Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become more and more popular over the last ten years and that popularity is only continuing to grow.
With technology playing an ever more important role in our daily lives, more people than ever are aware of the importance of security. We all want to know that our personal information is safe online, and more and more people are turning to VPNs to make this happen.
That means it’s hardly a surprise that there is a lot of competition when it comes to VPNs. The number of VPN services being offered grows practically daily and while more choice isn’t a bad thing for consumers, it can make it tough to decide which company deserves your money.
Norton is a big name in computer security already, with their Norton Antivirus being one of the most popular antivirus software packages in the world. But does their VPN live up to the Norton name?
That’s what we’re going to explore here. The rest of this article will take you through their product in detail so you can decide if it’s right for you.
The main reason that you probably want to buy a VPN is to protect your privacy online. So, is Norton the right choice for the job?
Different VPNs have different policies about what information they collect and what they do with it once they have it. Norton has a policy specifically for its VPN which is available to read in full here on their website.
The bottom line is that Norton claims not to collect any information from internet use that could identify the user. They also do not make any money except from subscription fees, meaning that they are not selling your information for profit.
They do collect your IP address, however. Though they say this information is anonymous and cannot be tied to you, it is unclear exactly how the information is protected.
There is no law in the US that says VPN companies need to collect or record user data. Norton has stated that they would be unable to give out data about the activities of people who use its VPN service even if a law enforcement agency did ask them to.
That said, Norton could but does not publicly state what information it has given to the authorities. Also, this only applies to regular law enforcement agencies.
Intelligence agencies like the NSA have digital spying capabilities that far outstrip those of the police, and far less oversight to stop them from doing so.
Since the US, where Norton and its servers are based, is part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, it’s not possible to be totally sure that your information will be safe.
Norton uses AES-256 encryption, sometimes called “bank-grade encryption”. This is the gold standard in the industry, so you can be sure you’re not getting a substandard product when it comes to encryption.
This means that your data will be safe during general browsing.
So, while privacy with Norton seems to be fairly good and no significant data breaches are known to have happened, they could do more to reassure their customers that their information is safe.
Speed is another important factor to consider when choosing a VPN.
Privacy is great, but it’s not much good if your internet’s too slow to use. Note that your experience may differ from the performance information below, as there can be many factors that affect internet speed.
Tests have found that using Norton VPN increased latency (how quickly you can move between pages online in general) by 643.8%, a huge amount that’s well above average.
However, it was shown to reduce download speeds by 70.9% and upload speeds by 63.4%, which is much more in line with expectations.
It is fairly unusual for a VPN to have such an enormous latency increase with a comparatively small effect on upload and download speeds, and means when it comes to speed, Norton’s VPN is not great but not terrible.
One common reason that people choose to get VPNs is to get the most out of their streaming services.
A VPN can give you access to a lot of content that would otherwise be region locked (e.g. being able to access British-only content in the US or vice versa).
However, a lot of streaming services are getting wise to this, and are starting to block access to their sites for anyone using a VPN. The result is an arms race between the streaming services and the VPN companies.
The good news is that Norton’s VPN still allows access to Netflix and other major streaming services, though this is something that might change in the future.
Did you know what when you torrent something without protection, you’re sharing your IP address with anyone who can see your information? A VPN is great for minimizing this risk.
However, Norton is quite unusual in that their VPN does not permit P2P file sharing (torrenting) in any form at all. This means that if you’re hoping to do any torrenting with your VPN, Norton isn’t going to be the best bet for you.
Norton’s VPN is available for Windows, Android, and iOS. However, for some reason, not all of its features seem to be available on all of these. For example, the VPN features a killswitch.
This is a setting that automatically disconnects you from the internet if the VPN stops working, which is a great way of maintaining your privacy. However, it only works on Android devices. Something similar happens with the split tunneling feature.
This allows you to run certain apps or sites through the VPN while keeping the rest on your regular network, which can be useful if you only want to maintain security on one particular site. However, the feature only works on Windows devices.
While the killswitch and split tunneling are both great features, the fact that they are only available on certain devices is a problem.
Norton offers a 60-day money-back guarantee on its VPN. This is a lot better than most other VPNs out there, where a 30-day free trial is the norm. Even better, getting your money back during the 60-day period is actually very easy.
Some other companies will try to stonewall you and make it difficult to get your money back, but not Norton.
To sum up, Norton Secure VPN is a bit of a mixed bag. It offers high-quality encryption, the security of a well-known company name, and access to various major streaming services. Its money-back guarantee is also much better than average.
On the other hand, its blanket ban on torrenting is a big drawback, and the latency it can cause is far worse than average for a VPN. There is a decent VPN in there, despite the flaws, and you could do worse than giving it a go.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a VPN? What does a VPN do?
These two are basically the same question so we’ll handle them together. As we mentioned in the introduction, the letters VPN stand for Virtual Private Network. They are used to enhance and secure your privacy when you’re online.
They work by creating a private network and hiding your IP (internet protocol) address, which makes tracking your actions online much harder. You can think of it as making a tunnel between your location and another location far away.
This makes it seem as though you are in one place when really you’re in another.
Should I get a VPN?
In a word, yes. You’re constantly communicating sensitive information online – credit card details, passwords, and even your browsing history. It’s not that hard for someone to steal that information, which could cause you all sorts of problems.
A VPN will make it far harder for anyone to do this. Even your internet service provider won’t know which sites you’ve visited if you use a VPN.
Another great use for VPNs is that you can pretend to be in another country. This is very useful for streaming services. Some have libraries that change depending on which country you’re in.
If you want to watch a show that’s not available in America but is available in Britain, for example, simply set your VPN to Britain, and there you have it!
They’re also very useful for getting around internet restrictions in countries that have them (China, for instance). If you’re going somewhere with internet restrictions on business or for a holiday, you might want to get a VPN first.
Are VPNs illegal?
No, they’re not. It is both legal and perfectly safe to use a VPN under US law. That being said, doing something illegal online will still be illegal if you use a VPN to do it (e.g. downloading copyrighted material).
Also, some websites’ terms of service forbid VPN use, so check the websites you use to make sure you’re not breaking their rules.