Norton Secure VPN outperforms many VPNs provided by recognized antivirus brands. Compared to similar offerings from Avast and Kaspersky, for instance, Norton Secure VPN is well-rounded. This makes it an excellent option for anybody looking for a VPN that comes bolted onto an antivirus plan for their computer.
Since its launch in April 2019, the VPN has improved greatly. It has increased the number of server locations and added additional features like split tunneling. However, it still lacks some advanced features you get with top-of-the-range alternatives like NordVPN, Surfshark, and Proton VPN.
On the other hand, average home VPN users often don’t use all of these advanced features. As a result, Norton Secure VPN could turn out to be perfect for your personal needs. So, is Norton’s VPN up to scratch with the rest of the VPN industry? And can it out-compete similar services on price?
In this review, I took Norton Secure VPN for a test drive using desktop and mobile devices. I tested the service thoroughly to see how it performs, how it compares to other services, and whether it has any obvious flaws.
In this 2023 review of Norton Secure VPN, I considered the following criteria:
- Can Norton Secure VPN securely access streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and others?
- Is Norton Secure VPN fast enough for HD streaming and playing games?
- Is torrenting allowed while connected to Norton’s VPN network?
- Do all of Secure VPN’s features work as advertised or are there any flaws?
- Can Norton Secure VPN compare to market-leading stand-alone VPN brands like NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN?
Below, I have summarized my findings. However, you will need to read the entire review to get a full picture of what I uncovered during the review process. Later in this guide, we will provide additional information about our transparent methodology for testing and rating VPNs.
Do I recommend Norton Secure VPN?
If you are a home VPN user who only needs to protect one smartphone or a few personal devices, Secure VPN is competitive even when purchased as a standalone service. It becomes a no-brainer, however, when you get the VPN free with an antivirus plan. So, if you already need an antivirus, Norton 360 is a fantastic way to get both security tools!
Norton Secure VPN protects you against hackers and tracking on public wifi, and against ISP snooping at home. You can use it for torrenting safely. And, it has servers in 29 countries, which lets you get an IP address in most places around the world.
The main caveat is that it doesn’t work with all streaming services. You must check if it works with your streaming services before subscribing (we list these options below). It also doesn’t have any city-level servers, so if you need a specific location in the US, for example, you will need to shop elsewhere.
With ad blocking available in all of its apps, a kill-switch and split tunneling available for Windows and Android, and the ability to watch Netflix US from anywhere, this VPN is going to meet most people’s needs. A decent option if you specifically want a VPN that comes bolted onto an antivirus plan!
Norton Secure VPN Key data
|OVERALL RANK: #50 of 75 VPNs|
|Average Speed*:||193 Mbps|
|Video Streaming Support:||4K UHD|
|Other Streaming Services:||Amazon Prime Video, BBC, ITV|
|Encryption Type:||256-bit AES|
|Kill Switch:||Yes - Windows & Android only|
|Log Policy:||No-logging policy, but logs more data than most|
|Value for Money||
|Lowest Monthly Cost:||$1.66|
|Money Back Guarantee:||60-day money-back guarantee|
Norton Secure VPN pros and cons
- Simple and easy-to-use apps
- Ad and tracker blocker
- Super fast connection speeds
- Offers a seven-day free trial
- 60-day money-back guarantee
- Amazing if you need an antivirus anyway
- Great for Windows and Android users specifically
- Customer support is quite lackluster
- Website resources are underwhelming
- No WireGuard support
- Not the best for unblocking streams
Norton Secure VPN pricing
In addition to being free with any Norton 360 antivirus subscription, you can purchase Norton Secure VPN as a stand-alone service. This will allow you to get the VPN for $29.99 for the first year for a single device, $39.99 per year for 5 devices, and $59.99 per year for 10 devices.
That works out to $3.33 per month for 5 devices, which is a 50% discount over the regular asking price, and a deal that closely matches some of the cheapest VPNs on the market.
