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Norton Secure VPN Review

Marc Dahan Specialist in online privacy

Norton is well-known and well-liked in the commercial antivirus space. It’s earned a good reputation for a popular and functional security product. Like many other antivirus vendors, like AVG and Kaspersky, Norton is branching its business into the VPN space. After all, the company is already protecting your devices from security threats, so venturing into the VPN market makes sense.

But how good is it? And does Norton Secure VPN offer anything that the competition does not?

In my review, I wanted to know if the benefits outweighed the costs and, in doing so, wanted to answer the following questions:

  • How fast is Norton Secure VPN?
  • How well does it work with streaming sites?
  • What are its privacy and security practices like?
  • Does the service work in China?
  • What does it cost?

This review answers all of the above questions and more. I recommend reading the full review if you want all the ins and outs. But if time is at a premium right now, you can read the summary of my thoughts on Norton Secure VPN below.

You can also read more on the criteria I used to test ClearVPN and our broader VPN testing methodology here.

Norton Secure VPN summary

This VPN service is provided by the folks behind the very popular Norton antivirus. And while its antivirus product is highly-rated, I think its VPN offering still needs a bit of work. While its apps are pretty intuitive, some features (kill switch, split tunneling) are reserved for Windows and Android. In my testing, the VPN would repeatedly disconnect when trying to establish a connection. And because I was using a mac, I had no kill switch – which isn’t ideal for privacy.

Its speeds are OK but slower than many of the top-rated providers, and its streaming support is hit-and-miss. And despite all this, it still charges more for a subscription than many of its competitors.

On the plus side, all its subscriptions come with an ad and tracker blocker available in all its apps. Another positive is that it offers a seven-day free trial, so you can at least test the service before making a commitment. The trial does require a credit card. But all subscriptions come with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

All in all, it’s not the worst VPN service out there, but it has quite a bit of work to do if it wants to eventually become part of our recommended VPN providers.

Norton Secure VPN Key data

OVERALL RANK:  #51 of 76 VPNs
Speed
Score: 8/10
Average Speed*: 193 Mbps
Video Streaming Support: 4K UHD
Streaming
Score: 6/10
Netflix: Yes
Other Streaming Services: Amazon Prime Video
Security
Score: 8/10
Encryption Type: 256-bit AES
Kill Switch: Yes - Windows & Android only
Log Policy: No-logging policy, but logs more data than most
Protocols: OpenVPN, IKEv2,
Value for Money
Score: 5/10
Lowest Monthly Cost: $2.49
Money Back Guarantee: 60-day money-back guarantee
WebsiteNorton.com

How does Norton Secure VPN compare to other popular VPNs?

No valueNordVPNExpressVPNNorton Secure VPN
Websitewww.NordVPN.comwww.ExpressVPN.comwww.norton.com
Average Speed (Mbps)369 Mbps475 Mbps317
OpenVPN data encryption256-bit AES256-bit AESAES-256
Kill Switchdesktop only
Allows Torrenting
Connection logsNoneSome aggregated dataSome aggregated data
Unblocks Netflix US
Unblocks Prime Video
Unblocks Hulu
Unblocks BBC iPlayer
Lowest monthly cost$2.99$6.67$2.49
Money back guarantee30 days30 days60 days
Overall rating9.79.36
Best deal (per month)$2.99
SAVE up to 68% + GET 3 months FREE
$6.67
SAVE: 49% on the annual plan
$2.49
Save $40 on the annual plan

Norton Secure VPN pros and cons

Pros:

  • Simple and easy-to-use apps
  • Ad and tracker blocker
  • Acceptable speeds
  • Seven-day free trial
  • 60-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Collects a lot of user data
  • Killswitch is Windows and Android only
  • Split tunneling is Windows and Android only
  • Frequent disconnects when attempting a connection
  • Poor customer support
  • Uninformative website
  • No WireGuard support
  • Streaming support is spotty at best
  • No router support

Speed: How fast is Norton Secure VPN?

Norton VPN - Speed Test

Not very.

