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Which Norton Product is Best - Antivirus, Internet Security, or 360?

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 7/13/2010

Different features and prices are what separate Norton Antivirus 2009, Norton Internet Security 2009, and Norton 360. This articles compares the three versions and explains how I made my personal choice.

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    Which Norton Product is Best?

    For the past couple of years, I had been using free software for my virus scanner and firewall. When some recent problems arose on my system, I decided it was time to actually spend some money on a commercial grade security package for my Windows PC. I'd heard from a friend that Norton's 2009 line of products were excellent, so I did a little research into which one was right for me.

    Norton has been a trusted brand in the world of PC security for many years now. As of this writing, there are three main entries in their 2009 lineup – Norton Antivirus, Norton Internet Security, and Norton 360. I personally own the Internet Security 2009 package and am quite happy with it. I think it offers the best value for the money, and has the best security features of the three different versions.

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    Norton Antivirus and Security Packages

    Here's a basic rundown of the three different packages, all of which are compatible with both Vista and Windows XP:

    Norton Antivirus – This is basic virus scanning and removal software, and it retails for $40. Although virus scanning is very important, I thought it would be better to have the added security provided by Norton's Internet Security. This version does not include anything for identity protection or network security. It also does not include any kind of firewall solution, which is very important to have on any computer that uses the Internet.

    There's also a recently released Gaming Edition of Antivirus that is supposed to shut itself down while running computer games. The idea is that it frees up memory and system resources that might slow down the performance of computer games. It also contains fewer notifications and interruptions. I have not personally tested it, but am a little wary of such a thing since many games involve an online multiplayer component that includes downloading data from servers and other people's computers.

    Norton Internet Security – This is virus scanning plus extra security features, and it retails for $60. I was attracted to this version because of the extra online protection it gives by working to block phishing (password stealing) websites. It also provides some home network monitoring, which is important to me since I have my house set up on a wireless network and I want to make sure none of my neighbors (or anyone driving down the road) are trying to tap into my system.

    Norton 360 – This is the ultimate version that does everything Internet Security does, plus it includes some backup and tune-up software. It retails for $80. I personally don't need the backup software that comes with this version, though I was interested in the PC tune-up aspect. The tune-up is mostly a one-time thing, and all it really does is clean up the registry. I didn't feel like it provided enough benefit to warrant the extra cost. On top of that, it actually has fewer security features than the two other versions, since this one won't help to boot a badly infected PC, nor does it do pulse updates from Norton.

    Be sure to shop around before you buy any of these versions, as the prices can fluctuate quite a bit between retailers. I bought my version of Norton Internet Security 2009, which includes a 3-user license so that I may legally install the software on three different computers, at Sam's Club for less than $50.

    For more information, visit Norton's website at