Ad And Tracking Blocker
Along with the VPN, you also get an ad and tracking blocker at least on paper. When I reached out to its support team to see what kind of information it keeps about my activity, the agent told me that it doesnt have an ad blocker; it only has an ad tracker. Its integrated into the VPN, and you can turn it on and off whenever you need it. While I tested Norton, I kept it on the entire time, and it really did find a lot of ad trackers but it didnt block all of them. I accessed forbes.com, which has a reputation for a tremendous amount of ads. I still saw a few ads, but no annoying pop-ups, which is nice.
According to Nortons support agent, the ad tracker doesnt log information about you or your activity, and it also stops websites from tracking your browser.
Will VPN Software Slow Down My Computer
That would be a definite maybe. Here’s the thing: Back in the day, the process of encrypting and decrypting packets would take a toll on CPU performance. Most current CPUs are now fast enough that most crypto algorithms can run without much of an impact on processor performance.
However, network performance is another thing entirely. First, keep in mind that if you’re using a VPN, you’re probably using it at a public location. That public Wi-Fi service is likely to range in performance somewhere between “meh” and unusable. So, just the fact that you’re remotely working on a mediocre network will reduce performance. But then, if you connect to a VPN in a different country, the connection between countries is also likely to degrade network performance. Server locations matter.
My rule of thumb is to use a domestic VPN and connect to servers as close to my location as possible. That said, I have had good nights and bad nights getting online. On my recent trip, I found most hotels’ networks to become unusable after about 9pm. My theory is that many of the guests were watching Netflix at that time, completely clogging the hotels’ pipes.
Server Count And Location
The number of servers and the spread of those servers across countries creates the conditions for a VPN to be successful. When were evaluating VPNs, we tend to favor those with the largest footprints, because it typically means that there are multiple servers in our general region which can help increase speeds as were surfing the web. For a good example, check out our NordVPN review, which features more than 5,000 servers in more than 60 countries.
Norton Secure VPN has 1,500 servers spread across 31 countries, with 200 server locations in 73 cities. This footprint is modest, but its not a noticeably paltry number. Another point to note is that of their 1,500 servers, 1,200 are virtual servers. Virtual servers are essentially a way to use software to mimic the presence of physical servers, and its a more cost-effective way for VPNs and other web hosts to increase their server count without having additional, dedicated physical servers.2
Virtual servers can also be configured to give the appearance of a larger footprint. For example, Norton could set up a virtual server in New York City but have it configured to display its location in London. To Nortons credit, they claim that all of the virtual servers they use are in the countries they display.
Quick Facts: Nortonlike many VPNsdoesnt work and doesnt offer server locations in China due to the countrys aggressive censorship and Internet monitoring policies.
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Security Limited But Strong Security Features
Norton Secure VPN has great security features, but theyre not available on all the supported devices. I tested its kill switch, split tunneling, and WiFi security on a Windows laptop, Macbook, Android phone, and iPad. Even though each of these features worked great, I couldnt use them all on a single device. This is incredibly inconvenient and makes the VPN limited.
It will keep you safe during your regular browsing.I ran a few DNS and IP leak tests to see whether my information was visible to anyone on the internet DNS and IP leaks can expose your information, making the VPN completely useless. I was glad I didnt encounter anything unusual. Norton uses AES-256 encryption, which is the strongest around, so theres no doubt about its security.
Norton needs to maintain its reputation, so it cant have any security issues or data breaches. Its VPN is great for people who only need to protect their identity. However, if youre looking for more than browsing and you also need to download torrents or bypass geoblocks, I recommend checking out other VPN services.
Router Setupnot For The Faint Of Heart
Users can install Nortons VPN at the source of their internet accessthe router. Doing so makes every device controlled by the router a VPN-protected device. The device does not have to be specially configured, nor even VPN compatible, so long as it is connected to the router.
There are inherent problems with installing a VPN on a router, rather than on every device. First, if the user is away from the home router, the device is unprotected. Next, not every router is VPN compatible, so it could be necessary to upgrade and purchase a replacement.
Norton is upfront with its caution in their router setup guide: Installing VPN on your router is not the easiest of tasks. Youll need some tech skills. And be warned: If you install VPN incorrectly, you could damage your router. Norton also warns that with each device that you connect to a VPN-enabled router, you will likely have to sacrifice a bit of speed.
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What Is Today’s Best Working China VPN
The excellent ExpressVPN is our #1 choice to use in China. It’s reliable, fast, secure and ridiculously easy to set up and operate. Its no logging policy was audited in 2020 by PricewaterhouseCoopers, so you can be confident that your identity when surfing the web and streaming in China will be well protected. And no other China VPN matches it for its sheer ability to unlock and get around banned websites and services.
