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Boo To Norton/Symantec

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I have to vent my frustration on this somewhere - so it might as well be in public where others can benefit.

My subscription to my Norton antivirus, firewall and "System Works" package expired the other day. So last night I clicked on the notification link to renew.

Almost every year I usually go ahead and take the upgrade special that they plug rather than the merely update the subscription to my existing product. My existing package was "System Works" and their firewall offering. I am not sure that I got a whole lot of value out of the System Works. But since it offers features that seem to be of potential value if something horrible happens - and since I did have a computer crash a few months ago after which I received a message that System Works somehow stepped in and saved the day - I figured I might as well take the upgrade from the 2005 to the 2006 version. My hesitation over doing so was that, when I have upgraded in the past, I have had to reinstall new software which causes me to lose my firewall settings. I use a few programs which require special configuration in the firewall and I had a heck of a time getting my wireless network set up so that my computers would recognize and be able to access each other. However, since the price of the subscription-only renewal to the System Works and the Firewall was not that much less than the upgrade, I decided to take my chances on the reinstall.

Well - it ended up taking just under 4 hours for me to get the upgrade software installed.

I will write off an hour and a half of it as being my fault. During the portion of the System Works installation where the "go back" feature is installed, one gets a message that the program in "packing" specific files. Apparently what it was doing was defragmenting my hard drive. Unfortunately, unknown to me, there was on my C drive a .wav file over 2 years old that was over 4 gigabytes in size. How on earth that got there, I simply do not know. All of my audio recording and studio programs automatically create a second .wav file whenever a active recording goes over 2 gigabyte. So how the thing got there is a huge mystery to me. At any rate, the file was apparently chocking the defrag attempt as the install progress message kept indicating it was starting the process over again - and I was able to look and see that the file was massively fragmented. After an hour, I finally because frustrated enough that I simply deleted the crazy thing right in the middle of the install. That sped the install up but apparently caused it to fail and I got a message that I would have to redo the installation.

The second installation went well - but it still took about an hour. During the installation, a message appears that the "go back" portion may take "up to 30 minutes."

Complaint number one: Why on earth did Symantec not warn me that the install would take so long? If I had known ahead of time, I would have found time to do it another day. As far as I am concerned, that is very inconsiderate towards their customers.

The installation of the firewall went ok - just the usual hassle of the various reboots and downloads of product updates and virus definitions that I already expected.

At this point, I was only mildly frustrated with Norton and recognized that most of the wasted time was not their fault.

Since my "radio studio" and audio equipment is in a room different than my main computer, I use a laptop connected to an external sound card for most of my audio processing and use the wireless network to transfer the files back to the main computer. Today I fired up the laptop knowing I would need to reconfigure the network. Once the network was reestablished, however, I was able to view but not access the folders on the main computer with the Norton upgrades. I kept getting a message that there was not enough "storage" on the server to process the command. To me, that was odd as the files were on a relatively new 250 gig external slave drive that is still mostly empty - how could I lack storage space?

Turns out after goggling the error message, that this is a VERY common issue with newly installed Norton products on networked computers. It has to do with something called an "IRPStackSize parameter," whatever the heck that is, not being sufficiently large enough once the Norton has been installed. To correct the problem, I had to follow the regedit instructions on the Microsoft website - which fortunately, did the trick.

Second complaint: Even more time on my part taken up trying to figure out and remedy the problem.

Third complaint - and most important, in my view: Norton products are advertised as consumer grade products - not something for an exclusive market that one would assume to be tech savvy. These are products that are marketed to ordinary people who do not necessarily have a strong technical background. It is not like wireless networks are uncommon these days or used exclusively by geeks. Why on earth don't they fix the installation to test for and correct this problem ahead of time? If that is not possible, why on earth can't they at least have a warning pop up from the program when this happens and provide some sort of tool where all one has to do is click on a button to make the necessary correction? To expect a person of average technical proficiency to have to research the problem, go to Microsoft's very unfriendly website and perform a regedit just to get an off the shelf mass market consumer software product to work with one's wireless network - well, I am sorry but that is pathetic.

For an extra $10 I was able to get my updated subscription extended for 2 years. But in 2 years when my renewal comes up, I am going to take a VERY hard look at McAffee and other anti-virus/firewall programs. My advice is for anyone needing to renew or purchase such software to strongly consider doing likewise.


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In all the instances I've seen Norton, such as on computers of acquaintences who want help fixing their systems, I've always been annoyed and frustrated by it. I'd recommend switching to another AV software (I use McAfee, and it works well).

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Yeah I found Norton to be pretty buggy. Back when I still used it I found a somewhat amusing bug. I never exploited this, I just stumbled across it by accident. It seems that you can easily renew your subscription by simply uninstalling and reinstalling the app. Since "new installs" come with a free one year subscription it just assumes you aren't doing a reinstall and just creates a brand new subscription for you.

I'm not sure if that still works, but it gave me the impression that if they can't even get their subscription model free of such an obvious bug I wonder how reliable the rest of the product is... <_<

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  • 2 weeks later...

I felt a slight shudder when I read Symantec <_<

I manage a workstation environment of about 4000 workstations, all running Symantec Corporate edition and communicating back to a SAV server. We recently had to upgrade all clients from 8 > 10 . Most other pieces of software may have a few minor glitches but don't take alot of time, this one was an absolute nightmare. First off, it was causing Windows 2000 machines to completely hang because it didn't like one particular exe file in our login script, took a long time to track that one down.

Then some of the upgrades completely failed because a certain .inf file was set to read-only (msxml3.inf). So we were left with a few hundred machines minus a virus scanner.

Not suprisingly Symantec support did not have much in the way of useful solutions, most of the resolutions came from trolling through support forums where other users had similar difficulties upgrading their sites.

We are quite interested to see how the new Microsoft Antivirus enterprise suite comes out. Hopefully we can migrate away from Symantec sometime soon.

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I just bought a new computer about a month ago, nothing too fancy, and it had norton on it. Well...everything was okay until the update. So now I have to uninstall it and then reinstall it, a real pain in the butt...but it is causing all sorts of issues. They really do suck now. I used to prefer them to McaFee as well.


(that's my non technical rant.)

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