Norton is a big name in the antivirus market, but can its VPN service match up to the hundreds of others available from specialist providers?
We don’t let big names cloud our judgement, so this review is 100% impartial. We tested every aspect of Norton Secure VPN to give you answers to all the questions you have, including:
- Is Norton VPN any good?
- Will it slow down your internet speeds?
- Does Norton Secure VPN work with Netflix?
- Is it a safe VPN?
- How much does Norton’s VPN cost?
Before we dive into the review and answer all those questions and more, here’s a quick look at Norton VPN’s good and bad points:
Norton Secure VPN Pros & Cons
Norton Secure VPN Key Summary
|Logging Policy||Anonymous Server Usage Data|
|Jurisdiction||US (Five-Eyes Member)|
|IP Addresses||Not disclosed|
|Works in China||No|
|Support||Live Chat Support & Online Resources|
|Cheapest Price||$3.33/mo over 12 months|
You’ve probably heard of Norton before, but we’ll start off the review by exploring the company in detail and what information it collects from its users.
Who is Norton Secure VPN?
About & Logging
Norton Secure VPN (previously Norton WiFi Privacy) is owned by NortonLifeLock Inc, one of the world’s biggest cybersecurity software companies, best known for its antivirus solutions.
Until November 2019 it was known as Symantec when Broadcom Inc acquired Norton’s Enterprise Security software division and took the name with it.
The company has been around since 1982 and is currently chaired by CEO of PayPal, Daniel H. Schulman.
Norton introduced the VPN service in 2016.
NortonLifeLock is based in California in the US.
That’s not ideal for user privacy.
The US has very intrusive surveillance laws and is a member of the Five Eyes international intelligence-sharing alliance.
Does that mean Norton’s VPN won’t keep you safe online?
We’ll have to look into its logging policy to find out.
Despite its incorporation in one of the most privacy unfriendly nations in the world, Norton Secure VPN’s logging policy is pretty good.
It doesn’t store users’ originating IP addresses or connection timestamps, nor does it keep logs of the websites you visit while connected to the VPN.
It does collect some data, though:
- Subscriber information and mobile device data, including device name, type, OS version, and language – for optimizing performance, understanding product usage, and improving customer satisfaction.
- Aggregate bandwidth usage – for billing, network operations, and support.
Norton Secure VPN also collects some temporary usage data in order to select the most appropriate server for the user, and for research and development to improve its services and better protect the user.
Temporary usage data includes the user’s originating IP address. The software’s “automated rule-based traffic management may [also] require real-time analysis of internet data traffic, including destination websites or IP addresses and originating IP addresses.”
While this sounds pretty intrusive, Norton doesn’t store users’ IP addresses after the VPN session ends and the information regarding the websites a user visits isn’t logged either.
This means that Norton Secure VPN’s US jurisdiction isn’t too bad in the context of its fairly minimal logging policy.
That said, there are VPNs that log even less if you need it, such as Private Internet Access.
Speedy on nearby VPN servers
Speed & Reliability
Norton Secure VPN is a very fast VPN – just be sure to connect to nearby servers for the best speeds.
Over longer-distance connections it’s still pretty speedy, but not as reliable as other VPNs such as those listed in our fastest VPNs list.
Local Speed Test Results
Before using Norton Secure VPN:
When connected to Norton Secure VPN:
Download speed without Norton Secure VPN: 96.99Mbps
Download speed with Norton Secure VPN: 89.58Mbps
Our download speed loss when Norton Secure VPN is running: 8%
A speed loss of less than 10% means that you should be able to do all your online activities as normal, with minimal interruption.
That includes browsing, streaming, gaming, or torrenting – Norton VPN’s uploads and ping times are great too.
Here are the speeds we consistently experience connecting to international servers:
- USA: 38Mbps (download) & 29Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 82Mbps (download) & 94Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 50Mbps (download) & 42Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 38Mbps (download) & 32Mbps (upload)
Performance was still strong, but upload speeds in particular took a hit over long-distance connections.
Small VPN server network covering 31 countries
Like most other antivirus companies that transition to VPN, Norton Secure VPN’s server network is pretty underwhelming.
