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Norton Secure VPN Review — It’s Safe, but Is It Good?

Author Image Andreea Juganaru'
Andreea Juganaru | Updated on 18th January 2022 Cybersecurity Researcher

Norton is one of the biggest names in internet security, but its VPN is not considered the best out there. Given its global reputation, I decided to put it to a test, and see if it’s really worth it. I wasn’t expecting anything more than online security, but is it good enough to be declared a great VPN service?

I started by looking into its privacy policy to see what kind of information it stores, what it does with it, and what I should expect. After that, I tested its speeds and the number of platforms it could access. I also tried all its features on every compatible device and ran a few leak tests to determine its overall safety.

While Norton Secure VPN doesn’t have many features, I can say that it’s safe. However, it has a relatively small server network, and its speeds are slow on both local and international servers.

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Short on Time? Here are My Key Findings

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Norton Secure VPN Features — Updated in January 2022

7.4
💸 Price 3.33USD/month
📆 Money Back Guarantee 60
📝 Does VPN keep logs? Yes
🖥 Number of servers 3000
💻 Number of devices per license 1
🛡 Kill switch Yes
🗺 Based in country United States
🛠 Support Live Chat Support

Speeds – Very Slow on Local and International Servers

Norton Secure VPN is one of the slowest VPNs I have ever tested. It’s normal to experience a loss in speed when you connect to a VPN, but not more than 20%. However, the difference was huge with Norton. If my connection was just a little slower, it would have been impossible to see any movies or access interactive websites.

To test Norton Secure VPN’s speeds, I used Ookla’s speed test tool and measured my:

  • Ping — measures the time to get a response from the website or app you’re connecting to
  • Download speed – measures the time you need to download files and information from the internet
  • Upload speed – measures the time you need to send files, such as messages and digital files

Local Speeds

Norton Secure VPN has incredibly slow speeds on local servers. I used its auto-select feature, and it found a server that’s close to my location, which was supposed to provide me with the fastest connection.

I started with a 35.37 Mbps download, 36.76 Mbps upload speed, and a ping of 8 ms. After connecting to the Romanian server Norton recommended, my download speed dropped to 9.44 Mbps, which is a 75% decrease. My upload speed decreased by 58% to 15.72 Mbps, and the ping increased to 14ms.

These differences are huge, and I only had enough speed to browse the internet because I started with a high speed. If your network is not very fast, it will be impossible to do anything with Norton Secure VPN.

Download speed Upload speed Ping
Speeds without a VPN (Bucharest, Romania) 35.37 Mbps 36.76 Mbps 8 ms
Speeds connected to Norton’s fastest server 9.44 Mbps (75% decrease) 15.72 Mbps (58% decrease) 14 ms

I don’t recommend Norton Secure VPN for regular browsing on local networks. Its speeds are very slow, and if I didn’t already have a good connection, it would have been impossible to view any shows or even continue with my regular browsing.

Long-Distance Speeds

Norton Secure VPN’s long-distance speeds are just as slow as the local ones, which is a little unusual. In general, the local servers are a little faster than the international ones, but distance didn’t make a difference with Norton’s VPN.

The first server I tested was in the US. My download speed was 8.87 Mbps, which is a 75% decrease compared to my original one. My upload speed decreased by 64% to 13.50 Mbps, and ping stood at 159. These results are terrible — I could hardly continue with my regular browsing with these numbers.

Download speed Upload speed Ping
Speeds without a VPN (Bucharest, Romania) 35.37 Mbps 36.76 Mbps 8 ms
Speeds connected to Norton’s US server 8.87 Mbps (75% decrease) 13.50 Mbps (64% decrease) 159 ms

The decrease is massive, and if my connection was just a little slower, I couldn’t do much with Norton Secure VPN.

I then moved to Norton’s UK servers — the UK is a little closer to me, so I hoped for better results. My download speed was at 10.50 Mbps, 14.09 Mbps upload speed, and ping stood at 51 ms. A 61% decrease in download speed is huge — with other VPNs, I didn’t encounter such a significant loss.

