Avast vs Norton 360: which antivirus is better?
When in need of an antivirus solution, you're likely to choose between Norton 360 and Avast Antivirus – two veterans and leaders of the cybersecurity market. Although the duo has recently announced a massive $8.1 billion merger, Avast and Norton are currently still vastly different tools.
Thus, choosing between these two isn't as simple as it may seem. So, let's get to it, shall we? Here's my in-depth comparison between Avast vs. Norton, where you'll learn everything about these tools. Which is better at removing malware? Which has better performance, price, and ease of use? Read on to find out!
Norton 360 vs. Avast
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How many features a service has heavily depends on which edition you're looking at. Avast Antivirus splits into Free, Premium (single-device), Premium (multi-device). There's also Ultimate, but it adds separate products: Avast Cleanup Premium and Avast SecureLine VPN.
Norton 360 doesn't have a free version, and its paid editions are Standard and Deluxe. There are also even higher tiers with added LifeLock identity theft protection, a completely different product. Higher Norton branches don't really add to the whole 360 suite. They just expand on the LifeLock functionalities.
The most significant selling point of the Avast Antivirus is that it has a free version, which provides basic protection. Norton 360 doesn't have a free version, but ultimately it proves to be a more robust service. Norton provides much more relevant subscription benefits that should be important to you if you're looking for a quality antivirus service. Even on more modest editions, it's the clear winner.
Norton 360 features
With Norton 360 Standard, you not only get an antivirus. There's also anti-spyware functionalities and built-in malware and ransomware shields. The service aims only not to deal with the viruses that got in your system but prevent them from appearing in the first place. Their smart firewall and online threat protection deal with suspicious traffic before it caused any harm.
Norton 360 aims to be pretty generous as a package. For example, they add many features that otherwise you would be buying as standalone products. It includes a password manager, a VPN service, 10 GB of cloud storage. The VPN's ability to provide complete anonymity is questionable. However, this is still a great feature, which gives the user bank-level encryption of data – particularly useful for protection on public WiFi.
There's even the Virus Protection Promise. This is the ability to get help with malware removal from a Norton expert and the promise of a refund if they can't solve the issue. All of this is available on Standard, sadly only on one device (Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS). If you want to use Norton 360 on several devices, you'll have to switch to Norton 360 Deluxe. It adds support for 5 devices and gives 50 GB of cloud storage. For more Norton features, check our Norton 360 Antivirus review.
Avast Antivirus features
Avast Antivirus would be the only option between the two if you were hoping to get a free service. The free edition includes protection against viruses, ransomware, and other threats with a real-time monitoring service. You get the essentials plus the ability to scan WiFi networks for weaknesses to keep peace of mind both at home and in public spaces.
Then, Avast Premium security splits into two versions: single-device and multi-device. As you would expect, the only difference between them is the increased numbers of devices (from 1 to 10). Otherwise, you get your DNS cache protection, secure sandbox to run potentially suspicious files, permanent data files eraser, auto app updater, and remote access shield. There's also a webcam shield that blocks hackers from trying to access it. However, seeing how a sticky note works just as well, it's a mostly useless feature. For more Avast features, check our Avast Antivirus review.
The main issue with Avast features as a whole is that they seem lacking. There's little incentive to upgrade from the Free edition. Especially when you get a set of features that can be easily substituted with better third-party tools.
Norton 360 vs Avast Antivirus: which one is better for protection?
To properly evaluate the protection measures of Norton 360 and Avast Antivirus, you need data. Even better if it's from the independent malware laboratories.
The German AV-TEST Institute which specializes in malware research has awarded both services their seal of approval. It means that both Norton and Avast are certified and comply with the highest level of malware protection standards. The tests themselves were performed on several platforms.
Thus, on Windows, both Avast and Norton received a 6 – the highest score possible in the protection category. On macOS and Android, the researchers found that Avast was a bit slow when adding the newest forms of malware to their databases, scoring only 5.5, while Norton has the maximum score.
To sum up, Avast is a very capable service, but Norton does the job better. On average, it protects against a wider variety of threats. So, it's more capable of determining threats based on its well-rounded database.
