The Norton Futilities

Page Last Revised: Friday, April 28, 2006 01:14 PM

Observations and comments from some of Symantec's "15 million satisfied customers":

July 2000. Subject: Deliberate Sabotage?

"You might want to add yet another problem about Symantec to your site. They also seem to have some kind of problem with their Support Website itself. I don't know what is causing this, but it ONLY happens on THEIR support site, "

"Sometimes when I browse to their site my Internet connection is corrupted, and ONLY a reboot will get it back for me, and it also causes my Network Neighborhood to loose any other computers in my group.  It is VERY repeatable, so much so that I fear just going to their support section of their site, since this will inevitably lead to no Internet connection, no Network connections at all after that, and a need to stop all I am doing and reboot to get it all back.  Sometimes it will also cause a Blue Screen of Death, which causes a complete system lockup and forces me to hard reset.  NO website does this to me other than theirs, and I did not realize a website COULD cause this.  If I did not know better I would think they are hackers just f*cking with us as an experiment for their newest and greatest security/virus threats, therefore making people upgrade to the newer software to protect yourself.  I have been to many a hacker site, many do try to get at your system and damage it, but only Symantec has succeeded.  This may not be intentional, but it does bring an irony to the fact that THEY are supposed to be the ones PROTECTING us from this, we PAY for this protection, and yet ONLY their site does this to my system."

"I am running Win98 second edition on a 300mhz AMD processor.  I got the full System Works,,,,,, yeah a real oxymoron as you said.  I have used Symantec software since their very FIRST application back in the 80s, and I used to have the utmost trust and respect for them, but now I just feel cheated and frustrated.  They come up with new versions every year, and then give an UPGRADE price that is EQUAL to or sometimes MORE than the FULL price you find in the stores.  How is that supporting loyal customers?????  It is worst than Micro$oft."

"It is bad enough they force us to pay for crappy support, which is at least better than NO support at all, but even worse when the ONLY free version of support they give for a BRAND NEW product that we pay a LOT of money for (in annual upgrades over and over again at FULL price), is a site that will either NOT answer your questions no matter how bad a problem it is or how many times you repeat the request, but will even crash your network and your system by just going there.  It has to make you wonder if Symantec is really just creating all these problems so you HAVE no other choice but to deal with the problems or pay for the support. "

July 2000. Subject: NAV Problems

I too have been having nothing but problems since I built a new machine last November and installed NAV 2000.  I have been running NAV 2000 on 3 other machines together with Norton Utilities, Black Ice and Ad Subtract with no problems in upgrading, scanning or utility work whatsoever. Perhaps this is why I have wasted so many hours rebooting, uninstalling and reinstalling NAV 2000.

After all has been said and done, I have found that by disabling Black Ice Defender and Ad Subtract with Msconfig, then installing Norton Internet Security, I seem to have found a stable system.  As I said earlier, these programs all work very well together on 3 older Dell systems which have Evergreen upgrades and use EZ-Bios boot up's.  They are far more complicated than the new 500 Mhz system that I had all the trouble with.  I go way back with Norton, (I still use Norton Commander!!), so I know of the good as well as the bad, perhaps that is why I tried so hard to make it work.

During a 2 month period of frustration, I did use INoculate PE and found it to work very well.  The only problem with upgrading came during the "I Love You" fiasco, when every company was swamped with free downloaders.

It is still a sad fact that no one ever made a dime writing a virus but hundreds of millions are made from "anti-virus" software.  Kind of makes you wonder which came first and who perpetuates what?????

Ed. Thank you for your input.  I've come to the conclusion that the reason that Symantec programs will work (reasonably) well on one machine, and yet cause a variety of mysterious problems on another, is that Symantec "developers" [by their own admission, they no longer employ any programmers]  make use of undocumented BIOS features of the various Intel chips.  Since these "features" are undocumented (and are usually simply anomalies), they are rarely consistent between motherboards, much less between manufacturers.

Another reason is uninitialized data fields, the result of extremely poor programming and pre-release testing.  This will cause the program's action to be dictated by what was previously in that particular memory location. Thus, the program may act consistently (good or bad) if the same program is run directly before it.  When something changes in the load sequence, or when the previous program being loaded is changed in anyway, the program's action will change in accordance to what is now in memory.

This is what is causing the recent LiveUpdate fiasco.

I suspect you are correct about the source of many of the "viruses" that we hear about.