At just 31 countries with no city-level choice, Norton Secure VPN covers the most popular locations, including much of Western Europe and North America, and a handful in Asia-Pacific.
There’s only one country each for South America and Africa (Brazil and South Africa), though.
It’s unclear how many individual VPN servers and IP addresses there are as, when we asked, Norton’s customer support didn’t know.
There’s also no information on whether these servers are virtual or bare metal, or whether they are owned or rented by Norton.
If you live in a country not represented by Norton Secure VPN’s network it’s worth paying a little extra for a VPN that provides coverage in order to experience the best possible speeds.
Surfshark, for instance, works out cheaper than Norton if you opt for the longer term plan and it has VPN servers in over 60 countries.
Unreliable for steaming, torrenting not permitted
Streaming & Torrenting
Norton Secure VPN’s small server network and lack of city-level choice in the US and UK make it unreliable for streaming popular services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
While we could watch Netflix through the US location this time around there’s no guarantee that this will last.
Netflix is known for cracking down on VPN service providers and blacklisting IP addresses associated with them, so the lack of server choice means that Norton VPN’s US server may get blocked, leaving you with no other options to try.
We couldn’t watch BBC iPlayer though Norton’s UK server either. Even more so than Netflix, the BBC aggressively blocks VPN IP addresses.
For the most reliable VPN take a look at our list of the best VPNs for streaming.
Do you do a lot of torrenting?
Avoid Norton Secure VPN.
Not only does Norton not permit torrenting on any of its servers, it’ll also cut off your VPN connection if it detects any P2P traffic.
Even if that weren’t the case, Norton VPN lacks the essential security tool for torrenting: a VPN kill switch.
Without one, you risk exposing your IP address to peers and your ISP if the VPN connection suddenly drops.
Here’s a list of our top recommended VPNs for torrenting.
Not a good choice for China
Norton Secure VPN isn’t likely to work in China due to its lack of extra security and obfuscation tools.
The Great Firewall is really good at spotting VPN traffic and already blocks many VPN services.
In order to beat the censors, VPNs must be equipped with special tools that mask VPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic.
Norton’s VPN doesn’t have those tools, so it’ll be blocked more often than not.
If you need a VPN for China we’ve listed our proven favorites here.
The lack of obfuscation tools also make Norton VPN a bad choice for other high-censorship countries like Russia and Turkey, which may follow in China’s footsteps in the future.
Limited to four popular platforms
Platforms & Devices
Norton Secure VPN has custom apps for the four usual platforms:
- Microsoft Windows
- Apple MacOS
That’s where the software support ends.
There’s no way to use it on any other devices, including Linux, and there are no manual workarounds for routers either.
That means you can’t protect any streaming devices like your Amazon Fire TV Stick or games consoles.
Norton Secure VPN doesn’t come with any browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, or Safari either.
The number of devices you can use the VPN on depends on the plan you pay for.
There are plans for one, five, or 10 devices – the more devices you can use the VPN on at once, the more expensive the subscription is.
If you need to use a VPN on a wide range of devices we recommend you check out our ExpressVPN review – it’s one of the very best on the market when it comes to coverage.
Strong encryption, no security extras
Encryption & Security
Please see our VPN Glossary if these terms confuse you and would like to learn more.
Norton Secure VPN doesn’t quite live up to its name.
There are no technical details about the VPN technology on Norton’s website, so we got in touch with customer support to find out more.
The customer support agent told us that Norton’s Windows, MacOS, and Android VPN apps use OpenVPN, which is our preferred VPN protocol. It’s safe and pretty fast too.
The iOS app uses IPSec, but the agent couldn’t tell us whether this is IKEv2/IPSec or L2TP/IPSec. While IKEv2 is considered very secure and fast, L2TP has some vulnerabilities.
Until we get clarification on this, it’s best to avoid the iOS app.
What’s worse, the customer support agent couldn’t even tell us what encryption the VPN apps use. “Bank-grade encryption” is all it could disclose, but considering all VPN services use that term whatever the cipher, it’s not good enough.
Norton Secure VPN didn’t leak in our IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak tests, but we did notice that it uses third-party DNS servers:
While Google DNS and CloudFlare are considered safe, we always prefer VPN services to use their own DNS servers so that they can be in full control of data logging.
