Norton Secure VPN (formerly known as Norton WiFi Privacy) is a reliable, beginner-friendly VPN from one of the biggest names in the digital security industry. Performance is nothing to shout about but more than good enough for buffer-free streaming on local connections, and the fact it’s currently working with Netflix is an added bonus. Streamlined custom apps are available for Microsoft Windows, Mac, iOS and Android but unfortunately there are no manual workarounds for other devices or routers.
Norton offers a decent level of encryption (Blowfish-128) but is unfortunately lacking in extra privacy features such as a kill switch. Its logging policy is a little more intrusive than we’d like, and considering the company is incorporated in the privacy-unfriendly US this could be off-putting for some. Customer service really fell short for us, with responses to live chat often taking upwards of 30 minutes, and the knowledge base on the site is limited to a few basic FAQs.
Pricing & Deals
Norton offers a few different pricing plans to make choosing your ideal option as simple as possible. Each plan gives you access to the same features but differs in the amount of devices you can use the software with – you can choose between 1, 5 and 10, and these can be paid for monthly or annually.
The annual plans offer the best value, at $4.99 per month for 10 devices, saving you a hefty 50%. If you’d rather pay on a monthly basis, it’ll cost you $4.99 for 1 device, $7.99 for 5 or $9.99 for 10. You can also save money if you buy Norton WiFi Privacy and Norton Security together, but this is only an option if you opt for a 12-month subscription.
Norton Secure VPN Coupon
Norton Secure VPN
Get 50% off Norton Secure VPN's 12-month plan
Norton Secure VPN Pricing & Deals
Norton offers a generous money-back guarantee in place of a free trial. If you are “not completely satisfied with it [the service] for any reason”, you are eligible for a full refund within 60 days (annual plans) or seven days (monthly plans). We love that this is a genuine “no questions asked” guarantee with no hidden catches or restrictions, making signing up to Norton relatively risk-free in comparison to other providers.
Payment & Refund Options
Norton unfortunately doesn’t offer as large a range of payment methods as most other VPN providers. You can pay using most major credit and debit cards or PayPal, but it isn’t currently possible to use cryptocurrencies or any international methods. Norton will need to begin accepting alternative means of payment if it wishes to further expand its global client base.
Speed & Reliability
Avast VPN’s server performance is promising. Our tests showed that connecting to most servers in the US or Europe will give you fast enough speeds for HD streaming and quick downloads.
Overall, Avast VPN’s server performance is very good.
Downloads on local connections (e.g. London to London) are nowhere near those provided by top VPN providers, but they’re more than quick enough for buffer-free streaming and multiple file downloads.
The Netherlands and the UK both produced speeds of almost 80Mbps, with France not far behind at just under 70Mbps.
You can also expect speeds of over 50Mbps connecting out from Europe to the US. We were equally impressed with server performance in Australia, coming in at 49Mbps connecting from London.
Avast VPN is really let down by its high latency, which was upwards of 17ms even on same-country connections. This means it’s a no-go for gamers, especially considering there are VPN providers out there with much lower ping times.
Avast’s desktop VPN app connects fairly quickly each time, in around 10 seconds or less, which we’ve found to be about average in our tests. Once the app is running, it is very reliable with practically no connection drop-outs, provided you have a stable internet connection of course.
Uploads aren’t quite as speedy as downloads, but are more than adequate enough. We recorded local upload speeds of 40Mbps or more, but the speeds dropped off considerably over international connections.
To find out about our speed testing methodologies, please read how we review VPNs.
Norton’s server network is fairly small with only 30 countries on offer. The usual locations are covered, so unless you need hundreds of options then you shouldn’t have any issues, however we’d recommend checking before you sign up as there are providers out there that offer a much larger variety should you need it.
Frustratingly, Norton’s customer support weren’t willing to reveal the number of individual servers or IP addresses they maintain. This leads us to believe that there aren’t many, which could cause server congestion at busier times, although this is a problem we are yet to experience. There’s also no city-level choice which could be frustrating for those in the US if they wish to pinpoint a specific state.
