Norton Secure VPN might just about work as a simple add-on to the Norton 360 security suite, but it doesn't have the power or performance to compete with the top VPN competition.
- Unblocks Netflix, Amazon
- No technical jargon
- Cheap when bundled with Norton 360 security suite
- No Windows kill switch
- Poor speeds
- Barely any settings
- Above-average annual prices for standalone VPN
Many security vendors VPN service - Avast's SecureLine, Kaspersky's Secure Connection, Avira's PhantomVPN - and Norton Secure VPN (the product formerly known as Norton WiFi Privacy) is the company's entry into this field.
We were interested to see how the service compared with the specialist competition, but NortonLifeLock's website didn't make any real effort to tell us.
Norton Secure VPN offers 30 countries, for instance - but which ones? Any cities? How many servers? All a secret, apparently.
The service 'adds bank grade encryption', the site boasts. Which algorithms? Good question.
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Okay, what protocols are supported, do you get a kill switch, does Secure VPN unblock Netflix? No, sorry, you won't find information like that here.
You can choose between 30 countries when connecting to Norton Secure VPN (Image credit: NortonLifeLock)
The site does give a few details; you can access 30 countries; there are apps for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS, and tracker blocking is thrown in for free.
Later, after installing the service, we found out the network has a fair spread of locations covering North America and Europe, with other locations including Australia, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa.
The service uses the speedy and secure IKEv2 platform, but doesn't provide any guidance on how to get it working manually on other devices. It works on the apps only.
Beyond the tracker blocking, there are no other special features or configurations, which leaves the service looking a little underpowered.
Still, if you're not interested in the technical terminology you'll often see with other VPNs, this could have a lot of appeal, and the near total absence of features certainly makes Secure VPN easy to learn.
Both monthly and annual plans are available (Image credit: Norton)
Plans and pricing
Norton Secure VPN is available as a stand-alone product, but it also comes bundled with some editions of the Norton 360 security suite, and the pricing structure makes it clear that's what NortonLifeLock wants you to buy.
Secure VPN's monthly plan is reasonably priced at $7.99, for instance, and its annual plan looks cheap at an equivalent $3.33 a month. At least, until you realize that's only because you get a 50% introductory discount, and the price rises to a steep $6.66 on renewal.
To put that into perspective, Norton Secure VPN asks you to pay $40 for the first year of service, $80 every year after that; pay the far more powerful Surfshark just $47.76 and you'll get two years of coverage instantly.
But wait: there's another way. Buy Norton Secure VPN as a bundle with Norton 360 Deluxe and you'll get antivirus for up to 5 PCs, Macs, mobiles and tablets; a firewall for PC and Mac; parental controls, a password manager, 50GB cloud backup space and more. But it's only very marginally more expensive than the stand-alone VPN at $50 (an equivalent $4.17 a month) for year one, $100 on renewal.
Compare that with Bitdefender's similar Total Security 2020, for instance, and Bitdefender is very fractionally cheaper ($45 year one, $90 on renewal), but only includes a limited 200Mb per day per device VPN. Getting the full VPN requires an upgrade to Bitdefender Premium Security at a chunky $90 in year one, $180 on renewal, making the Norton bundle look like a very good deal.
There's a free trial available if you sign up on a mobile device, and even if you decide to buy, you're protected by an unusually generous sixty-day money-back guarantee. Well, that's the idea, anyway - the exact rules vary depending on where and how you buy the product. The best advice here is to carefully read the small print.
Norton Secure VPN can block ad trackers but the service does keep logs on its users (Image credit: Norton)
Privacy and logging
The Secure VPN website claims the service provides a "no-log virtual private network that doesn’t track or store your activity." That's a good start, although there's no more detail on the front page.
A 'What is a no-log VPN?' support article vaguely states that the service 'collects subscriber information for communication purposes, mobile device data, and aggregate bandwidth usage', although it 'does not log information about where you go on the internet.'
There are no major surprises here. Locations are collected or accessed, but not associated with your account, apparently to help the Secure VPN app choose the nearest server to you. And although it's possible the service collects enough data to identify a particular device, if it doesn't associate that device with a session (connection dates and times, incoming and outgoing IPs, and so on), that information can't compromise your privacy.
While that's all good news, Norton Secure VPN hasn't put itself through a security audit, unlike some of the competition, and so you're left to take its words on trust. Although we've no reason to doubt the company, having its systems publicly audited would help to reassure potential customers.
Norton Secure VPN offers apps for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS (Image credit: NortonLifeLock)
Signing up for a service via PayPal usually means you don't have to provide your full name and address, but not with Norton Secure VPN: you must hand over all your details, whether you're paying by PayPal or card.
After parting with our cash, the website offered us a chance to download an app for our current device, or to send a download link to any other (Windows, Mac, Android or iOS.)
Unfortunately Norton Secure VPN uses the same bulky interface as the company's security suites (Image credit: Norton)
We installed and launched the Windows client. This essentially uses the same bulky My Norton interface as the security suites, and although it's not difficult to use, it wastes maybe 5x more screen real estate than the average VPN app.
If you're looking for features or configurability, prepare to be disappointed. There's a plain text list of locations, with no server load information or Favorites system, a checkbox to turn tracker blocking on or off, and, nope, there is no 'and' - that's it.
Norton Secure VPN isn't advertised as including a kill switch on Windows, but we decided to stress test the client, anyway, find out what happened if the VPN connection dropped.
The answer turned out to be almost nothing, unfortunately. The client interface updated almost immediately to tell us we were disconnected, but if we'd minimized that, or it was covered by another window, there's no desktop or other notification to warn that our traffic was now unprotected.
Unusually, there's a little more power with the mobile apps. The Android offering enables automatically connecting to the VPN when you access an insecure network, for instance, and had just added support for a kill switch as we started this review.
For the most part, though, it's the same story: Norton's Secure VPN apps are stripped back and distinctly short on features, but undeniably easy to use.
Norton Secure VPN was able to unblock US Netflix in our tests (Image credit: Shutterstock / sitthiphong)
Norton Secure VPN is mostly sold on its ability to protect your details from cybercriminals when you're using wifi, and the website doesn't make any big claims (or even small ones) about unblocking big-name streaming platforms.
Often that means the VPN can't unblock very much, and Secure VPN got off to a bad start when it failed to get us in to BBC iPlayer.
There was no success with Disney+, either - we didn't get a geolocation error, but the site refused to load, an issue we've seen with many VPNs.
Norton Secure VPN wasn't finished yet, though, and it immediately unblocked US Netflix and Amazon Prime Video for us, no problems at all.
That's not leading-edge unblocking performance, but it's better than we expected, and a better result than we've seen with many competitors
We use a number of different speed tests to gauge the performance of each VPN we review (Image credit: Ookla)
Norton Secure VPN scored very mixed results in our UK-based performance. A peak median speed of 66.2Mbps on a 75Mbs connection wasn't bad at all, but the service was very inconsistent, and other test sessions averaged from 38-59Mbps.
VPN speed testing is a tricky business, so we cross-checked our figures by running second check in a US location with a 600Mbps test line. Daytime speeds were marginally better than the UK at 50-85Mbps, but a drastic evening slowdown saw this plummet to 10-15Mbps.
We ran our tests during the coronavirus lockdown of April and May 2020, when internet and internet and VPN traffic was well above normal, and it's possible that had an effect on our results.
That can't be a complete explanation, though, as other VPNs we've tested in recent weeks have routinely hit 100Mbps, 200Mbps and more, and the current speed champion, Hotspot Shield, averaged 490-575Mbps. Now that really is fast.
If you run into problems with Norton Secure VPN then you could head off to the support site, but we'd recommend you keep your expectations low. There are a small number of FAQs, mostly very short on detail, and if you've any VPN experience we suspect you could produce better content in an afternoon.
The chances are you'll contact the support team direct, then. Especially as Norton makes it so easy, with 24/7 live chat and phone options.
The results you'll get are, well, variable. In our experience, Norton's front line support agents aren't VPN specialists. They can answer basic product spec and setup questions, but ask them to diagnose anything more complicated and you might run into trouble. That doesn't necessarily mean you'll be left alone - they can escalate major issues to more knowledgeable staff, and use remote access to see exactly what's going on - but we think you'll generally get better support from a specialist VPN provider.
If your VPN needs are simple and you can use a security suite then Norton Secure VPN's back-to-basics approach might appeal. Experts will be frustrated by the lack of features, though, speeds are poor, and there are many more capable, faster and cheaper VPNs around.
Symantec’s home VPN offering is cheap but only works on the most common platforms, with few advanced options and a conspicuous absence of basic security features such as a kill switch. Its UK connection speeds are fast but we’re not fans of its unexpectedly high renewal costs.
- Clear no-logging policy
- Excellent streaming performance
- Excellent European speeds
- No kill switch
- Very poor US speeds
- Lack of advanced features and broad device support
- Becomes more expensive after first year
- Review Price: £19.99
- Supports OpenVPN
- Clients for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- £19.99 per year for one device, £29.99 per year for five devices, £69.99 per year for 10 devices
- Renewal billed at £39.99 for one device, £59.99 for five devices and £79.99 for 10 devices
Previously named Norton WiFi Privacy, Norton Secure VPN is Symantec’s virtual private network (VPN) service.