Perhaps the most glaring security issue is Norton’s lack of a VPN kill switch.
This essential security feature blocks internet traffic in the event of a sudden VPN disconnection. Without it, your personal data may be exposed to your ISP or any other on-path snoopers.
There is an ad-tracker blocker, but we’re not confident in its effectiveness. It claimed to have blocked over 1,300 trackers in just 10 minutes of use for us, which seems wildly exaggerated.
Norton’s logging policy may be privacy-friendly, but without a VPN kill switch or transparency surrounding VPN protocols and encryption, we can’t call this VPN safe.
Really easy to install and use
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up Norton Secure VPN
Norton Secure VPN is really easy to use, but only because there are no settings to configure or customize.
There’s no manual options, so all you need to do to set up the VPN software is download the relevant app from your Norton account page, click through a few installation prompts, and log in. You’ll find the app in your system tray.
There are no security settings to change, so just select your preferred VPN server location and the VPN will automatically connect.
There’s an on/off toggle at the bottom of the app and that’s it.
Very slow live chat, very few online resources
|Live chat Support||Yes|
Norton’s customer support leaves much to be desired.
There is 24/7 live chat support but replies aren’t as speedy as we’re used to with our VPN services. We were left waiting for around 10 minutes, but wait times can be longer during busy periods.
When we did get a response, it wasn’t very helpful.
It’s clear that the customer support agents lack technical knowledge about VPNs in general and they aren’t clued up about particular Norton Secure VPN features either.
The agents were unable to answer even basic questions like how many server locations there are or whether the apps have a VPN kill switch.
If you have more technical questions, don’t expect to get an answer.
There’s no email address to contact, either.
Norton provides some very basic FAQs on its website, but that’s about it.
For such a well-known brand, Norton’s customer support misses the mark completely.
Very cheap, even on monthly plans
Norton Secure VPN Pricing Plan
Norton Secure VPN is a budget VPN, but that’s reflected in the quality of its service.
The price of the VPN depends on how long you subscribe for and how many devices you want to use the software on.
The longer the subscription the cheaper the monthly cost becomes, but it’s more expensive to get a 10-device annual plan than it is a one-device annual plan.
It’s the same price for a five-device annual subscription as it is for a one-device annual subscription, so be sure to go for the five-device plan to get more value for your money.
US$4.99/mo1 device: Billed $4.99 every month
US$3.33/mo1 device: Billed $39.99 every 12 months
US$7.99/mo5 devices: Billed $7.99 every month
US$3.33/mo5 devices: Billed $39.99 every 12 months
All plans have 60-day money-back guarantee
Payment & Refund Options
Norton Secure VPN offers a generous 60-day money-back guarantee for annual plans, and a 14-day refund period for monthly plans.
Just get in touch with a member of the customer support team to request your refund.
You can pay for Norton Secure VPN with debit and credit cards and PayPal only.
There’s no option to pay with cryptocurrency for more privacy or by any international methods like AliPay.
Do We Recommend Norton Secure VPN?
The Bottom Line
Norton Secure VPN provides a mediocre service – it’s cheap, but that shows in the quality of the product.
Streaming is unreliable, torrenting is forbidden, and there aren’t any security features to speak of. You can get a much better VPN for the same price range.
Alternatives to Norton Secure VPN
Need a cheap VPN for streaming and torrenting? CyberGhost is a great option. It also provides strong encryption and a no-logs policy too. Read CyberGhost review
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Bugs, bugs, bugs...
Hopeless. I keep needing to uninstall/reinstall it because it won't launch at startup, or automatically connect, despite those options being selected in the Settings. Now the window is completely greyed out, so let's uninstall again. Like their Password Manager and other Norton products, a good idea is ruined by a multitude of bugs.
Worst Paid for VPN i have used
Many things wont work, BBC i player and 4od being a few. Its the only paid for vpn i have come across that wont let you access bbc iplayer. Weak product, which i got excited for...
Pretty bad app. Doesnt tell you why it doesnt work in certain countries. I usually have to run a more professional vpn product that works in other sanctioned countries. Very limited product at best.