Download speed Upload speed Ping
Speeds without a VPN (Bucharest, Romania) 35.37 Mbps 36.76 Mbps 8 ms
Speeds connected to Norton’s UK server 10.50 Mbps (61% decrease) 14.09 Mbps (62% decrease) 51 ms

I don’t recommend Norton Secure VPN. After I connected to its servers, my speeds decreased a lot. There are dozens of VPNs that are way faster, so I suggest looking into other options before you make a choice.

Server Network — Small but Secure

Norton Secure VPN has 3,000 servers in 60 countries, which is an average-sized network. It’s always better for a VPN to have a large server network because it can give you better speeds. With more servers, there’s a higher chance that there will be one close to your actual location. On top of that, there won’t be slowdowns caused by overcrowding.

A big downside is that you can’t manually choose the server you connect to — you can only choose the location. This becomes a problem when you need to access location-exclusive sites because Norton Secure VPN assigns you a random server with a random IP address. If you want to access a specific platform but some of its IPs are restricted, all you can do is connect and disconnect to the same location until you find one that works.

I messaged its support team to see if I could find out how many servers it has, and I was surprised. The first agent I spoke to couldn’t provide me with any information but gave me a phone number for another team. After that, I tried contacting a different team, and I was told that it has servers in 30 countries, but nothing more.

While Norton Secure VPN has a decent number of servers, its global coverage isn’t great. I would recommend ExpressVPN for its 3,000 servers in 90 countries if you’re looking for better coverage.

Security – Limited but Strong Security Features

Norton Secure VPN has great security features, but they’re not available on all the supported devices. I tested its kill switch, split tunneling, and WiFi security on a Windows laptop, Macbook, Android phone, and iPad. Even though each of these features worked great, I couldn’t use them all on a single device. This is incredibly inconvenient and makes the VPN limited.

It will keep you safe during your regular browsing. I ran a few DNS and IP leak tests to see whether my information was visible to anyone on the internet — DNS and IP leaks can expose your information, making the VPN completely useless. I was glad I didn’t encounter anything unusual. Norton uses AES-256 encryption, which is the strongest around, so there’s no doubt about its security.

Norton needs to maintain its reputation, so it can’t have any security issues or data breaches. Its VPN is great for people who only need to protect their identity. However, if you’re looking for more than browsing, I recommend checking out other VPN services.

Protect Yourself With Norton Secure VPN Today!

Kill Switch

Norton Secure VPN has a kill switch — but only on Android devices. The kill switch helps you maintain your anonymity by stopping your internet connection in case the VPN fails. This means that if you’re downloading something and the VPN can’t cover you anymore, it will shut your internet connection down. This is a feature you may want to use when you’re downloading files or accessing the internet from public networks. Since it’s only available for Android devices, Norton Secure VPN won’t provide you with the best level of security across all your devices.

I tested Norton Secure VPN’s kill switch on my Android device — to activate it, you need to access the settings menu and click on the checkbox next to the kill switch. The process was fast, and Norton seems to be doing a great job here. Unfortunately, if you choose Norton Secure VPN, you’ll be limited to using the features available on your devices — and exposing your data.

Split Tunneling

Norton’s split tunneling feature is only available on Windows devices, which, again, is inconvenient. Split tunneling lets you route certain apps and websites through the VPN and keep the rest on your regular network. This is very useful when you only want to route your browser to get an international show.

To test this feature, I used my Windows laptop and set the VPN up to only route apps, but not browser traffic. This was the easiest way to test this feature — I ran a quick IP leak test and Nvidia’s connection test, and everything matched. Nvidia GeForce Now was tunneled, but my browser wasn’t, which was the exact result I was hoping for.

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WiFi Security

WiFi security provides you with information regarding the security of your home network. It didn’t give me a warning on my home server, but the moment I connected to an unsecured mobile hotspot, Norton let me know that something was off.

This feature would have been awesome to have on my MacBook. If you like visiting coffee shops and working from there, you’ll want to know whether the network is safe or not. Unfortunately, that’s not the case as you can only use this feature on mobile devices.

