Online threats are constantly present, so it’s important to have solid antivirus software to vastly improve our safety. In this comparison, I will look at two major players, Norton and Webroot.
In this comparison, I will conduct my own malware protection and performance tests. I’ll also provide an overview of key aspects such as additional features, pricing, and usability.
If you’re in a hurry, Norton is my winner. Norton offers useful features to protect your identity. It also includes parental controls to protect younger users of the internet. It delivered outstanding results in my own tests and recent independent tests. There’s no compromise on performance or useability.
If you have more time, read on for the full comparison.
Summary: Norton vs Webroot
- Strong malware protection results
- Webcam protection
- Password manager
- Identity theft protection
|Feature||Norton 360 Deluxe||Webroot Complete|
|Antivirus and antispyware||✔||✔|
|Banking and payment protection||✖||✔|
|Network attack protection||✔||✔|
|Automatically update apps||✖||✖|
|PC cloud backup||✔ (50 GB)||✔ (25GB)|
|Identity theft protection||✖||✔|
|Run suspicious apps in sandbox||✖||✖|
Norton first came on the market in 1991 and is developed and distributed by Symantec Corporation. In 2007, Norton held a 61 percent US market share in security suites, so it is well established amongst competitors. Currently, it protects nearly 50 million consumers, providing a trusted service in a complex digital world. Its products protect people and businesses across the globe.
Webroot was founded in 1997 and protects many global businesses and consumers. In 2019, Webroot and its parent company Carbonite were acquired by OpenText. OpenText is a Canadian company that develops and sells enterprise information management software. In 2014, it was the largest Canadian software company, and one of Canada’s top 100 employers.
Pricing and compatibility
Opting for a paid for antivirus software reduces your risks. A free, limited version often lacks in defense. Although it can seem appealing to opt for a no-cost software, when it comes to protecting your identity and privacy online, it’s usually well worth going with a paid antivirus.
Looking at Norton’s offerings, there’s a big price difference between its standard and premium products. The software starts at $79.99 per year going up to $349.99 per year. There are also many other products available on its website, including one specifically for gamers. I have included the key antivirus products in the table below. The most obvious differences between the Norton 360 Standard and Deluxe plans are that you get parental controls and cover for five devices in the deluxe version.
|Norton 360 Standard||Norton 360 Deluxe||Norton 360 and LifeLock Select||Norton 360 and LifeLock Advantage||Norton360 and LifeLock Ultimate Plus|
|$79.99 per year||$99.99 per year||$149.99 per year||$249.99 per year||$349.99 per year|
Webroot has taken a simpler approach in its price structures and offers just three products. There’s less comparison required between products to make your choice, but you don’t get the same flexibility you do with Norton. Webroot’s basic antivirus starts at $39.99 per year which is almost half the price of Norton’s standard version. Webroot Internet Security Plus is again cheaper than Norton’s mid-tier options. It costs $59.99 per year and will protect up to five devices. Webroot’s top tier product is $79.99 per year and around half the cost of Norton’s comparable product.
|Webroot Antivirus||Webroot Internet Security Plus||Webroot Internet Security Complete|
|$39.99 per year||$59.99 per year||$79.99 per year|
At the time of writing this comparison, both Norton and Webroot are offering discounts off your first year of subscription. Norton 360 Deluxe is currently offering a $60 discount for your first year, making it just $39.99. This is one of the biggest discounts we’ve seen to date from Norton. Webroot is offering a $20 discount on the complete product, so you’ll pay $59.99 for the first year. Despite Norton being higher in price, its discounts make up for it.
If you find that the software isn’t right for you a few days down the line, you will be able to get your money back within 60 days from Norton and 70 days from Webroot.
You’ll also be pleased to know that Norton and Webroot work with all major operating systems including Windows, MacOS, and Android devices.
Effectiveness against malware
It’s important to opt for a paid antivirus software, as it offers you the greatest protection against complex online threats. Of course, if you’re paying for antivirus software, you need to make sure it can deal with these threats effectively.
To determine which one came out on top, I ran some of my own tests. The first test involved downloading malware samples from the European Institute of Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR). The second test used live malware samples to see how the antivirus fared in real time.
|Test File||EICAR Sample 1||EICAR Sample 2||EICAR Sample 3||EICAR Sample 4||Live Sample 1 (Adware)||Live Sample 2 (Trojan)||Live Sample 3|
Webroot allowed all of the EICAR samples, but automatically blocked and removed my live samples.
So did Norton perform better? Norton blocked the first EICAR sample, and blocked the two zipped EICAR samples upon extraction. It immediately detected and deleted the three live samples. From my own tests, Norton performed better against malware threats.
These tests are not enough to give a comprehensive result, so I looked at some recent independent tests conducted by testing organizations. AV-Test evaluates the protection of antivirus software. Its most recent protection test gave Norton a 100 percent score in May 2020 and 100 percent in June 2020. Webroot was not tested by AV-Test.
AV-Comparatives is another independent testing site which reports on antivirus software protection levels. From its most recent Real-World Protection test summary from February 2020 to May 2020, Norton received a 100 percent protection rate.
Norton recorded a high number of 28 false alarms during this period. A false alarm is where an antivirus identifies safe files as threats. This could become annoying; however, Norton’s superb protection levels make up for this. AV-Comparatives did not test Webroot.
Weighing up all this evidence, it is clear that Norton is the winner. It outperforms Webroot in all areas, and offers the best protection against malware. These results are backed by my own tests and the latest stats from leading testing websites.
