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Symantec tries to mend its ’stubbed toe’

I’m a Symantec user. At home, I run Norton 360. My work laptop has Symantec AntiVirus. They both work very well. But oh my God, are they memory hogs.

Pac-ManWhenever either computer is running slowly — which happens a lot — I launch the ol’ Windows Task Manager, and sure enough, there’s the Symantec program, eating up RAM like Pac-Man gobbles up dots. At last week’s Partner Engage conference, COO Enrique Salem even admitted problems with product quality, saying, “We’ve stubbed our toe a little bit.”

Now — finally — Symantec’s trying to fix the problem.

The company has just come out with Symantec Endpoint Protection 11.0 Maintenance Release 3, the latest version of its enterprise security software. (Or, as I like to call it, The Software Formerly Known As Symantec AntiVirus.)

The new release has a 30 MB footprint and boots in 10 seconds on a PC with 2 GB of RAM. It’s all part of Symantec’s “zero-impact security” initiative, which started on Norton Internet Security 2009, one of Symantec’s consumer products.

A stubbed toe doesn’t sound like a big deal, but toes are what help us walk and keep our balance. Symantec’s memory usage may not seem like a top-of-mind problem, either, but it is.

I’ve been tempted to disable certain features on my home PC to reclaim some RAM, even though it could expose my machine. And if I could switch to another vendor’s antivirus software on my work laptop, I would have done it a long time ago. The problem could easily affect Symantec’s ability to protect its customers and retain their business, and it could trickle down to affect partners as well.

This “zero-impact security” initiative seems like a good way to stop that from happening. And it might even entice existing customers, fed up with their bulky Symantec software, to upgrade — a nice way to keep Symantec’s stubbed toe elevated and on ice.

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