Saturday, July 21, 2007

Apple #255: Norton 2007 and SpySweeper Don't Mix

For nearly a month now, I've been trying to resolve installation problems that happened after I renewed my subscription to Norton. I signed up for Norton SystemWorks Basic and Norton Internet Security. I think I even paid an extra $5 and increased the functionality or features of one of them.

But I had the following problems:
  • Because my computer has a "multi-boot setup or hidden recovery partition," one feature called GoBack won't install. GoBack tells your PC to revert to the way its hard drive used to be before some chaotic event. I could live without it, I guess, but a link in the error message suggests that maybe it could be installed after all. So, which is it -- yes GoBack or no GoBack?
  • LiveUpdate was not updating automatically, which is what it's supposed to do, and then when I tried to make it update, I got error messages and was told to download something called Intelligent Updater, which neither worked nor was intelligent.
  • The status of Norton Internet Security was continually at an exclamation point / danger-red "FIX NOW" state. It told me the reason for this was that it needed new Protection Updates. When I told it to get those Protection Updates, it happily ran LiveUpdate again, downloaded a bunch of stuff, and then reverted right back to its danger-red FIX NOW status.
  • Norton Anti-Spam, which was part of Norton's 2006 package, seemed to have disappeared.

Norton Internet Security 2007, culprit #1.

I re-downloaded, I cleaned my downloads, I re-installed, I restarted a kajillion times, but still these problems persisted. So I contacted Technical Support. Hah.

I chatted. It didn't take long to figure out I was chatting with a robot, not a person. So I e-mailed. Again, a robot e-mailed me back. I asked if a person could respond. I got a person, but he responded to one of my four questions, and then gave me the same (incomplete) suggestion I had found on Symantec's byzantine, labyrinthine, and ultimately inadequate help pages.

Norton SystemWorks Basic edition, culprit #2
Actually, compared to all the problems with
Internet Security, this was relatively bug-free.
Except for that one problem with GoBack.

Well, that was about three weeks ago. I won't take you through the minutiae of the rest of the frustrating, irritating, exasperating, and infuriating attempts to resolve the problem with Symantec's technical support. I have never, ever lost my temper with any tech support people -- not the phone company, not the gas company, not the cable company -- the way I lost my shit with these people. I was shouting at them. I was pounding on my desk, telling them I would not be hung up on again, I was not going to be ignored and have my questions half-answered, they were going to stay on the phone with me until the problem was fixed.

Sutherland, the company that provides Symantec's
technical support, is perhaps the biggest culprit of all.
Dear Symantec: this might make your bottom line happier
for the moment, but in the long run, it will be red raw,

Five phone calls, five tech support people, three new program installations and two passes with the Norton Removal Tool which is supposed to remove all things Norton from my hard drive to allow for a clean re-install, three instances of shouting, and SIX AND A HALF HOURS LATER, I started to get some real information. I learned that SpySweeper, which I have also paid for and installed on my PC, is not compatible with Norton's 2007 products. The technician was trying to tell me that SpySweeper, Trend Micro AntiSpyware, and Ad Aware SE -- all of which are running happily together on my PC -- all do exactly the same thing as Norton and that it is unnecessary for me to have all these on my PC.

You know, maybe it is a bit of overkill. But the last PC I had got besieged by spyware and was killed completely in a very few days. Some of those anti-spyware programs removed some of the spyware, but not one was sufficient to the task on its own. They each removed different spyware programs, which convinced me that while they each have a little corner of the spyware world covered, nobody has even half of it under control. So, no, I'm not going to remove any of my programs. And it's not my fault, or the fault of SpySweeper or anybody else, that Norton was built so that it doesn't play nice with others.

The reason this version of Norton doesn't play nice is that they've added an anti-spyware feature. I'd like to use other elements of Norton's system and disable the anti-spyware feature, but now I don't even have that option because after the fifth tech support's hard work, NEITHER NORTON PROGRAM IS AT ALL FUNCTIONAL. They both open, but more than half of the features are greyed out and nothing happens when you click on them. Nada.

So, what that technician did convince me of is that Norton 2007 is a big bully on my hard drive. She said that though she or any other technician might do their best to resolve the problems, Norton 2007 still might never install properly as long as I have SpySweeper on my PC. At first, she was trying to be diplomatic about it and said that she was not trying to convince me to abandon these other software programs. But after she deleted all things Symantec or Norton off my hard drive -- even going into the registry and deleting several files manually -- and then re-installed not once but twice but to no avail, she began to list to me the programs I had on my PC which "were not necessary" and said that I should remove them from my hard drive.

That's when I started shouting.

Well, she hung up on me. But by this point, I realized I'm done, too. I'm going to contact Symantec (somehow; they hide behind their "tech support" links, which connects you with Sutherland-hired people in India, not Symantec), and demand a refund.

Because not only were there all these problems with installation, it also turns out that:
  • In spite of downloading an additional program called Add-On Pack, which is supposed to put Norton AntiSpam back into the mix (at the request of many disappointed customers), Norton AntiSpam didn't work. It found my e-mail program, it found my address book, it found my e-mail address. But it never appeared anywhere in my e-mail program. I followed all of Symantec's online suggestions to click and unclick on my software program in the configuration screen and then re-started, but to no avail. AntiSpam still doesn't show up in my Microsoft Outlook.
  • Though some links in the error message about GoBack's failure to install suggested that there might be some secret work-around to get GoBack to install in spite of my unfortunate "multi-boot setup or hidden recovery partition," in actual fact, I'm SOL as far as GoBack is concerned. Though none of the tech support people ever answered this question, even though I asked it of every single person I spoke to.

But I don't suppose the functionality of either of these features matters because now I can't even get either @#&!@@! program to function at all.

Then, just a few minutes ago, when I'd just about given up on the whole Norton venture entirely and was about to close down my system, lo and behold, LiveUpdate blissfully began to run. Though with only dysfunctional, half-installed, Frankensteinish software to update, it was downright silly.

When I'm calm again, I'm going to find another program that protects against viruses (looks like SpySweeper has that capability; I only need to enable it), and another one that sits in my e-mail and keeps out the spam. Then it's good-bye Norton.

I did write to Symantec's refund department, and I cc'ed the members of the Board of Directors, describing what I had experienced, telling them they had lost a customer forever, and asking them to refund my money. About a week later, I got an e-mail from an actual person, asking what she could do to help. Well, if she'd read my letter, she would have known what she could do. I also got -- you guessed it -- an automated e-mail. The automated message said my credit card would be credited the purchase price that day (this was in September), but I should allow 30 days for it to be processed.

Within about a day or two, they did give me my refund, at least.

I'm Not the Only One
  • Also click on the comments to that InfoWorld article to read more gripes and warnings about various customers' experiences with Norton + SpySweeper
  • njbay, Symantec Sucks njbay's emails to Symantec support are all too familiar . . .
Looks like a lot of people are saying that if you remove Webroot from your system first, before installing Norton Internet Security 2007, and then reinstall Webroot, both can co-exist. I'm all out of patience with this whole thing so I'm not going to mess with my Webroot as well as my Norton crap, but if you want to give this suggestion a try, please do. And let me know if it works!

Symantec Customers Not Happy about No AntiSpam in Internet Security 2007

Symantec Support Pages that Gave Erroneous Advice or Installed Programs Insufficient to the Task
  • Clean Download is supposed to fix problems with incomplete downloads. Actually, this one did work.

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