Does Norton Secure VPN Keep Logs?
Logging Policy & Jurisdiction
Norton Secure VPN won’t stop you from being identified from your online activity. The VPN logs personally identifiable information, including your IP address and device type. Norton is also based in the US, which means it has to comply with many surveillance and data collection laws. We recommend avoiding Norton VPN for sensitive web activities.
The VPN provider claims that “Norton Secure VPN does not keep logs”. However, we found that Norton retains a lot of user data.
Most significantly, the VPN logs your originating IP address. Your IP address is unique to your network and, as a result, is one of the worst things for a VPN to store.
After contacting it, we were told that Norton logs this information so it can “gather your actual location to change it to a different place.”
This is false and very disappointing from Norton. A VPN doesn’t require your originating IP address to connect you to a VPN server. If any location information is required, it can be processed on-device and doesn’t need to be kept by Norton.
One positive is that Norton Secure VPN doesn’t keep connection timestamps or the websites you visit. This makes it harder to link your activity to your IP address.
Based in the US
Norton Secure VPN is based in the United States, which is the worst location for user privacy. The US has very intrusive surveillance laws and is a member of the Five Eyes international intelligence-sharing alliance.
The US has troubling data retention laws, including the Stored Communications Act (SCA). In short, this means Norton has to hand over all the information it stores on a user if requested by the US government.
As detailed in the previous section, Norton VPN logs a lot of user data. You shouldn’t trust it with most of your web activity.
Not Very Secure
Security & Features
Norton Secure VPN performed poorly in our security tests. We found the VPN leaks DNS addresses, its kill switch doesn’t work when changing servers, and it uses an outdated protocol. The VPN can’t be trusted to conceal your identity.
Uses IKEv2 & AES-256 encryption
Although Norton and all other review websites claim Norton Secure VPN uses OpenVPN, we found that it uses IKEv2.
IKEv2 is a less secure protocol than OpenVPN. It’s closed-source, meaning not everyone can inspect its code base. It’s possibly also been compromised by the NSA.
We found Norton VPN uses IKEv2 by analyzing our packets using Wireshark. As you can see in the screenshot below, there are references to ISAKMP, UDP port 500, IKE_SA, and ESP. All of these are hallmarks of IKEv2.
More positively, Norton encrypts traffic using the AES-256 cipher. When inspecting our traffic, our DNS, HTTP, TCP, and UCP traffic was all encrypted. Even if a third party intercepted your traffic, they wouldn’t be able to see what you’re doing.
In a future update, we’d like to see Norton add support for newer and more trusted protocols, like WireGuard and ChaCha20.
Kill switch doesn’t work when changing servers
Norton VPN includes a kill switch on its Windows and Android apps. This feature is intended to prevent your real IP address from leaking if your VPN connection drops.
It’s not enabled by default, so make sure to turn it on by clicking the Settings cog and toggling on the Kill Switch option. It’s not available at all on iOS or macOS.
To test whether Norton VPN’s kill switch works as intended, we used our bespoke kill switch testing tool. This checks for any IP leaks in two circumstances: when changing the VPN server and when the VPN connection disconnects.
Disappointingly, the kill switch failed to protect our IP address when changing to a different server location. Unlike other VPNs with a similar issue, Norton does not provide any message to warn you this will happen.
Thankfully, the kill switch did successfully block our internet access when our connection dropped and reconnected. This is the more important test of the two.
If possible, we’d like Norton to add a kill switch to all of its platforms and fix the issue when switching servers.
Leaks DNS addresses
We also tested the VPN service for IP, WebRTC, and DNS leaks. Although the VPN passed the first two, we found that Norton Secure VPN leaked our DNS address.
This is a major security issue and the main reason why we recommend you don’t use Norton Secure VPN. A DNS leak means your ISP can see the websites you visit and the apps you use, making the VPN significantly less useful for privacy.
As you can see in the screenshot below, our real UK DNS address was visible while connected to a VPN server in Chile. This meant our DNS requests were being routed through our ISP’s servers and not Norton’s.
Doesn’t block all trackers
All of Norton’s VPN apps include an ad tracker blocker. This feature is designed to prevent trackers from monitoring your activity as you visit different websites.
We tested it using an objective tracker blocker checker. As shown in the screenshot below, Norton’s tracker blocker is not very useful. Our browser still had a unique fingerprint, meaning we could be uniquely identified and shown highly-targeted ads.
