Sony Vaio Problems With Norton Antivirus

by on November 29, 2007

Q: I just spent ages with the Sony help desk trying to work out why no downloaded programs would run on my Sony Vaio notebook. It seems that uninstalling Norton Antivirus has left some kind of residual that can only be removed by a complete system retrieval and downloading the “remove Norton” program from Symantec. Suppose you go into a gas station, learn that your car can no longer function because the previous fuel had a bug that necessitates you draining the system and debugging it before it will take another brand of gas. Wouldn’t that make you just a tiny bit irritable? Is it even legal? Can I fix this myself or do I have to follow the Sony advice?

A: I think that your fuel analogy is brilliant! And yes… it would make me very irritable. Sony is probably giving you good advice. This is ironic considering that Sony’s music devision tried to install rootkits (a kind of spyware) on customers’ computers. Norton has a bad reputation with many geeks for having an unfriendly user interface. It is difficult if not impossible to modify or deactivate certain features in Norton software. I have also encountered versions of Norton software that do not install and/or uninstall completely. You might try using the Norton Removal Tool before resorting to a complete system retrieval. Click on the preceding link to select the appropriate Removal Tool for your Norton Software. If the tool fails, you may need to reinstall your operating system. There are two techniques described below for reinstalling your operating system. Backup any important data from your computer before attempting either of them.

I believe that a system retrieval is the same as a system restore. Usually, a system restore utility is included with a new computer as a set of CD-ROMs. But it is becoming increasingly common to see these system restore utilities built into the computer itself. Computer companies prefer if a customer uses a system restore utility because it prevents that customer from installing Microsoft Windows on an unauthorized computer. The bad thing about most system restore utilities is that they install unwanted software onto your computer. Such unwanted software is known by geeks as crapware because it often prevents a computer from running properly. Sometimes crapware: slows a computer’s performance, is out-of-date, is incompatible with a system, and/or prevents other programs from working correctly. CNET has posted an informative article called PC makers walk fine line with ‘crapware’ that is worth reading. Many geeks consider software from Norton to be crapware.

If possible, ask Sony to send you an operating system disk. An operating system disk is different than a system restore utility because only Windows is reinstalled. Then you will not have to worry about uninstalling any Norton or any other unwanted software from your computer. However, you should still use antivirus and firewall software on a Windows-based computer. I recommend Avast! 4 Home Edition and ZoneAlarm respectively.

Regarding the legality of Norton software, you may wish to contact a group such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Such organizations work to prevent unjust actions by technology companies.

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