Speed is a big deal for VPN providers and users. Yes, VPN users want privacy and security but not at the cost of bogging down their connection – and most high-quality VPNs can provide that while minimizing the speed hit.

In my testing, Norton Secure VPN’s speeds were decent. But if you have a very fast internet connection and you’re doing something that requires high bandwidth (like downloading large files), you’re going to feel it. Still, there’s more than enough bandwidth for streaming, torrenting, and browsing – nothing crippling here. But nothing to write home about either.

Across all locations and times tested, Norton Secure VPN averaged 193 Mbps.

I tested servers in North America, Asia, and Europe. Here are the average speeds per region:

  • North America (where I am located): 212 Mbps
  • Asia: 171 Mbps
  • Europe: 197 Mbps

I was using a mac computer for this test, so the VPN protocol used was IKEv2 – Windows and Android use OpenVPN.

I also tested Norton Secure VPN while gaming online, and all was well. I simply made sure to connect to a nearby server to keep my ping times down, and I didn’t experience any lag, freeze-ups, or disconnects. Check out our list of the fastest VPNs if you’re looking for something more reliable.

Apps & devices

Norton VPN - Platforms

Norton Secure VPN only supports the usual suspects. That’s:

We don’t get router support, nor do we get Linux support. These are two opportunities for improvement.

The apps themselves look good and are easy to use and navigate.

Norton VPN - App - Main

As mentioned above, the downside is that the apps don’t have feature parity. Some pretty big features are reserved for Windows and Android: split tunneling and the killswitch. There’s really no reason to omit these features from the Apple platforms, as many of Norton’s competitors support them just fine. Also, the iOS and macOS clients use IKEv2, while Windows and Android use OpenVPN. All apps should support both protocols – and WireGuard support would also be welcome.

With Norton Secure VPN, you can’t select a specific server – only a region. Once you’ve chosen a region, the app will automatically route your traffic through one of its servers in that region. While that works fine, it would be nice to be able to granularly select your server. I should also mention that the app would disconnect and reconnect repeatedly when switching servers. After three or four times, the connection settles and remains stable.

Norton VPN - App - Servers

A simple Settings menu can be accessed by clicking the Gear menu on the left side of the app.

Norton VPN - Mac Settings

And you can access the ad and tracker blocker settings by clicking the octagon above.

Norton VPN - App - Adblock

The Windows app has extra settings to accommodate the additional features.

Norton VPN - Windows Settings

Norton VPN - App - Windows - Split Tunneling

The mobile apps are essentially the same. Though as I mentioned, iOS uses IKEv2 while Android uses OpenVPN. Like its Windows counterpart, the Android app also supports split tunneling and has a built-in killswitch.

Norton VPN - App - iOS
Norton Secure VPN iOS client
Norton VPN - App - Android
Norton Secure VPN Android client

Streaming & Netflix

Does Norton Secure VPN work with streaming sites? It does, but only a few.

In my testing, I was able to access Netflix US and Amazon Prime Video. That’s it. Hulu, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer did not work despite all of my “server surfing” (trying different servers).

When it did work, it worked fine. I didn’t encounter any buffering issues. But if streaming over VPN is important to you, you’ll be better off with another provider.

You can have a look at our recommended VPNs for streaming.

Does Norton Secure VPN support torrenting?

Norton VPN - Torrenting

Yes, it does – very well.

Torrenting over Norton Secure VPN worked very well. It’s not the fastest VPN out there, so keep that in mind. But, again, I didn’t encounter any issues while torrenting.

Norton Secure VPN has some dedicated torrenting servers that can be accessed by selecting Torrent-Optimized Region in the app. Your traffic will automatically be routed through a torrent-optimized server (again, you cannot choose a specific server with Norton.)

You can take a look at our recommended VPNs for torrenting.

Does Norton Secure VPN support split tunneling?

Yes, but with a caveat. Split tunneling is only available on Windows and Android. And that’s too bad. This feature should be supported on all platforms (as should the kill switch).