Alternatively, you can get the VPN as an extra with a Norton 360 Lifelock subscription. What is amazing, is that you can actually get a Norton 360 LifeLock Standard subscription for just $19.99 for the first year. This comes with a VPN subscription for three devices included.
That is exceptional value for money because it means you get the VPN, antivirus protection, 2 GB of secure cloud storage, a password manager, and dark web monitoring: all for the equivalent of $1.66 per month.
This is a price point that is almost impossible to beat. If you are in the market for an antivirus that will protect three devices and that comes with a simple VPN, Norton 360 Standard (or above) is well worth considering.
Norton 360 Deluxe and LifeLock
Note that you can also get Norton 360 Deluxe, which gives you VPN coverage for 5 devices for $24.99 for the first year, or Norton 360 Select + LifeLock which will let you protect 10 devices with Norton Secure VPN for $69.99 for the first year.
Both the Deluxe and LifeLock plans add Privacy Monitoring and Parental Controls to the security suite. However, you will need to pay for the most expensive plan (LifeLock) to get Norton’s LifeLock identity theft protection. This is the only plan that provides this feature.
Overall, we found the Norton 360 Standard and Norton 360 Deluxe plans to be excellent value for money considering the fact that it is important to have an antivirus anyway – and you get the VPN for no added cost.
It is worth noting that any annual Norton plan comes with a generous 60-day money-back guarantee, which means you can test the service to make sure you like it.
Just bear in mind that your subscription will increase in cost when you are automatically billed for the second year. All subscriptions are recurring. For this reason, you may prefer to cancel your account and shop around for a new deal – so keep a note of when your subscription is due to end.
Speed: Is Norton Secure VPN fast?
We tested Norton Secure VPN using a dedicated 5 Gbps test server in Ohio. To get the best results possible, we used the OpenVPN protocol in the Windows version of Norton Secure VPN.
Our evaluation used the desktop version of Ookla Speed Test to carry out tests at three-hour intervals. This allowed us to get averages for each location we tested (the US, the UK, and Hong Kong) and a global average.
The results of our tests were nothing short of impressive. Especially considering how slow Norton VPN was a few years ago. We found the service to provide fast average download speeds across all three of the locations we tested:
- USA: 212 Mbps
- Hong Kong: 171 Mbps
- UK: 197 Mbps
The global average acquired from all nine tests was 193 Mbps.
Undoubtedly, these are impressive top speeds that compare favorably with some of the world’s leading and fastest VPN brands. As a result, you can easily use Norton Secure VPN for streaming, torrenting, gaming, video conferencing, and any other data-intensive tasks you may want to carry out.
During testing, I connected to a server 15,000 kilometers away in Australia and was able to watch a live golf stream on 7Plus in high quality, and with no interruptions due to buffering. Ultimately, that is as good as you can hope for a VPN to perform!
The only thing to remember is that the speeds mentioned above are the VPN’s top speeds. Your connection will depend on the broadband or mobile internet for which you pay your internet service provider.
To give you an idea of how the VPN performs under normal home settings, we also tested it using Virgin Media Broadband in the UK. On the day of testing, we had average speeds of 150 Mbps without the VPN. When connected to the Australian server, our connection dropped to 130 Mbps. That is a 13% drop in speed, which is extremely impressive.
For this reason, there is no doubt that Norton Secure VPN is ideal for torrenting, playing games, and watching HD videos online.
Apps and features
Norton Secure VPN has apps for:
You will not find any apps for Firestick or Fire TV, browser extensions, or a Linux app. In addition, you cannot set up this VPN manually on routers, or using third-party clients. This is because the VPN does not provide access to its config files.
On a positive note, the apps look great and are easy to use. They also look the same across each platform you use them on, which means there is no learning curve when installing and using the VPN across various different devices. This makes the VPN suitable for beginners and people who only need basic privacy features.