It was still better than nothing, though. It was able to block Google and Hotjar analytics, which are two of the most popular trackers on websites.
We recommend installing a safe third-party blocker, like uBlock Origin. uBlock Origin blocked 40% more trackers than Norton. It’ll also block ads, which Norton’s doesn’t.
Security Features We’d Like to See
Norton VPN doesn’t include many security features we expect from a paid-for VPN. Here are some basic features we’d like the VPN service to add:
- Ad blocker to prevent web ads from being shown as you browse the web.
- WireGuard support to improve the VPN’s security and speed performance.
- Double hop servers to reduce the chance of correlation attacks.
- System-wide kill switch to block all traffic, even when the VPN app is not open or disconnected.
We’d also like Norton to add features from its cybersecurity product to the standalone VPN app. In particular, we’d find the password manager and anti-malware tool useful.
Works With Popular Streaming Sites
Norton Secure VPN worked with most of the streaming services we tested it with. We used it to access US content platforms, including Netflix and Hulu, as well as UK services like BBC iPlayer. However, it doesn’t work with international Netflix libraries or less popular streaming sites.
|Amazon Prime Video|
Sometimes streams US Netflix
We were able to unblock American Netflix using Norton’s US VPN server. However, it was far less reliable than the very best Netflix VPNs.
In our tests, Norton Secure VPN worked with US Netflix 60% of the time. Frustratingly, the VPN doesn’t offer city-level server locations, so you can’t cycle between servers if it’s not working. Instead, you’ll have to wait for Norton to restore functionality.
The VPN doesn’t work with any other Netflix region other than the US. We tested it with over 25 libraries, including the UK, Japan, and Australia. Norton VPN failed to stream a TV show or movie from any of these regions.
Reliably accesses US content platforms
The VPN is far more reliable at streaming other US-based video services. Using it, we could unblock Hulu, Prime Video, and HBO Max.
Unlike with Netflix, we were always able to access these streaming services with Norton. Norton VPN’s US speeds are fast, too, so you can expect high quality video streams.
Works well with UK streaming services
We also tested Norton Secure VPN with UK streaming services. The VPN worked with all of them, including BBC iPlayer, All 4, and ITV Hub.
Sadly, the VPN also doesn’t have any city-level servers in the UK. You won’t be able to get a new IP address if it stops working.
All the videos loaded quickly and streamed in the highest possible resolution. Using it, we watched Sherlock in HD without any buffering.
Fast Speeds Across All Server Locations
Speed & Reliability
Norton Secure VPN’s speed performance has improved a lot. Now, the VPN’s local speeds exceed those of top VPNs, including ExpressVPN and Surfshark. On our 100Mbps baseline connection, we recorded a download speed of 94Mbps on a close-by London server. However, the VPN isn’t as impressive when connecting to far-away locations.
We tested Norton Secure VPN using our scientific speed testing methodology. This involved recording our download and upload speed when connected to Norton VPN servers in six continents.
In total, we ran 144 speed tests over a month to ensure our results were as accurate as possible.
Here are our results when we tested speeds on a local Norton Secure VPN server:
Local Speed Test results before using Norton Secure VPN:
- Download Speed: 100Mbps
- Upload Speed: 100Mbps
- Ping: 1ms
Local Speed Test results with Norton Secure VPN:
Download speed loss when Norton Secure VPN is running: 7%
Norton Secure VPN’s local speed performance is really impressive. Usually, fast cheap VPNs use untested proprietary protocols, like Catapult Hydra or Mimic. However, Norton manages these speeds using IKEv2, which is much more trustworthy and safe.
The speeds we recorded were consistently fast enough for every web activity, including HD streaming and gaming. Its upload speeds were just as impressive, too, making it a good choice for secure video conferencing or anonymously seeding torrent files.
International Speed Test Results
We also tested Norton Secure VPN’s speeds when connected to servers in five different continents. This is primarily to gauge how well the VPN will perform when streaming content from geo-blocked content libraries.
Here are the full results we recorded when connecting to Norton VPN server locations from London, UK with a 100Mbps internet connection:
- Download: 72.60Mbps (27% speed loss)
- Upload: 4.87Mbps (95% speed loss)
- Download: 93.94Mbps (6% speed loss)
- Upload: 90.23Mbps (10% speed loss)
- Download: 72.41Mbps (28% speed loss)
- Upload: 4.00Mbps (96% speed loss)
- Download: 54.38Mbps (46% speed loss)
- Upload: 4.25Mbps (96% speed loss)
- South Africa:
- Download: 0.42Mbps (99% speed loss)
- Upload: 0.48Mbps (99% speed loss)
- Download: 56.48Mbps (43% speed loss)
- Upload: 12.36Mbps (88% speed loss)
Since the last time we tested it, Norton VPN’s long-distance download speeds have greatly improved. Its download speeds have increased by 92% for the US, and 42% for Australia.
