Symantec Endpoint Protection: Right Up There With Norton Internet Security

Two of my staff and I spent the entire day at a client’s, in an attempt to upgrade the system (of approximately 150 PCs) from an ancient Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition 7.6 to Symantec Endpoint Protection 11. Why? Because sometime in the last few weeks, it stopped getting anti-virus definition updates. In classic Symantec fashion, it did so silently, with no “Hi! Your definitions will cease working in XYZ days.” No, no, that would be far too verbose for Symantec, so instead, it simply stopped working. And I don’t mean stopped downloading, I mean you look at the program for its definitions and see a blank space were the date is supposed to be. Furthermore, it was impossible to install a new copy of the now-expired (without warning) software. Figuring that we’d have the best luck with an upgrade, we purchased Symantec Endpoint Protection, hoping to upgrade.

Of course, that’s not an option. According to Symantec’s web site, a) you must remove all traces of Norton and Symantec Antivirus products, and b) they provide no support for doing so on old versions. Wonderful.

My friend and colleague, Scott, spent the better part of the morning working an on automated removal program which, while it ran, did not remove the old NAV. Standard “Add and Remove Programs” had no visible effect either. Finally, we dug out NoNav version 2.6, with comparable non-effects. I read about something called “Cleanwipe,” which sounds like a successor to NoNav, but apparently we need to contact Symantec to get our paws on this. Also, I’ve heard of some folks having success with the MS Windows Installer Cleanup Utility. We’ll try those two angles tomorrow.

If they fail, it looks like our only option is to re-image all machines. Incredible. And ridiculous. It makes me wish we’d moved to a competitor’s product instead, because they don’t seem to have such a beef with Symantec’s product.

Also, on a fun and ironic note, Symantec is nice enough to provide all sorts of removal tools for their competitor’s products on their installation CDs, but apparently can’t be bothered to include a program to get their own software out of its own damn way.

Update: After a call to AVG, we found that they extend a whopping 50% discount to educational customers. That makes AVG’s price for two years of anti-spyware and anti-virus protection the same as one year of Symantec Endpoint Protection. Also note that AVG, unlike Symantec, will install on a system that once had a “legacy Symantec product” installed on it – without forcing us to re-image 150+ computers.

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