It’s primarily marketed as a means of ensuring that your traffic isn’t snooped on when you go online via poorly secured public Wi-Fi networks. However, its features in this department are much the same as any other VPN service and it provides a slightly less secure connection that many of its rivals due to its lack of a kill switch.
Norton Secure VPN – Features and usability
With endpoints in 29 countries, Norton Secure VPN shares its backend infrastructure with SurfEasy, a Canadian VPN provider, previously owned by Opera and acquired by Symantec in 2017. This creates a slightly ambiguous situation when it comes to legal jurisdiction, but it’s best to assume that the service is answerable to both US and Canadian law.
Secure VPN is a no-logging service, which means that no connection information at all should be stored when you use it, although this has neither been demonstrated in court nor independently audited. It also has a built-in blocking feature for ad trackers for a bit of extra privacy, but the lack of a kill switch, which halts internet traffic if your VPN is unexpectedly disconnected is a security flaw.
We were unable to reproduce results reported by reviewers of a previous edition of the client, which indicated that the OpenVPN process may halt traffic if disconnected.
By default, the Norton Secure VPN client starts at boot time and automatically connects to a VPN endpoint with the best connection speed available to you.
The client is accessible as a docked pop-up from the notification area, so you can’t move it around the screen. Its main screen shows your connection status, endpoint IP address and apparent location. A Virtual Locations tab allows you to select an endpoint in any of the 29 countries on offer.
Norton Secure VPN uses the OpenVPN protocol for its connections, with clients available for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. However, Symantec does not provide the information required to use the service on devices such as Linux PCs, NAS boxes or routers.
Note that there are very few advanced features here. Most conspicuously – and a risk to your privacy – there’s no kind of kill switch to automatically block internet traffic if the VPN gets disconnected while in use.
Norton Secure VPN – Performance
|Norton Secure VPN HTTP||102.88Mbps||113.44Mbps||83.52Mbps|
|Norton Secure VPN FTP||152.39Mbps||162.33Mbps||n/a|
As a comparison, average HTTP download speeds for the entire January 2020 VPN group test, measured from a test system in the UK with a high-speed fibre connection, were 81.41Mbps from UK endpoints, 89.42Mbps for the Netherlands and 43.02Mbps from the US.
Norton Secure VPN’s performance in the speed tests was good in the UK, decent in the Netherlands and slightly below average when connecting from the UK to the US. Via a particularly fast internet connection, it was always fast enough for even the highest quality streaming, but it doesn’t consistently have the region-shifting chops to support that.
I got to watch Netflix and Shudder from the US, but had no luck streaming iPlayer UK and All 4 in the UK.
Should you buy Norton Secure VPN?
One of the most compelling arguments for using Norton Secure VPN is its price. A one-year subscription – albeit for only one connection at a time – costs just £19.99 for the first year, and a five-connection account costs £29.99 per year. However, the price jumps steeply after the first year, to £39.99 for one device and £59.99 for five devices.
You’ll want to avoid setting an automatic renewal and if you don’t get a renewal discount of any kind or find a cheap boxed copy, switch to another service after your first year.
Symantec’s home VPN offering is cheap, but it only works on the most common platforms, with few advanced options, no support for unusual operating systems or appliances such as routers, and lacks basic security features such as a kill switch. However, its European connection speeds are very fast and it’s useful for streaming. We’re not fans of its unexpectedly high renewal costs, though.
Norton Secure VPN is a mediocre service. While it's fast and cheap, it only provides basic security and unblocking streaming services is unreliable. Also, torrenting is forbidden and there is no VPN kill switch. For the same price, you can get a much better VPN than Norton Secure VPN.
Norton is a big name in the antivirus market, but can its VPN service match up to the hundreds of others available from specialist VPN providers?
We don’t let big names cloud our judgement, so this Norton VPN review is 100% impartial. We tested every aspect of Norton Secure VPN, and while we discovered good things about this VPN, we also uncovered issues with it. By the end of this comprehensive review you will know:
- If Norton VPN is any good
- If it slows down your internet speeds
- Whether it works with Netflix, or not
- If it’s a safe VPN
- How much Norton VPN costs
Before we dive into our Norton Secure VPN review, here’s a quick look at this VPN’s advantages and disadvantages:
Norton Secure VPN Pros & Cons
- Very fast on nearby servers
- Minimal logging
- Currently working with Netflix
- Very simple, user-friendly VPN apps
- 60-day money-back guarantee on annual plans
- Small server network (31 countries)
- Torrenting not allowed on any server
- No VPN kill switch
- No Firestick app & no router compatibility
- Customer support is poor
Norton Secure VPN Key Summary
|Logging Policy||Anonymous Server Usage Data|
|Jurisdiction||US (Five-Eyes Member)|
|IP Addresses||Not disclosed|
|Works in China||No|
|Support||Live Chat Support & Online Resources|
|Cheapest Price||$3.33/mo over 12 months|
You’ve probably heard of Norton before, but we’ll start off by exploring the company in detail and what information it collects from its users.
Is Norton Secure VPN safe?
About & Logging
Despite its incorporation in one of the most privacy unfriendly nations in the world, Norton Secure VPN’s logging policy is pretty good.
It doesn’t store users’ originating IP addresses or connection timestamps, nor does it keep logs of the websites you visit while connected to the VPN.
It does collect some data, though:
- Subscriber information and mobile device data, including device name, type, OS version, and language – for optimizing performance, understanding product usage, and improving customer satisfaction.
- Aggregate bandwidth usage – for billing, network operations, and support.
Norton Secure VPN also collects some temporary usage data in order to select the most appropriate server for the user, and for research and development to improve its services and better protect the user.
Temporary usage data includes the user’s originating IP address. The software’s “automated rule-based traffic management may [also] require real-time analysis of internet data traffic, including destination websites or IP addresses and originating IP addresses.”
While this sounds pretty intrusive, Norton doesn’t store users’ IP addresses after the VPN session ends and the information regarding the websites a user visits isn’t logged either.
This means that Norton Secure VPN’s US jurisdiction isn’t too bad in the context of its fairly minimal logging policy.
Fast speeds on nearby VPN servers
Speed & Reliability
Norton Secure VPN is a very fast VPN – just be sure to connect to nearby servers for the best speeds.
Over longer-distance connections it’s still pretty speedy, but not as reliable as other VPNs such as those listed in our fastest VPNs list.
Local Speed Test Results
Before using Norton Secure VPN:
When connected to Norton Secure VPN:
Download speed without Norton Secure VPN: 96.99Mbps
Download speed with Norton Secure VPN: 89.58Mbps
Our download speed loss when Norton Secure VPN is running: 8%
A speed loss of less than 10% means that you should be able to do all your online activities as normal, with minimal interruption.
That includes browsing, streaming, gaming, or torrenting – Norton VPN’s uploads and ping times are great too.
Here are the speeds we consistently experience connecting to international servers:
- USA: 38Mbps (download) & 29Mbps (upload)
- Germany: 82Mbps (download) & 94Mbps (upload)
- Singapore: 50Mbps (download) & 42Mbps (upload)
- Australia: 38Mbps (download) & 32Mbps (upload)
Performance was still strong, but upload speeds in particular took a hit over long-distance connections.
Small VPN server network covering 31 countries
Undisclosed number ofIP Addresses
Like most other antivirus companies that transition to VPN, Norton Secure VPN’s server network is pretty underwhelming.
At just 31 countries with no city-level choice, Norton Secure VPN covers the most popular locations, including much of Western Europe and North America, and a handful in Asia-Pacific.
There’s only one country each for South America and Africa (Brazil and South Africa), though.
It’s unclear how many individual VPN servers and IP addresses there are as, when we asked, Norton’s customer support didn’t know.
There’s also no information on whether these servers are virtual or bare metal, or whether they are owned or rented by Norton.
If you live in a country not represented by Norton Secure VPN’s network it’s worth paying a little extra for a VPN that provides coverage in order to experience the best possible speeds.
Surfshark, for instance, works out cheaper than Norton if you opt for the longer term plan and it has VPN servers in over 60 countries.
Unreliable for streaming, torrenting not allowed
Streaming & Torrenting
Norton Secure VPN’s small server network and lack of city-level choice in the US and UK make it unreliable for streaming popular services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
While we could watch Netflix through the US location this time around there’s no guarantee that this will last.
Netflix is known for cracking down on VPN service providers and blacklisting IP addresses associated with them, so the lack of server choice means that Norton VPN’s US server may get blocked, leaving you with no other options to try.
We couldn’t watch BBC iPlayer though Norton’s UK server either. Even more so than Netflix, the BBC aggressively blocks VPN IP addresses.
Do you do a lot of torrenting?
Avoid Norton Secure VPN.
Not only does Norton not permit torrenting on any of its servers, it’ll also cut off your VPN connection if it detects any P2P traffic.
Even if that weren’t the case, Norton VPN lacks the essential security tool for torrenting: a VPN kill switch.
Without one, you risk exposing your IP address to peers and your ISP if the VPN connection suddenly drops.
Norton VPN won't work in China
Norton Secure VPN isn’t likely to work in China due to its lack of extra security and obfuscation tools.
The Great Firewall is really good at spotting VPN traffic and already blocks many VPN services.
In order to beat the censors, VPNs must be equipped with special tools that mask VPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic.
Norton’s VPN doesn’t have those tools, so it’ll be blocked more often than not.