The one caveat is the South Africa server, where our download and upload speed was lower than 0.5Mbps.
We strongly recommend connecting to a server in a different continent if you’re based in Africa. Even though it’s further away, you’ll still get faster speeds.
Although upload speeds on far-away servers were poor across the board, this isn’t too much of an issue. Upload speed will affect the performance of activities like data syncing, but you should connect to a nearby server for these.
Good choice for gaming
Norton Secure VPN is a good VPN to use while gaming. When connected to a nearby server, we recorded a ping speed of 10ms. This was more than fast enough for multiplayer games, like CS:GO.
Norton VPN was even fast enough for cloud gaming services, like Xbox Cloud Gaming. Using it, Fortnite ran as if it was installed directly onto our PC. It took us just 20 seconds to find a match and we didn’t notice any input lag.
However, we don’t recommend using the VPN to access gaming lobbies from other countries. When connected to a New York server, our ping increased to 179ms. The response time was too slow and we were removed from some lobbies.
What Countries Does Norton Secure VPN Have?
Norton Secure VPN has servers in 28 countries, which is much lower than we’d like. There’s also no server choice within countries, so you can’t get an IP address from a specific city. We’re pleased that there’s a server in every continent, but the rest are too concentrated in Europe.
Here are all the countries that Norton Secure VPN has servers in:
|Europe||Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, UK|
|Asia & Middle East||Israel, Japan, Singapore, Turkey|
|North America||Canada, Mexico, US|
65% of Norton’s VPN servers are in Europe. We prefer VPN server networks that are dispersed over a wider area. That way, more users have access to nearby connections.
There’s only one country each for South America, Asia, and Africa. Some major regions are not available either. There are no servers in India, South Korea, or Hong Kong. If you’re connecting from any of these regions, you can expect slow speeds and high latency.
We were also disappointed that the VPN doesn’t offer any city-level locations. This meant we weren’t able to bypass US sports blackouts by connecting to a particular city or state.
Norton also wouldn’t tell us whether these servers are physically located in the region. We also weren’t told 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 to experience the best possible speeds.
Not a Good Choice for Torrenting
We don’t recommend Norton Secure VPN for torrenting. Although it has fast P2P speeds and a kill switch, it has significant drawbacks. The VPN logs your IP address and is based in a Five Eyes jurisdiction. P2P traffic is also blocked on every server other than the Netherlands. Depending on where you are, this will negatively impact your speeds.
|Average Download Bitrate||9.2MiB/s|
|No. of P2P Servers||1|
|Logging Policy||Intrusive Logging|
Other VPN review websites claim that Norton Secure VPN doesn’t support torrenting. But we found that it allows you to download P2P files on its server in the Netherlands.
If you try torrenting while connected to a different server location, the VPN app will block the download and show an error message. To connect to the Netherlands, choose the Torrent-Optimized Region option at the top of the server list.
There’s no good reason for Norton to restrict P2P downloads to the Netherlands. Although it was previously legal to download copyrighted material there, this was stopped in 2014.
We’d like to see Norton expand its P2P server network to at least include an option for North American users.
P2P speeds will depend on your location
Norton Secure VPN performed very well in our P2P speed tests. On our 10MiB/s test connection, we recorded a bitrate of 9.2MiB/s. This meant our torrent files downloaded almost as quickly as our regular internet connection.
Here’s how quickly we were able to download a 20GB torrent file compared to when the VPN was disconnected:
However, as we test from the UK, we are located close to Norton’s P2P server in the Netherlands. You’ll experience less impressive speeds if you’re connecting from further away.
Cheap on Every Plan
Price & Value for Money
Norton Secure VPN comes free with every Norton 360 subscription. It can also be purchased separately for cheap. You can pay annually or monthly, and you can save money by choosing fewer devices to register on your account. If you only want to cover one device, you can use Norton VPN for $$2.50 a month, which is a good deal.
