Norton Secure VPN Review 2024: Before You Buy, Is It Worth It?
Norton Secure VPN Overview 2024
Norton has long been recognized as a leading Antivirus provider, but I was hesitant to subscribe to its VPN service following complaints about the company’s unethical business practices. So, I decided to put the VPN through thorough testing to see if it would be any different.
Following several evaluations, I’ve determined that Norton Secure VPN doesn’t entirely live up to expectations. While it provides typical security features, compatibility with well-known streaming services, and speedy performance, the VPN falls short when it comes to the size of its server network, its data retention policy, and occasional challenges in establishing connections with specific servers.
You can still try Norton Secure VPN for yourself risk-free. It lets you get your money back for up to 60 days and gives you a 7-day free trial if you sign up on your phone. If you’re not satisfied after trying the service, I suggest you take a look at these top-rated VPNs on the market.
Don’t Have Time? Here’s a 1-Minute Summary
- Unblocks popular streaming services. I could access Netflix US, HBO Max, Disney+, and Prime Video but was blocked from Hulu and BBC iPlayer. Check my full streaming results here.
- Provides fast speeds. I got fast speeds with every Norton Secure VPN server that I connected to. See my speed test results.
- Has a small server network. Despite the fact that the precise number of its servers is unknown, the fact that it only serves 29 nations is disappointing. Find out if it has servers near you.
- Connects up to 10 devices. You can connect multiple devices, but the exact number depends on the plan you sign up for. See how many connections are allowed.
- Good customer service. Norton Secure VPN does not offer email support, but can be reached through its other communication methods. Click here to see the support option available to you.
- Free trial and 60-day money-back guarantee. Norton Secure VPN has attractive pricing plans, and you can get a full refund if you aren’t satisfied with the service. Learn how to get a free trial.
Norton Secure VPN Unblocks Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer (But Can’t Access Hulu and BBC iPlayer)
I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of Norton Secure VPN when it came to streaming services. Despite lacking dedicated streaming servers or an extensive server network, it successfully unlocked popular streaming platforms like Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. This allowed me to enjoy my favorite shows in high definition without any issues. However, it did encounter difficulties in bypassing geoblocks on Hulu.
Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer: Unblocked
Norton Secure VPN effortlessly unblocked most streaming platforms that I tested. After connecting to the US server in less than 5 seconds, I unblocked my Netflix US account and watched popular movies and shows. I watched Squid Game, I am Georgina, and other shows without any buffering.
Fortunately, the VPN performed impeccably with various well-known streaming services. Throughout my tests, I successfully accessed HBO Max, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video on both my PC and Android phone.
As I streamed a couple of shows, Norton VPN maintained consistent streaming quality. I didn’t experience any lags or buffering while I watched popular movies like Thor: Ragnarok, The Expanse, and Matrix Resurrections.
Norton Secure VPN also worked without any issues when connecting to BBC iPlayer. Unlike other VPNs that often struggle to access the service, it allowed me to easily stream my favorite TV shows in high definition without any interruptions or delays.
I tested UKTV to check if Norton Secure VPN was able to unblock smaller local services, and I was able to watch without any issues. I tried watching Abandoned Engineering and Taskmaster throughout different times, and all streams loaded in under 5 seconds.
I was disappointed to find out that Norton Secure VPN would not allow me to access Hulu. I attempted to log into my Hulu account, but the VPN was unable to bypass the limitations on the streaming service. I received an error message saying that the service is only available within the United States, even though I was connected to a server in the US.
If Hulu is your go-to for TV and movies, you’ll have to find an alternative VPN. I found ExpressVPN to be a better option that quickly unblocks Hulu and other popular streaming services. You can try ExpressVPN to stream Hulu lag-free as it includes a money-back guarantee for 30 days that allows you to buy in confidence.
Speed- 5.0 / 10
Norton Secure VPN Speeds Are Fast on All Servers
Norton Secure VPN maintained fast speeds across its servers. Nearby servers and distant servers provided me with fast speeds and unlimited bandwidth to stream, play online multiplayer games, and browse the internet safely.