The caveat is that some of its ease of use is caused by its lack of advanced features. You will not find port forwarding, protocol settings, port selection, multi-hop, Tor over VPN, obfuscation, Smart DNS, or any other advanced features that you get with some of its competitors.
With what it doesn’t have out of the way, here are the features it does have:
- Change server location country
- Pick a server that is optimized for torrenting
- Launch at Startup
- Auto-connect VPN at launch
- Split tunneling
- Ad and tracker blocking
We tested the kill switch feature on Windows to check that it worked, by simulating a loss of wifi. These tests revealed that Norton’s Windows kill switch works to completely cut your internet until the VPN has reconnected. We also detected no leaks of our home IP address during reconnection, which means that Norton’s kill switch is reliable.
However, when we tested the kill switch by crashing the app using task manager, our normal internet connection re-established. This means that the kill switch is controlled by the app rather than at the system level. Thankfully, this shouldn’t really be a problem because during our time testing the app, it never crashed.
Finally, it is worth noting that you only get a custom kill switch on Windows. On Android, Norton leverages the kill switch that comes with the OS (which is reliable, and thus not an issue), and there is no kill switch on iOS or Mac.
Streaming & Netflix
Most people these days want a VPN to access streaming services from abroad. Whether you want to stream TV shows on vacation, or you want to use a VPN to access a regional streaming platform at home, it is imperative for the VPN to have servers that work with streaming services.
So, how does Norton Secure VPN perform?
The good news is that we were able to watch US exclusives on the American Netflix catalog. This is the largest Netflix catalog available, which makes it the most sought-after. As a result, you can use Norton VPN to watch Netflix on vacation or unblock Netflix at work. Simply connect to the US server and log in to your account as usual!
Norton VPN also worked to access the Australian Netflix catalog, however, it did not work to access Netflix UK, Netflix Canada, or Netflix Japan. Compare this to NordVPN, for example, which works with around 15 different Netflix regions, and you can see that Norton isn’t as good.
Next, we connected to a US server to test it with other popular streaming platforms. The VPN worked to watch Amazon Prime Video USA without issues. It also worked to watch Survivor on CBS from across the pond in the UK! However, it did not work to watch NBC, ABC, HBO Max, or Hulu.
While connected to a server in Australia, we could watch live golf on 7Plus (which was pretty awesome!). However, It did not work to watch 10 Play because the service detected our VPN.
Next, we connected to a UK server. The VPN worked to watch BBC iPlayer, ITV, and Channel 4. This makes it a pretty decent VPN for accessing free British TV streams from abroad, or at work if TV services have been blocked
Finally, we connected to a server in Austria and were able to watch Servus TV. This makes Norton suitable for streaming the entire Formula 1 season for free on Austrian TV.
Overall, we found Norton Secure VPN to be above average for streaming. Its ability to access US streaming platforms was a little disappointing. However, we had plenty of success when accessing other international streams. For this reason, it is worth testing Norton VPN using its 7-day free trial to see if it works with your favorite streams.
It is also important to note that while you cannot switch between server locations within each country, you will get a different IP address automatically each time you connect. For this reason, it is always worth disconnecting and reconnecting to the same location. This will cycle through the IP addresses available in that country; potentially allowing you to find one that works.
You cannot, however, pick from servers in different cities within the app. So, if you want to stream blacked-out NFL, MLB, or NBA games, then you will need to subscribe to an alternative service. The lack of city-level servers is a limiting factor of this service.
Does Norton Secure VPN support torrenting?
Norton Secure VPN does not work for torrenting unless you specifically connect using the Torrent-Optimized Region button. You can find this by clicking in the VPN region selection box and scrolling to the top.
When we connected to this server it gave us an IP address in the Netherlands. This IP address did not change each time that we connected, which suggests that Norton Secure VPN only has one server that permits torrenting. (It is possible that Norton may connect you to a torrent-optimized server depending on where you are. Thus your torrenting server may potentially vary.)