Here are the payment plans available for Norton Secure VPN:
US$4.99/mo1 device: Billed $4.99 every month
US$2.50/mo1 device: Billed $30 the first 12 months, then $50 every 12 months thereafter
US$7.99/mo5 devices: Billed $7.99 every month
US$3.33/mo5 devices: Billed $39.99 every 12 months, then $80 every 12 months thereafter
There are plans available to use Norton Secure VPN on 10 devices. However, these are almost twice the price of other plans, making it as expensive as the most premium VPN services. You shouldn’t even consider them.
If you plan to pay a month at a time, Norton has some of the lowest prices we’ve seen. However, its annual plans are less impressive and get a lot more expensive in the second year of your subscription.
If you’re set on using Norton, we instead recommend checking the prices for Norton 360 before purchasing a standalone Norton Secure VPN subscription. It can be purchased for just $10 extra and includes additional features, including cloud storage and antivirus protection.
NOTE: Norton Secure VPN’s monthly plans are not available in the UK. Instead, you’ll have to pay annually. Prices range from £19.99 to £69.99, depending on how many devices you want to use the VPN on.
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.
If you sign up from within the Android or iOS app, you can also take advantage of a 7-day free trial.
Norton VPN Works in China
In our most recent tests, Norton VPN worked in China 100% of the time. Using it, we could access blocked sites, like YouTube from within China. However, the VPN does lack any obfuscation technology, so it’s unclear how long it will work.
After contacting it, we were told that “Norton Secure VPN will not work in China.” Despite this, we were able to bypass the Great Firewall on every VPN server we tested.
We connected to a server within 10 seconds each time, too, which is much faster than some other VPNs we tested.
In the video below, view our tests examining how well Norton VPN worked in China.
There are also VPN servers available in nearby locations, like Hong Kong, so you can connect with fast speeds and low latency.
The one downside is that the VPN doesn’t include any obfuscation or anti-censorship technology. We’d like to see Norton add an option to connect via Shadowsocks or Obfsproxy.
Can Be Installed on Major Platforms
Platforms & Devices
Norton Secure VPN is only available on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. The iOS and macOS apps miss out on some key features, like split tunneling. There are no apps for other platforms, including Fire TV and Linux. It also can’t be installed on a router.
You can download Norton VPN on these operating systems:
Here are a few differences between Norton’s VPN apps:
Depending on which pricing plan you choose, Norton allows you to install its VPN app on one, five, or 10 devices at once. A device will count towards this even if it’s not connected to the VPN, which can be frustrating.
Norton’s Windows app has more features than any other platform. It includes a kill switch, split tunneling, and a tracker blocker.
As the VPN can be used in the Norton 360 app, there’s no learning curve for existing Norton users. It can be enabled and configured similarly to all of the app’s other features, like device scanning.
The VPN section of the Windows app differs slightly from the Mac version. You can still connect using the simple Turn On button, but the Windows app uses a basic pop-up window when changing servers or configuring settings.
By contrast, the Mac app behaves like a more traditional VPN app. You can see this in the section below.
In all, Norton’s Windows app is better than all of its other versions. It includes all of its features and additional security protection. We do wish it was more attractive and could be resized to a smaller window, though.
Norton’s macOS application is nicer to use than the Windows version, but it doesn’t include any security features.
Most significantly, the VPN doesn’t include a kill switch. This means that your true IP address will leak if your connection drops. We strongly recommend Mac users avoid Norton VPN for sensitive tasks.
The app also doesn’t have a split tunneling feature, so you won’t be able to exclude certain apps from the VPN tunnel. This feature is useful for accessing websites that require a local IP address, like streaming services or banking apps.
We do like how the VPN on Mac has a more graphical interface, including a map, which is absent from the Windows version. Press Open and you’ll be able to connect to a server, change VPN region, or configure settings as if it was a standalone application.
Again, we do wish the app window could be changed to a smaller size. As it stands, it takes up almost the entire screen of our test MacBook Pro.
Although Windows and macOS allow you to use the VPN in Norton 360, you’ll have to use the standalone Norton Secure VPN app on mobile.
Norton’s iOS client is as simple as it gets. The app appears as if it’s been quickly designed, with not much consideration for how it looks or works.
The background is white, regardless of whether or not your iPhone is in dark mode. This made the display quite glaring when using Norton VPN at night.
We also didn’t like how you have to switch between tabs to perform common functions, like switching to a different VPN server. Most VPN apps allow you to connect, change servers, and change basic settings from a single home screen. We’d like Norton to do the same.