Speed Test Results
Before connecting with Norton Secure VPN, I had a base internet download speed of 78Mbps. During my tests, I got an average download speed of 56.76Mbps — a 27.27% drop in my internet speed. I was pleased that I didn’t experience any significant decrease in my speed. Nearby servers like the US, UK, and Canada gave me download speeds of 56.29Mbps, 63.69Mbps, and 57.12Mbps. Even with the server in Japan, I got a download speed of 49.92Mbps, which was only a 36% drop in my internet speed.
I wasn’t that lucky with the upload speeds that Norton Secure VPN provided, though. My baseline upload speed was 13.16Mbps, but I got an average of 0.74Mbps. This low upload speed makes it unrealistic for activities like online gaming or bot trading, where split-second decisions are essential. I saw my latency ranging from 100-450ms while connected to the VPN, making it an unsuitable VPN for gaming as you normally want latency under 100ms for an optimal experience.
Is Norton Secure VPN Fast Enough for Gaming? Barely
Although Norton Secure VPN allowed me to play a few games without any lag, it did not provide the optimal speeds for fast-paced gaming. My upload speeds and ping were not high enough to truly enjoy a seamless gaming experience.
Usually, upload speeds more than 2Mbps and a latency of less than 100ms are optimal for most online multiplayer games. However, I got an average upload speed of less than 1Mbps with most servers. Despite that, I could still play online games like Krunker and Hell Let Loose without any noticeable lag. That said, your experience may differ from mine depending on your location and base internet connection. More demanding titles will likely suffer due to poor connection speeds and high latency.
Other equally important factors for online gaming are packet loss and bandwidth. Packet loss is the amount of data lost during transmission, while bandwidth is the amount of data transferred. To my surprise, I had a 0% packet loss and bandwidth above 40Mbps during my tests, which surpasses the recommended 25Mbps for fast-paced gaming.
Why Most Speed Tests are Pointless & How We Correctly Test VPN Speeds
Speed determines how fast content uploads, so if you're torrenting or streaming, you want the speed to be somewhat identical to your regular internet speed. Since a VPN encrypts your data, it usually takes a bit longer to send your data back and forth, which can slow down your connection. However, if your ISP deliberately slows down your connection (also known as throttling) a VPN might increase your internet speed. Testing a VPN is somewhat pointless because new servers pop up and affect speed. Your speed can also differ according to your location, so your speed test might not match ours. Having said that, we tested the speed in numerous locations to provide you with the average.
Servers- 4.0 / 10
Server Network — Small Server Network in 29 Countries
Norton Secure VPN has an undisclosed number of servers in 29 countries. Compared to some of my top VPN picks with thousands of servers to choose from, this is a small network. Unfortunately, its website doesn’t say how many total servers it has, and customer support directed me to the server list within the app when I asked for clarification.
Among the many locations available for use, Norton Secure VPN users can connect to servers in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. Specifically, the company has a strong presence in Europe, with servers in countries such as the UK, Norway, Finland, Belgium, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and France. Additionally, users can access servers in the US, Canada, and other regions such as Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Hong Kong, India, Israel, and Ukraine.
Norton Secure VPN lacks server switching, meaning that users cannot select a specific city or server in the chosen country. This can be problematic for individuals seeking optimal performance or security through a specific connection. Additionally, it is unclear whether the company utilizes bare-metal or virtual servers. Through testing, it was determined that Norton Secure VPN relies on third-party providers, such as Amazon, for its server infrastructure.
It took approximately four seconds to establish a connection to a server. However, during peak usage hours, it was noted that some servers were difficult to connect to, possibly due to high traffic volume. A VPN with a limited number of servers may become overcrowded as more users join, leading to slower speeds, streaming issues, and failed connections, as observed during connection attempts with certain servers.
