Norton Secure VPN Review

Verdict

Norton Secure VPN is cheap, but it only works on the most common platforms, with few advanced security features and no options for unusual operating systems or appliances such as routers, and lacks basic security features such as a kill switch. However, its connection speeds are very fast and it's useful for streaming. We're not fans of its unexpectedly high renewal costs, though.

Pros

  • Clear no-logging policy
  • Excellent streaming performance

Cons

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

Key Specifications

  • One device, £19.99/year
  • Five devices, £29.99/year
  • 10 devices, £69.99/year
  • Renewal billed at £39.99, £59.99 and £79.99 for one, five, and 10 device subscriptions
  • Supports OpenVPN
  • 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, with endpoints in 29 countries.

Norton Secure VPN

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Related: Best VPN

Norton Secure VPN – Features and usability

Norton Secure VPN shares its backend 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 does not 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 at risk to your privacy – there’s no kind of kill switch to automatically block internet traffic if the VPN gets disconnected while in use.

Norton Secure VPN – Performance

Endpoints/VPN UK Netherlands United States
Norton Secure VPN HTTP 97.52Mbps 114.72Mbps 35.52Mbps
Norton Secure VPN FTP 107.37Mbps 131.54Mbps 31.57Mbps

Norton Secure VPN performance in our tests generally unremarkable. In the UK, we got HTTP download speeds of just 12.19MB/s (97.52Mbps) and FTP transfers at a rather better 13.4MB/s.

Using Dutch endpoints, that HTTP speed went up to a reasonably nippy 14.34MB/s, with an even faster 16.44MB/s FTP throughput. US speeds were just about liveable-with, but well below average at 4.44MB/s over HTTP and 3.9MB/s via FTP.

However, we were pleasantly surprised to find that – for the first time in months – Norton Secure VPN allows us to view all our streaming video tests from Netflix, Shudder and Crunchyroll in the US, as well as iPlayer UK and All 4 in the UK.

Related: What is a VPN?

Should I 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 5-connection account costs £29.99 per year. However, the price jumps steeply after the first year, to £39.99 for 1 device and £59.99 for 5 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 only works on the most common platforms, with few advanced security features and no options for unusual operating systems or appliances such as routers, and lacks basic security features such as a kill switch. However, its 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 more but it’s also a much better, more fully-featured service, and you can make a good start with its free tier. Meanwhile, Private Internet Access and ExpressVPN continue to be your best choices for privacy.

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