As I've mentioned previously, Norton 360 aims to mitigate threats before they get the chance to infect the system. For this reason, it continually syncs with its database with the most recent malware types. It means that your protection starts at the browser level, negating links to the sites that meet certain criteria of suspicion. However, even when the malicious software got through to your system, the service can still be useful with several types of quarantine options.
Avast Antivirus is more focused on the management of identification of threats that are already on the inside. The service heavily relies on frequent background rescans, the impact of which you can feel if you have a less powerful device. Their highlight is the sandbox tool allowing them to test a suspicious app in an isolated environment. It helps to avoid installing malicious apps directly to your system.
Both Norton 360 and Avast Antivirus have efficient scanning tools, but they perform differently. It's hard to determine what differences under the hood cause this since both services are closed-source. However, when scanning a PC in safe mode, Avast Antivirus is 20% faster than Norton 360. It might be because Avast is constantly rescanning background files. Avast might be saving time by not rescanning unchanged or already recently scanned entries even when you force a full scan. This is one of the possible explanations, but it demands a more in-depth investigation for later times.
Norton 360 Standard has an Intrusion Prevention System that works with its smart firewall. The smart firewall chooses what goes through as traffic, and the Intrusion Prevention System sifts through the traffic to make sure that all of the content in the traffic is safe.
Avast Premium and Ultimate come with an advanced firewall preinstalled that you can personalize and whitelist certain applications. Avast does not go as in-depth into its firewall security as Norton’s does, but it does allow for more user customization.
When it comes to PC performance, Norton takes the gold.
Avast does an excellent job of utilizing the CPU to defend against malware, but that is only good news if it's running on a higher-end computer.
Norton 360 uses a low amount of processing power, no matter what computer it's on. That means that it is better on your computer in general, but also when you have a virus that specifically uses a large portion of your CPU.
Scanning for malware uses a certain amount of processing power. If you're trying to be efficient with your CPU usage, then it's important to know how much each program demands. While in the background, Norton 360 uses about half as much as Avast does, but it is the other way around when it comes to a full scan. When comparing Avast vs. Norton's performance, they use the same amount of processing power on Mac or Windows.
During a quick scan, Avast uses 3 times the amount of CPU as Norton. For higher-end computers, the more processing needs, the faster the results, but it is the exact opposite for lower-end computers that don't have that many resources to spare.
In lowest cost, Avast is the winner -- they offer a free subscription, whereas Norton does not. However, in the bang-for-your-buck category, Norton provides so much more than Avast at even similar tiers of subscription.
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Consumers who want to spend less overall might choose Avast, but they’ll get what they pay for. However, those who are willing to spend a few extra bucks for an annual subscription will enjoy the value that the entry-level tier of Norton 360 provides.
Norton 360 or Avast Antivirus: Free vs. Premium plans
Norton does not offer a free tier for Norton 360, unlike Avast. Norton’s entry-level tier is priced at $39.99, and for an additional ten dollars per year ($49.99), consumers can subscribe to Norton’s 360 Deluxe plan to secure up to five devices and gain parental control.
Higher tiers with Norton are priced at $99.99 and $299.99 for the first subscription year (with an increasing subscription scale in subsequent years). These higher tiers offer additional services such as credit monitoring and stolen funds reimbursement.
Avast offers paid tiers for their security software starting at $69.99 for single-device protection with benefits that extend beyond the free software, $89.99 for multi-device protection for up to ten devices, and up to $119.99 per year for protection for up to ten devices with the additional services of VPN protection and Avast Cleanup Premium to reduce hard drive clutter.
Apps and interface
Norton and Avast both are simple to sign up for. However, Norton’s process is a bit more transparent in that they detail their first-year discount for subscribers ($39.99 is the price with the $45 savings factored in), while Avast does not detail the price increase for years beyond the first subscription year.
When compared head-to-head on average PC builds, Norton tends to be a bulkier program than Avast, which is apparent in load times and run speeds. However, it’s important to consider that Norton is doing more work than Avast (at least at the lowest tiers) in providing real-time monitoring information.
Used at full capacity, Norton is allowing users to use VPN services, while Avast is not offering that feature. This might partially explain Avast’s faster run times, but likely cannot fully account for Norton’s slower speeds.