From what I’ve seen, CyberGhost is a great choice if you’re looking for a VPN with multiple server locations. It boasts over 11,300 servers across 100 countries, giving you a wide range of options to choose from.
Security — Standard Security Features
I find Norton’s VPN service to be reliable, offering all the essential security features. On the other hand, I discovered that the overall security architecture has room for improvement.
Norton Secure VPN offers the following security features:
- Military Grade Encryption – To protect your data from potential hacking attempts and unwanted surveillance, Norton employs AES 256-bit encryption – a widely recognized and trusted standard in the industry. This encryption ensures that all information transmitted through the VPN service remains confidential and secure.
- Good protocol options – Norton Secure VPN offers exceptional security through the utilization of IKEv2 and WireGuard protocols. One drawback is that it doesn’t allow you to manually select a preferred protocol for use. This severely restricts your ability to tailor your connection for individual tasks, such as video streaming or file sharing.
- Kill switch – A kill switch is very important to me since it prevents my information from leaking when a VPN connection goes down suddenly. The Mac client does not currently include this feature.
- Split tunneling – Norton VPN also has a split tunneling feature that allows you to choose which traffic you want to encrypt while allowing other traffic to go through your normal IP address. I tested the split tunneling feature and it works as expected as I used it to access my local banking apps while streaming simultaneously.
- WiFi protection feature – I was also pleased to find that Norton Secure VPN has a WiFi protection feature that automatically scans and secures your WiFi connection.
- Ad tracking blocker – This feature prevents advertisers from serving you repeated and targeted ads from the knowledge of your device ID. Since I’ve only seen ad blockers provided by many VPNs, a tracking blocker is a new and useful feature.
Through extensive testing for DNS, IP, and WebRTC leaks, I found that Norton Secure VPN performed exceptionally well in every single one. The VPN was successful in its intended purpose of blocking IPv4 and IPv6. This is a testament to the strong security measures that Norton Secure VPN has in place to protect users’ online privacy and data.
Norton Secure VPN may not have many added bonuses beyond its core features, but it becomes a valuable addition when combined with the comprehensive Norton 360 security package. Even though it may require an additional fee to protect multiple devices, its value becomes more apparent when considered as part of this package.
Privacy — Keeps User Logs
The fact that Norton gathers so much personal information from its VPN users worries me. According to the policy, Norton’s VPN collects four categories of data including, account data, device data, security data, and service data.
Account data includes information related to setting up and paying for the VPN service. Device data includes details about the device you’re using, such as its name and type, the operating system version, and language settings. Security data includes the overall amount of data used, diagnostic information, crash reports, and the serial number of the VPN app. The service data that is collected includes the IP address, as well as identification numbers for the installation and license of the VPN.
For a company that claims to be “no-log,” this is a substantial amount of information collected. Furthermore, Norton may reveal the information it has collected in response to a subpoena, court order, or other legal process, or if requested to do so by law enforcement officials.
Norton LifeLock Inc, formerly known as Symantec Inc, is the creator of Norton Secure VPN. The company was established in 1982 and is based in the United States. With its headquarters in the US, it is subject to the 5 Eyes data-sharing agreement, which forces VPN providers to share user data with the member nations for surveillance.
Norton doesn’t have any published transparency report that would outline how often it has received data requests. I would have liked to see Norton collect less data and regularly publish transparency reports, something like ExpressVPN already does.
Torrenting — Supported Through Dedicated Server
Norton Secure VPN has made a significant change in its policy by introducing a new server option called “torrent-optimized region”. This new feature allows users to engage in torrenting activities, which was previously blocked by the VPN provider. I tested this new server option and found that it is located in France. When users select this server option, they will be automatically redirected to the torrent-optimized region for seamless torrenting experience.
Using the new server option was very easy, and it worked well with all of the common torrent clients. The fast speed and the kill switch feature of Norton Secure VPN made the experience even better. Unfortunately, the provider is located in a potentially hostile jurisdiction and maintains logs of personally identifying information that could compromise you in the event of a subpoena.