The lack of obfuscation tools also make Norton VPN a bad choice for other high-censorship countries like Russia and Turkey, which may follow in China’s footsteps in the future.
Limited compatibility with devices
Platforms & Devices
Norton Secure VPN has custom apps for the four usual platforms:
- Microsoft Windows
- Apple MacOS
That’s where the software support ends.
There’s no way to use it on any other devices, including Linux, and there are no manual workarounds for routers either.
That means you can’t protect any streaming devices like your Amazon Fire TV Stick or games consoles.
Norton Secure VPN doesn’t come with any browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, or Safari either.
The number of devices you can use the VPN on depends on the plan you pay for.
There are plans for one, five, or 10 devices – the more devices you can use the VPN on at once, the more expensive the subscription is.
Strong VPN encryption, but no kill switch
Encryption & Security
Norton Secure VPN doesn’t quite live up to its name.
There are no technical details about the VPN technology on Norton’s website, so we got in touch with customer support to find out more.
The customer support agent told us that Norton’s Windows, MacOS, and Android VPN apps use OpenVPN, which is our preferred VPN protocol. It’s safe and pretty fast too.
The iOS app uses IPSec, but the agent couldn’t tell us whether this is IKEv2/IPSec or L2TP/IPSec. While IKEv2 is considered very secure and fast, L2TP has some vulnerabilities.
Until we get clarification on this, it’s best to avoid the iOS app.
What’s worse, the customer support agent couldn’t even tell us what encryption the VPN apps use. “Bank-grade encryption” is all it could disclose, but considering all VPN services use that term whatever the cipher, it’s not good enough.
Norton Secure VPN didn’t leak in our IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak tests, but we did notice that it uses third-party DNS servers:
We tested Norton Secure VPN’s Canadian server for leaks from our location in the UK.
While Google DNS and CloudFlare are considered safe, we always prefer VPN services to use their own DNS servers so that they can be in full control of data logging.
Perhaps the most glaring security issue is Norton’s lack of a VPN kill switch.
This essential security feature blocks internet traffic in the event of a sudden VPN disconnection. Without it, your personal data may be exposed to your ISP or any other on-path snoopers.
There is an ad-tracker blocker, but we’re not confident in its effectiveness. It claimed to have blocked over 1,300 trackers in just 10 minutes of use for us, which seems wildly exaggerated.
Norton’s logging policy may be privacy-friendly, but without a VPN kill switch or transparency surrounding VPN protocols and encryption, we can’t call this VPN safe.
Really easy to install and use
Ease of Use
How to Install & Set Up Norton Secure VPN
Log into your Norton account on the NortonLifeLock website.
Click on the 'Download' button to start the VPN installation process.
Read through Norton Secure VPN's terms of service and then click 'Agree & Download'.
Click through the simple installation prompts.
Log into the Norton Secure VPN app with your credentials.
Here's the main screen of Norton Secure VPN's app. There's a slider at the bottom to switch the VPN on and off.
Click on the 'Virtual Locations' tab to see a list of all of the VPN server locations.
When the VPN is connected the circle around the map will turn from red to green and your new IP address will be displayed at the bottom.
There is a settings menu - click on the cog symbol to access it - but it's very minimal. You can choose for the app to launch upon start up and connect automatically but that's it.
There is an ad tracker blocker tools but the number of trackers it claims to have blocked seems to be wildly overestimated.
Norton Secure VPN is really easy to use, but only because there are no settings to configure or customize.
There’s no manual options, so all you need to do to set up the VPN software is download the relevant app from your Norton account page, click through a few installation prompts, and log in. You’ll find the app in your system tray.
There are no security settings to change, so just select your preferred VPN server location and the VPN will automatically connect.
There’s an on/off toggle at the bottom of the app and that’s it.
Very slow live chat, very few online resources
|Live chat Support||Yes|
Norton’s customer support leaves much to be desired.
There is 24/7 live chat support but replies aren’t as speedy as we’re used to with our VPN services. We were left waiting for around 10 minutes, but wait times can be longer during busy periods.
When we did get a response, it wasn’t very helpful.
It’s clear that the customer support agents lack technical knowledge about VPNs in general and they aren’t clued up about particular Norton Secure VPN features either.
The agents were unable to answer even basic questions like how many server locations there are or whether the apps have a VPN kill switch.
If you have more technical questions, don’t expect to get an answer.
There’s no email address to contact, either.
Norton provides some very basic FAQs on its website, but that’s about it.
For such a well-known brand, Norton’s customer support misses the mark completely.
Very cheap, even on monthly plans
Norton Secure VPN Pricing Plan
Norton Secure VPN offers a generous 60-day money-back guarantee for annual plans, and a 14-day refund period for monthly plans.
Just get in touch with a member of the customer support team to request your refund.
You can pay for Norton Secure VPN with debit and credit cards and PayPal only.
There’s no option to pay with cryptocurrency for more privacy or by any international methods like AliPay.
Do We Recommend Norton Secure VPN?
The Bottom Line
Norton Secure VPN provides a mediocre service – it’s cheap, but that shows in the quality of the product.
Streaming is unreliable, torrenting is forbidden, and there aren’t any security features to speak of. You can get a much better VPN for the same price range.
Although its name doesn’t make it clear, Norton Secure VPN is very much a VPN.
However, there is a reason why it labels itself as a WiFi privacy solution instead.
Antivirus giant NortonLifeLock’s (relatively) new VPN looks good, is easy to operate, and makes for a polished, enjoyable experience — as you would expect from a product with such pedigree behind it.
But there are some drawbacks to it — for one, the encryption is unremarkable, to say the least. Sure, AES-256 comes standard on all platforms, coupled with the OpenVPN protocol, but a glaring issue is the rather unsafe RSA-1024 handshake. You’d expect RSA-2048 from a VPN of this caliber.
You can’t readily find this info, either — all you get on Norton Secure VPN’s webpage (yes, there is no dedicated website) is a vague “bank-grade encryption” bullet, which isn’t an ideal explanation of a VPN’s most crucial feature.
To this VPN’s merit, it does come with premium features like DNS leak protection, auto-connect, and a kill switch. You also get close to 60 servers in 28 countries — you won’t find Russia or China on the list, but “exotic” locations like Turkey and South Africa are available.
The server network itself is passable, especially for a new VPN, but users looking for P2P and torrenting support will be in for a disappointment as NortonLifeLock’s policy doesn’t condone these activities.
There’s also the matter of jurisdiction — US and Latin American users are subjects to US laws, while the rest are under UK jurisdiction. This is hardly appealing for the privacy-conscious crowd, given the invasive legislatures and widespread surveillance in these countries.
In short, Norton Secure VPN has done well to market itself as the name implies. It’s great for basic protection on unsecured wireless networks, but it has a lot of ground to cover if it wants to be as safe, secure, and helpful as the leading VPNs on the market — that is, if it even wants to be that competitive.
Norton Secure VPN creates an encrypted tunnel to shield you.
Whenever you use public WiFi connections like those found in coffee shops, airports, or hotels you’re taking a big risk. Hackers target these particular types of networks, using techniques such as man-in-the-middle attacks that intercept information sent between your device and the server, or exploiting vulnerabilities to directly upload malware onto your system.
Norton Secure VPN Privacy helps put a stop to this by creating a Virtual Private Network or VPN. A virtual private network gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public Internet connection. With Norton Secure VPN, all of the most sensitive data that you send and receive from your device like passwords and credit card numbers are encrypted and converted into unreadable, untraceable data until it reaches Norton servers.
Features and ease of use
While the idea of setting up a Virtual Private Network might sound complicated, Norton Secure VPN Privacy keeps things simple.
When you launch the app, it gives you the option to turn on the VPN. Doing so automatically creates a private network using the public WiFi. You’ll see this is working when the small map showing your location changes from red with the words ‘Unsecured Connection’ underneath to green and ‘Secured Connection’.
That’s it. No fiddling with network settings or proxy servers.
Now you can search the web with your normal browser, use online banking, access and send sensitive data, all in the knowledge that you’re protected by the same encryption technologies used by the major banks. Norton Secure VPN helps keep your online identity and activity anonymous when you use the Web. Norton Secure VPN is a no-log VPN that encrypts your personal information and doesn’t track or store your online activity or location.
Along with maintaining your privacy, the app has a couple of other very useful features. The first prevents ad-trackers from using cookies to follow you around the web and continually serve annoying ads. The other is masking your IP address and location.
By using servers around the globe, the VPN allows you a personalized browsing experience. The VPN helps protect your online privacy by blocking intrusive activities like tracking or controlling your online activities or location by Internet service providers, mobile carriers, advertisers, and websites.
Setting your location is easy. Just open the app, select the Virtual Location tab, then choose the country you want. Norton Secure VPN Security will reroute your connection in seconds. When you’re finished, simply revisit the tab and select your home nation once more.
Price and availability
Norton Secure VPN may be used on one, five, or ten Windows PCs, Macs, iOS, and Android devices, with unlimited use during the subscription term.
For one device it's $4.99 per month (plus applicable taxes) or $39.99 per year (plus applicable taxes). Terms apply. Move to five and your monthly amount goes up to $7.99 per month (plus applicable taxes), while yearly cost remains the same. This makes it a great choice if you want to protect your laptop, desktop, tablet, and smartphone. Families can opt for a ten-device tier which costs $9.99 per month (plus applicable taxes) or $59.99 per year (plus applicable taxes).