Yet, on higher-end PC builds, such as those used for gaming, Norton, and Avast perform similarly on benchmark tests, with Avast slightly leading the way. For consumers with standard builds, Avast will likely perform faster than Norton. But for consumers with higher-end PCs, the differences in speed are minimal.
In terms of aesthetics, Norton offers a black and white software base with yellow and red accents. For consumers that want minimal color on their screens, and potentially for professionals who prefer a minimalist appearance for work-related purposes and devices, Norton might be the preferred choice.
In contrast, Avast offers a colorful design with rich colors and vector-style boxes, much more in line with modern software programs. For consumers who want a software program with a fresh and vibrant design, Avast might be the preferred provider.
Avast also utilizes simple to use menu options with individual icons to run their security services. This way you can quickly check any security risks immediately whether that be a Wi-Fi inspection to find network issues or a comprehensive virus scan of your device.
Norton’s iPhone app is a clean black and white interface with red accents, it offers a VPN service to subscribers. Norton’s VPN auto-selects a region for users, allowing them control of regional preference but with only limited control of the final VPN location. When connected, the app depicts the VPN is active at the top of the app. The iPhone app also scans for wi-fi weaknesses, provides an ad blocker, and allows users to enable warnings when connected to unsecured hotspots.
Norton’s Android app has all of the iPhone app’s features with the added benefits of app installation checks, spam call checks, and battery usage warnings.
Avast’s iPhone app called Secure Me offers VPN services for consumers with the familiar aesthetics of the Avast desktop app. Avast’s app opens to a clean screen that auto-connects users to an unspecified regional VPN. Here, users have no control over the final VPN location. Avast's app also provides a secure wifi scan, but does not offer the level of personalization and warning messages that Norton provides.
The Avast Android app also includes device tracking, RAM boosting, app installation checks, and protects against malware-infected websites.
When it comes to the user-friendliness of Avast vs Norton Android, most users will find the Avast Android app easier to use with its clear interface and easy to navigate the menu.
Norton offers custom support services through forums online, in a live chat setting, and over the phone 24 hours a day seven days a week with little to no wait times. The developers also maintain a Twitter account, although they are not particularly active, and a Facebook account that is used to share information but is not typically used for messaging consumers directly.
If consumers prefer to speak with a Norton representative directly over the phone, Norton offers wait time estimates on their website, which average three minutes, and are shortest on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Although help is available 24/7 in chat, Norton offers an online form for consumers willing to wait up to one day for a response to a question.
Avast offers customer support primarily through automated online forms and forums. Their help categories ask users to describe their issue, which then leads users to click-through questionnaires to hopefully land them at a solution. Consumers who successfully navigate to the contact form are then asked to provide further information about their issue, their version of the software, and more.
As a final note, although Avast does offer remote phone support, the phone number is limited to its Premium version customers and is not easy to find through their website. A quick web search resulted in a toll-free number, with a pricing scheme to subscribe to phone support ranging from $79.99 to $199.99 per year. Consumers can only use this line for free if they are inquiring about purchasing an Avast product. Norton does not ask users to jump through these kinds of hoops.
Overall, both AV software providers provide impressive arrays of benefits. However, this review concludes that Norton 360 takes the lead. Although Norton 360 is more expensive than the basic tier of Avast (and even more expensive at its full price than the first tier of Avast), it offers more value for the dollar.
Although Avast performs slightly faster than Norton for both standard and high-end computer builds, the gain in efficiency doesn’t weigh against the ease-of-use and transparency that Norton provides in terms of subscription benefits.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Avast asks its subscribers to pay for a limited number of calls to its 24/7 support, which is a slap in the face to dedicated, and particularly to paid members. On the other hand, Norton offers 24/7 support for free to both entry-level and high-tier subscribers, indicating that the company is more interested in providing thorough and respectable support than making a quick buck.
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Which antivirus is better: Avast vs Norton 360?
Is there a free version of Norton 360?
No. Its least expensive plan costs $39.99 a year. However, there is a free 7-day trial period.
What does Norton 360 cost?
The price range for Norton 360 goes from $39.99 to $299.99 a year.
Is Norton 360 compatible with Android?
Yes. Norton 360 offers a mobile app for Android, which has a lot of useful features like spam call checks, app installation checks, and battery usage warnings.