Sat. May 18th, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • Norton Secure VPN is a reliable and beginner-friendly VPN solution for accessing geo-blocked content or securing your connection.
  • It offers basic features like a kill switch and split tunneling, but lacks advanced features like OpenVPN protocol or obfuscated servers.
  • Norton Secure VPN has good security with AES-256 encryption, but its speeds and streaming capabilities are not impressive.


Norton Secure VPN comes from one of the most established software companies in the world. It’s a perfect VPN for beginner-level users who need a simple solution to access geo-blocked content or secure their connection, but as I explain below, it has a few shortcomings too.

Norton-Secure-VPN-logo-on-a-white-background-1

Norton Secure VPN

Secure private information like your passwords, bank details, and credit card numbers when using public Wi-Fi on your PC, Mac, or mobile device.

Logging policy
No logging

Mobile app
Android / iOS

Number Of Servers
Dynamic

Free Trial
60-day money-back guarantee for annual plans

Encryption
AES-256

Pros

  • Excellent security
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Low-cost monthly plans
Cons

  • Lacks advanced features
  • Can be slow
  • Doesn’t unblock streaming platforms like BBC iPlayer and Disney+

Norton Secure VPN: An Overview

Norton LifeLock, previously Symantec, is a major cybersecurity company. You’d think a VPN solution from a company with that reputation will rank among the top VPN solutions on the market. However, that’s not true for Norton Secure VPN.

Don’t get me wrong—I think Norton Secure VPN is still a great, reliable solution, but for a very specific set of tasks. For example, if you want to secure your connection so no one (including the government or your ISP) can track any online activity back to you or protect your connection when using public Wi-Fi, Norton Secure VPN is a great service.

The feature set includes a kill switch and split tunneling, but popular VPN features like the OpenVPN protocol or obfuscated servers that some other VPN services can be had for an equal or lower price.

I do love the simplicity of the desktop app’s interface. It’s perfect for beginners who need a straightforward app that allows them to acquire another country’s IP address to access blocked content or protect their identity online.

Norton Secure VPN Features

Secure VPN isn’t overloaded with features. This is great news for users who have never used a VPN. Here’s an overview of all the features you’ll come across when using Norton Secure VPN:

  • Automatic launch at startup: Keep this enabled if you always use a VPN. It’s enabled by default.
  • Auto-connecting to a VPN server when the app is launched: Enable this if you always use a VPN. The default setting is disabled.
  • Kill switch: A kill switch terminates your internet connection when the VPN connection drops abruptly, ensuring none of your data is transmitted without encryption. It’s best to keep the kill switch enabled. The default setting is disabled, so enable this as soon as you install the app.
  • Install updates automatically: Keep this enabled. It’s enabled by default.

Options in General Settings

General settings in Norton Secure VPN
General settings in Norton Secure VPN

These are fairly basic features. It doesn’t let you tweak the interface’s appearance, change the language, or offer any built-in diagnostics or security tests. However, it’s sufficient for any casual VPN user.

Ad Tracker Blocking

The ad tracker blocking option is available and enabled by default. The ad tracker blocking feature intercepts cookies to keep them from being able to monitor the website’s you’re visiting.

The app shows you the number of ad trackers it blocked during the past seven and 30 days. But it lacks customizability. You can’t configure what specifically the VPN should block.

Split Tunneling

Norton Secure VPN offers app-based split tunneling (URL-based tunneling is unavailable). This means you can exclude select apps from using the encrypted VPN tunnel created by the VPN to send and receive data over the internet.

split tunneling in Norton Secure VPN

For example, suppose you’re using Norton Secure VPN to unblock Netflix libraries. You suddenly remember you need to quickly make a payment using your online banking account. If you’re connected to a VPN server in another country, many bankers won’t let you access the portal.

Instead of disconnecting the VPN, you can simply exclude the browser from using the VPN connection with split tunneling. However, note that you shouldn’t do this on public Wi-Fi. Any traffic transmitted through the unencrypted tunneling is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.

Split tunneling lacks the customization you typically find on other popular VPNs. For example, NordVPN allows whitelisting as well as blacklisting apps, while Norton Secure VPN only allows blacklisting.

If you only want to use the VPN tunnel for a game you’re playing and use the unencrypted tunnel for all other apps, NordVPN makes things a lot easier.

Torrent-Optimized Region

Norton Secure VPN doesn’t allow torrenting on regular servers. For that use case, select the “Torrent-Optimized Region” option in the server list. However, this option is only available on the Windows and Android apps.

torrent optimized server option on norton secure vpn

When you select this option, the VPN app automatically connects to a server with P2P support.

Norton’s unwillingness to activate the VPN connection when you’re torrenting can be a little annoying. When you try to connect to a VPN server when torrenting, you see an error.

torrenting detected

If you’re in a region where you don’t think torrenting will get you in trouble (although I always recommend being safe and using a VPN), you can add your torrenting client to the split tunneling blacklist.

adding torrent client to VPN blacklist

This will help you use the VPN connection while your client runs on the side using an unencrypted tunnel.

