The rigmarole of Norton Internet Security

Notwithstanding the Dell Hell saga of last year, I love my Dell Dimension XPS Gen 5 which I bought in August. From a hardware point of view, it works perfectly. No issues whatsoever, so I’m a more than satisfied Dell customer.

I wish I could say the same about some of the software running on it, especially Norton Internet Security 2006 (NIS) for Windows.

I’ve been a user of Symantec’s Norton product line for at least six years (and from long before that, when Peter Norton first rolled out Norton Utilities for DOS in the early 80s). So Norton is a brand I like, respect and am willing to lay out hard cash for.

Yet NIS drives me nuts.

As a first line of defence product, NIS ought to be one that you can rely on with absolute confidence to just work. I’m not talking about what it does (ie, provide a protection layer on your PC, which it does very well) – I’m talking about how it works.

After experiencing some weird behaviour which I finally pinpointed NIS as the culprit, I ended up yesterday with a pretty unstable PC. Ok, my subsequent fiddling undoubtedly contributed to that state, especially a little bit of carelessness when editing the Windows registry 😉

So I decided to simply start over. Zap the partition, create it again, reformat the drive, reinstall Windows XP and start afresh.

And guess what? A clean install, fresh as a daisy, nothing on the system except the OS, critically-updated and patched to the hilt. Then, when I installed NIS from scratch, I got the same issues I just had! Every time the PC restarts, it takes forever and I keep getting those system dialogs saying it’s waiting for such-and-such a program, click here to end now. In each case, the programs were something to do with NIS. Prime culprit: ccApp.exe, a component of Norton AntiVirus.

But it looks like I’ve now stopped all that. And I’m not wholly sure how.

I installed Norton Systemworks 2005 (I haven’t upgraded to the 2006 version). And I also turned off a switch, so to speak, in NIS itself relating to the Personal Firewall – unchecked the option “Learn unrecognized programs that access the internet.”

Did both or either of those actions fix the problem? I have no idea. All I know is the Win XP Event Viewer is no longer peppered with errors relating to NIS components and I haven’t encountered more issues when shutting down or restarting. So it looks like my little problem is resolved (fingers crossed).

But what a rigmarole!

The response from two friends today when I mentioned this to them – switch to a different product. Yes, but which? I’ve tried Zone Alarm Internet Security Suite. It’s good, I’m sure, but I just don’t like it (the free Zone Alarm firewall is very good, though, which I have running on my IBM laptop). I’ve considered some free apps such as AVG. Maybe I should try out the beta of Windows One Care Live.

But I’m not really that keen at the moment to keep trying out different things for something as fundamental as network security and anti-virus software. From the protection and peace of mind points of view, NIS works and does its job well. Plus I’ve already laid out the cash for it.

So I think I’ll just stick with my now-functional installation of NIS. For the time being at least. And not fiddle so much.

Now onto fixing Nokia Lifeblog issues with errors like this in the Event Viewer:

The description for Event ID ( 101 ) in Source ( NokiaLifeblog ) cannot be found. The local computer may not have the necessary registry information or message DLL files to display messages from a remote computer. You may be able to use the /AUXSOURCE= flag to retrieve this description; see Help and Support for details. The following information is part of the event: Error in Lifeblog.

Huh?

5 thoughts on “The rigmarole of Norton Internet Security

  1. Oh, dear. Hasn’t anyone ever warned you that the fastest way to render a good computer completely useless is to install Norton on it?
    I’ve been using AVG Free for about a year and it works just great. I don’t use a software firewall (apart from the one that comes with Windows XP), but have a hardware firewall in the router.
    I’ve done tech-support for a number of people, and as far as I can tell, most software firewalls are far more trouble than they’re worth.
    Now for the really bad news: to *thoroughly* clean the infection called Norton off your computer, you’ll probably have to reinstall it from scratch.

  2. Nevon,
    I encountered several problems this past summer when my virus definition subscription expired. Faced with a choice of spending $40 for 1 year of virus def updates, or $50 for a brand new NIS 2005, I chose the latter for my Dell laptop. Almost immediately afterwards I began running into odd problems and delays. For example, If I simply right-clicked on My Computer and selected Properties, it would take > 10 minutes for that form to display. Plugging in a new USB device should not take more than a minute or so for recognition/configuration. Instead, such operations took some 30 minutes. I finally determined that the cause must be NIS and I uninstalled it and then installed the free for home use Avast! product. I haven’t had issues since.
    Regards,
    Earl

  3. Thanks for those encouraging words, Sallie 😉
    Over the years, my experience with Norton has been very good. Only with NIS 2006 have I encountered such pain-in-the-arse issues. I regret upgrading, in fact.
    My reinstall seems to have cured those problems. But it’s more than just a fresh reinstall and the tweaks I mentioned in this post. I’ve disabled or removed some other apps that might have been conflicting (Nvidia helper app and SoundBlaster vol control applet, among others). Plus changed behaviours of some services running in Windows that don’t need to be.
    These things combined appear to have worked some magic, judging my the new lack of errors being paraded in the Event Viewer. Mind you, I’m still not with all my apps installed afresh yet.
    Of course, you shouldn’t have to do any such fiddling. But this is the real world 🙂
    Earl, I’m willing to persevere with NIS a bit longer!

  4. Over my many years of commercial and Consumer support/administration duties I’ve found that any software firewall installed on windows WILL eventually cause problems. The crux of this being that software firewalls are esentially hacks. Most internet security suites rewrite or modify the windows TCP/IP stack and no good ever comes of that (the idea being too many cooks spoil the broth or in this case too many coders spoil the stack). I would strongly suggest to anyone considering a software firewall to stick with microsofts own software firewall and then suppliment it with antivirus software and a hardware firewall (Linksys Router, Sonicwall, Alphashield etc.). Don’t look at this as a slam on Norton but as a slam on software firewalls in general Norton is no better than Mcaffee or ZoneLabs or anyone else. Software firewalls are a bad hack at best.

  5. Liam, I’ve heard similar views from others as well. See Sallie’s comments too.
    Just about everyone I know doesn’t have anything good to say about the Windows XP firewall, even the improved one that comes with XP SP2. The only good thing, I guess, is that it’s better than nothing at all.
    I have been thinking more about this whole NIS thing. My Belkin router has a pretty robust hardware firewall. So maybe that plus antivirus, antispware, etc, software might be enough.
    Yet my belief has always been – use both if you can. So if you have a robust and reliable hardware firewall, the trick then is to use a similar-confidence software one as well.
    And there’s the rub with NIS 2006.
    But I’ll persevere with it a bit more. Since reinstall I’ve had none of the issues with NIS that I encountered before. If that continues the same, I think I’ll stick with it.

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