There are also bundle deals that combine Norton’s WiFi Privacy and Security software, beginning at $69.98 per year (plus applicable taxes) for one device and going up to $94.98 per year (plus applicable taxes) for ten devices.
Protecting yourself from the increasingly sophisticated online threats around today is a regrettable necessity. Thankfully, Norton Secure VPN Privacy makes this daunting task easy due to its clean and understandable interface. With no real setup required users can quickly find themselves browsing safely and anonymously from their phone, tablet, or PC.
The ability to change server locations opens up a literal world of online content, while having ad-tracking efforts blocked at the same time is a useful side-benefit.
Norton’s wide range of subscription tiers means there are packages for everyone, from securing your phone to all your devices, and at prices that suit any pocket. We’d say it will be money well spent
Known for its popular antivirus software, Norton also offers a VPN. Norton Secure VPN is usually bundled with Norton’s other products, but it’s also a fully functional standalone VPN.
They claim to have servers in 28 countries, but they don’t tell you how many. This could imply that the network is small compared to bigger VPNs like . And the lack of transparency could be a concern, too.
I wanted to find out just how good Norton Secure VPN is, so I put it through our rigorous testing process.
Overall, I was pleased with Norton Secure VPN’s ease of use and customer service. Norton Secure VPN is also solid choice for keeping you safe while on public WiFi as it uses high-grade encryption to keep your data secure. The service also comes with ad tracker protection.
However, there are some pretty big downsides when it comes to streaming, torrenting, and privacy. For one, Netflix is completely off limits, so if you’re looking to unlock major Netflix libraries, I’d suggest one of these five vendors instead.
Let’s unpack this VPN’s features and performance in detail to find out if it is a good option for you.
Streaming – Does Norton Secure VPN Work with Netflix?
The short answer is no. I ran into multiple issues with Norton Secure VPN during my streaming tests.
When I first connected to the VPN and loaded Netflix, I thought the VPN was working because I was able to stream content without an issue. After switching to a VPN server in a different country, I was confused when the Netflix catalog did not update to reflect my new location.
After some investigating, I realized that Norton Secure VPN was not masking my public IPv6 address at all, which is an issue that I will discuss in more detail later.
Although Netflix didn’t realize that I was using a VPN, I could only access my own country’s catalog. Netflix didn’t realize that I was using a VPN, which is convenient if I only want to access my usual country catalog. But I couldn’t geospoof with Norton Secure VPN. No matter which country server I connected to, Netflix could see my real location, so I couldn’t access any global Netflix content.
Norton Secure VPN was unable to bypass the VPN blocks on other streaming sites I tested, including Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO GO, and BBC iPlayer.
Looking for a VPN to help you stream? NordVPN will bypass Netflix’s and BBC iPlayer’s tough geoblocks (and many more!), and even has optimized streaming servers.
Norton’s website makes it clear that bypassing the VPN blocks streaming of platforms is not a priority at this time:
It doesn’t seem like the VPN’s streaming service will be improving anytime soon.
Norton Secure VPN Speeds
When your VPN is slowing you down, it can ruin your whole online experience. Even if you aren’t doing high-bandwidth activities like streaming, torrenting, or online gaming, sitting around waiting for every website to load is never fun.
Before testing Norton Secure VPN’s network, I checked my connection speed without the VPN. I started out with a download speed of 70.01 Mbps:
First, I tested Norton Secure VPN’s speeds on a nearby server. Server speed is affected by physical distance, so you can usually get the best connection speeds by selecting the closest server possible.
I am located in the US, so I selected the US virtual location and connected to the VPN.
Norton did decrease my speed, but only by a small amount. My new download speed of 57.31 Mbps was pretty great!
Next, I connected to the UK virtual location and checked my speed.
I was still pleased with my download speed of 44.98 Mbps, but my upload speed took a pretty big hit and went down to 2.54.
For the toughest test, I connected to the Hong Kong virtual location to see how the VPN performs over long distances.
Both my download and upload speeds were dramatically lower. It’s normal for connection speeds to be impacted by server distance, but some VPNs handle the distance better than others.
This big of a slowdown is something to keep in mind when you are thinking about your physical location and which virtual locations you are most interested in connecting to.
Is Norton Secure VPN Good for Torrenting?
Norton Secure VPN is not a good option for you if torrenting is a top priority. The provider does not allow P2P traffic on any servers.
Security – Is Norton Secure VPN Safe?
Norton is an established name in the world of cybersecurity, so I had high hopes for the company’s VPN when it came to security.
The VPN is advertised as a simple service that focuses on providing excellent security and privacy protection rather than trying to do everything halfway.
Unfortunately, Norton Secure VPN failed one of the most basic VPN security tests. I experienced both DNS leaks and IPv6 leaks on every server that I tested.
Here is what happened when I connected to one of Norton’s UK servers:
On the left, you can see my IPv4 address displays as I would expect. The VPN is masking my true IP address and making it look like I have a UK IP address.
But if you look on the right, my real IPv6 address is completely exposed. I’ve blurred out my IP address and city location in the picture, but you can still see that my real location in the US is not protected.
IPv6 is a newer version of IP addresses that has been gradually rolled out. Some devices still only use IPv4 connections, but many devices, mine included, now use IPv6 as their public IP address.
For comparison, this is what happens when I connect to a UK server with vpnMentor’s #1 recommended VPN, NordVPN:
Since NordVPN has advanced IPv6 leak protection, it hides my IPv6 address completely from the websites that I visit.
Norton Secure VPN also had some problems with DNS leaks. The websites I visited kept detecting DNS addresses in Belgium even though I was connected to Norton’s UK virtual location:
In fact, dozens of different DNS addresses were leaked by the VPN. Although my DNS address was not leaked, this can still cause issues. For one thing, it can make it obvious to the websites you visit that you are using a VPN.
Norton Secure VPN was able to successfully protect my computer’s data with secure encryption, but exposed the city that I live in to all the websites I visited.
In addition to the lack of IP/DNS leak protection, I was also disappointed to see that Norton Secure VPN lacks an automatic kill switch. This could leave your data vulnerable if your VPN connection suddenly drops.
Does Norton Secure VPN Keep Logs?
Norton Secure VPN is headquartered in the US, one of the founding members of the 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance. This isn’t a privacy-friendly location by any means.
Despite this, I was pleased to see that Norton Secure VPN has a clear no-logging policy.
However, when I looked deeper I found that the provider does collect “temporary usage data to assist with debugging a problem with the service.” This line is pretty vague, and seems like it could potentially give Norton the ability to view users’ usage data in some situations.
If you are looking for a VPN that truly protects your anonymity, you’re better off with another provider.
Does Norton Secure VPN Have an Ad Blocker?
The VPN service comes with a partial ad blocker. The ad blocker doesn’t block every single ad that you encounter, but it does block ad trackers from gathering your data.
Ad tracking technology is everywhere, and it has gotten very sophisticated in recent years. This is a nice feature included with the Norton Secure VPN service.
Does Norton Secure VPN Work in China?
No, most users report that Norton Secure VPN is not currently working in China. The VPN doesn’t have any kind of obfuscation settings to hide your VPN traffic from detection.
Price and Value for Money
There are some advantages to Norton Secure VPN’s pricing structure. Norton Secure VPN is one of the few providers I’ve seen that offers different prices based on the number of devices you want covered.
If you only want protection for a single device, you can purchase a subscription at a much lower price. This might come in handy if you are traveling and just want a short-term VPN subscription to cover your phone or laptop.
On the other hand, Norton Secure VPN gets pretty pricey if you need a VPN for more than one device. You can choose a plan with coverage for 1 device, 5 devices, or up to 10 devices.
Each option can be purchased as a monthly or annual subscription. Discounts are offered on yearly subscriptions, but the VPN still ends up being pretty expensive compared to other big names on the market.
The price seems especially high when you consider how simple Norton Secure VPN’s service is compared to many cheaper VPNs with significantly more features.
You get the best deal if you are purchasing the VPN as part of a Norton bundle. For a very reasonable price, you can purchase the VPN as part a Norton 360 Deluxe plan, which also includes features like a password manager, cloud storage, antivirus software, and more.
Does Norton Secure VPN Have a Free Version?
No, the VPN does not have a free version.
Norton Secure VPN’s Refund Policy
Norton has a 60-day money-back guarantee that applies to annual subscriptions of Norton Secure VPN. Monthly subscriptions are not eligible for a refund.
If you want to try out the service but don’t want to purchase an annual subscription, you also have the option of buying a monthly plan for a single device, which is the cheapest plan available.
Is Norton Secure VPN Compatible with My Device?
Norton Secure VPN is compatible with Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. Features are very similar across platforms.
If you are looking for a VPN to protect your Linux device, router, or other platform, you are out of luck. Currently, only those four major platforms are supported. Norton Secure VPN also doesn’t offer manual set up options for any device.
Norton Secure VPN claims to protect your device with “bank-grade encryption.” As promised, the VPN uses AES 256-bit encryption to secure your connection.
This type of encryption is practically unhackable, which is why it is used by most banks and many government bodies.
The VPN uses two VPN protocols. On Windows, macOS, and Android devices, OpenVPN is used. The dedicated iOS client uses the L2TP/IPSec protocol, which isn’t as advanced as OpenVPN but still offers decent protection.
