Norton Secure VPN 2021: Does it live up to the big name?
At CoolTechZone, we usually review the major VPNs to help our readers make a prudent choice. This time round, we are looking at a VPN from a household name; Norton. So what does Norton Secure VPN have to offer? Let’s find out.
Pros & Cons
- Works with Netflix, iPlayer, and more
- Bank-level security
- Built-in ad and tracker blocking
- Has a kill switch
- Provides split tunneling
- Can be bundled with Norton 360
- Has a money-back guarantee
- Collects IP addresses
- Doesn’t support torrenting
- Above-average renewal prices for annual plans
- Based in the US
Formerly known as WiFi Privacy, Secure VPN is a VPN service from Norton, a well-known cybersecurity company. The VPN comes as a standalone service, although it is also provided as an add-on to the company's other security products.
Here’s a quick overview of Norton Secure VPN:
- 1500+ servers in 30 countries
- Works with streaming services
- Doesn’t support torrenting
- AES-256 encryption with OpenVPN
- Average speeds
The VPN promises to provide a no-log service with bank-grade encryption, and we set out to verify the claims. This Norton Secure VPN review will take you through every aspect of the VPN, from the encryption levels to streaming capabilities. The review aims to help you determine whether Norton VPN is the right product for you.
📑 Table of Contents
Top VPN providers such as NordVPN offer more than just privacy and security, so we analyzed Norton Secure VPN's various capabilities.
Streaming: Does Norton Secure VPN work with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other services?
Norton Secure VPN works with Netflix. When connected to the VPN's US location, Netflix didn't identify our IP address as belonging to a VPN. We also changed the IP address a couple of times to see if Netflix could detect the range, but we were able to stream without any issues every time.
During our tests, we also noted that Norton Secure VPN could access Netflix US even when connected to other countries. We were able to stream US-only titles when connected to the UK, Canada, Germany, and several other countries.
Besides Netflix, we also didn’t have any trouble accessing BBC iPlayer and Disney+.
Does Norton VPN allow torrenting?
No, Norton Secure VPN does not allow torrenting. The VPN exclusively states that it doesn't allow P2P and BitTorrent traffic. If you try downloading a file using a BitTorrent client, the VPN may disconnect and warn you that torrent traffic is active.
If you are a torrenting fan, you may need to look at the best VPNs for torrenting.
Does Norton Secure VPN work in China?
No, Norton VPN doesn't work in China. The VPN is not equipped with any obfuscation capabilities, which would be required to avoid VPN blocking in highly censored countries. If you are planning to visit such as country, you may need a VPN that offers a stealth mode.
Yes, Norton VPN is a secure VPN service. Below is a detailed analysis of the VPN’s privacy and security.
Norton is a subsidiary of NortonLifeLock Inc., a company based in Mountainview, California. This means that Norton Secure VPN operates under US laws. This is not ideal for a VPN as US government institutions often subpoena VPNs for information about users. And in some cases, they are also given gag orders to ensure that they don’t talk about the subpoena.
Nevertheless, some VPNs manage to offer good privacy by keeping zero logs. So, what logs does Norton VPN keep?
Norton Secure VPN claims to be a no-log VPN, just like most VPNs. And while some of these VPNs live by the promise, the degree of "no-logging" varies from one VPN to another.
In the case of Norton VPN, we read between the lines and found that the VPN means that “Norton Secure VPN does not log information about where you go on the internet.”
Collecting and logging IP addresses makes it easy to correlate a connection with events, but you don’t have to worry if you only need to stay private and secure.
We conducted several leak tests during our Norton VPN review to know whether Norton Secure VPN leaks any user information. This is important as leaks can easily compromise your privacy, essentially doing away with the VPN’s anonymity.
We looked for IP leaks, DNS leaks, and WebRTC leaks during the tests. And after connecting to several random servers, we didn’t notice any leaks of our real information.
Norton Secure VPN uses the recommended AES-256 encryption standard. The VPN does not provide information regarding the authentication standards it uses, but handshake is implemented using RSA 1024 keys. This is not the recommended handshake standard, but there’s still not much to worry about.
In terms of protocols, NortonVPN uses OpenVPN. This is the gold standard, and it provides a great balance between speed and security.
Overall, your data can’t be decrypted or intercepted when using Norton Secure VPN. However, the VPN would do well to provide multiple protocols to allows users to choose their own balance between speed and security. The newer WireGuard protocol would be a superb addition.
Norton VPN has recently added several decent features.
A kill switch is an essential feature for any VPN as it helps enhance privacy and security. It does this by blocking all internet connections whenever the VPN unexpectedly loses its connection to a server.
Norton Secure VPN provides a kill switch in its desktop and Android applications. We found the feature to be very effective during our tests, and so you can rely on the VPN to prevent accidental exposure. After the kill switch is activated, you will need to either reconnect the VPN or turn the kill switch off to restore internet access (no auto-reconnection).
