For the past few years, anyone who used windows and the Internet had a copy of Norton Antivirus. People also have started to complain about the slowness of their computers. Here is my story about a switch to a microsoft product (gasp!) and how it has benefited my computing experience.
How I discovered this information
I used a number of free tools to dig this information out of my computer, here they are:
- Process Explorer - http://sysinternals.com
- A little program that lets you browse through your process tree, view individual application cpu/pagefile/io usage, threads, and other things, all in real time. Useful because it shows what applications launch under an existing application.
- TCPView -http://sysinternals.com
- A similar tool to process explorer, this shows the status of your TCP/IP stack, input and output.
Why Norton got to be where it is
Anti-virus and firewalls are vital for any windows computer user who browses the web. While you may not use windows as your operating system of choice, you may be forced to use it for work or school. As windows is the most popular operating system in the world, it is also the most targeted by black-hats. To browse the web and protect yourself against most of the bad things out there, you have to run an anti virus and firewall. This is where Norton comes in. As the dominant market leader in Internet security software, they appear all over the place, and your computer probably came with a 90 day free trial. This success and their monopoly on the market has made their product horrible, but more on that later.
Those slowdowns aren't windows fault
Many users bash Microsoft and Windows for being so slow, whereas in fact virgin windows (windows without anything else, just a base install) runs perfectly fine, and fast. Most of these slowdowns are caused by various applications. Norton is the worst. Norton will wait forever to load up on initial startup and then when it loads, it will lock your machine so it can "initialize", and then chug away for the next 15 minutes at 5% cpu power. I would rather it lock my machine and chug away at 70% or something like that, so it would get done soon.
Not Internet explorer, the windows explorer, the main interface. Ever notice the lag in opening a folder, the start menu, or a right click contextual menu? That is another one of Norton's
features. This is it checking to see if there are any viruses in the action you want to do. I don't think that my own TI-89 titanium calculator wont have viruses on it, because it doesn't support windows file types. Yet Norton goes ahead and scans, but instead of informing you of its actions, it does it in the background as to keep the user from interfering.
Another problem i felt was how slow office, mainly word, was to load. It would sometimes take 10 minutes to load up word to do a document. This is another Norton
feature. It scans the document to make sure that it is not infected by a virus. This is fine, but when I launch word to create a blank document, does it really need to scan? No.
What I did about it
I went out to the store and bought a copy of Microsoft's Windows Live 1-Care suite. This is a continuation of the free windows defender program, Microsoft's free anti-spamware tool. After spending 3 hours and 5 reboots removing Norton, I installed 1-care. This took about 15 minutes, and then it proceeded to pull up the settings and let me configure it. The settings for this program are much more varied, and it lets you control far more aspects of how it works. Also, the descriptions and help files aren't
idiot-ized, made more simple because the
average computer user wont know how to open a document.
The new firewall
Norton had a 1 way firewall, incoming only. This is OK, but you really want a 2 way, incoming and outgoing. 1-Care has one of these, and it works really quite well. It tells you when it blocks an application, and lets you choose several options, including block this once, block forever, do not block, allow once, custom.
1-care can automate your backups, and like any good tool, supports everything from burning them to CD to huge server tape backup systems.
1-Care has a
tune up tool that is more of an extension of the basic microsoft tools. It defragments your computer, cleans your page-file and registry, and does many other maintenance things. I noticed that after running it my computer was much speedier, and the odd lags were gone.
Live does take a while to load, although far less than Norton ever did. While its loading, however, it still allows you to use your machine, so you can boot up iTunes and listen to music, boot up firefox and read newsvine, and many other things. Norton never let you do this.
Finally, whenever it is running, it uses an amount of processor speed relevant to the task at hand, not just 5%. For example, running a virus scan runs at an average of 5% when you are using the computer. But when you let it idle for 5 minutes, it jacks it up and uses about 30% to 45%.
Integration and updates
Since it is a microsoft product, 1-care ties to the Windows update service, and makes it behave much better. 1-care replaces the service, and automates everything, but you can still customize it. It will automatically update office, your virus and spyware tools, as well as parts of the windows OS.
The 1-Care package is far better than Norton has been, and will hopefully stay that way. Norton used to be decent, but now it is just horrible and makes a computer impossible.
To everyone who has a Norton subscription that will expire soon, don't renew it, get a copy of Windows 1-care, and be much happier. It even comes with a 3 computer license out of the box!