Things that don't work right in Norton 360

Norton 360 has gotten plenty of reviews as a comprehensive and easy to use security suite that includes virus scanning, backup, firewall protection, etc. However, there are some things about it that don't work very well that you might want to know before using the product.
It adds files to a backup location but doesn't sync them. As you create, copy and rename files, all of those files get added to the backup location. As you delete or rename files on your PC, those deleted files or copies of those files with the old names remain in the backup location. That can be a good thing when you have accidently deleted a file and enough time has passed that the deleted file is no longer in your Recycle Bin. One not so good effect is that your backup location can be cluttered with lots of old files that you would never want to restore. It also means that your backups may take up much more space than necessary. If you are trying to use the free 2gig of on-line storage included, this means you may be constantly bumping up against that limit... and getting suggestions to upgrade (i.e. "buy") more on-line storage. There is no setting, as is common in other backup applications, to not "copy" but to do a "sync". That can be annoying.
Deleting backup files is tedious. If you want to thin out your backups for all of those old, renamed, or otherwise not needed backups, the only way to do this is to browse thru the backup system and select the files you want to delete. You do have an option to select all (or none) of the files in a folder but there aren't any other options to quickly thin out the backup. For example, you can't thin out (i.e. delete) from the backup location all files before a certain date. If Norton has also captured file types you don't want backed up, there isn't an easy option to stop backing up those file type or to delete those file types from the backup location.
It is fairly easy to put files into the on-line backup that you can't ever delete. This is one that I'm really not comfortable with. Norton 360 backup creates on-line backup sets that are tied to a machine ID and name. If you get rid of a machine, there isn't a way to later delete the backup sets associated with that machine. If you rename a machine (My Computer -> Properties), that machine will start using a new backup set and you can't delete the old one. This has two negative effects. The first is that it puts data onto Symantec servers that you won't be able to get off those servers. The other is all those old, not usable, backup sets eat into your on-line storage allotment. As you use up that allotment, you will be prompted to updgrade/buy more. Contacting tech support, in my case, could not correct this. It took multiple calls over over an hour to explain the problem and even when they claimed to understand the problem they wouldn't delete the old backup sets or said they would but never did.
The inclusion and exclusion of files seems unreliable. By default, Norton 360 has its own scheme for figuring out where your letters, emails, videos, etc. are and what is considered a quick versus complete backup. This does not necessarily do an effective job of backing up your data. You may need to add files in additional folders Norton didn't include. You may not need to backup some files - e.g. music you can easily re-rip from CDs and would waste your limited on-line storage. So, you start using the inclusion and exclusion features. My experience is that this is where the backup system becomes broken. The most alarming example is that you can right-click and select a file to be backed up.... and it never gets backed up... and you wouldn't know it unless you browse the backup manually... and no matter what you do, you can't get the file(s) into the backup set. Yikes!
The only use of Norton 360 backup that makes sense to me is this one. You have a PC and you install the product. You don't try to adjust, customize or otherwise tune the backup settings beyond what it decides to do when installed and broadly selecting the file types and either the quick v. complete backup option. You pick a backup location and don't change your mind later. If you pick the on-line backup, you select very few file types (mail, contacts, music, etc.) to fit into that location or buy more on-line storage (which can get expensive). Finally, and this is REALLY important, you accept that Norton 360 will pickup many but not all of your files... and accept that this is better than doing no backup at all.
If you really want to make effective use of a mix of backup locations (on-line, external USB drive, etc.), I wouldn't use Norton 360. If it is important to be able to do a complete restore of the data on your computer, I wouldn't use Norton 360.

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