July 2000. Subject: NAV 2000 6.0

Sir:   Appreciated your frank article on NAV 2000: one can't help but enjoy anything written by someone who isn't afraid to tell it like it is!   I, too, have had problems with the Rescue part of NAV 2000, which I now consider more trouble than it's worth.  And that begs this question: would it not be feasible to run NAV 2000 without the Rescue part?  If so, how much of a job is it going to be to uninstall Rescue -- I mean, tear it out by the roots?  Please don't tell me I'd have to go into the registry to get rid of it; but if you are going to tell me that, could you please tell me --step-by-step -- exactly how to do that?  Matter of fact, while you are at it, your instructions on how to get rid of the whole schmear would be greatly appreciated.  Incidentally, great web site!  Thanks in advance.  

September 2000. Subject: Norton

I purchased Norton SystemWorks and installed it on my computer.  After re-booting my system, some of my applications would not even start up.  I tried to call for tech support, but they wanted me to PAY for it!  I told them that I just paid $90 for their software, and it keeps crashing my system...I am NOT paying for them to fix it!!  I got one free tech support call and the problem was with the SpeedStart settings (not compatible with my software apps).  I am still unhappy that I am expected to PAY for them to support their product!  I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, but I am not sure what will come of it.

Their online tech support is a joke.  I am expected to look through thousands of postings to try and match my problem.  Or I can post my problem, and wait until they get around to answering my posting ("within 24 hours").  If they request additional info, I have to post a response to their query, and then wait another 24 hours!  Then they point you to a file somewhere that MAY address the problem.  They also recommend dozens of additional links to search through... who has that kind of time?

I am sorry that I purchased the product now.  Do you have any suggestions for alternative software to take the place of Norton?

October 2000. Frustrated but never suspected Symantec

I just stumbled across your web site, and it was an eye opener. I'm running an AMDIII 400 mhz processor, and have used the Norton products for years with no "apparent" problems. I had some freeze ups and crashes some of which Norton fixed, and others it didn't, but left missing or corrupt files. Not being knowledgeable about the workings of the machine, I had no clue as to whether the problem was caused by me, microsoft, or the symantic product. I had been running an IBM 13.6 GB hard drive for months with no problem when, as everyone suggests, I decided to download a current driver for my Diamond Viper V-550 from Symantic web services. I don't know what happened, but half way through the download it froze up. CONT-ALT-DELETE was dead, and only a restart got it going again, opening with that lovely deep ocean blue screen. I got messages about corrupt, missing files, and my outlook express no longer worked. After exhausting the trouble-shooting procedures, and getting no help from "System Works", I backed up what I needed and reinstalled windows98 2E on a clean disk. Not knowing, and trusting Symantec, I re-installed Norton System works 2000 V3.0. After downloading the latest updates from Symantic, I had problems with missing and damaged IExplorer files again. Frustrated, I installed Windows ME, and apparently it worked because all works fine now except SystemWorks. I downloaded all the current updates for SystemWorks, but when I tried to update the Zip rescue disks, I got error messages. "Threw an exception" "This program does not correctly on this version of windows.----Contact Symantic service & support web site" "Unexpected values found in the recycle bin data files" After spending 2 hours on the Symantic web site trying to find some explanation of my errors, or some reference to Windows ME and my version of SystemWorks, I gave up. I went through their troubleshooting procedure to no avail. Finally I searched the net for info on System works, which brings me to your web site. Is it possible to completely un-install SystemWorks? You mentioned some other shareware & freeware programs. Can you give me their names? What do you recommend. Dump Norton and go with the utilities in windows ME?

November 2000. RESCUE DISK:

For almost two years I have been trying periodically to create a Norton's rescue disk set using a ZIP 100Meg parallel port drive.  At boot up the scsi driver or the correct scsi driver is never loaded.  I have tried many different configurations of hardware during that time and nothing will work.   I get no response for Norton's and stupid comments from Iomega like removing different drives, ports, & Ethernet cards from my system.  I've about striped the thing and it still want load the correct driver.  I've tried all their drivers as they upgrade, one at a time over the years, and none of them resolve the problem.  It always fails the same way.  Normally the drive works fine.  A little slow because of the parallel port; but, it is common media that most people have.  Except for doing just that, I never use it.  I have two Dell computers that are somewhat the same except one is a PII - 300 and the other is a PII - 333.  The PII - 333 with Norton's System Works runs like a snail compared to the other one that does not have it installed.  I wonder where they get their software writers?  Too much overhead.

