Norton Secure VPN is a bare-bolts offering that’s a decent value-add with a Norton antivirus subscription but can’t stand up to its peers.
Norton Secure VPN review Australia
If you want antivirus, it’s really hard to go past the admittedly pricey protection of Norton antivirus. When it comes to virtual private network (VPN) contenders, though, Norton Secure VPN isn’t close to nipping at the heels of any of the best VPNs available.
In 2021 when I first reviewed Norton Secure, I was underwhelmed by the bare-bolts VPN. Fast-forward to more recent times, and not a lot has changed. Norton Secure very much still feels like a bullet-point feature for the priciest versions of Norton antivirus. Scroll on for the full Norton Secure breakdown.
Norton Secure VPN pricing and plans
Norton Secure VPN plan pricing effective as of publishing. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
If you use Norton antivirus to protect your devices, you might as well fork out the extra dollars for the two versions that include Norton Secure protection, too. What you’ll get is an easy-to-use VPN with solid speeds and a 60-day money-back guarantee. Admittedly, that’s only because Norton Secure doesn’t offer monthly pricing. That’s the least of its limitations, too, with a lack of global locations, no transparency on servers and average streaming results. Ultimately, there are a lot better VPNs out there.
Norton Secure VPN prices and plans compared
While most VPNs I’ve reviewed offer the choice of monthly, annual and multi-year pricing, Norton Secure only offers a yearly subscription. The cheapest pricing is $29.99 for the first year, which sounds great until you spot the two big disclaimers. First, that’s first-year pricing, as Norton Secure falls into the rare trap of offering initial discounted pricing before hiking the price up to a regular fee ($84.99 in this instance).
The other con is that pricing is for one device. While I typically drag VPNs for being lazy and only offering the minimum standard five simultaneous connections, Norton Secure offers subscriptions for one, three or five devices. A five-device subscription costs $79.99 for the first year, which is comparatively reasonable in pricing terms, but the hike to $129.99 every year thereafter makes Norton Secure one of the most expensive VPNs for annual pricing.
For better value, consider utilising Norton Secure as one of the many features of a Norton 360 Deluxe or Norton 360 Premium subscription. Both offer annual and (initial) biennial pricing, for $69.99 ($149.99 normally) and $84.99 ($194.99 typically), respectively. Then again, with so many great free antivirus options available, there is money to be saved with a cheaper annual VPN. Start comparisons with PureVPN, Private Internet Access VPN and Atlas VPN for great annual pricing.
|Stacks of servers
|Bundles well with antivirus
|Low fixed monthly pricing
|Balance of servers, locations
|Cheap monthly pricing
|Straightforward server switching
|Solid free version
Norton Secure VPN connectivity and user experience
One of the best parts of Norton Secure is how easy it is to use, particularly if you’re already familiar with the My Norton layout for antivirus. With a Norton 360 subscription, Secure VPN becomes one of the built-in features. Tap ‘Turn On’ once to connect to the last server you were on, which isn’t as ideal as selecting the nearest server for those who jump between regions.
Alternatively, tap the down arrow next to the ‘Turn On’ button and select ‘VPN Region’. There’s no option to manually search for locations, but you can scroll down the comparatively short list to choose the one you want. Because it’s alphabetical, Australia is the first country choice. Normally, VPNs are separated into countries and cities, with the more popular VPN locations—US, UK, Australia, etc.—offering more than just a single connection option.
That’s not the case with Norton Secure. You choose a country, and Norton Secure picks one of its 2,000+ servers for you. That’s not ideal; less so in comparison to Norton Secure’s peers with larger networks: Private Internet Access, CyberGhost VPN and PureVPN to name a few. If you opt for Norton Secure as a standalone VPN, there’s separate software that’s still incredibly easy to use, though I did note connection times seemed to take two or three seconds longer than the bundled antivirus version (which is about six-or-so seconds).
Just click or tap the ‘On’ button to connect to a server, then ‘Off’ to disconnect. The standalone Norton Secure software has a similar VPN Region drop-down menu—still no option to type in a name, so scroll away—but it has something that wasn’t part of the My Norton version: a torrent-optimised option. In my tests with My Norton’s VPN feature, torrents refused to download or upload. But with the torrent-optimised server on the standalone software, torrents worked fine. Admittedly, that specialist torrent server is in the Netherlands, so speeds may fluctuate, especially with faster internet connections.
