Can we really trust Norton PC Checkup Tool !?

I was pretty excited when I came across this application tool from Symantec – the Norton PC Checkup. It is a free tool that scans for computer problems and notifies you of the same, if any are found.

Specifically, the tool assesses threat and security risks, checks if you have security software installed, checks your power management settings, identifies performance problems and checks for security weaknesses in your wireless network.

Norton PC Checkup conducts a 13-point diagnostic scan that examines over 200 PC attributes, to identify viruses and other threats, uncovers security weaknesses that could put your files and identity at risk, and roots out problems that can slow down your computer.

Being impressed I decided to take the tool for a run!

Norton PC Checkup

After downloading the latest available 11.5 MB file version 2.0.17.48 of the Norton PC Checkup tool and installing it, it first updates its virus definitions and then runs a full scan on your system.

The scan took around 20 minutes to complete on my PC, and at the end of it, this is what I was told:

  • My PC was vulnerable
  • My computer was not protected by anti-virus software
  • My PC’s performance was poor
  • 84 Threats were found on my PC.

Now if you hover your cursor over the problem areas, you will be given additional details about your ‘problems’. Let us take a few examples.

1) The tool told me I had no security software installed.

I have Eset NOD32 installed on my PC. My Windows 7 is up-to-date with all latest Windows Updates installed. My System Restore, Firewall, etc are turned on. Yet the tool told me I had no anti-virus protection installed.

The so-called 84 threats were nothing but Cookies.

Hmm … now does one consider Cookies as threats or are they just over-rated?

2) My PC performance was Poor. I am very particular about keeping my PC working at its best – I do the necessary house-keeping stuff every week or month as may be required. I have no start-ups, a 8 GB RAM, more than enough free disk space and run disk cleanup utility regularly.

The tool also told me that my PC power settings were poor, in spite of the fact that the Power Settings are optimized and configured to Turn off the display and Put the computer to sleep to 10-15 minutes.

4) What was also surprising was that the tool told me that my System Restore was turned Off and that I had no system restore points to fall back on.

I was a bit taken aback when I read this. I always have my System Restore turned ‘on’ and ensure that I have at least a couple of points available. So I quickly checked it. Turned out that my system restore was On (as it is always set to be) and that I had more than enough system restore points to fall back on.

The suggestion? Buy Norton Backup!

The tool offered solution for almost all of these ‘so-called’ problems – all directing to a web page suggesting some Norton software.

Conclusion:

If you are looking for a genuine tool to carry out a PC Checkup, Norton PC Checkup is not the tool to download and use. It will probably scare you and create a feeling of anxiety and tell you, that you don’t have an anti-virus software installed (even if you do) and direct you to buy Norton anti-virus; or maybe even tell you that your system restore is not working (even if it is) and recommend Norton Backup instead.

Now while this tool may not strictly fall under the class of Scareware, it is at best an Adware, designed to point out existent and non-existent issues on your Windows PC and then finally advice you to buy a Norton software.

UPDATE: That was fast! Norton has responded to this post with a tweet. I appreciate the quick response and am thankful to them for having taken note of this post.

I truly hope Norton can make a credible tool that every Windows PC user would want to use – something like the Secunia tool which many use to check vulnerable and out-dated software on their PC. It will go a long way in building up trust!

UPDATE: Related story – A suit has been filed by a US resident against Symantec, claiming it sells Scareware.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com and a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows for the period 2006-16. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.