Split tunneling is quickly becoming a staple feature among VPN providers. It allows you to selectively route your traffic through the VPN tunnel or out of your ISP gateway on an app-by-app basis. So with split tunneling, you can choose which apps’ traffic is sent through the VPN tunnel and which goes through your ISP connection.

That’s precisely how Norton has implemented the feature, and it works very well.

You can have a look at our recommended VPNs for split tunneling if it’s an important feature to you.

Security, privacy, and logging

It’s always a good idea to go beyond a VPN provider’s marketing because they all default to stating that they’re private and secure. But digging through a provider’s privacy policy can reveal some interesting details.

Looking through Norton Secure VPN’s privacy policy, we find this:

Norton VPN - Privacy Policy

While most of the collected data is pretty innocuous, Norton VPN still collects more user data than necessary. Most bigger-name VPN providers collect less data than this. The most troubling item on the list is the user’s IP address. Norton should, at the very least, stop collecting user IP addresses. So, Norton is not the worst offender regarding data collection, but it should really turn the data faucet down a bit.

Moving on to IP, WebRTC, and DNS leaks, I was pleased to see that none occurred when connected to Norton Secure VPN.

IP Test – No VPN

Norton VPN - IP Test - With VPN

 

IP Test – With VPN

Norton VPN - IP Test - With VPN

 

DNS Test – No VPN

Norton VPN - DNS Test - No VPN

DNS Test – With VPN

Norton VPN - DNS Test - With VPN

Regarding encryption, Norton uses AES-256 encryption for both OpenVPN and IKEv2 – which are the only supported VPN protocols. AES is the industry standard and is deemed very secure. So no issues there.

Servers

Norton VPN - Servers

Norton VPN doesn’t disclose the number of servers its network includes. I had to write to its Support team to find out. After a somewhat surreal chat with a Support representative, I was eventually told that it included 18 servers. However, in counting the number of regions within the app, I get to 29 (plus the Torrenting region). So, it remains in a bit of a grey zone.

Norton Secure VPN’s website isn’t very informative – which tends to be a staple of smaller VPN providers. It makes it difficult to assess a provider’s quality and gives the appearance that it has something to hide.

Does Norton Secure VPN work in China?

Norton VPN - China

No, it does not.

As of the 22nd of August, 2022, Norton states that all of its products are unavailable in China but that it’s working to restore access. So perhaps it will work in the future, but until further notice, it does not.

You can learn more about connecting to a VPN from China by looking at our recommended VPNs for China.

How is Norton Secure VPN’s customer support?

Norton VPN - Support

It could be better.

Norton provides Support through its user forums, live chat, or over the telephone – the latter being quite rare in the commercial VPN space.

As mentioned above, I contacted Norton’s Support to find out how many servers its network includes. The rep I spoke to didn’t seem to understand what I was asking and appeared to be rigidly following a script. Have a look at our conversation below:

Norton VPN - Support Chat

I finally got an answer to my question – albeit one that appears false. I understand that Norton has many different products and that training its reps on all of them can be challenging. But professional Support doesn’t look like the above screenshots.

Maybe I was just unlucky, but the support I received from Norton was pretty bad.

Norton Secure VPN pricing

Norton VPN - Pricing - Monthly

Norton VPN - Pricing - Yearly

Norton VPN offers three subscriptions (1, 5, or 10 devices) on a monthly or yearly basis. All subscriptions come with a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.

It also provides a seven-day free trial which requires a credit card. But as long as you cancel before the end of the seven days, your card won’t be charged.

The yearly pricing works out to the following amounts per month:

  • 1 device: $2.49 per month
  • 5 devices: $3.33 per month
  • 10 devices: $4.99 per month

As far as pricing goes, I’d say Norton is pretty much within the norm. I’ve seen more expensive VPN providers, and I’ve seen cheaper ones. However, since Norton VPN doesn’t support many features, it may well be charging too much.

Do I recommend Norton Secure VPN?

No, I don’t. The service needs to grow and mature before earning a recommendation along the likes of NordVPN or ExpressVPN. They’re just not in the same league – both in terms of reputation or actual services rendered.