Servers in Over 30 Countries

Norton doesn’t reveal the number of VPN servers it has. You can’t select a specific server when using the Secure VPN—you can only select one of over 30 countries, including the U.S. and the U.K. A well-spread server network ensures that you have a server close by wherever you’re traveling and get decent speeds.

Another benefit of a large server network is having more options when trying to spoof your location to access geo-blocked content.

Norton Secure VPN Security and Privacy

The best VPNs on the market use security protocols like OpenVPN, WireGuard, or both. Norton Secure VPN uses OpenVPN, which is fine for now, but I’d love to see WireGuard as an option. The app also has the L2TP/IPSec protocol—but you won’t need this as long as you have OpenVPN.

The VPN uses AES-256 encryption, which is essentially unbreakable, along with all protocols. This means Norton Secure VPN lives up to its name and is indeed secure. Moreover, my tests confirmed that Norton Secure VPN hid my IP address and DNS information.

Norton Secure VPN is backed by a company with an excellent reputation and zero instances of privacy-related controversies. While I appreciate how Norton Secure VPN’s privacy policy is brief and clear, I have a few concerns about it:

  • Collects information: The policy states that Norton collects information like IP addresses. They claim the information is kept anonymous, but it doesn’t specify the duration for which the data is stored or state the security mechanism for protecting that data.
  • Headquartered in the U.S.: You should care about where your VPN is based. Norton is based in the U.S., which is a member of the Five Eyes alliance—a group of countries that have agreed to share surveillance data to combat terrorism and organized crime. Most major VPN services are headquartered in countries with great privacy laws, putting Norton Secure VPN at a slight disadvantage.

Norton Secure VPN Performance

Norton Secure VPN looks great considering the overall performance, but it has its strengths and weaknesses.

Speed

When you use a VPN, your internet traffic travels via an intermediary server. Since the traffic has to travel longer, it decreases speed and increases latency. However, some VPNs do a great job of minimizing this speed reduction—but Norton Secure VPN doesn’t impress.

I tested Norton Secure VPN’s speeds using Speedtest by Ookla over three days to average out the results. During my tests, on average, the speeds were reduced by over 60%, and latency increased by 140%.

The results will vary for you based on your location and the server you connect to, but in most cases, it’s safe to say Norton Secure VPN isn’t the best for gaming. It should still work for standard-quality streaming.

Streaming

Unfortunately, streaming isn’t Norton Secure VPN’s strongest suit, either. I managed to get into most Netflix libraries and Amazon Prime Video during my tests. Unfortunately, it failed to unblock BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Hulu.

I was able to stream content without buffering, at least the content that I could access. You might experience some buffering if you like streaming in 4K, though.

Norton Secure VPN Customer Support

I like that Norton offers 24×7 chat and phone support. Support agents can also provide remote assistance. This is great if you’re a beginner and don’t know how to ensure complete security when transmitting sensitive information or using public Wi-Fi in a foreign country using a VPN.

The support is also proactive about offering remote assistance. When I reached out to support with a not-so-straightforward question, the agent was quick to offer remote assistance to resolve the issue faster.

remote access from Norton support team

To connect to an agent via live chat, Norton makes you jump through many hoops. Once you’re connected to a support agent, they asked what my problem was even though I was made to describe it when I tried to initiate the chat.

Overall, I liked the promptness of the support.

Pricing

Norton Secure VPN offers annual and monthly plans. The pricing for both is further dependent on the number of devices you’d like to connect simultaneously. Here’s what the pricing looks like:

Plan

1 Device

5 Devices

10 Devices

Annual Plan

$29.99

$39.99

$59.99

Monthly Plan

$4.99

$7.99

$9.99

You can get a premium service like ExpressVPN or NordVPN for a lower cost. These services also offer five and six simultaneous connections, respectively, so you don’t need to pay extra to use the service on additional devices. However, Norton VPN’s monthly plans are one of the cheapest on the market.

Norton does offer a 60-day money-back guarantee on the annual plan, so there’s no risk in trying it out. Use the service for fewer than 60 days, and if you feel the performance isn’t up to the mark, you can claim a full refund.

Should You Subscribe to Norton Secure VPN?

If you need a simple VPN service from an established company, Norton Secure VPN is an excellent VPN and offers great security. The speeds and streaming capabilities aren’t impressive, but you should be able to stream geo-blocked content from popular websites fairly easily and without any major buffering.

Norton-Secure-VPN-logo-on-a-white-background-1

Norton Secure VPN

Secure private information like your passwords, bank details, and credit card numbers when using public Wi-Fi on your PC, Mac, or mobile device.



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By John P.

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