Split tunneling is a feature that allows users to exclude certain traffic from going through the VPN tunnel. The excluded apps or websites can then access the internet using your regular (ISP) connection.
Norton Secure VPN has a split tunneling feature that allows users to exclude apps using the desktop or Android app. Note that on the Windows app, the VPN will still change your DNS server (which in several ways is a good thing).
Ad & Tracker Blocker
Norton VPN helps block ads to boost your browsing experience. The ad blocker is quite effective, and it works better than blocking extensions as it doesn’t break a site.
On top of that, the feature prevents trackers from following you online. This is very welcome as it prevents advertisers from profiling you and following you from website to website. We also noticed that the feature blocks annoying pop-ups.
A VPN’s server network is a crucial consideration when choosing a VPN as it determines the locations you can connect to and the speeds you get. Many servers mean that you won’t be clogged with many users on the same server, and many locations mean that you have access to lots of countries/ regions.
Norton Secure VPN has a server network that consists of 1,500+ servers spread across 30 countries. These servers are well distributed across all regions, and there are servers in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America.
However, it’s important to note that 1200 of these are virtual servers. This means that although they give you access to a particular region, they are not located in the specific region.
The app doesn’t list any special servers (or the virtual ones), and the available servers are not displayed in terms of cities. Nevertheless, they offer unlimited bandwidth and server switching.
Norton VPN offers several pricing options to give users flexibility. And like many VPNs from large security companies, the pricing imitates that of antivirus software and other security products.
The VPN lets you choose a plan depending on the number of devices you’d like. These are then grouped into monthly and annual subscription lengths.
- 1-device plan: Costs $4.99 a month.
- 5-device plan: Costs $7.99 a month.
- 10-device plan: Costs $9.99 a month.
- 1-device plan: Costs $3.33 a month, billed as $39.99. It renews at $4.17 ($49.99)
- 5-device plan: Costs $3.33 a month, billed as $39.99. It renews at $6.67 ($79.99)
- 10-device plan: Costs $5.00 a month, billed as $59.99. It renews at $8.33 ($99.99)
Going by the 5-device plan, which is the industry standard, the 1-month plan is well priced. After our subscription, the VPN notified us that the subscription plan would be adjusting it to $5.99 starting August 2021. This is good to see.
However, the 1-year plan is quite expensive after the first year. By comparison, Surfshark VPN costs $2.49 for the first two years and renews at $4.98 a month. We hope that Norton VPN will also revise the annual plan downwards.
If you are a Norton fan, you can also go for Norton 360 Deluxe (5 devices) as it comes with the VPN. The plan costs $49.99 for the first year and renews at $104.99 a year. You’ll get other services such as the Norton Antivirus, Smart Firewall, password manager, dark web monitoring, and more.
Supported payment methods
Norton VPN supports payments through credit cards and PayPal. The VPN doesn’t accept any other payment methods, which is quite a disappointment for users who would like to pay anonymously via Bitcoin.
Nevertheless, most users should be sorted.
Does Norton Secure VPN have a free trial?
No, Norton doesn’t provide a free trial for the VPN service. The only free trial available on the website is if you go for Norton 360 Standard (1 device) or deluxe (5 devices).
Does Norton Secure VPN have a money-back guarantee?
Yes, Norton VPN Secure has a money-back guarantee. A month-to-month subscription is eligible for a refund if you request for it within 14 days. Yearly subscriptions come with a 60-day money-back guarantee, which is quite generous.
To request a refund, you can log in to your account and cancel the subscription to avoid renewal. From there, contact customer support via live chat, and they will assist you.
As you would expect from a company that provides lots of security products, Norton Secure VPN doesn’t have a dedicated website. Instead, it has a single page within the larger Norton website, which means that you won’t find much information about the VPN.
To get started, you first need to create an account on the website by purchasing the VPN. After selecting a plan, you will be required to provide an email address and then select a payment method. The VPN will ask for extra (and in this case unnecessary) details such as address and phone number, but you don’t have to provide your real information in those sections.
Once you have created your account, you can then login and download the VPN installation file. You can download the mobile apps from the App Store and Google Play Store. However, the latter two are not available in some countries (only Norton 360 is available worldwide).
Which devices & platforms does Norton Secure VPN support?
Norton Secure VPN provides apps for:
The VPN isn’t the most compatible out there, but most users should still be able to protect their main devices.
Ease of use
To make our Norton Secure VPN review as authentic as possible, we installed the VPN on Windows, Android, and iOS. We then tested the various apps to assess their performance and ease of use.
Desktop App (Windows)
You can download the Norton Secure VPN app for Windows from the Norton website, but you will need to create an account and log in first. You'll then get a download button for your device. The Norton Secure VPN download file is about 55 MB, and it should download and install within a minute or two. You can then log in using your credentials.