As you might expect from a US company, Europe and North America are the best served. Asia and Oceania have basic coverage while South America and Africa have the absolute minimum representation with only a handful of choices between them.
Platforms & Devices
Norton offers custom apps for a much smaller range of devices than most other top-tier providers, limited only to Microsoft Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. There are no manual workarounds for those platforms lacking native apps, nor are you able to configure your router to support the software.
We would have liked to see the option to buy a Norton Secure VPN router, as currently the only way to use the VPN is to install a separate app on each of your devices, which could be annoying. Norton will need to branch out from the four major platforms and make the software more accessible if it wishes to compete with its rivals.
Norton, unlike most other top-tier providers, unfortunately doesn’t offer browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Safari. Some of its rivals, such as ExpressVPN, offer full-featured VPN extensions for all popular browsers, and most others will provide at least a proxy extension for Chrome or Firefox. This probably won’t be too much of an issue for the majority, but if you’re a heavy browser user seeking a more lightweight option you might want to look for an alternative.
Games Consoles & Streaming Devices
As Norton isn’t compatible with any type of router, it’s not possible to use it with any of your games consoles or streaming devices. If the main reason you want a VPN is for your AppleTV, Xbox or PlayStation, then you’ll need to look elsewhere, as it’s obvious that these devices aren’t Norton’s priority.
The only device you could possibly use Norton with would be Android TV, by purchasing the dedicated app through the Google Play Store on your TV. However this isn’t guaranteed to work, which is where the money-back guarantee could come in handy. If you’re looking for plug-and-play solutions for your streaming devices, you’ll want to consider other providers.
Streaming & Torrenting
Norton is a decent choice if you’re looking for fast, hassle-free access to major streaming sites such as Netflix.
The lack of city-level servers is somewhat of a blessing in this situation however, as you don’t have to try out loads of different locations to try and find one that works. Unfortunately, this does also mean that if it stops working with US Netflix, there are no other options for you to try, and you instead are forced to wait for Norton to try and fix the problem.
Unfortunately we haven’t been able to watch BBC iPlayer with Norton Secure VPN for several months now.
Torrenters will also need to consider other options, as P2P traffic isn’t permitted on any of Norton’s servers – if active torrent traffic is detected, the VPN connection will be disabled.
Encryption & Security
Norton Secure VPN is secure enough for casual users but not suitable for those seeking total online anonymity. All of the apps operate exclusively on OpenVPN, the most secure protocol, apart from iOS which uses IPSec. Despite claiming it uses “bank grade encryption”, Norton actually only uses 128-Blowfish – our highest rated VPNs offer 256-bit AES encryption which is used by the federal government and considered unhackable.
The one major downside of Norton is the lack of any advanced privacy features. It’s very unusual for a provider not to include a VPN kill switch in the software, as this means that if the VPN connection were to drop without you noticing, your true IP address could be exposed. Norton doesn’t operate its own DNS servers and instead routes your web traffic through servers owned by a third party, which is far less secure.
While there are no security settings that allow you to manually switch on DNS or IPv6 leak blocking, we found no such leaks in our tests, which is reassuring.
If all you want to do is hide your IP address and stop your ISP from selling your browsing history then Norton does a decent job without hurting your wallet. However, if you’re seeking higher levels of privacy, you may want to look into other providers offering many more security extras, such as Astrill.
- OpenVPN (TCP/UDP)
- Ad Blocker
Norton Secure VPN is marketed primarily as a tool for keeping you safe on public WiFi, therefore it isn’t surprising that it doesn’t work reliably to overcome the Great Firewall of China, especially following the country’s recent VPN crackdown.
Many other providers do a far better job of beating the censors and offer a less inconsistent experience, with most of these providing additional obfuscation methods so it’s difficult to tell you’re using a VPN. You can find out about our top picks for China here.
Norton presents itself as a ‘no log’ VPN, but it does “real-time analysis of internet data traffic, including destination websites or IP addresses and originating IP addresses”, although this information isn’t stored.
Norton does log the following data:
- Details of your device name, type, OS version, and language
- Aggregate bandwidth usage
Because of the above usage data analysis and logs we wouldn’t recommend Norton for those seeking high levels of privacy. Many VPNs are able to maintain a quality service without real-time analysis of personal information.