The good news is that the torrenting server was fast. My base speed without the torrenting server was 160 Mbps on the day of testing. The Dutch torrenting server slowed me down to 145 Mbps. This is only a 10% drop in speed, which is impressive.
The caveat is that you cannot connect to a specific country. This may be a problem for some users. It is also important to remember that this VPN does not allow port forwarding. This will cause issues if you need to forward a port to your client for seeding purposes.
Thus, if you need to allow other peers to seed pieces (to stay in good standing with your torrent repo), it may be better to subscribe to an alternate VPN service. If, on the other hand, you only download torrents from time to time – this service may be suitable for your needs.
Does Norton Secure VPN support split tunneling?
Yes. Norton Secure VPN supports split tunneling, but currently only on Windows and Android. Split tunneling, or selective routing, allows you to pick applications on your Windows computer or Android (smartphone or tablet) that you want to exclude from the VPN tunnel. This is useful if you want to perform some tasks with the VPN and do others without it.
For example, you could torrent with the protection of the VPN, while browsing in Chrome without the VPN. You could even browse without the VPN on Firefox while browsing securely on Chrome. This would be useful if you have a dual-screen setup, and want to surf the web securely on one screen while streaming local TV on the other.
Norton’s split tunneling feature only allows you to exclude apps from the VPN tunnel using a deny list. Some other services allow the inverse by letting you add apps and select domains onto an allowlist.
Overall, however, Norton’s split tunneling feature provides the functionality that most users prefer. Just note that if you need this feature on a Mac or iOS device, then you will need to subscribe elsewhere.
Security, privacy, and logging
VPNs provide security online using tunneling protocols and encryption algorithms. These protocols are designed to protect your data in transit, ensuring that your network traffic remains private and secure.
The level of security provided by each VPN provider is determined by the strength of the encryption in its protocols – the stronger the encryption, the more secure the VPN is. So, how does Norton VPN provide security in its apps?
Unfortunately, Norton VPN does not give you any security customization options. On the one hand, this makes it easy to use Norton VPN – because it is ready to provide you with online privacy by default. On the other, the VPN does not give the ability to switch protocols, customize the encryption, or select the port used by the protocol.
Many other VPNs allow you to switch between protocols like OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), WireGuard, and IKEv2. Some VPNs such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN even have custom protocols that have been designed to provide faster speeds.
With NortonVPN, you do not get the opportunity to switch protocols. Instead, you must be happy with OpenVPN UDP (on Windows and Android) and IKEv2 (on Mac and iOS). This is quite limited compared to the very best VPNs.
Most competing VPNs let you pick between OpenVPN UDP and TCP, depending on your needs. UDP is generally faster and allows for greater packet loss. TCP on the other hand is slightly more secure and is more likely to successfully connect through networks and countries with more restrictive firewalls.
In addition, most competing VPNs nowadays have adopted the WireGuard protocol. This is a secure protocol specifically designed to give you faster speeds. Unfortunately, this protocol is not currently available with Norton Secure VPN.
The good news is that Norton implements both its OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols using a robust AES-256 cipher. Unfortunately, however, it does not publish any details regarding the handshake encryption, authentication method, or whether it implements Perfect Forward Secrecy.
Presumably, Norton has implemented the OpenVPN protocol using the latest standards recommended by the OpenVPN project, which would make it secure. Under the circumstances, however, we have no way to definitively confirm this.
You may prefer to use an alternative service if you require a VPN for highly sensitive use cases. This includes accessing content that has been censored by the government in countries that lack online freedoms; or if you are a journalist, politician, human rights activist, protester, or political dissenter who requires the highest levels of privacy.
Does Norton have any other advanced security features?
Norton VPN does not have diskless servers that run in RAM. It does not provide any obfuscation features. It has not endured any third-party audits of its apps, policies, or infrastructure. These are all things that the VPN should consider adding to its service if it wants to compete with the most secure VPNs currently available on the market.
Norton Secure VPN is a service provided by the company Norton (formally known as Norton by Symantec). This is an internet security company best known for its antivirus program, which is based in the USA.
