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 streaming performance
- Excellent European speeds
- No kill switch
- Very poor US speeds
- Lack of advanced features and broad device support
- Becomes more expensive after first year
- Review Price: £19.99
- Supports OpenVPN
- Clients for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- £19.99 per year for one device, £29.99 per year for five devices, £69.99 per year for 10 devices
- Renewal billed at £39.99 for one device, £59.99 for five devices and £79.99 for 10 devices
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.
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Norton Secure VPN – 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 and 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, although this has neither been demonstrated in court nor independently audited. It also has a built-in blocking feature for ad trackers for a bit of extra privacy, but the lack of a kill switch– which halts internet traffic if your VPN is unexpectedly disconnected – is a security flaw.
We were unable to reproduce results reported by reviewers of a previous edition of the client, which indicated that the OpenVPN process may halt traffic if disconnected.
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 displays 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 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 a risk to your privacy, there’s no kill switch to automatically block internet traffic if the VPN gets disconnected while in use.
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Norton Secure VPN – Performance
|Norton Secure VPN HTTP||102.88Mbps||113.44Mbps||83.52Mbps|
|Norton Secure VPN FTP||152.39Mbps||162.33Mbps||n/a|
As a comparison, average HTTP download speeds for the entire January 2020 VPN group test, measured from a test system in the UK with a high-speed fibre connection, were 81.41Mbps from UK endpoints, 89.42Mbps for the Netherlands and 43.02Mbps from the US.
Norton Secure VPN’s performance in the speed tests was good in the UK, decent in the Netherlands and slightly below average when connecting from the UK to the US. Via a particularly fast internet connection, it was always fast enough for even the highest-quality streaming, but it doesn’t consistently have the region-shifting capabilities to support that.
I was able to watch Netflix and Shudder from the US, but had no luck streaming iPlayer UK and All 4 in the UK.
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Should you buy Norton Secure VPN?
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 for the first year, and a five-connection account costs £29.99 per year. However, the price jumps steeply after the first year, to £39.99 for one device and £59.99 for five devices.
You’ll want to avoid setting an automatic renewal, and if you don’t get a renewal discount of any kind or find a cheap boxed copy, switch to another service after your first year.
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. In addition, it lacks basic security features such as a kill switch. However, its European connection speeds are very fast and it’s useful for streaming. We’re not fans of its unexpectedly high renewal costs, though.
For VPN users on a budget, Windscribe’s annual subscription costs a little more but is a better, more fully featured service – and you can make a good start with its free tier. Meanwhile, Private Internet Access and ExpressVPN remain your best choices for privacy, while NordVPN is great for streaming and has had an independent audit to prove its privacy credentials.