Impact on PC performance
Speed and performance is an important factor for most PC users. After paying for your antivirus software, having one that slows down your device will leave you feeling irritated. In this section, I ran my own tests to see if my PC performance was impacted.
|Test Type||Full Scan Time (minutes)||Full Scan Items Scanned||Control CPU Utilization % (no scan)||Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)||Control Disk Utilization (MB/s) (no scan)||Quick Scan CPU Utilization %||Quick Scan Memory Utilization %||Quick Scan Disk Utilization (MB/s)||Quick Scan Time (seconds)|
The table above shows the results from a full scan and a quick scan. Norton’s full scan took 121 minutes compared to Webroot’s 72 minutes. Even so, Norton scanned almost 10 times more items than Webroot, delivering a more thorough result. The quick scan for Webroot took just one second, which is not surprising due to Webroot’s lightning-fast scans. Norton took 171 seconds, which still isn’t bad.
The table below shows data on the impact on PC performance when no scan was present and when a full scan was running.
|Test Type||Control CPU Utilization % (no scan)||Control Memory Utilization % (no scan)||Control Disk Utilization (MB/s) (no scan)||Full Scan CPU Utilization %||Full Scan Memory Utilization %||Full Scan Disk Utilization (MB/s)|
Norton came out on top here in all areas, using just 14 percent CPU utilization when no scan was running and 84 percent when a full scan was taking place. This goes to show that Norton has very little impact on PC performance.
I looked at AV-Comparatives’ recent performance test from April 2020 to see if the results matched my own. This test is particularly insightful as it shows data on eight common tasks:
- Downloading files
- Browsing websites
- File copying: first and subsequent run
- Installing and uninstalling applications
- Archiving and unarchiving
- Launching applications: first and subsequent run
Norton received a rating of fast for archiving and unarchiving, installing and uninstalling applications, and launching applications on its first run. All other tasks were very fast. Although not the best against other antivirus competitors included in this test, it still has very little impact. Webroot was not part of the AV-Comparatives test.
Although Webroot prides itself on speed, it uses more resources when performing scans compared to Norton. Its scans only go a fraction of the depth of those performed by Norton. Norton is my winner in this round.
So, what exactly are you getting for your money? This section will delve into what both companies offer in terms of additional features, which are important for giving you ultimate protection online.
- Cloud backup 50GB
- Real-time threat protection
- Password manager
- Secure VPN
- Dark web monitoring
- PC SafeCam
- Parental control
- Advanced threat protection
- Protection that stops ransomware
- Lightning-fast scans
- Protects account logins and passwords (LastPass)
- Eliminates traces of online activity
- 25GB of secure online storage
50GB cloud backup: Store and protect important files and documents against failures, stolen devices, and ransomware with secure cloud backup.
Parental controls: Manage your children’s activity online, so they can enjoy the digital world safely.
PC SafeCam: Worried about hackers accessing your webcam? This feature will notify you if that’s happening, providing you with reassurance.
Lightning-fast scans: Webroot will finish scanning your device in just 20 seconds, which is the quickest amongst competitors.
LastPass: Protect your passwords and other personal information with LastPass, the most trusted password manager. This will prevent hackers and other online threats from stealing your information.
25GB of secure online storage: Keep all your important files and photos safe, with secure online storage.
Norton includes more comprehensive features compared to Webroot, with a focus on security. Whether that’s keeping children safe online or making sure your information doesn’t end up on the dark web, its focus is on keeping you safe.
Signup and installation
If it’s your first time installing antivirus software, you don’t need to worry. It’s hassle-free and easy to follow.
Click the yellow Subscribe Now button on Norton’s website and you will be taken to another webpage to input your details and view a summary of your order. Norton clearly outlines your subscription, the number of devices, and amount of backup storage you are getting. It also outlines compatibility and the renewal cost for the following year. Simply set a reminder in your calendar if you do not wish to renew. There’s also an option to add Norton Computer Tune Up at $9.99 but this is not automatically added.
Webroot lays out all payment and customer information on one page. It does give you a choice to increase the number of devices covered under your plan, which is something Norton doesn’t offer. The software CD is automatically added at an additional cost. Most users don’t need a software CD so make sure you delete this from the order.
How easy is the interface to use?
The antivirus interface is something that you will use regularly, so it’s important that it’s easy to navigate.
When opening Norton’s dashboard, you will see that it’s all in its signature colors of green and yellow. You are clearly shown your current protection status and a breakdown of how many licenses are used. The bottom panel shows your security, backup, and performance status. It uses clear icons and a protected label making it easy to understand. You can also access a web portal to manage the protection of all your devices.
Webroot’s interface is easy to use with a simple navigation structure. Although quite dated in design, it does everything effectively. The right-hand panel allows you to access your identity protection, backups, and passwords with ease. You can even keep up to date with the latest news by clicking on the bottom panel which takes you to the Webroot Community.
In the event of a problem with your software, knowing that there is adequate customer support on hand is a reassurance.
Norton offers 24/7/365 days a year support on all of its products, even if you opt for the lower-priced one. There is also a live chat support function which is useful, as well as online communities, FAQs, and support through social media channels. Norton offers comprehensive support and stands out amongst its competitors.
Webroot only offers support via the phone during business hours, which could prove a problem if something happens outside these hours. If it’s not urgent, you can log a support ticket, search the website’s support section, or ask the community of fellow Webroot users.
If you’ve made it through the whole comparison, you’ll know that Norton is the clear winner. Norton outperforms Webroot in malware protection and performance in my own tests, and performs highly in independent tests. Its security-enhancing features provide peace of mind that you’re receiving the best protection while getting good value for money.