinstallation gizmo works perhaps they could explain why, after an update, it reverted to the original licence and demanded another £45 and told me I had been unprotected for 39 days......

OK so one day I will take everything off and re-format etc. but as all the software on this £1400 twin touch screened extravagant idiosyncratic i5 monster laptop came pre-loaded I may just continue as is....

Jon

PS - Barclays Bank provides Kaspersky free for three PCs per customer in the UK. Virgin allows three installations of another (can't remember the name) AV and firewall for free here as well. AND this idiot went and BOUGHT McAfee :(


Posted by:

Ralph
28 Aug 2011

Recently my brother got a virus bad enough he had to take his computer in to be fixed. The tech there said that AVG, which had been installed, used too many system resources, and recommended Avast. No problems since. I've been an Avast user for over 4 years and no issues. Even the free version updates automatically.


Posted by:

Dale
15 Dec 2011

I started out using AVG. It was good then, but it's not as good as it used to be. I then tried Avast! for a long time. Not very good against rootkits. Plus, it slowed my computer down considerably. I am now using Comodo. I am happy with it so far. Oh, and I have tried Norton in the past. Two thumbs down (and eight fingers)!


Posted by:

Eddie
16 Feb 2012

Norton is HEAVY. Macafee (how do you spell that again?) is, well...MacAfee.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Actually, it's "McAfee" but I get your message. :-)


Posted by:

Eddie
16 Feb 2012

Bill (first post) I am going to try PC Tool firewall. Thanks for the post


Posted by:

Brian
25 Apr 2014

I have most of the programs mentioned and have found them all wanting in some respect. I now use IObit, Advanced System Care Ultimate 7. This has its own anti-virus section, McAfee did not recognise it and claimed I was unprotected!!!. This System is not free if you use the Pro version, but is still half the price of most of the bloated American systems. A full scan looks at over 2 million items, ie: everything on the hard disc of this laptop. I have used this version for the last two years and am very happy with it.


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