Avast VS Norton

Norton Security VS Avast: Antivirus Head-to-Head Battle

Last updated on May 10, 2021

Just when you think you’ve got your antivirus sorted, another product comes along and claims the number-one slot. As new ransomware and malicious software is being developed each day,  antivirus and internet security software also have to evolve with it and sometimes, during the course of that evolution, a particular company might simply have a bad year or a bad product!

The trouble is, this makes it difficult to work out which cybersecurity solution is right for you. Both Avast and Norton have been producing antivirus products since most of us were in diapers, so opting for one of these is definitely a promising start. The only problem is, which one? Read on and let us help you decide. Find out which, in the battle of Avast vs Norton, offers the most features, which has the heaviest system impact and plenty more.

System ImpactWinner
Customer SupportLoser

1. Protection

While there are many different facets to an internet security program, protection is its fundamental cornerstone, without which the product is completely worthless. A number of companies run regular lab tests to establish just how effective an antivirus program is at detecting and neutralizing potential threats. Avast outperforms most of its rivals in these tests and in a test conducted by AV-Comparatives earlier this year, scored top marks although its online detection rate lagged behind Norton’s by 0.2%. When it comes to protection, both online and offline, however, Avast is the safest option.

Both Norton and Avast provide multi-layered protection with cloud-based databases to back them up. Although Avast’s free product doesn’t include a firewall, beyond that it offers much the same protection as Norton’s Antivirus Plus. The internet security suites offered by both companies offer more comprehensive protection by including additional features such as safeguards to reduce phishing threats and others that will verify a site’s authenticity before allowing you access.

While both Avast and Norton provide reliable protection against a range of threats and use similar methods of threat detection and neutralization, Avast’s impressive lab test scores make it the obvious winner of this particular battle.

Winner: Avast

2. Cost

When it comes to price, getting something for free is always a bonus and this puts Avast in the lead. While Norton currently has some special offers available, we’re going to focus on the standard pricing tiers for the purposes of this head to head.

While Avast’s free antivirus means there is no basic antivirus subscription available, once we get into the entry-level security suites, Avast’s Internet Security is considerably cheaper than Norton’s 360 Standard and gives you much the same level of protection. The main difference between the two is that Norton includes the additional features of a firewall, VPN, and webcam protection. This is a lot of additional security so it seems fair that Norton’s product costs a little more and, at $79.99 compared to Avast’s $59.99, it’s not much when spread over a 12-month period.

At the top end of both companies’ pricing tiers, the premium packages are their featured flagships, promising users protection against pretty much everything except nuclear war or alien invasions. Nevertheless, even if you’re willing to shell out over $100 a year for internet security, doing so only to find you still don’t have any parental controls could be a little frustrating. Then again, paying an extra $40 per year for the benefit might be similarly infuriating.

It’s definitely a close race when it comes to Norton security vs Avast in the pricing department but Avast manages to secure a win thanks to its free software and its more cost-effective premium package – albeit lacking in parental controls.

Winner: Avast

3. Usability

Getting to grips with any new piece of software can be challenging and most of us prefer those that have a gentle learning curve and bear some resemblance to other products we’re already familiar with. If you’re wondering which is better, Avast or Norton, when it comes to usability, it’s a close call with both offering user-friendly products and using a similar combination of hamburger menus and a multiple tab interface.

Norton has maintained the same basic design for its software for years and it still looks slick and works effectively. Avast’s is a little more austere in appearance but similarly easy to navigate. Both products make navigating to and customizing advanced settings as easy as pie while enabling users to slip seamlessly between overall device security and more specific protection tools, such as your Dark Web monitoring or your VPN connection.

Avast provides a simple and smooth user experience which also enables you to manage your licenses and accounts from its desktop interface. With Norton, users will need to log in to the online web portal for account management tasks, making it a little less convenient. It’s another photo finish and this one is too close to call so we’re going to settle for a tie in this particular category.

Winner: Tie

4. Features

This is one area in which antivirus software varies considerably. Avast, for example, doesn’t include a firewall in its free version whereas all Norton’s products contain this useful feature. Avast has also come in for some criticism over its decision to exclude parental controls, although the company has defended itself saying the Site Blocking tool, which is included in all their packages, can be used in its stead. Nevertheless, the level of control and protection isn’t up to the standard set by Norton’s specific parental controls tool which is both more powerful and more easily configured.

Avast’s entry-level internet security suite includes both additional ransomware protection and real site browsing that will protect you against malicious or fakes sites. Its top-tier package has a number of added extras, including webcam protection, device optimization, and the ultimate in online – a Virtual Private Network.