The best version of Norton Secure in my testing was the Android app. It has the same convenient one-touch connection/disconnection option, but it also offers a helpful map view of the location you’re connected to. The Android app also has the torrent-optimised option, while the region screen isn’t as cluttered and is easier to scroll through. Ad-tracker blocking is disabled by default on Windows but enabled on Android, plus there’s a handy WiFi threat-protection feature on Android that scans for threats in real-time.
Norton Secure VPN supported devices
It’s common for competing VPN services to be available on a range of platforms but Norton Secure is restricted to the basics: Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices. On one hand, that covers the main devices you’d want to protect with a VPN. On the other, it immediately makes Norton Secure less convenient as a streaming service (more on this below) as it’s not available on platforms like Chromecast or Android TV.
Norton Secure VPN speeds
Unless your internet provider is throttling your speeds, connecting to a VPN service will impact your latency and download/upload speeds. To highlight this, the table below shows the midday speeds for Norton Secure with an Aussie Broadband100/40Mbps FTTC connection.
|AU VPN (auto, fastest)
|83.78Mbps (~8% slower)
|35.80Mbps (~5% slower)
|7ms (2ms slower)
|US VPN (auto, fastest)
|70.36Mbps (~22% slower)
|32.16Mbps (~14% slower)
|215ms (210ms slower)
|UK VPN (auto, fastest)
|69.09Mbps (~24% slower)
|28.23Mbps (~25% slower)
|254ms (249ms slower)
Comparatively, Norton Secure’s speeds range from decent to competitive, and they reflect some big improvements from my tests in 2021. Expect an acceptable hit to download speeds, upload speeds and latency when connected to an Australian server.
The US download speeds have slightly degraded since I last tested but the upload speeds have gone from taking an 85% blow to a more acceptable 14% dint. That said, US latency leapt from a very competitive 151ms two years ago to 215ms in my updated tests. This underscores the problem of not having location choices and, instead, being reliant on Norton Secure to automatically select the best location in a country.
Finally, UK speeds have improved across the board. A 32% hit to download speeds two years ago has improved to a 24% change, which is comparatively competitive. UK upload speeds are much improved: from 90% slower to 25% nowadays. The improved UK latency also shifts Norton Secure into the top five best latencies at the time of updating this review, which may make it viable as a gaming VPN.
Norton Secure VPN streaming
For those who don’t mind running the risk of having their streaming services blocked or banned, a VPN can be used to stream content from geoblocked libraries overseas. A VPN that’s great for streaming should work across popular US, UK and Australian streaming services, loading content libraries in a timely way while buffering content quickly and without errors.
In terms of the table below, buffering speeds are rated accordingly:
- Fast (1–5 seconds)
- Moderate (5–15 seconds)
- Slow (15–25 seconds)
- Extremely slow (slower than 25 seconds)
Norton Secure VPN compatible?
|Stan (including Stan Sport)
When I tested Norton Secure with streaming in 2021, it had okay results, successfully bypassing geoblocks for US Netflix, HBO Max, Peacock and Stan. In my updated tests, Norton Secure is even worse with streaming nowadays.
HBO Max didn’t work in my tests and neither did Peacock TV. Meanwhile, it’s still a no-go for streaming with Hulu, BBC iPlayer and Kayo Sports. Typically, I test VPN streaming across a range of locations but because Norton Secure doesn’t let you choose one, you’re at the mercy of whatever server it picks for you. Note that this may mean streaming sometimes works with Norton Secure, depending on whether a server’s IP address has been blocked by a streaming service. Still, when it doesn’t work, there’s not a lot you can do about it.
In my other VPN reviews, I normally add a table below to give you an idea of how streaming might work with US Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer, but because those latter two services don’t work with Norton Secure, I’ve left it out of this review.
Should I buy Norton Secure VPN?
As part of an eligible Norton 360 antivirus subscription, Norton Secure is an okay add-on that gets the basics right for VPN protection. Judged as a standalone VPN, though, Norton Secure pales in comparison to its peers in almost every possible way. If you want a VPN that impresses across the board, start comparisons with NordVPN, Proton VPN and ExpressVPN.