Encryption and Protocols

Norton uses AES-256 type encryption, which is advertised as “bank-grade encryption,” and it’s the strongest one out there. When the data is sent to and from your computer, it is encrypted using a special key. That data can only be decrypted using the same key or by cracking it — which would be impossible using today’s computers, as they don’t have enough power.

As for protocols, Norton Secure VPN uses the OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec protocols in its clients. I was a bit disappointed that other popular protocols like WireGuard and IKEv2 aren’t available. However, OpenVPN is the industry standard and the most versatile protocol out there. It offers 256-bit encryption, and it works in UDP and TCP modes — TCP is a slower protocol that checks every file for integrity, while UDP is faster but doesn’t perform these checks. On top of that, OpenVPN is continuously being improved by developers all over the world. Only Norton’s Windows, macOS, and Android apps use this protocol.

The L2TP/IPSec protocol used on iOS devices is a little slower than OpenVPN. It also uses 256-bit encryption, making every bit of encrypted information impossible to crack. The main difference between them is that L2TP/IPSec uses a more complicated build, so it can fail a lot easier, making it not as safe as OpenVPN.

These protocols ensure secure browsing, so you don’t have to worry about having your information stolen.

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IP and DNS Leak Test Proved That Norton Secure VPN is Safe to Use

I couldn’t identify any DNS or IP leaks on Norton Secure VPN’s servers. These tests allowed me to see if the VPN would leave my information exposed. Its purpose is to hide my IP address and location and stop IPv6 requests from my network.

Depending on the browser you use and its configuration, your IP address may still be visible — which is the exact thing you want to avoid. Besides, some VPNs have trouble preventing IPv6 requests, leaving sensitive data uncovered.

To start, I used ipleak.net on Norton Secure VPN’s US server, and it was secure! It couldn’t identify any leaks, IPv6 was stopped, and my information was completely hidden.

I then moved to test the Netherlands, UK, and Germany servers, and the connection was safe every time. I was impressed with Norton’s performance. The problem is that most of its apps don’t have a kill switch. This means that if the VPN fails, your information may be exposed after all.

Norton Secure VPN has great security features, but the lack of compatibility is very inconvenient. Even if the system is overall trustworthy, it’s still lacking some very important security features on some devices — such as split tunneling and a kill switch. This means that no matter what you do, you’re never 100% safe. I would recommend a VPN that has all of these features on every device (plus extras) to boost your security even more.

Privacy — Enough Features to Keep Your Traffic Private

Norton Secure VPN keeps as little information about its users as possible, but there are a few security policy gaps. I read the documentation from top to bottom to see what kind of information it collects, and it got me a little confused. Since it shares the same privacy policy with all of Norton’s services, you can’t be sure that it doesn’t collect sensitive information. My biggest problem is that Norton’s headquarters are in the US, so it may be required to keep and share data about its users with the government. On top of that, I couldn’t find any concrete information about the disclosure of this data.

Location

Norton’s headquarters are located in the US, or the heart of the Five-Eyes Alliance. Naturally, this thought is not very comforting because the government can force Norton to gather information about you, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that.
For your information to be 100% private, Norton would need a strong (and real) no logs policy — this means no IP, no email, device, country, or any other data the government could use to identify you.

Norton Secure VPN Keeps Logs

Norton sells the VPN as part of the antivirus package, and it only has one privacy policy for all these services. I went through its privacy policy, and I discovered the 7 types of data it collects:

  • Member Information — Norton collects your contact details, such as name, mailing address, phone number and credentials, shipping and billing details — including your credit card or other payment data, transaction history, and any official documents you submit. All this information helps Norton manage its business relationship with you as a customer.
  • Administrative Data — Norton collects this data to maintain its business records, and it consists of license keys, IDs generated by Norton, and device ID.
  • Provisioning Data — this category includes your device model, browser type, system information, IP address, OS, and network type. This type of data is retained to deliver products and services.
  • Security Data — Norton keeps this data to protect you from fraud or identity theft. It consists of your transaction and location data, credit alerts, and diagnostic, usage and preference information, and third-party data.
  • Diagnostic Information — this category includes all the data Norton needs to troubleshoot the system. All your conversations with them are recorded, and all the crash reports are sent directly to them.
  • Usage and Preference Information — for marketing purposes, Norton keeps information from your cookies and client settings.
  • Third-Party Data — whenever you receive a malicious email and Norton scans it, it will have access to the sender’s IP address and email.