By comparison, Norton’s packages focus far more on identity theft protection and, while they include the same features as those mentioned above, go the extra mile when it comes to keeping your sensitive data out of criminal hands. Norton’s premium package will monitor the Dark Web for any evidence demonstrating that your data has been stolen, uses the LifeLock Identity Alert system to inform you of possible security breaches and uses credit monitoring to protect against fraud.

Although the features we want from our antivirus software will inevitably vary depending on our online activity and who we’re actually protecting, Norton’s feature-rich options give you the benefit of all the standard tools and much more. Given that, in 2017, there were over 16 million victims of identity theft in the US alone, it seems Norton is the undeniable winner when it comes to features.

Winner: Norton

5. System Impact

One of the biggest problems with a powerful antivirus package is the impact it has on your device’s performance. If you have the most robust protection but can’t actually use your device for four hours while it’s scanning, that protection comes at a high price.  This is why Avast is such a popular option because most of what it does, it does in the background without sucking up all your system’s resources and disrupting your other activities.

Norton has battled to make its scanning process smoother and less resource hungry but it’s still struggling to reduce the system impact to less than 30%. On an older device, this can be extremely disruptive while Avast’s impact on both speed and performance is minimal.

On the plus side, neither Avast nor Norton take up a lot of RAM or hard disk space. While Norton’s premium package sits at just over 3 MB, Avast’s is just over 200 KB, making it extremely lightweight and resource friendly. Compared to the antivirus behemoth, McAfee, however, both are small and more easily accommodated on devices new and old.

Norton still needs to reduce its system impact if it is to be a serious contender in the race for the best antivirus, leaving Avast romping home to victory in this section.

Winner: Avast

6. Privacy

Collecting and sharing data is an unfortunate side effect of antivirus protection, although much of the data collected relates to new malware and is used to improve the overall level of protection. The degree to which different companies collect and share data nevertheless varies as does the nature and length of their privacy policies.

Both Norton and Avast have very lengthy privacy policies, with Norton’s being organized according to product and Avast’s by topic. As a result, it’s much easier to find specific answers in Avast’s policy than in Norton’s. According to Avast’s privacy policy, your data is shared with third parties only when necessary due to a court order or government request. It does note that some data from their mobile packages is shared with third-party advertisers but that this is limited to data generated by your device during your browsing activities.

Norton, on the other hand, is rather vague about what they do with your data and who has access to it. In its section on the Safe Search feature, Norton’s privacy policy states that “it is our Third Party Partner, rather than Symantec, who decides how your Third Party Data will be collected, used, disclosed, retained, or otherwise processed”. This makes it seem as though Norton itself is basically washing its hands of your privacy concerns which is a bit disturbing.

While I stand to be corrected on the above statement, Avast is still the winner for me simply because it words its privacy policy in such a way as to make its position on data collection and sharing transparent and easy to comprehend.

Winner: Avast

7. Customer Support

Antivirus users have become used to having to shell out extra money for technical assistance and this seems to be an accepted procedure within the internet security industry. We may not like it, but it seems it’s here to stay. Avast’s premium technical support can set you back anywhere between $80 and $200 per year, while Norton’s is usually around $70 to $150, although discounts and special offers sometimes make this more affordable.

If you’re not interested in paying for premium support, you’ll have to make do with the standard support options available which, if you’re using Avast’s free package, are horribly limited. Paid customers can email and all customers can use the international telephone support system. Beyond that, as Avast has no online chat option, you’ll be left battling with their woefully unresponsive online ticket system.

Norton offers its customers a much better support experience, with a well designed online support center that is easy to navigate and a 24/7 online chat support option. Norton also has an impressive social media presence and responds quickly to queries submitted by social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Norton is something of a trailblazer when it comes to customer support and wins this section hands down.

Winner: Norton

Overall Winner: Avast

Although Norton offers robust protection options packed with advanced features, its heavy impact on system resources makes it difficult to recommend. Avast’s lightweight solutions may not pack quite the same punch when it comes to identity protection, but for comprehensive security both on and offline, it remains a superior option.

Both Norton and Avast have well-designed products that are user-friendly and easy to navigate. They are also similar in terms of price and, while Norton leads the field in terms of customer support, Avast’s impressive performance and minimal system impact make it a preferable choice.

As both companies offer free trials on certain products, if you’re not convinced that Avast deserved to win this head to head, you can spend a couple of months trying them both out and let us know how you got on. As far as we at Secure Thoughts are concerned, however, in the battle of Avast vs Norton, Avast is a clear winner, providing comprehensive protection without impacting too heavily on operating speeds.

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