Let’s first look at the good. It provides decent speeds – though nothing to write home about. Norton VPN also provides some nice client apps. And its service includes an ad and tracker blocker. We also like the 60-day money-back guarantee.

Can you build a reputable VPN service on the above? I don’t think so. Let’s now look at why Norton VPN cannot be recommended in good faith.

First, its website is incredibly uninformative. There’s practically nothing there aside from vague marketing and pricing information. Even trying to find its privacy policy, you need to dig through a bunch of Norton’s product pages. Then there’s the fact that it collects more user data than most trusted VPN providers (including your IP address). And its streaming support is also quite limited, so it doesn’t provide any redeeming qualities.

On the feature front, while it provides a kill switch and supports split tunneling, it reserves those two features for Windows and Android only. Why? Other VPN providers support these features across the board. Norton also lacks router and WireGuard support, which is a shame. I also experienced frequent disconnects when switching servers.

Finally, there’s Norton VPN’s terrible Support. It felt very unprofessional and script-based. I was asking about the number of available servers. Don’t ask me how many devices I want to protect – it’s irrelevant. And the answer provided made no sense.

So we’re left with an average service that provides different features in different apps, collects more user data than most, and offers terrible customer support. There’s just no way around it. Norton Secure VPN is not recommended. Any of the providers listed below will serve you better.

Norton Secure VPN alternatives

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the more prominent players in the commercial VPN market, and it benefits from an excellent (and well-deserved) reputation. Its privacy and security practices are among the best. Its VPN servers run from volatile memory (RAM) and boot from read-only disks. This setup guarantees that no remnant data (logs) can exist on the system’s hard drives, which is an excellent boon for user privacy. ExpressVPN is a little more expensive than most commercial VPN providers, but it’s fast, secure, unblocks streaming sites, and works in China.

NordVPN

NordVPN is based in Panama and is one of the most well-known VPN providers. It offers many features on the security, privacy, and convenience fronts. It provides ad-blocking, DNS leak protection, robust encryption, and a VPN kill switch. So it’s strong on the security front. A strict no-logging policy, a thoughtful privacy policy, and anonymous payments have your back for privacy. And its service is very user-friendly, providing dedicated P2P servers, native apps for every major platform, and up to six simultaneous connections (or more with a VPN router).

Surfshark

Surfshark is another provider worth considering. It’s the cheapest VPN service I’ve seen, with subscriptions starting at only $1.99/month. Surfashark only supports secure protocols and plays nice with streaming services. It also adheres to its strict no-logging policy and works in China too. Surfshark also allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. It’s worth checking out.

Methodology used for testing

Below you’ll find the criteria used to assess the VPNs we review. It’s essential to be consistent across the board so that our reviews are reasonably objective and that we’re not comparing apples to oranges. For that reason, we want to publicize our criteria.

  • Speed – Speed is one of the most crucial factors for any VPN. Aside from being annoying, slow speeds can prevent you from streaming or browsing the web. Our recommended VPNs scored very high in our most recent speed tests to ensure we address this issue.
  • Apps & ease of use – App design and ease of use are more critical than ever. We look at the client apps’ UI, features, supported operating systems, and complexity.
  • Streaming services – Accessing streaming sites over a VPN can be challenging. But many VPN providers claim to work on streaming sites – with varying degrees of success. Before recommending a VPN provider for streaming, we test VPNs against various popular streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, etc.
  • Torrenting – Many VPN users are avid file-sharers as well. But not all VPN providers allow torrenting over their network, while others provide dedicated P2P servers. We look at each VPN’s policy around torrenting and run tests on those to see how well they handle file-sharing.
  • Security & privacy – That’s why VPNs exist in the first place. We ask essential questions like: What is the provider’s privacy policy like? What is its logging policy? What encryption protocols does the VPN support? Does it use strong ciphers? Does it support Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS)? Is it vulnerable to IP address or DNS leaks? These are all crucial questions, and we provide answers to all of them when assessing VPNs’ privacy and security practices.

The above represents a high-level view of our methodology. For more details, look at our full VPN testing methodology. This data-driven approach helps us better understand the services to recommend the right VPN to the right users.