Thursday, 11 February 2010

Norton and Me


Late October 96 and I picked up a brand spanking new computer loaded with Windows 95 and Word Perfect for business use. First two items actually loaded: presents from Christmas, WarCraft and a Norton utilities program (cannot recall the version or name) for maintenance and anti-virus. Major annoyance was the periodic launch of an ‘imaging’ check on my system which caused the screen to go spasmodic - particularly brutal in the middle of an Orc campaign - eventually bringing the computer to its knees by way of freezing. So I became well versed in the ctrl+alt+del method of regaining control and restart.
At other times, some minor flickers - I assumed one of the Norton utilities was trying to call home but lack of an  internet connection just caused it to give up. Once online, however, the flicker ceased as I imagine the wee program could now upload my files for perusal to Symantec. Pretty uninteresting stuff at the time, mostly Quattro files. However the imaging got worse and no replies from my numerous pleas to head office somewhere in cyberspace. Finally tiring of the battle for control, I removed Norton by removing the folder, since it lacked a uninstall feature, and tossed it into the recycle bin for immediate disposal. Swore I would never use Norton again.
Kept that machine for 7 years without ever installing an anti-virus program and never had problems. Upgraded to a cheap used computer running Windows 2000 and an outdated copy of McAfee. Upgraded the system with memory, bigger hard drive and newer software and still no attacks or intrusions I was ever aware of.
When I purchased this latest machine loaded with Windows 7 and a free years worth of Norton 360 “all in one security’ , I figured what could go wrong!  Nothing for a month or so. Then mysteriously, the once weekly background scan suddenly began to occur every hour or so. Left alone it busied itself for ten minutes and shut down. Since it had a tenancy to annoy me, I opened the program and hit stop scan. Mistake! Computer froze.


Once up and running again I reopened the program and there on the screen in the upper right hand corner was a ’Help and Support’ button, so I hit it to see the menu. Clicked on ‘Get Support’ and waited for a download to occur to connect me directly to a faceless technician.  Since it seemed to be taking a rather longish time, I clicked the close button with no effect, but instantly recognized the computer had once again departed into freeze mode. Back to the ctrl+alt+del to access Task Manager and of course a “Norton is not responding’ message.  Lucky me I stopped trying this method of contact after the second shut down.
Instead I went online to the Norton 360 site to seek aid in rectifying my problem. Nice long form to fill out and eyestrain trying to type in the product key number - why so long and tricky?  A nice thank you popped up and a promise to reply back within 24 hours. Now back to business but the background scan pops into existence again and immediately freezes the system.
Ah! Why wait? Phone them direct on the 1-800 number and clear this mess up tout-de suite. Only a 30 minute (the screen with my incident number said the last customer only had to hold 1 minute) wait listening to weird music cutting in and out until I was on the line to India. Tried to explain the goings on, but a geek/non-geek conversation just went in circles. Better just to agree and then let the techie take over my machine. Then I got to watch for 90 minutes as the mouse flung itself everywhere, opening and closing files until I noticed Norton 360 being uninstalled. Then a 30 minute virus scan of the computer which came up empty and the re-install together with some ‘minor changes’ to the program without any explanation. Probably too technical for me anyways.
Once I resumed control all the glitches appeared to have been resolved and just to be positive I also brought up the Help and Support which connected without a hitch.Next day the techie called and I said everything is okie-dokie.

A week or ten days have  passed. Ever since the re-install by the techie, every time I start up in the AM the ‘Activate Norton Online Backup’  popup notice bounces on to my screen and I dutifully hit the ‘never remind me again’ button to no avail. Next morning follows in like Groundhog Day as the inquiring screen pops up again. Hey, just hit that help and support button, go directly to online help and check how to stop the malfunction. Unfortunately, the ‘loader is not responding’ scenario repeats itself and freezes the system. Shut down, start up and go online to Symantec/Norton, fill out the long form, type in the product key, hit submit, receive the thank you for contacting us and we will get back to you within 24 hours.
Poking about I did go into start up manager and there is a way to shut off  the ‘active backup’ pop up (I’ll wait until tomorrow to verify). Perhaps I’ll chat with my techie tomorrow.

Which reminds me, I always wonder what the Norton (or just fill in any competitors name) program does in the computer innards besides updating and scouring for evil viruses and malware. Maybe I should not entertain so much suspicion. After all, the great god ‘Google’ pontificates that if I have nothing to hide why should I worry needlessly about any Tom, Dick or Harry sniffing around my hard drive. Fortunately, my subscription still has 281 days to run giving me ample opportunity to find a replacement for Mr. Norton.

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