Norton Secure VPN Customer Service
Customer service is a strength of Norton Secure VPN. Since the VPN is part of a much larger cybersecurity company, you get to take advantage of the resources that come with being a big name provider.
I reached out to the Norton customer service team via live chat with a few questions. Before speaking with a representative, I was asked to fill out a form about my issue.
The form asks for a lot of personal information, which is something that VPN providers typically try to avoid to protect your privacy.
On the bright side, I only had to wait for a few minutes before being contacted by a representative. I found the support team to be helpful and responsive. They were able to answer all of my questions without an issue.
For more complex problems, you may want to call the Norton customer service phone line. Both the phone line and live chat support are available 24/7.
There is also a large knowledge database on the website, including FAQs, video tutorials, installation guides, and a community forum. Just keep in mind that many of the resources you may find are for other Norton products rather than specific to the VPN service.
Norton Secure VPN comes with a user-friendly VPN client that is very simple to navigate.
You easily connect and disconnect with a single click by toggling the button on the bottom right.
The VPN will automatically connect you to a server when you open the app, but you can change this within the settings menu if you prefer by clicking on the gear icon at the top of the app.
Important settings are neatly organized into tabs. The Virtual Location tab lists the available server countries.
The one downside is that you can only select your location at the country level. You don’t have the option of choosing an individual city or server, which can be frustrating if a specific server is causing issues.
The third tab displays information about the ad trackers blocked during your current session.
If you are an advanced user, you may wish there were more advanced options to configure your connection, but overall the Norton Secure VPN app strikes a good balance between simplicity and useful information displays.
Would I recommend Norton Secure VPN? No.
The VPN successfully secures your data with robust encryption and even protects you from ad tracking. I also was impressed with my connection speeds on the VPN’s nearby servers.
However, exposing your real city location and IP address is a big dealbreaker if you value online privacy.
Given that Norton Secure VPN also isn’t designed for streaming and torrenting, it just doesn’t provide enough value right now to justify the cost. There are plenty of other VPNs on the market that can be used for streaming, torrenting, and anonymity for a lower cost. If Netflix is top of your list, one of these five vendors will easily bypass geoblocks and keep you secure, too.
If you are purchasing a bundle of Norton services that includes Norton Secure VPN and you just want a safe VPN that can encrypt your private data when you connect to public wi-fi networks, I would definitely recommend that you put this VPN to use.
Otherwise, I would recommend that you check out a top-rated VPN like NordVPN for lower prices and a lot more value.
Symantec, the company behind Norton, has been in the PC security game a long time, and it has improved since the dark days of being bloated and hard to remove in the ‘90s. As our Norton Security review shows, we say a lot of good things about the company when it gets it right. The same goes for its VPN product, Norton Secure VPN, formerly Norton Wifi Privacy.
We’re judging Norton Secure VPN on its own merits, which means conducting a full review to find out the pros and cons. We’ll be testing it for speed and security, as well as checking out its privacy protection. We’re also going to look at streaming performance, customer support, ease of use and the number of servers before giving our verdict.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Works with Netflix
- Cheap, with multiple price plans
- Beginner friendly
- Fast speeds
- Some data is monitored in real time
- Five Eyes jurisdiction
- No support for torrents
- Limited server and location choices
- Limited customization
Norton Secure VPN isn’t a service for those who want to choose their encryption protocols or customize their VPN experience.
Norton Secure VPN doesn’t have much to offer when it comes to features and that appears to be by design. There are clients for iOS, Android, Windows and macOS, but there’s not Linux client.
VPN protocol and encryption choices are a no-go, too. Norton Secure VPN doesn’t make it clear on its website or in its client what protocol it uses for VPN connections. You can’t customize that protocol or choose the level of encryption on your connection, either.
The only feature that stands out with Norton Secure VPN is an ad tracker. According to Norton, it’s a privacy feature that blocks targeted ads when you’re browsing the web. It’s activated by default when you connect to a server, but you can turn it off with a switch in the client.
Auto-connection and auto-server selection are enabled by default, too. That, again, appears to be designed to help make the VPN experience seamless. Norton Secure VPN discourages interaction.
Such a limited set of features puts Norton Secure VPN in the same league as KeepSolid VPN Lite, as our KeepSolid VPN Lite review shows. Like that provider, Norton Secure VPN excluded features for the sake of simplicity, providing a rather basic service overall.
For VPN users who just want to protect themselves when they connect to their coffee shop’s WiFi, that’s fine. For power users or anyone else expecting typical VPN features, such as a killswitch, it’s going to be off-putting, especially when most other services offer much more.
To recap, Norton Secure VPN doesn’t offer advanced features beyond an ad tracking blocker.
Norton Secure VPN Features Overview
Starts from$ 417per month
PayPal, Credit card
Worldwide server amount
Can be installed on routers
Can access Hulu
Can access Amazon Prime Video
VPN protocols available
OpenVPN, IKEv2 (iOS)
Enabled at device startup
Malware/ad blocker included
Though Norton Secure VPN is light on features, it’s equally light on cost. At $4.99 a month for the cheapest rolling monthly package, it’s nearly half the price of some of its top-shelf competitors.
Price packages for Norton Secure VPN are determined by two criteria: the number of devices you want to use and whether you want to pay yearly or monthly.
Norton Secure VPN offers a 60-day refund policy for subscribers to its annual packages, but that guarantee isn’t extended to those who are buying it on a monthly basis.
The pricing is cheap, and we assume that’s because of Norton Secure VPN’s feature set, as well as it being used as an entry point for more expensive Norton products. Being able to install it on up to 10 devices for under $10 a month.
Ease of Use
As mentioned, Norton went for a simple approach with Norton Secure VPN. It’s not designed to be complex, but instead an install-and-go solution for people who aren’t interested in lots of choices.
Registering for Norton Secure VPN is straightforward. You select your package and go through the checkout process, during which you’re required to create a Norton account.
You’re forced to hand over your name and cell phone number, which are personally identifying features, before you can register. Privacy-focused individuals would be better served.
Once you’ve registered and paid, you’ll get an email with instructions on how to download the client, with a direct link provided. Installation is simple. It just takes a few clicks for the client to be ready.
Logging in is straightforward. All you’ll need is your email and password. Once you’ve logged in, the client will automatically connect you to a server it selects.
There are three main areas in the client. The “secure VPN” section shows you your current IP address and location alongside a little map and provides a button that allows you to quickly connect or disconnect from the VPN. It’s a simple, clean interface that doesn’t aim to confuse users.
The “virtual location” area gives you a list of countries with VPN servers that you can connect to. You can select a nation, but you can’t narrow it down to a city. The interface, again, is quite clean and simple, with your current selected region at the top. Selecting a server will instruct the client to attempt a connection.
That seems easy enough, but through testing, the client proved to be buggy. Server connections didn’t always stop when we chose to cancel a connection, and too many server changes simply caused the client to crash, forcing us to close it and restart.
The third area is the “ad tracking” section, which gives you the option to enable or disable the ad tracking blocker and lists how many ad trackers Norton Secure VPN has blocked over time. If you’re looking for a full-featured ad blocker, you might want to check out the best pop-up blockers instead.
As mentioned, there isn’t much in the way of a “settings” area. In the top right of the client, there are options for your account and a brief settings menu for the client.
The client only allows you to alter two distinct settings. By default, the client will auto-connect you to a VPN server when the client loads, as well as launch the client when you start your PC. You can disable those from the settings menu.
It all goes back to simplicity with Norton Secure VPN. With options such as auto-start and auto-connect enabled automatically, Norton has designed a service that requires little input from the user once it’s installed. There are few choices outside of those, beyond choosing a server based on country.
Norton can’t rely on simplicity if it wants its VPN service to succeed. Speed is equally important. That’s why look at how quick Norton Secure VPN is, especially compared to the entries in our fastest VPN services list.
We ran speed tests on several servers around the world, comparing the results to our unprotected location in the UK. The results are shown in the table below.
|Locations:||Ping (ms)||Download (Mbps)||Upload (Mbps)|
Norton Secure VPN did well in our speed tests, especially in Europe.
The comparable European server locations in Italy and Belgium performed at near-identical speeds to the unprotected connection, with only about a 1 megabit per second loss on download speeds. Latency was also close to the original connection, as were upload speeds.
Our speeds dropped as the distance to the servers we tested increased. Israel’s download speed dropped to around 24 Mbps, but the upload speed remained close to the original. Latency, at 80 milliseconds, was also reasonable considering the distance.
If you’re using servers nearby, or within the same continent, Norton Secure VPN could be a good option for streaming content or playing games, even compared to those on our best VPN for gaming shortlist.
Our tests of a U.S. server showed impressive latency given the distance. At 106 ms, streaming or gaming from a U.S. server connection would be acceptable, putting it in the same league as Mullvad. Download and upload speeds were also quick.
The only slow server we tested was in Hong Kong. It had a latency of 401 ms and a download speed of less than 5 Mbps. At around 6,000 miles from the UK, that’s unsurprising. You may get better speeds if you’re based closer to Asia.
Norton blocks torrenting, so though the speeds are great, Norton Secure VPN isn’t a contender for the best VPN for torrenting. If you’re looking for a quick VPN, you could do worse than Norton Secure VPN. Read our BoxPN review to see what we mean.
