Monday, October 31, 2005

Fighting Norton (!!*#*!&#!*!)

Last Saturday I mentioned a software installation problem I was fighting on our friend Ruth’s computer. It’s a new machine, just 3 months old. It came with a 90-day trial version of several anti-virus software packages pre-installed. Well, the 90 days were up, so I tried to install a brand new copy of Norton Antivirus 2006 (NAV 2006) to keep her protected.

The program installs just fine. But then it won’t run. You can’t open it. You can’t “activate” it on the Symantec website. The computer thinks it’s there, but can’t make it start. Thus, obviously, it’s not protecting the machine from malware.

This weekend I un-installed it (and all other “security” software that came with the machine). I went beyond the “add or remove programs” feature on the control panel. I manually deleted or changed the file name of every file in any folder that and anything to do with Symantec or Norton.

Then I went still further. I deleted or changed the name of every file or folder in the system registry that had anything to do with those names. I used a registry clean-up program from Norton’s website.

Convinced that I now had a clean slate to work from, I again installed NAV 2006. Successful install! But, same problem. The program will not open to activate or to configure.

A friend at work who had encountered a similar problem in the last year told me HIS ultimate solution was to reformat the hard drive and re-install Windows.


But, OK. I’ll try that.

First I carefully saved all of Ruth’s data files. Then I went through the hour-long process of restoring her system to the way it had been when she first brought it home. I uninstalled all security programs, and tried a new install of NAV 2006. Same problem as before.

I called the Symantec tech support line, held forever, and finally spoke with a very nice tech support person in India. How do I know that? I asked! Her name was Atriana (she pronounced it “Uh-tree-na.”)

Atriana assured me that we would get it to work, and talked me through even more Byzantine deletes, renames, and other changes than before. We reviewed all we had done together before she told me to restart the machine one more time, and then the install would work.

I thanked her and we hung up. Ten minutes later I was cussing Atriana. (Don't worry; she wasn't on the phone and doesn't know.) Same “successful installation”; same failure to open or run.

I called back and held for another 30 minutes before talking to a man (also in India) named Manoj. Manoj was sympathetic and asked if I had done ________ (insert the whole laundry list of all the things I had tried, INCLUDING all the stuff Atriana had talked me through). Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Undeterred, he had me go through another uninstall, but this time all manual. We did not use the “Add or Remove Programs” feature, but just started deleting files and folders and registry entries. We changed shortcut targets. Hell, I think we re-wrote the entire program code for the NAV software package.

He then ASSURED me that the install would HAVE to work now, because we had manually ensured that there was no POSSIBILITY of a corrupt file or entry that would prevent it.

I’ll let you guess the results.

No, take your time and think about it.

DING!! You’re right! Nothing changed! Go to the head of the class.

My computer guy at work thinks that maybe if I install a copy of the “Corporate” edition of the security software (which supposedly does not require a product key or activation) IT will work.

Why am I doubtful of that?

I’ve now re-installed Windows three times to put the machine back like it was when it was new. The 90 day trial version is thus renewed and will work for three months. Then I think I’ll see if I can simply renew the subscription to THAT version online and maybe have a working security system on the machine.

Any other ideas out there?

By the way, I’ve tried to Google the problem, and apparently a LOT of users experience problems with Norton installations. Next time I think I’ll buy McAfee!


kenju said...

John, I had McAfee before and I got viruses with it. Then I went to Norton Internet Security and I have not had a problem since. One of my neighbors had trouble with renewing it, though. The computer and the Norton website knew it was there, but they kept telling her she had not paid for it. She had to call Customer Svc.

Karyn Lyndon said...

Why does a story about security make me feel so insecure?

Christina said...

My Norton Antivirus recently informed me that I needed to renew my subscription - now I am afraid.

Michelle said...

I picked up a very nasty virus from accessing a website - even though I had Nortons. Our computer techie at work had to reformat my harddrive and then installed AVG Anti Virus free edition. He refused to instal Nortons. I have not had a problem yet - touch wood.

kenju said...

John, if ref. to my post on googling: I think it was a whole bunch of Judys - most notably the one who went to jail recently for not blabbing her sources.

shyloh said...

I had the same problem. But I found out it was my browser. I had to change them.
Then it worked. But I got a lot of spyware ERRRR. Now to deal with that.