Feb. 2012: A new version of this software is available. Please see our review of Norton Internet Security 2012 (*Est. $70).
If you want an Internet security suite that contains anti-spyware software, reviewers recommend Norton Internet Security 2011. In addition to anti-spyware software, Internet security suites include a wide range of protection, including antivirus programs, firewalls, spam filters and parental controls. Norton Internet Security gets the best reviews year after year for its excellent performance, and the software receives high marks in independent lab tests. Reviewers say Norton Internet Security 2011 removes a high percentage of malware and spyware without many false positives. Its robust firewall is also widely praised. The software runs quickly and, unlike previous versions, has a limited impact on computer performance. However, some experts say the spam filter needs improvement. We also saw a few complaints that the dark interface is hard to read.
The best reviews of Norton Internet Security 2011 come from independent test labs like AV-Comparatives.org and AV-Test.org. These sources conduct comprehensive testing and rate each program on its performance and effectiveness. PCMag.com and PC World are also useful because they conduct their own basic tests, in addition to relying on test results from the aforementioned labs. Shorter reviews from PC Pro, About.com, TechRadar.com and other sources are also helpful.
Norton Internet Security 2011 earns the highest Advanced+ certification on all criteria except one in AV-Comparatives.org's most recent test (it earns an Advanced certification on the retrospective test). AV-Comparatives.org gives it the Gold award in the whole-product test, a test that most closely replicates real-world use.
Review: Anti-Virus Comparative, Editors of AV-Comparatives.org, Jan. 9, 2011
The ratings at AV-Test.org aren't as comprehensive as at AV-Comparatives.org, but the test lab does include Norton Internet Security 2011 in its latest Windows XP test. The Windows 7 test has not yet been released.
Review: AV-Test Product Review and Certification Report - 2010/Q4, Editors of AV-Test.org
Norton Internet Security 2011 earns an Editors' Choice award from PCMag.com. Neil Rubenking praises the software's effectiveness and says he uses it at home to protect his own computers. The suite doesn't have a large impact on system performance, although Rubenking thinks the spam filter could be improved.
Review: Norton Internet Security 2011, Neil J. Rubenking, Sept. 10, 2010
4. PC World
PC World gives Norton Internet Security 2011 a high overall 4.5-star rating. Christopher Null calls it "one of the most secure antimalware apps we tested." However, Null says the interface may be too technical for beginners.
Review: Symantec Norton Internet Security 2011, Christopher Null, Dec. 27, 2010
Steve Ragan at TheTechHerald.com says Norton Internet Security 2011 does an excellent job of removing malware and detecting malicious URLs. However, he thinks the dark interface can be hard to read.
Review: Review: Norton Internet Security 2011, Steve Ragan, Oct. 11, 2010
6. PC Pro
Norton Internet Security 2011 earns PC Pro's highest A List award. Although he says that little has changed from the 2010 version, Darien Graham-Smith says Norton Internet Security remains an excellent pick for computer protection. In his test, the software identifies 97 percent of malware samples. Like some other reviewers, he has a few complaints about the interface.
Review: Norton Internet Security 2011 Review, Darien Graham-Smith, Sept. 15, 2010
Mary Landesman, the antivirus guide at About.com, gives Norton Internet Security 2011 a 4.5-star rating. Landesman likes the program's many features and frequent software updates. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Norton Internet Security 2011, Mary Landesman
TechRadar.com gives Norton Internet Security 2011 a 4.5-star rating. Editors say the software has no negative impact on system performance, and that it detected and removed all malware samples in their test.
Review: Norton Internet Security 2011 Review, Editors of TechRadar.com, As of Oct. 30, 2010