Keep in mind that my team and I don’t condone illegal torrenting, so be sure to check the rules and regulations in your country and make sure the torrents you download are copyright-free.
Does Norton Secure VPN Work in China? No!
Norton Secure VPN doesn’t work in China and this was confirmed by the provider’s support department. The Chinese government restricts access to the internet and monitors online activity, making it more difficult for VPNs to work in the country. Very few premium VPNs have enough resources to frequently update their servers and apply cutting-edge technology to access the internet safely.
Norton Secure VPN doesn’t have the right obfuscation features for its servers that would make the VPN work in China, Russia, Turkey, or the UAE. You can read up on the best VPNs for unrestricted internet access in China if you plan to travel there.
Keep in mind that using a non-government-approved VPN is illegal in China. However, there haven’t been any cases of tourists being penalized for using a VPN. Instead, the country uses tools that technologically block many VPNs from working over there.
User Experience- 4.0 / 10
Simultaneous Device Connections — Up to 10 Devices at Once
Norton Secure VPN supports as many as 10 simultaneous connections, though this number varies by plan. You can choose between a plan that allows you to connect 1, 5, or 10 devices. Switching between devices is as simple as logging into the VPN on the new gadget and then disconnecting the old one.
I tested the 5-device plan by connecting an iPad, two Windows computers, a Mac, and an Android phone. All of these devices were able to maintain a strong and reliable connection for the entire hour of the test. It’s also worth mentioning that Norton Secure VPN’s 10-device plan is cheaper than the alternatives offered by other leading VPNs.
Device Compatibility — Works Only on Popular OSes
Norton Secure VPN is compatible with several popular devices, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. During my testing, I found that the service worked well on all of these platforms. However, it is not supported on gaming consoles, routers, Linux, Chromebooks, smart TVs, or Fire Stick devices. While I was disappointed that these devices are not compatible, I was still able to use Norton Secure VPN on all of my primary devices.
I was disappointed to find that there were no browser extensions available for Chrome, Safari, Opera, or Firefox. In my experience, browser extensions are a convenient way to enhance my online security without having to install heavy apps. I prefer to install a VPN browser extension to quickly and easily protect myself while browsing the web.
Ease of Setup & Installation — Simple and Straightforward
Norton Secure VPN was easy to set up on multiple devices. It has user-friendly native apps for popular devices, and it took fewer than 5 minutes to download and set up the app. I signed up through the mobile app (iOS and Android) because it offered a 7-day free trial. You can get Norton Secure VPN as part of the Norton 360 suite or as a stand-alone app.
Norton Secure VPN has an intuitive interface that features a server drop-down menu and an activation button at the center of the app. There’s a settings button at the top-left of the interface to customize the app, activate kill switch, split-tunneling, and ad tracker blocker. Overall, I found the app simple to use. However, you can’t change the security protocol, and there is no display of estimated ping times to help you decide on the fastest servers. Also, you can’t close the VPN entirely. It is permanently anchored on the system tray.
One way to get Norton Secure VPN is by subscribing to the all-in-one Norton 360 security suite. This suite also comes with Norton Crypto, an opt-in crypto mining tool. However, there have been several reports of users complaining about being unable to uninstall the crypto mining feature. While this might not pose direct security concerns, it is disturbing how difficult it is to opt out of the service.
Steps to Installing Norton Secure VPN on Windows
- Go to Norton’s website, navigate to “Product and Services”, “Norton Secure VPN”, and subscribe to a plan. Alternatively, go to your app store, search for “Norton Secure VPN”, download the app, open it and sign up for the 7-day free trial.
- Create a Norton account.
- Log in with the email and password you signed up during the free trial.
- Download the Norton Secure VPN app for your device from the dashboard.
- Install the app and log in with the email and password you created earlier.
- Select a server from the server list and connect with it.
- Start using the service.