Though Norton claims to offer “bank-grade encryption” for your connection, there’s no information on the Norton website about the VPN protocols or encryption it uses to do that.
Looking at the Windows client files, we found that Norton Secure VPN uses OpenVPN. You can’t customize your connection security, so it appears to be the only protocol available to you. As our VPN protocol breakdown explains, OpenVPN is one of the best options for most users thanks to the speed and security benefits.
A conversation with Norton chat support confirmed that Norton Secure VPN uses AES 256-bit encryption and OpenVPN for Windows and Android, but, rather mysteriously, the protocol for macOS couldn’t be disclosed for security reasons.
Our gut feeling is that the support agent just didn’t know the information. We’ll discuss the quality of the customer service in greater depth later in this review.
To see how secure Norton Secure VPN is during use, we ran a check for WebRTC, IP and DNS leaks. There were no issues. There are no advanced security features, such as a killswitch or split tunneling, with Norton Secure VPN, so it won’t be making our most secure VPN shortlist.
If you’re looking for a VPN that has more advanced security features, as well as more customization than get with Norton Secure VPN, take a look at AirVPN.
If you’re worried about privacy or security, it’s advisable to avoid U.S.-based VPN companies, especially because the U.S. is the main component of the Five Eyes intelligence network. If you’re not a fan of government surveillance, look for VPN services hosted in the countries with the best privacy laws, such as the Seychelles.
Symantec, the company behind Norton, is based in California so from a privacy point of view, you’re in the lion’s den. That said, Symantec says Norton Secure VPN doesn’t keep logs, but that depends on your definition.
Symantec performs real-time analysis as part of its “automated rule-based traffic management,” presumably to monitor for anybody abusing its service with significant data usage. It says it may monitor “destination websites or IP addresses,” which, though Symantec doesn’t log that information, can be done at any time.
The policy says that services you use, websites you visit and anything you do with your connection aren’t logged.
From a privacy point of view, Symantec offers a mixed bag for users. It advertises a service that doesn’t save or log information, but it’s worrying that its systems monitor, in real time, the services and websites you visit, even if they aren’t technically logged.
Given that Symantec is also based in the U.S., we can’t recommend it for those who really worry about their privacy.
Norton Secure VPN isn’t advertised as a streaming-friendly service, but streaming is one of the biggest draws for VPNs, so it’s worth seeing how well a service performs when you’re looking to stream content online.
To that end, we tested Norton Secure VPN’s streaming potential on services such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix. We were able to get into geoblocked Netflix locations, including the U.S., from our base in the UK, making Norton Secure VPN a strong option for users, especially compared to the VPNs on our best VPN for Netflix shortlist.
Similar testing of BBC iPlayer, using the UK server, worked well. There were no errors, and streaming was quick and didn’t buffer.
As our speed tests showed, Norton Secure VPN has great speeds and low latency. The ease in which it bypassed geoblocking and the streaming quality make Norton Secure VPN a good alternative to the VPNs in our best VPN for streaming breakdown.
It’s unclear how many servers are in the Norton Secure VPN network because Symantec doesn’t make this information available. There are 29 countries listed in the client, though.
It’s disappointing that Symantec hasn’t made the information public. They may, for instance, have hundreds in the U.S., but only one in Israel. We just don’t know, and they weren’t willing to part with that information via the live chat.
There aren’t many countries hosted by Norton Secure VPN, either. Most are based in Europe or North America, with a few servers in Asia and Oceania. There’s only one server each for Africa, located in South Africa, and South America, located in Brazil.
No matter how you spin it, that isn’t great geographical coverage, especially compared to ExpressVPN or CyberGhost, with thousands of servers between them, as our ExpressVPN vs. CyberGhost comparison explains.
With the Norton brand and the pedigree that Symantec has, we were expecting big things from Symantec’s customer service. You can get help through a few different methods, including 24/7 live chat and phone support.
If you’d rather ask questions of the Norton community, a forum is available for users to post questions and feedback. There’s also a knowledgebase with basic questions and an FAQ.
To test Symantec’s customer support, we decided to ask a few questions using the live chat about things that weren’t immediately clear on the product’s website, including which VPN protocols Norton Secure VPN uses, what level of encryption is available and how many servers it has.
We waited a few minutes for a response, but we did get answers. Though they wouldn’t tell us how many servers are in use, they did give us information on encryption and protocols. Responses were quick, but they wouldn’t answer our question about macOS protocols.
It’s possible our support agent didn’t know what they were talking about, which may explain their answer.
Overall, customer service is fine. It’s a nice touch that it’s available 24/7, and you’re well-served by the support forum and live chat for basic questions. That said, the knowledgebase is basic.
Unlike most VPNs we review, Norton is a brand that has name recognition — even your granny has probably heard of it. Norton Secure VPN isn’t a bad VPN when you consider who it’s being aimed at and why.
It’s a basic service that’s designed to encourage users to upgrade to one of Norton’s better, and higher-priced, security suites. It’s simple, and some might call it bare-bones, but it’s also one of the quicker VPNs we’ve seen. It’s functional, it works and, for beginners, it does almost everything for you, including choosing a server.
Advanced users aren’t going to be happy with Norton Secure VPN because there are almost no options to customize the VPN experience. That’s reflected in the price, though, with one of the cheapest monthly packages we’ve seen.
That said, streamers will be happy: Norton Secure VPN streamed Netflix and BBC iPlayer without problems or slowdowns. It would be a contender in our best VPNs for BBC iPlayer list. Torrenting is blocked by the service, though, so you’ll have to look elsewhere if you’re a pirate.
Norton Secure VPN isn’t as good a service as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, but if you want a cheap, no-frills VPN, it could be for you. Just be aware that it’s a U.S.-based VPN provider, so hiding from Uncle Sam will be tricky, even though it’s advertised as a “no-logs VPN.”
Got your own thoughts on Norton Secure VPN to share? Please leave your comments below, and thanks for taking the time to read this review.
Pricing and Features
Norton lets you choose a subscription that refreshes monthly or annually, with a discount for the longer of the two. You can also choose a plan that covers one, five, or 10 devices. Five is the industry average for the number of devices included in a subscription. I appreciate this level of flexibility, since it lets customers tailor the offering to their needs.
Monthly plans start at $4.99 for one device, $7.99 for five devices, and $9.99 for 10 devices. Annual plans start at $39.99 for one device or five devices (that's right, both plans cost the same), and $59.99 for 10 devices. That sounds like an incredible deal, but note that annual plan pricing changes after the first year. Once that passes you'll pay $49.99 for one device per year, $79.99 per year for five devices, and $99.99 per year for 10 devices. Monthly plans do not change after the first year.
When I review VPNs, I focus on the monthly pricing for comparison. Through that lens, Norton Secure VPN compares quite favorably. As of this writing, the average per-month cost of a VPN is about $10.30. NordVPN costs quite a bit more at $11.95 per month, and Private Internet Access VPN costs quite a bit less at $6.95 per month. Both offer excellent features and experiences, and are Editors' Choice winners as a result.
As you may have heard, Norton also sells a few other security tools. Annual add-on bundles are also available to new customers purchasing Norton security products. A subscription to Norton 360 Standard includes Secure VPN for one device, and a Norton 360 Deluxe or Norton 360 With LifeLock Select subscription raises the number of devices to five.
If you decide to go ahead and purchase a subscription with Norton, you'll have a hard time doing so anonymously. Norton only accepts PayPal and major credit cards. Other VPN services, such as TorGuard VPN($4.99/Month with promo code PCMAG at TorGuard), will accept anonymous Bitcoin payments and even prepaid gift cards from other merchants, such as Best Buy and Starbucks. TorGuard also offers a host of special add-ons for its subscribers, including access to an extra-fast 10GB network and static IP addresses. Norton Secure VPN has no additional features for sale, but is itself included as an add-on for other Norton products.
I prefer VPN services that use the OpenVPN protocol. Not only does it have a reputation for speed and reliability, but its open-source pedigree means that it has been picked over for vulnerabilities.
Norton Secure VPN uses OpenVPN for its Android, macOS, and Windows apps. iOS devices connect via the IPsec protocol, which isn't unusual, as Apple requires iOS VPN apps to jump through approval hoops if they want to include OpenVPN. Still, I'd like to see Norton work to support newer and more secure protocols across all devices.
Norton's Servers and Server Locations
Norton offers VPN servers in 73 locations in 29 countries. If a VPN company has a diverse offering of server locations, you can be assured that no matter where you go, you'll find a server nearby for better performance. It also means you have several locations to choose from when spoofing your location.
The number of countries in which a VPN company operates can vary greatly. NordVPN, for example, covers 62 countries, Private Internet Access is in 53 countries, and ExpressVPN offers servers in 94 countries. By comparison, Norton Secure VPN's offering is on the low side, but does cover effectively span the globe. I'd still like to see Norton offer more coverage for Africa and South America, specifically. Norton also does not provide VPN servers in China, Russia, or Vietnam—three areas with particularly repressive internet policies. It does offer servers in Turkey, however.
As for the number of servers, Norton offers some 1,500 in total. That's pretty good and more than much of the competition. Note, though, that NordVPN well over 5,200 servers, while CyberGhost, ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and TorGuard all have over 3,000 servers. Most VPN companies spin servers up and down as necessary, but more servers means you're less likely to encounter an overstuffed server.