The VPN’s main page is quite simple, and it displays the selected server, your IP address, and a connection toggle switch.
The auto-selection option connects you to the nearest server. You can also choose your preferred location by clicking the server button. The app will give you a list of all the available countries listed in alphabetical order. Clicking a country will automatically start the connection.
To customize your connection, click the settings button on the top side of the app. This will give you several options grouped into General, Ad Tracker Blocking, Split Tunnel, and About.
The General tab lets you customize when the VPN starts/ connects and activate the kill switch.
Under Ad Tracker blocking, you can enable/ disable the feature when the VPN is connected. You will also see the number of ads and trackers blocked over the last 7 and 30 days.
The Split Tunnel tab lets you activate split tunneling and select the apps you’d like to exclude from the VPN.
In terms of performance, the Norton Secure VPN app for Windows worked quite well. All the features functioned as intended, and we didn’t experience any connection issues. Connection takes only about 5 seconds, and you can connect to a new server when you are already connected to the VPN.
The only issue we experienced with the app is that you can’t close it (familiar Norton aggressiveness). Right-clicking the app on the task tray doesn't give any option, which is unlike pretty much every other Windows app. We had to close the app using the task manager, but it only took a few minutes for it to re-launch (in a minimized mode).
The Norton Secure VPN Android and iOS apps have a similar interface, although they do not resemble the desktop app.
The main page has a huge connection button that displays a map of the location after connecting. You can also check your current IP address.
The lower side of the apps has the VPN connection tab (the main page), Regions tab, Ad Tracker tab, and a WiFi Security tab. The regions tab lists all servers you can connect to in alphabetical order. There’s also an Auto-Select Region button that automatically connects you to the nearest server. The Ad Tracker tab lets you enable ad blocking, and it also shows the number of ads/ tracker blocked over the last week.
The WiFi Security section lets you activate warnings and auto-protection when you connect to an unsecure network.
Apart from these, the Android app has a settings button (under the hamburger menu) that provides split tunneling and kill switch features.
The Norton Secure VPN app for iOS has a rating of 4.2 from 48.8k reviews, while its Android counterpart has a rating of 4.4 from 175k reviews.
We conducted several speed tests during the review to give you an idea of the speeds you can expect from Norton Secure VPN. Our speed tests were carried out using a 50 Mbps connection, and we connected to both nearby and distant servers. We then carried out multiple tests on each server to come up with an average.
When connected to the same country through the auto-select option, the download speeds averaged 39 Mbps with an upload of 8 Mbps. Distant servers gave us an average of 25 Mbps to 35 Mbps, with an upload of about 4 Mbps. It’s important to note that since Norton Secure VPN uses lots of virtual servers, the average ping you get when you connect to a particular country may vary greatly.
Overall, Norton Secure VPN isn't the fastest VPN you'll come across. However, the speeds are still reasonable, so you can use the VPN to stream without any issues.
Like most companies that offer several security products, Norton Secure VPN doesn't have a dedicated support team. The representatives deal with all types of products, and the support page also lists all products. This means that it won’t be easy to reach out, especially considering the company has 10+ products used worldwide.
We verified this when we tried using the company’s live chat support system. The connection button kept loading for more than 3o minutes. The form you can fill to connect to a live chat agent didn’t work either, and Norton doesn’t provide email support unless you initiate a ticket from the live chat.
The most reliable way to reach out to the team is through phone support. Apart from that, there’s an FAQ section where you can find most answers to some questions. You can also check out their forum for more technical issues.
What is Norton Secure VPN and Norton 360?
Norton Secure VPN is a standalone VPN service from Norton. 360, on the other hand, is a variety of bundles that offer the VPN plus other Norton products such as the popular Anti-Spyware, Antivirus, Malware & Ransomware protection.
Is Norton Secure VPN any good?
Norton Secure VPN is a decent VPN as it offers superb security and good privacy. The VPN also comes with features such as kill switch and split tunneling, and you can use it to stream on Netflix and other sites.
Can I get a Norton Secure VPN free account?
No, Norton Secure VPN doesn’t have a free service. However, there’s a 14-day and 60-day money-back guarantee that you can take advantage of. You can also go for Norton 360 to increase the value you get.
Norton Secure VPN gets several basics right. It uses solid encryption standards and a good protocol, it doesn’t leak any user information, and speeds not too bad. However, it doesn’t make a strong case in its customer support and pricing, and the fact that it doesn’t support P2P is a bummer to many.
That aside, the VPN works quite well and provides useful features such as split tunneling, kill switch, and an ad/ tracking blocker. It also works smoothly with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and several other streaming services. The Norton Secure VPN is not yet on the level of specialized products such as Surfshark VPN, but it can be a good option if you are a Norton fan or you’d like a simple way of ensuring online security.