The US is not the ideal jurisdiction for a VPN (or any other privacy service to be based in) due to the presence of the NSA, warrants, and gag orders. These threats hypothetically allow US authorities to force Norton to hand over information about its VPN users. It could also force the VPN to start logging all of the data that passes through its servers in secret (gag order).
This is problematic because despite having a policy that promises not to log what its users do while connected to the VPN, the authorities could force it to start to provide this information to US intelligence and users would be none the wiser.
Admittedly, these kinds of warrants would probably only be served in order to track a single suspect in a criminal investigation. Thus, it should not affect the privacy of most home users. However, it may still be enough to put serious privacy advocates off the service.
As some people get the VPN as an extra with their antivirus, this creates concerns over how the information collected across Norton’s various products and services may affect the privacy of its VPN users.
Below, we have included a screenshot of the VPN data policy. This reveals what data Norton harvests from its VPN users specifically.
As you can see the policy admits to collecting device-level identifiers. It also admits to storing the user’s source IP address, and connection logs of the bandwidth used.
Norton’s policy mentions metadata related to “application usage.” This language is vague, making it hard to know what Norton considers application usage data to be.
To check that each VPN we review is completely secure, we always check for IP, DNS, and Web RTC leaks. These types of leaks destroy the privacy you get online by allowing websites to detect your location, and ISPs to track the websites you visit. For this reason, it is essential for a VPN to be free of all leaks.
We tested Norton Secure VPN from the UK, while connected to a server in the USA. We used browserleaks.com to carry out our tests. This is a third-party leak test tool that is highly reliable and informative. We checked for leaks using an incognito window to ensure that cookies or cache left in our browser could not affect the results.
Below are the results of our tests:
As you can see, the VPN suffered from no IP, DNS, or Web RTC leaks. The VPN completely concealed our UK location and made us appear to be in Virginia in the United States.
We were also happy to see that Norton VPN handled our DNS requests using its own server. This is the safest way to resolve these requests because no third parties are involved.
Global server network
Norton has a server network that extends across 29 countries. This is quite limited compared to competitors like ExpressVPN (94 countries), Surfshark (100+ countries), and NortonVPN (59+ countries). In addition, Norton does not publish any details about the number of servers it has in each location, nor the total number of servers it operates.
Unfortunately, Norton Secure VPN does not give you the opportunity to connect to city-level servers. This makes it impossible to connect to a server on the East or West coast of the USA, which can be useful if you want to get the fastest speeds possible.
A lack of city or state-level servers also means that Norton VPN is not suitable for bypassing NFL, MLB, or NBA blackout games. It also makes it impossible to access state-level TV streams, online casinos, bookies – or anything else that is region locked within the US.
You can change the VPN IP address that you use by clicking disconnect and reconnect. This will cycle through the IPs available in each location. As a result, you can technically use the same IP address each time. It will take a little effort, but it means you can access the equivalent of a static shared IP address (the same IP address each time you connect), which can be useful for preventing services from suspecting VPN use. However, it will take a little effort to cycle through the IPs and get back to the same one.
Although we could cycle through various IP addresses in the US, these were always located in either Ashburn, Virginia, or San Jose, California. Thus, you cannot use this method to access other locations (or at least we tried and couldn’t; you may get lucky if you persevere further!)
If you need access to servers across the US, alternatives like NordVPN (which has servers in 15 US cities) will be better.
Does Norton Secure VPN work in China?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. Norton does not provide SSL, SSH, or Shadowsock bridges for OpenVPN- or any other obfuscation methods (including OpenVPN TCP over port 443). This means that the VPN is unlikely to work in China.
In addition, Norton has made it clear since August of 2022 that its service is not working in China.
Norton claims to be working to bring back support for users in China, however, with no obfuscation currently available this seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. If you want a VPN that works in China, we recommend checking out our list of the best VPNs for China.
How is Norton Secure VPN’s customer support?
