Norton Secure VPN Review

With super-cheap first-year subscription rates and fast connection speeds, Norton Secure VPN looks like a bargain-hunter's dream. With subscriptions sold based on the number of devices you want to use, this could be a steal for those only needing a VPN for a few devices.

Verdict

Good performance and features are undermined by high renewal rates and the lack of a VPN kill switch.

Pros

  • Clear no-logging policy
  • Typically fast performance in transfer speed tests
  • Provides international access to Netflix US

Cons

  • No kill switch
  • Lack of advanced features and broad device support
  • Becomes more expensive after first year

Key Specifications

  • £19.99 per year (1 device)
  • Renewal billed at £39.99, £59.99 and £79.99 for 1, 5, and 10 device subscriptions
  • £29.99 per year (5 devices)
  • Supports OpenVPN
  • £69.99 per year (10 devices)
  • Clients for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS

What is Norton Secure VPN?

Previously named Norton WiFi Privacy, Symantec’s virtual private network service is 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 are the same as any other VPN service, whether you’re accessing the internet from home or from your local coffee shop.

Norton Secure VPN – Features and usability

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, 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 to halt internet traffic if your VPN is disconnected unexpectedly is a security flaw.

We were unable to reproduce results reported by some 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 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 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 few advanced features here. Most conspicuously, there’s no kind of kill switch to automatically block internet traffic if the VPN is disconnected while in use, which could compromise your privacy.

Related: Best VPN

Norton Secure VPN desktop client

Norton Secure VPN – Performance

Norton Secure VPN was unable to match the blistering performance we saw from it during our last round of testing, but its transfer speeds were good nonetheless. In the UK, we got HTTP downloads at 8.58MB/sec (68.64Mbps) and FTP transfers at 9.37MB/sec (74.96Mbps).

Using Dutch endpoints, that HTTP speed went down to 7.76MB/sec (62.08Mbps), although we still managed to FTP at just over 9MB/sec (72Mbps). US speeds were also very good, exceeding our non-VPN’d reference downloads by a long way at 5.25MB/sec (42Mbps) for FTP and an excellent 7MB/sec (56Mbps) for HTTP downloads.

While we were no longer able to view BBC iPlayer when connected to a UK endpoint, and All 4 was also a non-starter, Netflix US was no trouble at all. As usual, Crunchyroll and Shudder worked perfectly.

Why 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.

Verdict

Symantec’s home VPN offering is cheap, but it works only on the most common platforms, with few advanced security features and no options for unusual operating systems or appliances such as routers. Plus, it lacks basic security features such as a kill switch. However, its connection speeds are super-fast and it’s useful for streaming Netflix.

Unexpectedly high renewal costs don’t sit well with not being able to connect a wider range of devices. If streaming is important, BullGuard VPN is a better option for video streaming fans, while Private Internet Access is best for the security-conscious. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a cheaper VPN service of note.

Score


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