Monday, January 21, 2008

Die, Symantec, Die!

I'm going to be off-line for a while this morning.

I'll be eradicating Norton Internet Security 2008 from both my big desktop system and the tablet and installing something else. How do I say it politely? Oh, yeah, that's right, it's me and I don't have to be polite. So I'll phrase it in a manner that will make it a distinctive hit for the search engines:

Norton Internet Security 2008 by Symantec is a complete and total piece of shit
. Under no circumstance should you install this bloated, hamstrung resource-sucking, poorly-coded, productivity-killing, over-priced, piece of shit on your computer.

I've mentioned elsewhere that I despise the NIS interface, everything from it's piss-yellow color to the fact that it does not comply with Windows standards for look and feel, and the fact that it is without doubt the least intuitive interface yet fielded by a mainstream software company.

But this isn't about that - this is about the fact the NIS 2008 is a giant sucking chest wound of a resource hog. Based on my own experience, I'd say Symantec has decided that the best way to protect your computer from the internet, is by preventing you from getting online in the first place. It's simple really, if you can't use your computer you can't get any bad internetty stuff in there.

I have broadband cable internet, both my main desktop system and my tablet are high end machines, with plenty of RAM and processing power and high speed connections to the network - and both are hopelessly bogged down by NIS 2008 no matter how I tweak the settings. I might as well be using dialup, NIS 2008 bogs down the systems so badly that internet surfing is painfully slow, page loads and refreshes take forever. The hard drive runs continuously. The system will sit idle for hours, but the minute you load a page in Fireforx, the drive light comes on and stays on. Both systems frequently lock-up or pause for 30-40 seconds while the drive runs continuously and NIS checks the pages. It's absolutely maddening. And it's definitely NIS 2008, both systems began displaying identical symptoms as soon as it was installed, and the processor scanner shows NIS and Symantec processes sucking up to 98% of the system resources almost continuously.

And then there's the rest of it - for some bizarre reason Symantec has seen fit to remove Ad-Block from NIS 2008, which in point of fact continues a trend. Each year, the Norton product line becomes just a little less feature rich - while the prices inch upward. It's bad enough that that the anti-spam, parental controls, and ad-blocking extensions were regulated to an 'add-on' download, instead of being included on the CD or in the online purchase, but Symantec as been slowly whittling down that add-on pack, with obvious intention of getting rid of it altogether - here's the funny part, I buy NIS primarily because of those integrated enhancements. If I'm not going to get them all in one package, well then I'm going to go somewhere else. Hell, I can get decent anti-virus and firewall protection for free - why the hell should I pay Symantec to hamstring my computer? Seriously, deletion of the ad-blocking software is the last straw for me.

Attention Symantec: You've lost a customer. I've bought Norton products since version 1 of Norton Utilities, but no more. Congratulations, you've finally managed to destroy the one of the best products on the market. You may not notice it in your bottom line for a while, as you coast along on Peter Norton's reputation, but sooner or later you'll be sitting in bankruptcy court whining about how Bill Gates put you out of business and it's just so unfair, wah wah wah! We'll call that the Word Perfect business model.

Seriously, Folks, don't buy this product. Don't install it if you have it. Don't upgrade from NIS 2006, or 2007. If you buy a new computer and NIS 2008 comes pre-installed, delete it.

There are plenty of alternatives, many free, use those.

Back in a couple of hours.


  1. McAfee sucks too. At least I'm not paying for it anymore (my cable internet offers a free version). I had to turn off a lot of its auto-updating because it would slow down the computer to a snail's pace for half an hour every time I turned the frickin' thing on. All updating and scanning is now done on command, but the program itself is still a big hog. It's enough to drive one to [gasp!] Macs. (And for me, the non-conformist, that's a biggie.)

  2. I'm using AVG and something else that I can't remember the name of right now. My ex-sysadmin who freelances as computer security guru gave me a list of what to use on a Windows system, after he berated me for using a Windows system.

  3. Like I think I said previously, we're using Avast here, and are not having any problems.

    Funny thing. Last week I had a customer come in trying to get on the encrypted wireless. He had a new computer, and since he was running Vista, it took me a bit to make sure all the ducks were in a row, at which point we realized he'd be locked out for failed logins.