Support- 5.0 / 10
Norton Secure VPN offers multiple support channels. You can get support through live chat (24/7), Social Media (Facebook and Twitter), Phone (24/7), FAQ/knowledge base, Community Forums, and Blog posts. However, there is no email support.
I decided to try out Norton’s 24/7 live chat support and was pleasantly surprised when an agent answered within 20 seconds. The agent was able to provide useful information in some cases, but it seemed that they were primarily sales representatives and unable to assist with technical questions. For example, I had to explain to one of the agents what Wireguard was when I was trying to inquire about the VPN’s security protocol.
However, the agent did suggest scheduling a free phone call with a technical representative who could answer my questions and even offer remote installation assistance. It’s worth noting that this offer is only available to US customers.
I also looked at the FAQ section, which had helpful guidance on common issues such as installation, error messages, and account problems. The FAQs were well-organized and had quick links to sections on downloading and installing, buying and renewing, and protecting and fixing. While the FAQs seemed well-written and even covered the issue I encountered, I wasn’t able to resolve it with their articles.
How We Test Customer Support and Why Should You Care
We personally test the customer support team of every VPN we review. This means asking technical question through the live chat feature (where applicable) and measuring the response time for email questions. Whether you need to connect to a specific server, change your security protocol, or configure a VPN on your router, finding a VPN with quality customer support should be important to you.
Pricing- 6.0 / 10
Norton Secure VPN is an expensive choice due to its limited features. It has different prices depending on how many device connections you need with your subscription. There are plans for monthly or annual subscriptions for 1, 5, and 10 device connections. For UK residents, there’s no monthly plan option, in which case it’s best to check out these VPNs with great monthly deals.
Norton Secure VPN’s annual plans are roughly half the price of those of many other cheap VPNs. However, the discount only applies to the first year. After that, the price reverts to the full amount. If all you need is basic online security and access to a small selection of streaming services, Norton Secure VPN is a decent option.
You can pay for Norton Secure VPN with credit/debit cards (Visa, Mastercard, JCB, American Express), Google Pay, and PayPal. There’s no option for cryptocurrencies or international payment options like AliPay, WebMoney, or Paymentwall. Norton Secure VPN is a standalone service different from the Norton 360 suite that costs more.
You can get a 7-day free trial if you sign up to Norton Secure VPN via the mobile app from the App store. Norton Secure VPN also offers a 14-day money-back guarantee for its monthly plan and 60-day money-back guarantee with its annual plan. If you change your mind, you can simply contact Norton to request your money back through live chat.
To check this guarantee and see if it works, I signed up for an annual plan and used the service for a couple of weeks. Then I contacted customer support through live chat and requested a refund. The agent tried to get me to stay by offering me 3 months for free then immediately approved the refund after I turned the offer down. I had the money returned to my account 5 days later.
Norton Secure VPN offers the following plans
Norton Secure VPN falls short in many areas. With basic security features, some user data logging, no torrent support, and a few server options, Norton has a lot of catching up to do. I was also disappointed with the lackluster support, poor buying options for some residents, and the inability to connect with some servers.
If you’re looking for a VPN service with more advanced features than the ones Norton Secure VPN offers, ExpressVPN has premium security, an extensive server network, secure torrenting, and excellent privacy protections. It is my top choice among the many promising VPN providers on the market.
FAQs About Norton Secure VPN
Is Norton Secure VPN good?
Can I use Norton Secure VPN for free?
Yes. Norton Secure VPN offers a 7-day free trial if you sign up via the iOS or Android app. Also, you can take advantage of its 60-day money-back guarantee to get a refund if you don’t like the service. Keep in mind that the money-back guarantee only applies to the annual plans.
If you’re still unsure if you want to financially commit to a VPN service, then you can check out our list of safe, free VPNs. Just keep in mind that using a free VPN is, generally, less secure than the premium options. Free VPNs are more susceptible to slowdowns, data breaches, and often don’t have as many features as premium VPNs.