Norton 360 checks the Web's rep to keep you safe from viruses

Today Norton has announced a new version of its Internet protection suite, Norton 360 v4, which includes antivirus protection, smart startup, online backup and uses reputation to keep you safe from malicious websites and enjoying your computer.

As we discussed in our look at SafeCentral, protecting against viruses is difficult because new threats come up every day. While Norton hasn't gotten to the point that it has an emergency response team breaking down the doors of hackers, it is building a rep of keeping your computer safe by letting Norton 360 users rate the reputation of websites and threats. Since it has added reputation, the new tool has blocked a previously hidden threat for one out of two users and has had more than 177 billion reputation rankings since September.

Reputation helps users by preventing them from visiting one of the 27% of websites deemed poisonous by Norton. A great example of it in use is that if you search Google for "amy wynalda" 8 out of the first 10 search results are malicious; which, thanks to reputation,Norton 360 can protect you against.

One of the biggest things that Norton has worked on addressing in the recent releases of Norton 360 is providing users with potent protection without slowing down their computer. According to a new report from the Passmark Software benchmarking company, Norton has done a good job, as Norton 360 v4 was awarded best overall performance in January 2010.

As far as slowdowns go, a slow computer was recently noted as one of the top 10 workplace frustrations and slow to start up computers are the frustration of many home users, like my father, who simply want to get one thing done and get on their way.

One of the most common reasons that your computer is slow to start up, and even slow to run, are the numerous programs that launch every time you turn your computer on. Windows has a built in tool to edit the start up of programs and you can open up each program and turn off auto-start one by one. but the first option can be confusing for many users and one-by one removal can take a while if you don't know what you're looking for.

Norton 360 v4 has added a new tool called Start up Manager, which on average can cut 30 seconds off the time it takes your computer to turn on. Start up Manager makes uses of the reputation management that is a large part of Norton 360 and helps you decide what programs to remove from start up based on what other users have done. You can also set items to start up 5 minutes after your computer turns on so you can get to work faster.

In addition to the 2GB of online backup that has been included, Norton 360 v4 has added the ability to access this important data anywhere, including on your mobile devices. Shortly you will be able to access these files on Android devices, the iPhone and even the iPad. Another part of this feature is the ability to email large files securely so you can easily share with business associates and family members.

It is great to see that antivirus companies are focusing on the performance of their products which had driven many users away and led to headaches for those of us who provide IT support to friends and family. Tech savvy users will be able to achieve the performance boost of cleaning out their start up and using an online backup tool like Dropbox; but the addition of reputation ranking and performance boosts make Norton 360 v4 a complete package for people, like my parents, who want a central system for protection. Upgrade pricing starts at $59.99 and new one year subscriptions are available for $79.99.

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