    No big deal, I told him to check back after lunch, at which point I'd call our favorite netowrking guy and we'd get things sorted out. Meanwhile, I thought we'd get him on the wired system to he could try that in the meantime. "I was out the helpdesk and they said the wired network didn't work" he said. Funny thing, they were right. He was connected, but nothing was coming through.


    After lunch we call Kim The Genius and we get the wireless password straightened out. Log onto the system. Bring up the interent...


    We check his IP address--everything is fine and working and connected. Kim pokes around on his end and I check out the guys security systems, wondering if there was a setting I didn't know about that would keep you from getting on the internet.

    Oh. Hey. What's this? The system is running Symantec AND McAffee?

    Apparently they were fighting each other and you simply couldn't get on the internet AT ALL.

    Of course, I couldn't install Symantec, because I didn't know you had to do it from the freaking MENU instead of add/remove programs.

    But I did send him back to the helpdesk with a sign note explaining precisely what the problem was and how I couldn't uninstall Symantec.

    Saw the guy the next day and after they got rid of Symantec everything worked fine.

    So the moral of this story is that it's not just you.

  4. Does Norton/Symantec still use that bizarre local Norton email server configuration to check for email viruses/adware? That used to give our tech support guys fits.

    We have to use Norton corporate, but it doesn't behave the same way with an exchange server connection.

    Jim - your ISP offers a hosted product called F-Secure. DON'T do it. I was involved in testing of it, and while it's effective, it is also a total machine slowdown. My family begged me to remove it from our desktop computer.

    And may I say... Macs rule. I'm loving the adware-free, virus-free, much-fewer-patches existence.

  5. I was wondering where you'd been the last couple days. Now I have a mental picture of you doing epic battle with a giant yellow box who is attempting to put its sticky fingers in your hard drives.

    Yes, that mental picture made me chuckle, especially since it included a stream of Navy-worthy profanity coming from you.

    Good luck with your new security endeavor. Remember: Computers make our lives easier.

  6. So, here's the question:

    When you can't tell viral infection behavior from the anitvirus software - is the antivirus software worth your time and effort?

    Answer: No

    Making progress. Big machine is partially restored. Still working on the rest of it.

  7. Good luck, though here's to hoping you don't need it.

  8. Udate: Well, I'm not done yet.

    I've successfully removed NIS 2008 from the big machine and re-installed NIS 2007.

    What? Yeah, that's right. Because I need certain things on that machine and I know that NIS 2007 works.

    Understand, I consider this a temporary solution until I find something better, then Symantec can kiss my ass.

    The tablet still has NIS 2008 POS installed because I just couldn't get to it today. I had to spend time in the shop - I've got a major woodworking client coming tomorrow and it would be really nice if I had something to show him. So, there you have it.

    I'll probably fool around with the tablet, I intend to go with Avast, and a couple of other freeware type spam and ad-blockers and see how things work. But like I said I just didn't have time today.

    Thanks all, for the advice and moral (or immoral as the case may be) support. It was appreciated.

  9. Know what I hate Jim? The way you get all namby-pamby and refuse to just tell us how you really feel. Always popping out the euphemisms and going easy on people just 'cause you don't want to hurt their feeling.

  10. I hate to be a snob, but have you even considered using Ubuntu Linux? Really, no anti-virus BS required. Just turn it on and go.

    It's not that hard to use Linux anymore, there's really no excuse left except for gaming. I can't recall you mentioning that gaming was a big deal for you.

    Anyway, here's to free software, and those bold enough to tell Gates to get lost.

  11. Ken, Yeah, I could give a crap about games - I don't even have solitaire on my laptop.

    I'm committed to Windows at the moment. Primarily because I use a Gateway Tablet Convertible, pen enabled - and there's no flavor of unix that will run on it right now.

    Additionally, I prefer all of my machines to be the same, OS wise (I have about 10 running in house at the moment), because that simplifiers my administrative overhead.

    Normally I don't have much in the way of problems, until the corporate dipshits decide to do something stupid without consulting me first.

  12. Nathan, yeah I saw that. I congratulated her somewhere, but frankly I don't remember which blog at this point. :)

  13. Nathan's a big mouth! Neener neener neener.

    Yeesh, and now he's blabbing all over about it. Here, there, everywhere. Oh well, at least it provoked me to put up a post on my rarely used blog.

  14. I agree. What a S.t! I lost the whole day battling it. And I just wanted to perform a full scan. It is so annoying.


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