January 2001. Norton SystemWorks 2001

Well thank goodness!! Finally I found the voice of reason about NAV!  I thought it was just ME having problems! My good friend and computer tech swears by Norton products and I used the old Norton products with no regrets but within the last year I have reformatted my hd twice and strongly suspected Norton SystemWorks as the culprit behind my incessant crashes and failures to boot to Windows. I am on the verge of having to once again fdisk and rebuild my system due to the problems that I have experienced since finally caving to pressure and installing NSW again.  My system was running just fine and I was perfectly happy with it for a change after the last format. But since I installed NSW 2001 I have had nothing but problems. From a clean Windows install, as soon as NSW got ahold of my system, it said there were 258 errors in the registry and I was foolish enough to let the blasted thing "fix" them. Now I am barely operational again. After the next time there will be no more SystemWorks for me!

January 2001. Subject: norton

Are you saying what I think you are??  I have bben trying to update my norton for 2 weeks now, and all I get is, they are unable to update my virus definitions! What the heck are virus definitions, and do I need them? I suppose if I didn`t need them they wouldn`t be telling me I need em every time i go on! 

February 2001. Subject: norton system check freeze ups

I am having problems with my system hanging after launching norton system check or windows doctor. now it seems to be spreading to other applications such as icq, e-mail, etc. i do not want to reformat my hard drive and i am wondering what your opinion is regarding remedying the i reformat and not attempt another install? it's strange how these issues started around the first of the year...part of the pay to update scheme no doubt..... any wisdom? 

March 2001. live update

`J'essai d'executer LIVE UPDATE  et je ne parvient pas le faire mon ordinateur me dit qu'il n'a pu  exécuter ce programme et qu'il a fait une opération non conforme .

March 2001. Subject: Nav 2001 problems

I just wanted to say thank you for your site.  For about two weeks I thought I was crazy.  I just bought a new computer (Duron 700) and was elated with the speed compared to my old one (486 dx4).  I decided that I would protect this new machine with NAV 7.0 because of the great reviews.  That's when the fun started!  After installation, the system froze.  After applying their "patch" I was able to boot up the system, although it subsequently froze when running a scan.  To make a long story short, I will try to get my $ money back.  Thanks for letting me know that I'm not crazy (or not the only one). p.s.  I didn't even get to the Live Update fun!

June 2001. Subject: Caveat Emptor

I just wanted to congratulate you on your Caveat Emptor section, particularly the piece on the Norton Futilities.

My experience as a consultant supports many or most of the things you have said about these products. I could add pcAnywhere to the list of Norton abominations.

Another wrinkle with NAV, at least with the version preceding NAV2000:

After installation, it asks you if you want to do a virus scan. If you say no, beware! Whenever the software is launched after this, it claims your boot record has changed, and strongly suggests you should restore it from NAV's backup. If you do, it overwrites your boot record with garbage, rendering your disk unreadable. This is the only 'virus' attack I've ever experienced on my own hardware!

Presumably, the initial scan is supposed to create a valid backup of the boot record. NAV doesn't realise that this hasn't occurred, and insists that its uninitialized copy is the correct one.

July 2001. Subject: Another problem with Norton Anti-Virus

This page was good reading but I just ran into this problem (maybe you've heard of it?).   Yesterday (7/3/2001) I opened Norton utilities and clicked on the 'Antivirus' tab and got an 'Illegal Operation' box saying that "This program will be shut down", then the 'Details' said NMAIN caused an invalid page fault. After closing that window another box said "An unhandled exception has occurred". The second time when I recreated the 'problem' I got the same messages PLUS "Microsoft VisualC++ Runtime library, then "Runtime Error" (Program-C\PROGRAM FILES\COMMON FILES\SYMANTEC SHARED\NMAIN.EXE....After that was   R6025 - pure virtual function call.  Have you ever heard of this problem? My Norton Systemworks have worked pretty well for the past year and a half (except for 'Crash Guard' which I got rid of), and the 'Antivirus' part has had NO problems until this. * I couldn't find anything specific to (Norton/Symantec)  in the Microsoft Knowledge Base. Then I did a Google search and found your page. I plan to go to the Symantec site next to see if by chance they address this issue. But I would really appreciate hearing from you if you can help me, or if you could point me somewhere I could find help.... Hope you can help.

March 2002. Subject: Symantec and Virus Updates are Killing Me Too!!!