Some VPN companies rely heavily on virtual servers. These are software-defined servers, meaning that several virtual servers can be running on one physical machine. Virtual servers can also be configured to appear as if they are in a country other than where their physical host is located. That can be an issue if you're concerned about the specific locations through which your data travels. Norton Secure VPN also relies heavily on virtualization, with 1,200 of its 1,500 servers being virtual. However, all virtual servers are located within the country listed; they do what they say on the tin.
Your Privacy With Norton Secure VPN
When you use a VPN, you're effectively granting them access to everything you do online. That's fine if your VPN company is a good actor, but that's not always the case. Norton Secure VPN, however, has a strong pedigree, coming as it does from an established name in the security industry.
Many readers have questions about how much information VPN services can collect from users, and the answer varies from company to company. A Norton representative told me, "Norton Secure VPN does not log information about where you go on the internet." The service does look at aggregate bandwidth usage. Importantly, Norton told me that the company does not make money from sources other than subscriptions. That's good, as less scrupulous companies could sell your personal information for a tidy profit.
The policy is very clear that the company retains very little information:
During the use of Norton Secure VPN, we route the user's internet traffic through Symantec's network, which is a "No Log" network. This means that Symantec does not store the user's originating IP address when connected to Norton Secure VPN and therefore Symantec cannot identify individuals. Symantec's automated rule-based traffic management may require real-time analysis of internet data traffic, including destination websites or IP addresses and originating IP addresses, though no log is maintained regarding this information. Symantec does not store information about the applications, services, or websites which the user downloads, uses, or visits.
Depending on where a VPN company is based, it may be subject to mandatory data retention laws. Norton, formerly owned by Symantec, is based in Mountain View, California. The US currently does not have any laws that require VPN companies to collect or maintain user information, so that's one less thing to worry about. Norton says that were it to receive an order from law enforcement to hand over user activities, it could not.
Many VPN companies engage in third-party evaluations to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities that can be exploited. TunnelBear has publicly released its second annual report, while NordVPN and AnchorFree Hotspot Shield have completed evaluations that cannot be fully shared publicly. Norton has confirmed that it has also undergone third-party evaluations, but cannot share the results. Norton has not participated in the Center for Democracy and Technology's VPN questionnaire, but has provided me with much of the same information.
I prefer that the results of such audits be shared as publicly as possible and question the utility of reports that are kept secret, but approve of the direction VPN companies appear to be heading.
Hands On With Norton Secure VPN
I had no trouble installing Norton Secure VPN on my Lenovo ThinkPad T460s laptop running Windows 10. It took just a few minutes to install and set up and was ready to work immediately out of the box.
Most VPN companies have opted to create an app that stands apart from the operating system, as any other app would. The Norton Secure VPN app, however, is anchored to the System Tray. That's a little annoying for me, as someone who needs to fiddle with every possible setting, but most people will probably leave their VPN out of sight and out of mind.
Norton Secure VPN wants to keep your VPN protection active—so much so that I had trouble finding how to switch it off. It turns out you toggle the switch at the bottom of the screen, which I had mistaken for a connection setting. Nudging users towards better security is a good thing, but I don't care for apps whose tools aren't immediately understandable.
Given Norton's security pedigree, I hoped to see the company's VPN packed with advanced features. That's not the case. Aside from the option to connect automatically and to launch the app on startup, the Norton Secure VPN app has nothing more to offer. There isn't even an option to change your VPN protocol, though I suspect most users won't miss this or other wonky options. Norton Secure VPN is meant to be installed and for the most part ignored, and that's going to be fine for most people.
A Norton representative told me that the company offers specialized servers for video streaming and unblocking content. I couldn't find any way to connect with those servers, unfortunately. In fact, the Secure VPN app won't let you drill down to select specific servers, a feature found with the best VPN services. Again, I suspect this is because of an emphasis on simplicity.
NordVPN, on the other hand, has a host of specially configured servers for streaming video or connecting to the Tor anonymization network. It also features a large map on its app, that invites clicking and exploration. TunnelBear opts for bright colors and powerful bears to liven up its app. Norton is very much on the other end of the spectrum in terms of design.
A danger when using a VPN is that it might leak your true IP address or DNS information. In my testing I confirmed that Norton Secure VPN hid my IP (and by extension, my ISP). The DNS Leak Test tool showed that Norton successfully hid my DNS information as well.
Norton Secure VPN and Netflix
Netflix in the US isn't the same as Netflix in the UK, or any other country for that matter. The content that's available is dictated by deals cut by Netflix, and sometimes that means content will be available in one country and not another. As a result, Netflix and VPN companies are locked in a cat-and-mouse game, with Netflix blocking VPN users and VPN companies finding ways around the blockade.
Fortunately for Norton, Secure VPN had no trouble with Netflix. I was able to stream from Netflix while connected to a US VPN server without issue. Your mileage, however, may vary.
In addition to its VPN protection, Norton Secure VPN also blocks ad trackers. These are used by advertisers to track your movement across the web. It does not, however, appear to block ads wholesale. It's also not a configurable tool, unlike the TunnelBear Blocker browser plug-in, which lets users decide what they want blocked.
If you're keen on file sharing, Norton probably isn't for you. While most VPN services, such as NordVPN($3.49 Per Month at NordVPN), allow BitTorrent and P2P services on specific servers, Norton has a blanket ban. If you're keen on the torrenting, consider TorGuard VPN. This product is made with file sharing in mind, offering a high-bandwidth network and static IP addresses for sale.
Speed Test Results
When I test VPNs, I compare speed test results from Ookla with the VPN active to results without the VPN active. For an exhaustive look at how I test VPNs, read my aptly titled feature How We Test VPNs.
My testing found that Norton Secure VPN increased latency by a mere 25 percent. I also found that it reduced download speeds by 83.6 percent, and upload speeds by 76.7 percent. All of these results were below the median average in each category.
You can see how Norton Secure VPN compares in the chart below with the top ten performers among the over 30 services we tested.
The results show that HideIPVPN is the fastest VPN I've tested so far. Keep in mine that I always warn against choosing a VPN solely for its speed test results. The available features, overall value, and dedication to customer privacy are all vastly more important.
Norton Secure VPN on Other Platforms
In addition to the Windows app reviewed here, Norton has Secure VPN apps available for Android, iOS, and macOS. That should cover just about all your devices. Notably, Norton does not offer browser plug-ins, which let you spoof your location for just your browser traffic. The company also does not provide client software for streaming devices, nor does it have instructions on how to configure your router to use a VPN. Those are fringe scenarios, but could be deal breakers for some consumers.
A Reasonable VPN Choice
Just about everyone needs a VPN, and Norton Secure VPN makes a strong case for itself with flexible and affordable pricing options. Including bundles for the company's popular antivirus software doesn't hurt, either. The service certainly lacks the bells and whistles of competitors, but its set-and-forget approach is probably a great match for existing Norton customers. If that sounds like you, give Norton Secure VPN a whirl. We still recommend our Editors' Choice winners, which offer a little bit more of everything: NordVPN offers more servers and features, Private Internet Access and ProtonVPN both offer more for less, and TunnelBear matches Norton for features but excels with charm and friendly design.
In a Nutshell
Norton Secure VPN, formerly known as Norton WiFi Privacy, is a VPN service that can be purchased separately from Norton’s antivirus and internet security products. It is available for Windows and Mac on the desktop and Android and iOS for mobile devices. Users report that it successfully unblocks Netflix, although it might not be the best tool for those looking for more advanced features—such as the ability to configure the connection protocol.
- No-log provider. No personally identifiable records kept
- Uses OpenVPN—so can manually configure on routers etc.
- Backed by a 60 day money back guarantee.
- Only one connection protocol offered
- Relatively small pool of connection servers
Norton Secure VPN At A Glance
Best for: Easy-to-use VPN
Price: 1 device for 1 month is $4.99. A 10-device plan costs $59.99/year (40% off)
Location: 29 countries (specializes in the US and UK)
Netflix: Netflix US unblocked
Torrenting: Not allowed
Logging: does not keep personally identifiable connection logs of user activity (law enforcement agencies could force the company to turn over user logs)
Number of devices: 1-10
Operative systems: Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
Browser extensions: None required
Norton is a no-logs VPN provider. This means that it does not “log” any information transmitted through its network, including personal details, what websites users access, and other details that could give away users’ personal identities. This is an important value-add given that many VPN users connect to the services in order to enhance their online privacy.
Additionally, the company has written a useful plain English help resource which explains exactly what it means by calling itself “zero logs.” However, Norton’s corporate headquarters are located in the United States. Compared to the favored headquarters of other VPN providers, such as Panama and Malta, the United States does not have a lax regulatory framework. Additionally, the US is a signatory to a number of international Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) treaties and frameworks, including the ECHELON program, also known as the Five Eyes. This means that although the company does not itself collect user information, traffic passing through its VPN servers could be intercepted by intelligence agencies and law enforcement.
The service uses the same encryption methodology (AES-256) employed by leading banks and government institutions.
Norton Secure VPN is a basic 29 country VPN provider that works on the OpenVPN protocol. Up to 10 devices are supported on Windows, iOS, Mac, and Android.