Even though it doesn’t track the servers you connect to and your activity, the fact that Norton still has your IP address and location is a little concerning. On top of that, it doesn’t have specific information about disclosure in the privacy policy, leaving everything in a grey zone. There are many other VPNs to choose from that have clear, transparent, and verified no-logs policies.

Secure VPN

This one is not necessarily a feature of the VPN, but it comes with Norton 360 which is mandatory to use any of Norton’s services. You can set it up to start the VPN once you open your computer. I was very disappointed that I couldn’t download the VPN as a standalone app and didn’t find this feature extremely useful, as the entire Norton 360 suite really slows my entire computer down. If you only need a reliable VPN, I suggest you look for better and more convenient options.

Ease of Use

8.0

Norton’s Secure VPN is incredibly easy to use as a stand-alone app. However, you need to install the entire suite to access it, and this can be time-consuming.

After you install Norton 360, you need to give it all the permissions and wait for it to set up the configuration. The process took no less than 30 minutes before I could actually connect to a server.

After the setup, you can change the server in under 10 seconds, which is nice. All you need to do is access the interface, move to the “Virtual Location” tab and choose a server. You can always close it by toggling the “Virtual Private Network” button in the SecureVPN tab.

Norton Secure VPN’s Optional Extras — Mandatory 5-App Suite

Norton Secure VPN comes as part of the Norton 360 suite, so you’re stuck with all 5 apps if you want to use it. This is quite inconvenient if you only need a VPN. Upon starting the client, you get:

  • Device Security — this is Norton’s antivirus, and you can’t use any of its apps without it.
  • Password Manager — this one is pretty straightforward. You get a vault with all your passwords for safekeeping.
  • Cloud Backup — with your Norton account, you also get 10 GB of cloud storage, which you can access as long as your subscription is active.

For me, all these extras are a complete waste of disk space. A VPN is supposed to be light and easy to set up. Norton’s VPN has way too many extras, and you may not need all of them. I would recommend CyberGhost if all you want is a VPN because it offers some add-ons that are only optional.

Simultaneous Connections — Connect up to 10 Devices to Norton’s Servers

Depending on your subscription, you can connect 1, 5 or 10 devices under one account. For the smallest plans, you can transfer the subscription from one device to another whenever you need it, but it’s quite inconvenient.

Device Compatibility — Only Available for Windows, Android, macOS and iOS

Norton Secure VPN only has apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, and not all the clients have the same features. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support Linux, Chromebook, or gaming consoles.

Desktop Apps

The desktop apps have the most limited functionality. Even though they come with the other 4 Norton apps, you don’t get features like the kill switch or WiFi security. On top of that, split tunneling is only available for Windows clients, which is very inconvenient.
I tested Norton Secure VPN on a MacBook and found it very easy to use overall — of course, after the long setup process. It’s intuitive, and you can connect to a server in a matter of seconds. However, the kill switch and split tunneling would have been very useful.

iOS and Android Apps

Norton’s Android apps have the most features, whereas the iOS ones are quite limited. On Android, you can access the kill switch and WiFi Security, while iOS only has WiFi security. I tested both of these apps on my Android phone and iPad, and I had a pleasant experience. When you install the mobile client, you don’t need to get all the extras — on Android and iOS, you get a standalone app for Norton Secure VPN.

The mobile apps are easy to use and not as complicated to set up as the desktop ones.

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Pricing

8.8
Yearly
$ 3.33 / month per month
Monthly
$ 7.99 / month per month

Norton Secure VPN is not the cheapest VPN, and the price depends on the number of connections you need. Its smallest plan starts at $4.99 USD per month where you can connect one device, the second plan costs $7.99 USD a month for 5 devices, and the third plan for 10 devices costs $9.99 USD a month. You get a discount for purchasing yearly subscriptions or you can take advantage of its 60-day money-back guarantee. Getting my money back from Norton wasn’t complicated. All I did was message the support team and explain why I wanted the refund. The agent processed my request in about 10 minutes.