I am having problems getting my virus definitions updated. I run "Live Update" and it says it finds the virus definitions (among other things); downloads them all and installs everything EXCEPT the virus definitions update. The error message says the following:   "This update failed because it tried to overwrite a file that was in use. Close all of your Symantec applications and run LiveUpdate again."   I have disabled Norton AntiVirus and Norton internet Security with no difference. I am unable to actually speak to a technician about this problem. I am extremely concerned. Did you ever get your problems resolved in this area? If so, how?

July 2002. Subject: Subscription Renewal

For the past two or three weeks, I've been trying to renew my subscription to my 2001 Norton Anti Virus.  In every case, I got to their website, then reached a dead end when it came to renewing.   I was invariably informed that the page could not be accessed.   This morning, a few days before my year's subscription is up, I received a notice saying that the renewal feature is temporarily not available.   My suspicion is that Norton would rather get you to order a new AV than all you to download the $10.00 renewal that they promised.   I feel cheated and that they sold the AV under false pretenses.  Instead of paying $50 or so for two years, I'll now have to pay at least $80 for the same length of time.   Toby

February 2003: The more things change the more they stay the same.

I just tried to install 2003 Norton System Works into a 98 SE system. It searched the hard drive for 1 1/2 hours for virus's and when I tried to install it, all it wanted to do was update Internet Explorer. When I tried to do that, all it then wanted to do was get onto the internet. Along the way it crashed, requiring a reboot. I couldn't wait to rip the CD from the drive.

March 2003. Subject: NAV

Hi,   I'm having similar probs with NAV 2001 with Win XP, having just had to upgrade from Win 98 because of irrepairable damage by what unknown, thought macro virus, but I thought I was protected by my NAV, crashing, Tapisrv error, etc., etc.    Everything was working fine until Live Update did an automatic update other day  25Feb2003 and I keep getting the following messages: Unable to get virus definition dates     Unable to start definition monitor.  I can still do a Live Update, did one on 26Feb2003, but still get these messages.  Am I protected or what?  I seem to be having probs with my server because of this too, not recognising passwords, etc., which I can rectify, each time it happens, but it is a nuisance.   Oh, since I changed to XP everytime on log on I have to manual enable NAV, won't do it automatically.   Any ideas.   Thank You. Jackie

September 2003. Subject: Norton Antivirus

Apparently problems continue with this product. After installing Norton Internet Security last week  I am unable to access an internet site which I use every day. Why it is blocking I do not know. All the repairs suggested have been taken and still the page cannot be accessed!

September 2003. Subject: dial-up

Hi. I just purchased a refurbished PIII 600Mhz Win98 Compac computer, and had a lot of trouble gettting it set up with our old Win95 files.But that was nothing compared to the troubles that started when my tech recommended I install Norton Anti-virus to "clean up" any problems. It constantly changes the dial-up to uncheck the "connect automatically" setting, and frantically tries to dial for updates on startup (I have to cancel 9 or 10 times before it gives up!) Attempts to change the settings have resulted in freezing of the program or the computer, and once I managed to set all the auto-settings to off, it still overrides it and tries this wacky dial-up game. At it's worst, i got fatal error messages, illegal operation-close program, etc., for normal tasks like sending mail(!?!) I uninstalled it, deleted old files etc., and got it running properly (3 technician home visits, 2 trips to the workshop, full diagnostic testing, and even a new machine couldn't solve my problems). Thinking I had fixed everything, I re-installed Norton, and it worked....until the first virus definitions update was downloaded. The same dial-up craziness started and won't stop. I am returning the software, and will never use Norton again!

January 2005: Subject: ahaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!

Today I should have been working. But actually I wasn't. Not after my second cup of tea and the idea that I had too many valuabla data on my laptop to leave it unprotected from the worms and niceities of the internet... so I installed NAV on my Win 2000 P II. First very big mistake. Then, I though: hey maybe the system is so slow because I have viruses that are really new and should do a live update...Second mistake. Have you ever heard of the file ntldr ? No, me neither- but it was missing now and Win wouldn't boot anymore. Not unless you had the Norton CD in the drive. So I did the emergecy recovery - oh oh, third one right there. That took another hour. By then IE and Outlook weren't working any more, I had seen BSD extensively and my nerves were distressed. I finally had the genious idea to uninstall NAV again (hey there, took me just another hour)- at least the system boots normal again. But hey- why would you want to have Outlook and IE back, right?

 Norton Anti-Virus

Norton Futilities

Live Update



Chateau Mezcal

Caveat Emptor