The VPN doesn’t have many features besides a dashboard-style connection screen which lets users select the connecting server. There’s no ability to change the connection protocol (the only one offered is VPN) or configure additional features such as an automatic kill switch. The app versions add one additional feature: the ability to automatically block access when an unsecure network is connected to (one without a password).
The Speed Test
One of the knocks against using a VPN is that they can slow down your speed when online. This doesn’t have to be a night and day sort of thing, but it can be significant. Here’s what we found using the site speedtest.net:
We found that our download speed was actually faster when using the US-based VPN, but that the upload speed was far slower. In general, you can get better results when using a server that is closer to your actual location.
Pricing and Deals
According to Norton Secure VPN’s current pricing, the solution is available for:
Secure VPN is also available as part of Norton’s package options (called “Bundles”). Combining Secure VPN with Norton Security is a popular choice. Securing 10 devices through the VPN and subscribing to Norton Security Premium for one year currently costs $94.98, a saving of $55.
In line with Norton’s company policies, Secure VPN does not allow torrent downloads. Torrents are typically large files shared over a peer-to-peer (P2P) network using a client such as BitTorrent. P2P fans looking to conduct their activity behind a VPN would therefore be best advised to look elsewhere.
Norton Secure VPN has a good track record at enabling access to Netflix through its US-based servers. Additionally, the company has servers in the UK—which is great news for those hoping to enjoy UK television streaming services, such as BBC iPlayer through it.
Setting up Norton Secure VPN, on both desktop and mobile devices, is quick and easy. The VPN doesn’t require that users install any browser extensions, so downloading and installing the executable files is all that needs to be done. For both Android and iOS, the products are available for download through Google Play and the Apple App Store.
Norton Secure VPN is available for Android and iOS. So Android, iPhone, and iPad fans can all access the service. The mobile apps use the same servers as the desktop version but add one additional feature: the ability to automatically block unsecure connections (those made to WiFi access points that do not have a connection password).
How Does Norton Secure VPN Compare?
Compared to ExpressVPN and NordVPN, Norton Secure VPN operates a smaller network and doesn’t encourage users to use the service for downloading torrents.
Norton is well-known for its support resources and offers plenty of support to Secure VPN customers.
The company offers a help section on its website with a “Top FAQ” listing. Additionally, the Norton Forum, also called Norton Community, lets users help one another out to answer common queries—although the company itself often offers advice and posts announcements.
Finally, Norton offers live chat support, 24/7 phone support, and even interacts with customers over popular social media channels Facebook and Twitter.
Ease of Use
Norton Secure VPN is an extremely simple product to use. Because there’s no browser extensions to install, all users have to do is download the installation file directly from the website. Both mobile apps are available in Android and iOS’s official app stores. Norton Secure VPN is designed to be a simple VPN service to use for users with basic usage requirements. For that reason, all users have to do is click their preferred connection location on the dashboard in order to initiate a connection through one of the company’s servers in 29 countries worldwide.
Do I have to purchase a Norton antivirus or internet security product in addition to the VPN?
No, Norton Secure VPN is available as a standalone VPN service and can be purchased separately.
What type of connection protocol does Norton Secure VPN use?
Norton Secure VPN only offers the OpenVPN protocol.
Does Norton VPN allow torrenting?
No, it is against the company’s policies and Norton Secure VPN has been known to block torrenting traffic.
Norton VPN is a good choice for users that need a quick and easy VPN service. Installing the service is not challenging and, although it lacks more advanced features such as multiple protocol support and a kill switch, it is an adequate choice for users looking for a simple VPN service. Its major negative is the small VPN network it operates, which currently consists of only 29 countries. On the plus side, its support resources are some of the best in the industry and users will be spoiled for choice if anything goes wrong during their usage period.
Formerly known as Norton WiFi Privacy, Norton Secure VPN is a VPN solution developed by Norton, the leading American provider of cybersecurity software and services. The VPN can be purchased independently or as a part of Norton’s premium software package. It protects your security and privacy when using public WiFi networks. Based on bank-grade data encryption, this VPN allows you to stay completely safe and anonymous while surfing the Internet. Given that users report that this application provides excellent speeds and can be used to successfully unblock streaming services such as Netflix, we decided to try it out and see how good it really is. Read our Norton Secure VPN review to find out whether it is worth investing in one of the world’s most trusted cybersecurity brands.
Norton Secure VPN features a nicely designed but pretty basic user interface. The installation process is short and simple. The application is accessed by clicking on the tray icon in the taskbar. There are 3 tabs, the first of which you can use to connect to the VPN service and see your currently selected server and public IP address. The second tab is where you choose your virtual location, that is, your preferred server. You can use the auto-select option to connect to a server or you can select one from a list of servers. The third tab lets you enable ad tracker protection and view ad tracker data.
Additionally, you can choose to launch the application at system startup and automatically establish a VPN connection. There is neither a killswitch nor any of the advanced features that you get to enjoy with top-tier VPNs.
Performance And Reliability
Norton Secure VPN relies on a network of servers in 25+ different locations around the world. The current server locations that can be selected from the app menu include the following: United States, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and a number of other European countries. With servers on six continents, the server distribution is satisfactory. However, Norton’s network is still relatively small, especially when you consider that high-end VPN services offer a significantly higher number of server locations.
While the server network may not seem particularly promising, we are happy to inform you that Norton Secure VPN generally provides above-average speeds and stable connections. The service currently works well with streaming services such as Netflix. In addition, we did not spot any DNS or WebRTC leaks during our testing, which is excellent news for all users who are concerned about their online privacy.
In terms of multi-platform compatibility, Norton Secure VPN provides dedicated clients/apps only for major operating systems, including Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. Unfortunately, Linux is not supported and this solution cannot be installed on routers or gaming consoles.
Depending on the subscription plan you choose, you can use Norton Secure VPN on 1, 5 or 10 devices at the same time.
Given the fact that this is not a feature-rich VPN, it may not be suitable for demanding users who are accustomed to configuring their VPNs and using advanced options. However, as a reliable and easy-to-use application that safeguards your privacy and security, Norton Secure VPN may fulfill all the needs of inexperienced or casual users.
Even though it does not include many of the advanced features, this VPN solution employs top-notch encryption, enabling you to browse safely and protect your data, even on public Wi-Fi hotspots and unsecured networks. You can use Norton Secure VPN to effectively bypass geo-restrictions and access your favorite online services, apps, and websites from anywhere in the world.
The VPN comes equipped with ad tracker protection. With ad tracker blocking enabled, the app prevents advertisers from following your online activity by intercepting cookies at the HTTP level and removing your personal information – such as your login session data, websites you frequently visit, and search keywords you type. Thus, you can browse the web freely without constantly being followed.
With mobile apps, you get additional protection from unsecured networks. You can choose to receive warnings or enable the option to automatically turn on the VPN when you connect to an unsecured network.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that Norton Secure VPN does not allow torrenting and, as such, is not suitable for fans of P2P file sharing. Perhaps the biggest weakness of the VPN lies in the fact that it does not have a killswitch, which has become a must-have security feature of modern VPN services.
Security And Privacy
Norton Secure VPN uses strong AES-256 encryption with OpenVPN and IPsec protocols to provide full protection for your data. OpenVPN technology is employed on Windows, MacOS, and Android devices while iOS devices rely on the IPsec protocol. The connection protocol cannot be changed in the app settings.
This service falls under the jurisdiction of the United States, a “5 eyes” country with strict data retention laws, which is one of the least desirable places in the world to be used as a base for VPN operations. However, Norton Secure VPN emphasizes its no-logging policy. It collects only subscriber information for communication purposes, mobile device data (i.e., device name, type, OS version, and language), and aggregate bandwidth usage. No logs are kept of the user’s originating IP address and Internet data traffic. In other words, Norton does not store logs of VPN usage that can be linked to any individual user.
Norton provides customer support in various forms, including the comprehensive FAQ section on the company website with lots of useful information for both current and potential users. In addition, Norton Community is a meeting place for customers, employees, developers, and other people interested in the company’s products. Here you can get excellent advice and find solutions to many common software issues. You can contact the company 24/7 by phone or via live chat. However, in our experience, you may have to wait about half an hour to get in touch with a chat support representative. You can also interact with the company over social media channels.
As we already mentioned in this Norton Secure VPN review, you can choose a subscription plan for 1, 5 or 10 devices. The monthly subscription costs $4.99, $7.99, and $9.99 for 1, 5, and 10 devices, respectively. With the current discount, the yearly subscription costs $39.99 for 1 or 5 devices. You need to pay $59.99 to use the service on 10 devices. The subscription automatically renews after the first term and the price is subject to change.
We should also mention that for $9.99/month or $59.99/year, you can purchase Norton Secure VPN as a part of Norton 360, which is a comprehensive security package that can be used on up to 5 devices.
Norton’s yearly subscriptions come with a generous 60-day money back guarantee. There is a 30-day refund guarantee for monthly subscriptions. As far as payment options are concerned, Norton accepts only credit cards and PayPal.
Norton Secure VPN’s Pros And Cons
As we wrap up this Norton Secure VPN review, here’s a quick overview of the features that wowed us and the aspects of the service that could use some improvement.
- Strong encryption
- Good speeds
- Ad tracker blocking
- No-logging policy
- Good customer support
- 60-day money-back guarantee for annual subscriptions
- No killswitch
- No torrenting allowed
- Limited server network