The latest version includes compressed file scanning (in Windows 2000/XP only), instant messenger support, and expanded threat detection from spyware or adware amongst its new features. Expanded features included better worm detection, more protection right out of the box, and more detailed scanning. We'll now look at the latest stand-alone version of this ubiquitous antiviral program and see if not only is it worth purchasing, but also if it's worth upgrading from a previous version.
Installing Norton AntiVirus 2004 was a painless affair when installed on several computers. We all had Norton AntiVirus 2003 previously installed on our computers, which was bundled along with Norton Internet Security 2003. The first thing that Norton AntiVirus 2004 did when we ran the installation program was ask if we wanted a "Pre-Installation Scan," a nice touch. We didn't take it up on its offer
When we ran the installation program of Norton AntiVirus 2004, it detected the previous installation of Norton AntiVirus 2003 and offered to remove it. It also explained how we could manually remove it and resume the installation later, if we wished. We allowed Norton AntiVirus 2004 to remove the previous version, yet keep all of its settings and preferences. Out of the four computers onto which we installed Norton AntiVirus 2004, it only failed to detect the previous Norton AntiVirus installation on one of them, which required a manual removal of the previous installation. This wasn't difficult, however, but did increase the time in which it took to install the program. Overall, on most of our computers, installation was a mostly painless and simple affair.
Ease of Use
Norton AntiVirus 2004 has several features so that the computer user will be unencumbered by its presence. The program can schedule itself to scan your system entirely at regular intervals, and can update itself (when connected to the internet) without being asked.
Upon completing all these tasks, you can almost totally forget that you even have Norton AntiVirus, as again, it doesn't get in the way of your normal computing usage. If you have it set to do a full system scan at regular intervals, there's little reason to manually run the program, for example. If all goes well, which is usually the case, you'll probably not need to worry about Norton AntiVirus again unless your computer is unfortunately infected, however.
Performance and Effectiveness
To actually test its virus detection abilities, we downloaded a test virus from Eicar. The folks at Eicar offer these test virus files for free in order to test the effectiveness of antivirus programs, so it seemed perfectly suited for our purposes. We downloaded the files onto a floppy and had Norton AntiVirus scan the floppy. As you can see from the screenshot below, it not only found the infected files, but deleted them accordingly. It also found infectious files located within compressed files and deleted them as well.
Overall, the performance and effectiveness of its antiviral protection is very effective, and therefore impressive. As before, it requires little input from the user once set upon a given task, but allows for user customization if required. In all of our tests, Norton AntiVirus 2004 performed admirably.
If you're looking for a complete antivirus program that provides protection from known and unknown viral infections right out of the box, you can't go wrong with Norton AntiVirus 2004. It's effective, speedy, and very easy to use, which is all the average user could want from an antivirus program. It's also a worthwhile upgrade from Norton AntiVirus 2003, given its faster speed and more extensive feature set. Overall, Norton AntiVirus 2004 represents a complete and effective package of antiviral protection for the home user.