Norton Secure VPN Installation And User Interface
The installation and setup process of Norton Secure VPN took about 30 minutes, largely because its not a standalone app. Instead, its part of a 5-software security package, Norton 360, which took 10 minutes to install. Then, we had to restart our computer manually, then spend 5 minutes granting app permissions. Finally, we had to run a full system scan before we could start using a VPN, took us 15 minutes, but could stretch into hours. After the apps and software are up and running, they are user-friendly and easy to navigate. The only downside is that you cant choose a VPN server to connect to, only the country.
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Norton Secure VPN And Netflix
Netflix in the US isn’t the same as Netflix in the UK, or any other country for that matter. The content that’s available is dictated by deals cut by Netflix, and sometimes that means content will be available in one country and not another. As a result, Netflix and VPN companies are locked in a cat-and-mouse game, with Netflix blocking VPN users and VPN companies finding ways around the blockade.
Fortunately for Norton, Secure VPN was not blocked by Netflix in my testing. Your mileage, however, may vary.
Norton Secure VPN Keeps Logs
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Bad Location For A VPN
Right off the bat, were more cautious than optimistic about Norton Secure VPN.
Symantec is based in California, which makes Norton Secure VPN an American provider. As you should already know by now, this means its in one of the notoriously privacy-unfriendly 5 Eyes jurisdictions.
Norton Secure VPN allegedly shares its backend infrastructure with SurfEasy VPN, which is based in Canada another of the 5 Eye jurisdictions.
Still, this doesnt automatically disqualify Norton Secure VPN as a trustworthy provider. It just doesnt look good.
What Does It Mean When A VPN Service Talks About Simultaneous Connections
The term “simultaneous connections” generally refers to the number of devices that can be connected to the VPN service and talk to the internet at once. For example, when I was driving across the country and working in my hotel room at night, I often had both my MacBook Pro and iPad connected to the internet.
I used the MacBook Pro for writing, keeping the iPad open to do searches and find supporting information. Both of these were connected to the internet at one time. This was possible because the VPN service I was using allowed up to three connections to open at once.
This is also a good way to provide support for more than one family member on a single subscription. Generally, there’s no good reason for a VPN provider to allow less than two or three connections. If your provider only allows one, find another vendor. We gave extra points in our;VPN directory;to those vendors who allowed three or more connections.
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Norton Secure VPN Review
Norton is the leading vendor of security software. Their antivirus probably needs no introduction, but users also respect them for their VPN service. Or, well, a portion does a loyal userbase that loves them for great features things that are few and far between. The number of users would be greater if the company cared to improve their service in a few crucial areas well point out shortly. But do the pros outweigh the cons, or is the scale tipped to the wrong side? Thats what well tally up at the end and decide. For now, lets begin our Norton Secure VPN review.
What Does A Consumer VPN Service Do
A consumer VPN service is, fundamentally, a;software-as-a-service offering. The VPN service provides a secure tunnel between your computing device and the provider’s data center.
This is important to understand. Consumer VPN services protect your transmission from your location to their location, not from your location to the destination application you’re using. If you think about it, this makes sense: A consumer VPN service is operated by a completely different company than, for example, Facebook or your bank.
The VPN service gives you an app that you run on your local device, which encrypts your data, and it travels in its encrypted form through a tunnel to the VPN service provider’s infrastructure. At that point, the data is decrypted and sent on its way.
Two things happen here: First, if you’re using an https connection, your data is encrypted by your browser and then by your VPN app. Your data is decrypted only once at the VPN data centre, leaving the original encryption provided by the browser intact. That encrypted data then goes on to the destination application, like your bank.
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What Do Net Neutrality Changes Mean For My VPN Usage
Net neutrality has been severely under fire in the US. The;Federal Communications Commission has eliminated many of the consumer protections;against internet service providers harvesting traffic data and selling that data to advertisers, or worse.;
This could be bad. I’m not terribly concerned if Comcast discovers my secret passion for muscle cars and I get more ads for car customizing kits. It might be annoying, but I’m not doing anything I want to hide. The problem could occur if ISPs start inserting their own ads in place of ads by, say, ZDNet. That could cut off the revenue that keeps websites alive, and that;could have very serious repercussions.
As for personal use and whether you should use a VPN at home because of net neutrality, I don’t think we’re there… yet. Certainly, if you’re working on confidential information and connecting to work, you should use a VPN. But we haven’t yet seen any evidence of ISPs being so intrusive that always-on VPNs are required at home.