Norton accepts credit cards and PayPal, and it doesn’t have anonymous payments. Some VPNs offer anonymous payments through Bitcoin, but that’s not the case with Norton. Instead, it handles its own payments and saves most of your data. Anonymous payments are great if you don’t want to share any of your data. However, nothing is completely anonymous with Norton. When you sign up, you need to give your name, phone number, email address and even home address for billing — which is not the case with other VPNs I’ve tested.

Reliability & Support

6.4

Norton advertises its support as “world-class customer support,” but I don’t agree with that. I tested its 24/7 live chat support and checked out its knowledge base to see what I could do if I needed help, and I was a little disappointed. It seems to be busy all the time, and it was almost impossible to get a fast answer. There are a ton of formalities involved, after which the agents do try to help you.

The good part is that you can get a lot of information from Norton’s knowledge base — from tutorials to thorough explanations of how its apps and services work. It’s also possible to contact them through their social media accounts too.

Live Chat Support

Norton doesn’t have specialized customer support for its VPN, so if you need something, all you can do is hope that the agent knows how to fix your problem — they are sales agents, not technical support agents.

When I reached out to its support team, I first had to fill in a form with my name, email, phone number, and app I needed assistance with — I didn’t give them my phone number, and it worked just fine, so don’t stress about that. After that, I was placed in a queue for an agent to take my request. The initial waiting time was 1 minute and 26 seconds, but I waited almost 10 minutes.

What I found incredibly pointless was the agent asking for the same information I completed in the form — it felt like they wasted my time. Then, I got my case number and answer. Norton uses case numbers in the event that your connection fails — it saves everything about your chat so it can send you an answer by email.

Compared to other VPNs, Norton’s support is quite slow. It is helpful, but it takes some time to fill out the form, wait for a connection, give the same information again, and get an answer.

Phone

For its US customers, Norton also offers free phone support that’s available 24/7. You can call its number or make a request online, and its agents will call you. You can even get remote assistance, so the customer support agent can connect to your computer and fix the problem for you.

Knowledge Base

If you don’t feel like contacting the support team, you can find answers to pretty much everything in Norton’s knowledge base. It covers most errors you can encounter, and it also has a lot of tutorials to help you set it up. I read a lot of articles from Norton’s website, and I got my answer every time.

Norton is not the leader of customer support — in fact, it’s far from that. The agents are not specialized in technical matters, so it may take some time before your problem is solved. I found its knowledge base to be a lot more useful than any type of support I got from an actual agent.

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Compare Norton Secure VPN With The Top Alternative VPNs

The Bottom Line

Final Verdict: User-Friendly VPN With Useful Features But Super Slow Speeds

Norton Secure VPN is a good VPN that will keep you safe on the internet. It wasn’t designed to get around firewalls but to provide a safe browsing experience for its users. It comes as part of the Norton 360 suite along with the antivirus, cloud backup, and password manager.

I didn’t encounter any IP or DNS leaks during my tests on its desktop and mobile apps and its features come in really handy.

I didn’t like the limited device compatibility — Norton Secure VPN only has clients for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS. This means that you can’t use it on any other operating system or device that uses WiFi.

Its server network is smaller than most VPNs, and the speeds are slow. Even if you connect to a server close to you, the connection will slow down if the physical server is actually located on the other side of the planet.

If you’re looking for more than regular browsing protection, there are dozens of better VPNs to choose from. Some VPNs have specialized activity servers in addition to top-tier security features that protect you online just as well (if not better) than Norton Secure VPN does.

Try Norton Secure VPN Now!

  • Military-grade encryption and an automatic kill switch
  • Built-in WiFi protection on mobile apps
  • Available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
  • Offers a 60 -day money-back guarantee

Money Back Guarantee (Days) : 60
Number of devices per license : 1

Watch the short video review and tutorial below of Norton Secure VPN

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