Symantec’s home VPN offering is cheap but only works on the most common platforms, with few advanced options and a conspicuous absence of basic security features such as a kill switch. Its UK connection speeds are fast, but we’re not fans of its unexpectedly high renewal costs.
- Clear no-logging policy
- Excellent UK speeds
- No kill switch
- Lack of advanced features and broad device support
- Becomes more expensive after first year
- Review Price: £19.99 for first year
- Supports OpenVPN
- Clients for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Previously named Norton WiFi Privacy, Norton Secure VPN is Symantec’s virtual private network (VPN) service.
It’s primarily marketed as a means of ensuring that your traffic isn’t snooped on when you go online via poorly secured public Wi-Fi networks. However, its features in this department are much the same as any other VPN service. Plus, it provides a slightly less secure connection than many of its rivals due to its lack of a kill switch.
Pricing and subscriptions
One of the most compelling arguments for using Norton Secure VPN is its price. A one-year subscription – albeit for only one connection at a time – costs just £19.99/$39.99 for the first year, and a five-connection account costs £34.99/$39.99 per year. However, the price jumps steeply after the first year to £39.99/$49.99 for one device and £84.99/$79.99 for five devices. You’ll want to avoid setting an automatic renewal and, if you don’t get a renewal discount of any kind, switch to another service after your first year.
Even then, you can do better on average monthly pricing with a three-year VyprVPN subscription or a two-year subscription from Surfshark, both of which have a lot more going for them in general.
Features and usability
With endpoints in 29 countries, Norton Secure VPN shares its back-end infrastructure with SurfEasy, a Canadian VPN provider, previously owned by Opera, but acquired by Symantec in 2017. This creates a slightly ambiguous situation when it comes to legal jurisdiction, but it’s best to assume that the service is answerable to both US and Canadian law.
Secure VPN is a no-logging service, which means that no connection information at all should be stored when you use it. However, this has neither been demonstrated in court nor independently audited. It also has an optional ad tracker blocking feature for a bit of extra privacy.
By default, the Norton Secure VPN client starts at boot time and automatically connects to a VPN endpoint with the best connection speed available to you. The client is accessible as a docked pop-up from the notification area, so you can’t move it around the screen. Its main screen shows your connection status, endpoint IP address and apparent location. A Virtual Locations tab allows you to select an endpoint in any of the 29 countries on offer.
Norton Secure VPN uses the industry-standard OpenVPN protocol for its connections, with clients available for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. However, Symantec doesn’t provide the information required to use the service on devices such as Linux PCs, NAS boxes or routers.
Note that there are very few advanced features here. Most conspicuously – and the greatest potential risk to your privacy here – there’s no kind of kill switch to automatically block internet traffic if the VPN gets disconnected while in use.
Norton Secure VPN – Performance
|Norton Secure VPN HTTP||300.8Mbps||57.6Mbps||106.4Mbps|
|Reference Group Average HTTP||179.7Mbps||160.13Mbps||91.805Mbps|
|Reference HTTP without VPN||604.8Mbps||544.8Mbps||700.8Mbps|
All of my testing was carried out on a virtual desktop physically located at a data centre in London with a high-speed internet connection. This testing setup produces results under optimal connection conditions. VPN clients are tested on their default settings.
Norton Secure VPN’s performance in the speed tests was fantastic in the UK, very healthy in the US, but poor in the Netherlands. Via my particularly fast internet connection, it was always quick enough for even the highest-quality streaming, but it doesn’t have the region-shifting capabilities to support that; this isn’t a service aimed at streaming media enthusiasts.
Should you buy Norton Secure VPN?
Symantec’s home VPN offering is cheap, but it only works on the most common platforms, with few advanced options, no support for unusual operating systems or appliances such as routers, and lacks basic security features such as a kill switch. However, its UK connection speeds are very fast. I’m not a fan of its unexpectedly high renewal costs, though.
For VPN users on a budget, Windscribe’s annual subscription costs a little more but it’s also a much better, more fully featured service – and you can make a good start with its free tier. Meanwhile, ExpressVPN remains your best choice for privacy, and NordVPN and Surfshark are great for speed and streaming. Check out our best VPN list for even more options.