Stay tuned to this guide because if that changes, we’ll let you know.
Do I Need An Antivirus With A VPN
Yes, you will need both a VPN and antivirus software if you want to protect your devices and your privacy. This is because an antivirus program keeps your device safe from software threats, while a VPN protects your data through encryption and hides your online activities.
A VPN secures your online identity and activity from third parties by redirecting your data through a VPN server, hiding your real IP address in the process. This lets you take back your privacy from your ISP, the government, hackers, and others.
VPNs are really important for keeping you safe online, but they don’t serve the same function as antivirus software. An antivirus program will protect your device by preventing malware from being able to take over your system, identifying threats, analyzing, and stopping any potential threats. A VPN is necessary, but your machine is still vulnerable to malware without good antivirus software.
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Is Norton Secure VPN Free
Norton Secure VPN doesnt have a free plan. But Norton Secure VPN has a lengthy 60-day money-back guarantee for its yearly plans and a 14-day money-back guarantee for its monthly plans. The 60-day refund window is double the standard length of competitors money-back guarantees. Norton Secure VPN is also included for free if you purchase Norton 360, which is our #1 choice for the best internet security suite in 2021.
There are free VPNs on the market, but I dont recommend that you use them. They typically lack essential security features, usually have slow speeds, limit how much data you can use, log what sites you visit and files you download, have poor customer support, and buggy apps.
I recommend that you purchase a low-cost premium VPN like Norton Secure VPN to ensure you get the best security, speeds, and value. Norton Secure VPN offers inexpensive subscription plans, and it has monthly and yearly plans for 1, 5, and 10 devices. The yearly plan that covers 5 devices offers the best value and is comparable to other top VPNs, and the monthly plan that covers 5 devices is cheaper than many VPNs monthly subscriptions.
How Much Does Norton Secure VPN Cost
Norton lets you choose a subscription that renews monthly or annually, with a discount for the longer of the two. You can also choose a plan that covers one, five, or 10 devices. Five is the industry average for the number of simultaneous connections permitted with a subscription. I appreciate this level of flexibility, since it lets customers tailor the offering to their needs.
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Can I Bypass The Great Firewall Without A VPN
VPNs are the tried-and-true best solution for bypassing the GFW, but there are a few other methods that work with limited success.
- Lantern, a free peer-to-peer internet circumvention software, has grown quite popular. It uses a volunteer peer-to-peer tunneling network with exit points outside of China.
- Torreportedly works with a bit of advanced configuration, however, it wont work out of the box. Tor exit points are fairly easy for the Great Firewall to identify and block. Youll need to set up bridges.
- Some SOCKS proxy applications such as Shadowsocksapparently work, but dont expect the best speeds or privacy. Theres also Surgefor iOS, but its built for developers so dont expect a very intuitive UI.
ShadowSOCKS is a VPN-like service designed in China to circumvent the states control of the free internet. Some providers recommend using it instead of a VPN, because the government has not yet put resources into widespread detection and shutdown of ShadowSOCKS server networks. However, it might only be a matter of time before ShadowSOCKS is blocked as well.
Speeds Very Slow On Local And International Servers
Norton Secure VPN is one of the slowest VPNs I have ever tested. Its normal to experience a loss in speed when you connect to a VPN, but not more than 20%. However,; the difference was huge with Norton. If my connection was just a little slower, it would have been impossible to stream any movies or access interactive websites.
To test Norton Secure VPNs speeds, I used Ooklas speed test tool and measured my:
- Ping measures the time to get a response from the website or app youre connecting to
- measures the time you need to download files and information from the internet
- Upload speed measures the time you need to send files, such as messages and videos
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Unblocked: Netflix And Uktv
Norton Secure VPN could only unblock UKTV and Netflix, which is a little disappointing. The good part is that my connection was fast enough to stream shows on these platforms without lag or buffering. I tested Norton Secure VPN with;Criminal Minds which is only available on Netflix US. However, my speeds experienced a significant decrease while I was connected to the VPN if I didnt have a fast connection in the first place, I would have experienced a lot of buffering.
Even though Netflix has strong geo-restrictions, Norton Secure VPN managed to get around them. I was impressed by this because this VPN is only intended to protect you from hackers and data leaks, not streaming content.
UKTV was very easy to unblock too. I connected to a UK server, and I had full, unlimited access to the platform. On top of that, the connection was great. I didnt experience slowdowns or changes in quality.