Norton is a massive company that provides support for a large number of services. However, from our experience with its website and support, it mainly caters to its antivirus users.
The Norton live chat support agents are not accustomed to fielding questions relating to the VPN, and this can lead to long wait times for responses. As you can see in the screenshot below though, the agents aren’t hopeless. Mine was able to tell me that the VPN uses OpenVPN UDP over either port 500 or 4500 (which is fairly techy information for a mystery shop request).
Despite this, we would have to say that the support is not as reliable as that of stand-alone VPNs whose support staff are trained specifically to deal with VPN problems. On the other hand, Norton does have live chat support. Some VPNs do not.
The service provides you with a code so that you can follow up with your request ‘case’ in the future – or if you are unexpectedly disconnected. This provides continuity for your support requests, so you should be able to resolve your issues eventually.
Elsewhere on its website, Norton has a few VPN-related FAQs for commonly experienced issues. Other than that, you will not find any setup guides, video guides, blog posts, or anything else. Finally, Norton also provides support via user forums and by telephone, the latter being quite rare in the commercial VPN space.
How does Norton Secure VPN compare to other popular VPNs?
|No value||NordVPN||ExpressVPN||Norton Secure VPN|
|Website||NordVPN.com||ExpressVPN.com||norton.com||Average Speed (Mbps)||196 Mbps||193 Mbps||193 Mbps||OpenVPN data encryption||256-bit AES||256-bit AES||AES-256||Kill Switch||Desktop only||Allows Torrenting||Connection logs||Some aggregated data||Some aggregated data||Unblocks Netflix US||Unblocks Prime Video||Unblocks Hulu||Unblocks BBC iPlayer||Lowest monthly cost||$3.29||$6.67||$1.66||Money back guarantee||30 days||30 days||60 days||Overall rating||9.7||9.3||6|
|Best deal (per month)||$3.29|
SAVE up to 63% + 3 months FREE
SAVE: 49% on the annual plan
Only $1.66/mo (VPN included in the 360 LifeLock Standard plan)
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.
Surfshark is another provider worth considering. It’s one of the cheapest VPN services I’ve seen, with subscriptions starting at only $2.49/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 explain how we test VPNs below:
- 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.
The above represents a brief introduction to our review methodology. For more details, look at our full VPN testing methodology. This data-driven approach helps us better understand the services to recommend confidently for various use purposes, and to consumers in different regions around the globe.
Should I buy Norton Secure VPN?
Due to the massive number of online threats, it is vital to always use an antivirus. In 2023, Norton 360 is one of the best antivirus solutions available on the market. It scored a perfect six out of six for Protection, Performance, and Usability when rated by the independent antivirus auditor AV-Test.
Secure VPN comes free with Norton’s antivirus plans, which means you can easily kill two birds with one stone by getting Norton 360. By doing so, you will get full real-time protection against malware, and the ability to gain privacy and freedom online while only paying once.
So, what are the drawbacks? During my tests, I found that Norton worked to stream Netflix US and Amazon Prime Video. It also worked to access the Australian TV service Seven Plus. However, it didn’t work to unlock the British Netflix catalog, Hulu, HBO Max, or DAZN.
If you need to access any of these services, then you will need a different VPN. Plenty of competitors such as NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN can access 90% or more of the streaming services we test around the world.
This makes those VPNs better standalone services. If you are in the market for a standalone VPN (because you already have an antivirus) we would generally recommend going with one of these alternatives.
If, however, you want a VPN that works to access the largest Netflix catalog, gain privacy from local networks (such as at work or in school), and stop your ISP from tracking you – Norton VPN is well worth considering. It works to protect you against hackers on public wifi and is suitable for torrenting securely.
Finally, anybody who prefers a free antivirus like Malwarebytes may still want to consider Norton VPN if they only own a single device. Norton Secure VPN is one of the few services that offer a cheap plan for a single device, which makes it perfect for anybody who goes through life with just a smartphone!