Norton is owned by Symantec, which operates under the privacy-unfriendly jurisdiction of the United States. This means it’s subject to intrusive data laws and intelligence-sharing agreements with other countries, which could be a dealbreaker for some.
Ease of Use
Norton’s range of custom apps started out exclusively for mobile but were made available to desktop users in 2016. They’re very user-friendly and great for VPN beginners, with the main screen displaying your virtual location and new IP address, as well as a tiny little slider at the bottom to toggle the VPN on and off. We do prefer the popular big button approach as it’s less fiddly, but the slider saves space and fits well with the design of the app. We did occasionally have problems connecting, but restarting the app solves the issue.
There are no configurable settings on any of the apps whatsoever, which could be frustrating for more experienced VPN users. The only kind of bonus feature you get is the ad-tracker blocker, which can be accessed in a separate tab along the top of the interface. This is essentially an on/off switch with some arbitrary states about the number of trackers blocked – we would have liked the ability to drill down into to what those stats refer.
The app itself is an unassuming tray dweller that’s only visible when you flick it open. We’re not huge fans of this as it can take additional clicks to get to the main screen, but you may prefer that it stays out of the way. Overall a good app for VPN newbies, but would benefit from a bit of a polish and a higher level of manual configurability.
Norton Secure VPN is very quick and easy to set up at just minutes from download to sign-in and activation. Once you’ve purchased a subscription, simply sign in to your account on the Norton website and download the appropriate software for your device. The installation wizard will guide you through the process – all you have to do is click ‘next’ and then ‘finish’.
Once you’ve installed the software, simply enter your username and password and you’re ready to start using the VPN. There are some instructional setup guides on Norton’s website, but they are very basic. However, the process is so easy that you shouldn’t need too much help.
For such a reputable company, Norton has a lot of work to do when it comes to customer service in comparison to the impressive levels of support offered by rival providers, such as ExpressVPN and CyberGhost. Live chat is available intermittently but wait times can be as long as 40 minutes if you want to talk to anyone that isn’t a salesperson. We were occasionally dumped out of chats because we didn’t respond quickly enough and the whole experience was just pretty frustrating.
Norton were very keen to offer us support over the phone, but we’re not fans of that for technical issues as you can’t go back and re-read the advice they give you, plus it can be hard to make yourself understood. We also found it strange that there’s no option to email the support team. On-site resources are incredibly limited and surface-level, with FAQs only covering the most basic of issues. The good news is that the app is so simple and reliable that you’re unlikely to need much help.
The Bottom Line
- Reliable speeds of up to 66Mbps on local connections
- Currently works with Netflix and some other streaming services
- Incredibly user-friendly apps. Instant setup on major platforms
- Connect securely to 30 countries
- Generous money-back guarantee (60 days on annual plans)
- Lack of advanced privacy features
- P2P/torrenting not permitted on any servers
- Very limited customer support
- Server network could be a lot bigger
- No manual workarounds for devices lacking native apps
Norton Secure VPN is a great choice for VPN beginners looking to hide their IP address and prevent their ISP from seeing their browsing history, but seekers of complete online anonymity should look elsewhere. It’s very reasonably priced in comparison to other VPN providers, and we love that you can protect up to 10 devices on some plans. Speeds on local connections are good enough for HD streaming and gaming, plus it’s currently working with Netflix.
Privacy-wise, Norton is one of the less advanced options in the current market. We love that it operates exclusively on OpenVPN but the lack of a kill switch really puts it behind its rivals in terms of security. Encryption is also via Blowfish-128 rather than the more secure AES-256, plus their logging policy is a little more intrusive than we’d prefer.
The software is incredibly beginner-friendly but almost to the point of being too dumbed-down, with absolutely no configurable settings on any of the apps. Customer support lags behind that offered by top-tier providers, and we really didn’t like the fact that agents sometimes took over 30 minutes to respond if we had anything other than a sales-related question. The apps can be made to work at a push in China but there are much more reliable options out there.