Monday, February 22, 2010

I don't mean to knock Symantec here but if there's one thing I have learned from my time (volunteering) in internet forums and personal use, it's just how difficult and time-consuming uninstalling Norton can be. It gets in everywhere. Norton has actually become synonymous with problematic uninstalls. The problem has gotten so bad that Symantec had to come up with a removal tool which you can download to your computer to help you remove Norton.

I've used the Norton Removal Tool and it worked pretty well. I recommend trying it first, especially if you don't want to go through the steps listed here.

A few people have reported problems using the Norton Removal Tool, however, and it's possible it might not remove Norton entirely from every computer so I've left this removal method here for folks to try. It's lengthy and involved but it's the best way to remove Norton manually I know of.

There's no sure fire way to get Norton off your system. Every computer is different. There's just no way to devise a method that takes into account all the possible software and hardware configurations and conflicts on users' computers.


  • I take no responsibility for damage or problems incurred while you use this procedure. I have designed it to be as safe and straightforward as possible, even for beginners. If you stay with it verbatim you should encounter no serious problems using this procedure.

  • You may use this method to remove not only Norton but most other stubborn programs including malware.

  • This procedure is designed for Windows XP PCs. I don't now how it will work on other Windows operating systems.

  • It's not absolutely necessary to delete every folder or file all at once for a successful removal of Norton. Just make sure you compete the first seven steps as best you can.

  • If you are told you can't delete a file or folder try rebooting your computer. If you still can't delete it, move on.

  • If you run into any kind of trouble during this process reboot your computer, see whether it helps.

  • Remove each Norton product one at a time. Do not delete files or folders of other Norton products as this will damage them and/or cause difficulties should you attempt to uninstall them.

  • Ignore the warning, if you get it, that your computer might be at risk because you have no antivirus installed

  • If you get into difficulty using this method you might want to try this procedure in Safe Mode.

I recommend you print this off before you begin

Please follow these steps.

For *each* Norton/Symantec product on your PC:

  1. Close your Norton/Symantec program

  2. Go to Start >> Control Panel >> Add or Remove Programs.

  3. Scroll down to your Norton/Symantec program

  4. Click Change >> Remove All.

    (Turn off and remove LiveUpdate if prompted.)

    Upon completion of the Add or Remove process you will be asked to restart your PC. Do so.

  5. Go to Start >> My Computer >> Local Disk (C:) >> Program Files. Right click on each Symantec or Norton folder (of the Norton/Symantec product you are removing) and select Delete.

    Restart your PC.

  6. Go back in to Program Files. Except now go to the Common Files folder at or near the top of the Program Files window. Delete every Symantec or Norton folder (of the Norton/Symantec product you are removing) there.

    Restart your PC.

  7. Go to Start >> Search >> All Files and Folders >> More advanced options. Check each option except for Case sensitive

    Now type Norton in the search box.

    Delete each Norton folder (of the Norton/Symantec product you are removing) from the search results (Again, right click, choose Delete)

    Restart your PC.

  8. Repeat step 7 except type Symantec in the search box.<

  9. Go to Start >> Run >> Type msconfig, in the box, hit OK. Click the Services tab, check the "Hide All Microsoft Services" box and then uncheck every Symantec box. Now go to the Startup tab and uncheck every Symantec box. Restart your computer

  10. Now let's go into the Registry. Be Careful here. First thing to do is back up the Registry. You can do it manually using the simple method of System Restore. Here's how to set a restore point. Here's how to use System Restore to undo damage to the Registry.
    Or you might just want to use ERUNT, a simple and free registry back up utility.

    Once again, go to Start, but this time click on Run. Type in regedit

    ** Please note: Deletion of a program's Registry keys renders that program inoperable.
    Do not remove Norton from the Registry until you have completed removal of all Norton programs you wish to remove following the steps above. If you have more than one Symantec product on your PC but do not want to remove all your Symantec products then delete only those Registry keys which are clearly marked as those of the Symantec product you wish to remove.
    If the key is not clearly marked as that of the Symantec product you are removing then leave it. **

  11. Go to the top of the Regedit window. Click the + next to HKEY_CURRENT_USER to open the section (Hive). Go down the thread until you see Software. Click on Software and scroll down the thread until you see Symantec. Right click on Symantec and choose Delete.

  12. From there go down to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and repeat step 9.

    Restart your PC.

  13. Again, go to Start, click on Run. Type in regedit

    Click (+) next to HKEY_CURRENT_USER.

    Click (+) next to Software.

    Click (+) next to Microsoft.

    Click (+) next to Windows.

    Click (+) next to CurrentVersion.

    Select the Run folder.

    Right-click and delete each Symantec and NAV (Norton Antivirus) entry you see (if present).

    Go To HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and do the same thing.

    Restart your PC.

    Note, there is more we could do in the Registry but for now these steps are sufficient.

* Update *

I was a little hesitant about adding additional steps in the registry when I first put this procedure up on the net. I didn't want users to spend too much time in the Registry given how dangerous a mistake there can be.
But upon further reflection, I think adding one more step to this procedure does not really constitute any more of a risk for users than following (carefully!!) the steps I outlined above.The benefit of taking another step to remove Norton from your Registry outweighs any possible risk to your system should you make a mistake which you shouldn't, if you follow my instructions to the letter.

The additional step I want you to take is to go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT is the top section (Hive) of the five sections in the Registry.

It's on top of HKEY_CURRENT_USER which is on top of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE.

Click on the little + to open the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT hive.

Scroll way down until you get to the Symantec entries. Right click on each Symantec entry and hit Delete.

* Do not delete any entry that is not explicitly listed as Symantec. *

Restart your PC.

Last Step

If you don't already have it on your PC, download CCleaner. It's a good little disk cleaner that gets rid of leftover program files.

** A note on CCleaner: CCleaner will install the Yahoo! toolbar unless you uncheck the Add CCleaner Yahoo Toolbar and use CCleaner from your browser box during the installation process.**

Upon completion of installation, open CCleaner and hit the Run Cleaner button in the lower right of the CCLeaner window.

After CCleaner has finished, keep CCLeaner open and click on the blue square icon on the left panel with the word Registry under it. Hit Scan for Issues. When its done click on Fix Selected Issues in the lower right hand corner of the program window. Follow each prompt clicking on "yes" for "Do you want to backup changes to the registry?". Then click Save to save the backup to disk. Then click on the Fix All Selected Issues button. Click on OK when asked "Are you sure you want to Fix all selected Issues?".

Click Close and restart your PC.

**Please note that CCLeaner will disable Yahoo Sitebuilder. Download a new copy of Sitebuilder over your disabled Sitebuilder to re-enable it.

Alternatively, use EasyCleaner or the built in Windows (XP) disk cleaner - go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup.

Recommended also is the Windows Live OneCare scan. Scroll down to the Fix specific PC issues heading and select Full Service Scan > click on Customize (middle of the window) > uncheck Comprehensive Scan > under Performance, uncheck Disk fragmentation scan > , under Network safety, uncheck Open Ports Scan and click Next.

If you can afford it, I recommend Registry First Aid 7.1 - download a trial here or Registry First Aid Platinum - download a trial here - as another useful tool to cleanup leftover Norton entries in the registry.
Please note though that the trial version will not fix every errant registry entry it finds.