The app is relatively easy to use for beginners, though. Just press the Turn On VPN button from the app’s home screen. This will connect you to the nearest server location.
Like with macOS, the iOS app doesn’t have a kill switch, nor does it support split tunneling.
Norton VPN’s Android app is by far the most fully-featured mobile app. Unlike iOS, it includes a kill switch and split tunneling.
As P2P traffic is supported on Android, you also have the option of connecting to its dedicated server for torrenting. As we found on Windows, though, this just redirects you to the Netherlands server location. P2P speeds were the same as on Windows, too.
Apart from that, the Android app looks and works the same as the iOS version. The color theme can’t be changed and its design is extremely basic.
Not available on many platforms
There’s no way to use the VPN on any other devices, including Fire TV and Linux. There’s not a manual workaround for routers either.
Norton doesn’t offer Smart DNS functionality. You won’t be able to stream geo-blocked content on devices that don’t support VPNs, like smart TVs.
Norton Secure VPN doesn’t come with any browser extensions for Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox either.
Basic Apps Are Easy To Use
Ease of Use
Norton Secure VPN is very easy to use on all platforms. The apps are basic and familiar, making them intuitive and simple to navigate regardless of your experience level. However, we would like to see more customization options for advanced users.
How to Connect to a Server with Norton Secure VPN
How to Change Settings in Norton Secure VPN
In the videos above, you can see how simple it is to navigate and use the Norton VPN desktop app.
Awful Customer Support
Norton’s customer support is one of the worst we’ve encountered. Although live chat is available 24/7, the support agents provided us with false information for every single question we asked.
|24/7 LiveChat support||Yes|
If the Norton VPN app stops working or you require any other assistance, you can contact its 24/7 live chat support.
We tested Norton’s customer support by asking it a range of questions. Here are the results:
As you can see, It’s clear that the customer support agents lack technical knowledge about VPNs in general. They also don’t know anything about basic Norton Secure VPN features.
Disappointingly, to use the live chat feature you also have to provide a mobile number and active email address. We’d much rather you didn’t have to provide personally-identifiable information to get assistance.
There is an online support section to help with common issues. However, these online resources are just as misleading as the support agents. They also state incorrect information, such as that the VPN doesn’t work with streaming sites.
While there’s no email support, Norton does offer support through Twitter and Facebook. However, every time we tested it, the agents sent us a link to the home page of the VPN’s support center.
In short, all of Norton’s customer support options are poor and not what we expect from a premium VPN. We’d prefer it if Norton didn’t offer any customer support options at all.
Should You Use Norton VPN?
The Bottom Line
We strongly recommend most users avoid Norton Secure VPN. Although it has improved in some areas, it’s also got a lot worse in others.
It’s a VPN designed for beginners, so we were very disappointed with how poor its customer service team was. It would be much improved if the VPN had a dedicated support team, rather than sharing it with the all-in-one cybersecurity product.
The VPN also now logs IP addresses and it leaks DNS addresses. There’s no point in using it to protect your privacy. If the VPN would revert to its previous private logging policy and add DNS leak protection, it’d be a good option for many.
The VPN streams many popular streaming services, including BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and Hulu. Though it unblocks the US version of Netflix, it doesn’t work with any other regions, including the UK or Japan.
It also keeps internet speeds fast enough, regardless of the server location you connect to. You can get an IP address from 28 countries, too.
Overall, we only suggest you use Norton VPN if you’re already a Norton 360 subscriber. Even then, it should only be used for getting a different IP address or for bypassing geo-blocks. It is not worth purchasing separately.
If you’re not a Norton 360 subscriber, there are far better VPNs available for a similar price. You can read more about our suggestions in the sections below.
Norton Secure VPN Compared to Other Cheap VPNs
The table below compares Norton VPN to four other VPN services in a similar price bracket:
Additional research by Luke Williams
Alternatives to Norton Secure VPN
ExpressVPN is just as easy to use as Norton, but it includes a lot more features. Unlike Norton VPN, it doesn't log any user data, it works with multiple Netflix libraries, and its speeds are fast everywhere. Read ExpressVPN review
Surfshark can be purchased for cheaper than Norton Secure VPN. Plus it allows unlimited simultaneous connections, it has apps for streaming devices, and it supports P2P on every server location. Need a cheap VPN for streaming and torrenting? CyberGhost is a great option. It also provides strong encryption and a no-logs policy. Read Surfshark review