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how to remove nortonThey slow your computer down, they ask for your money annually and they rate no better than various free products when compared by AV-comparitives.org. If you have an ongoing relationship with Norton or McAfee, it’s time to break up. Happily, both companies provide free software for doing just that.

Most people who have Norton or McAfee found the software on their computer when they bought it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s important to get a working anti-virus onto a new computer as quickly as possible – but the default software on your computer isn’t necessarily the best. Just ask any former IE user who today uses Google Chrome or Firefox.


Removing Norton and McAfee’s products has a tendency to leave a lot of crap behind, even if you go through the proper channels offered in your control panel. Both companies acknowledge this, and both offer removal tools for the complete uninstallation. If you’re looking to learn how to remove Norton or McAfee and replace them with something free and effective, you’ve found the right article.

Before you do anything you should probably disconnect from the Internet. Leaving a Windows computer connected to the web without protection can be dangerous. That’s why I recommend you read through the guide, download what you need to download and then follow the steps below.

Getting Started

Both Norton and McAfee recommend that you remove your program through the control panel before running their tools. I’ve found that simply running the tool is enough, but if you like playing by the rules you might as well do this first.

  • Click your start button, then click “Control Panel“. Click “Add or Remove Programs” if you run XP, or “Uninstall a Program” if you’re using Vista/7. Find the program(s) you need to remove, then uninstall it!

how to remove norton

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  • This may take a while, or in some cases may fail completely. Don’t panic; we’re only halfway through the process.

Completely Remove Norton

Are you a soon-to-be-ex-Norton-user? Congratulations! What you need now is the Norton Removal tool. The best product Norton offers, this program will completely remove all Norton-related software from your computer (including shortcuts and annoying toolbars).

Click here to download the Norton removal tool, then run the executable. You’ll see something that looks like this:

Follow the on-screen directions, mostly clicking “next“, to rid yourself forever of all Norton leftovers. You may have to prove you’re human by typing a few lines of text, but for the most part this is painless. Best of all: when you’re done there’s no sign left on your computer of Norton’s existence.

Completely Remove McAfee

If you’re trying to remove McAfee you’re going to need a different piece of software: the McAfee Cleanup Tool. This program will remove everything to do with McAfee from your computer, and is by far the best product they offer. It does exactly what it says it will do.

how to remove norton

Go ahead and click here to download the McAfee removal tool. Run this executable and it will take care of the rest!

Install Something Better

Looking for a better piece of anti-virus software? I myself really love Microsoft Security Essentials, for three reasons: first, it offers great protection; second, it features a really clean and simple user interface; third, it will never ever ask you for money.

But read the comments below and you’ll quickly discover not everyone agrees with me. Check out their recommendations, and be sure to check out our list of the top ten free anti-virus programs The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs Read More if you still need ideas.

Can anyone offer links to tools for completely removing other annoying bits of software?  If so, please share them below.

  1. Brenda Lawson
    December 2, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    THANK YOU ,I 'V HAD MY COMPUTER IN THE SHOP 3 TIMES THIS MONTH AND EVERY TIME IT CAME BACK NOT WORKING RIGHT,IT WON'T KEEP PASSWORDS .FREEZE YOU NAME IT HAS DONE IT.
    Brenda Lawson

  2. Fergus O Sullivan
    June 17, 2015 at 10:49 am

    thank you so much, this has worked a dream. i went with Avast , they do the job, so glad to be rid of mcafee .

  3. Toomas Roosalu
    June 1, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    it still sitting in my computer. having big from my computer memory. not listed in programm list. cant delet the mcafee directory, its need admin (?!) when I only user in this computer! If I try to "run us admin" I cant do it!!! Isnt Mcafee virus?!

  4. John Bainum
    April 23, 2015 at 12:21 am

    Didn't work

  5. Nina
    December 24, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    McAfee uninstaller tells me it can't uninstall it for some reason, and same goes for when I try to uninstall it through the control panel or CCleaner.. I want it gone and it just won't budge.

  6. Sujit Metrochicken
    January 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Can I remove AVG in a similar manner?

    • Regis
      January 20, 2016 at 7:04 pm

      You have to download AVG's uninstaller as well.

  7. Zcompguy
    November 23, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    I wouldn't pay a dime for Norton simply because what you believe to "light" still fills you're computer with hidden garbage you would never find on your own.
    Get rid of it and say good riddence!

  8. WizardOfID
    November 21, 2010 at 6:25 am

    I am disgusted with Norton 360! I've never had a problem with its AV or firewall except for slowing down my machine to a crawl. Besides being a terrible resource hog, the interface is dumbed down so much that there's no visibility to what it's doing, technical support is useless, and its backup is a disaster. I can never tell if a backup has actually been done--I've had backups sit for hours and not do anything--and it has to build "backup sets" before you can even select the set you want to run. I'm usually not this hard on a product but I was a software architect for many, many years and I would have held my head in shame to release a product like this.

  9. Chelsea W
    November 20, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Tried add/remove but it simply wouldn't work for me. I don't understand why among the many security applications I have encountered, this one is the hardest thing to remove.

    I just followed this article on how to remove norton to find the removal tool made by symantec. and I was able to uninstall it from there.

  10. Aibek
    November 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Based on my personal experience I can say that MSE is more
    comprehensive. In fact it's a very good piece of security software.

    For the detailed comparison i suggest you ask this on MakeUseOf Answers,
    http://www.makeuseof.com/answe...

    Aibek

  11. Arjun Bajaj
    November 18, 2010 at 5:27 am

    The Cloud Antivirus from Panda is really awesome....CHeck out that at : http://cloudantivirus.com

  12. Arjun Bajaj
    November 18, 2010 at 6:27 am

    The Cloud Antivirus from Panda is really awesome....CHeck out that at : http://cloudantivirus.com

  13. Wolfgangwhs
    November 17, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    ziftcav, that is very strange. I have installed MSE on several systems and a lot of my friends have too. I never heard of a trouble like you have. Going with AVg is about the worst option you could have chosen. We got six "AVG protected" systems in my computer club that were heavily infected - unbelievable. If you do not like MSE, I recommend free Avira.

  14. zlftcav
    November 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    MSE crapped out on me and I was never able to get it to work properly again, went back to AVG and will probably never leave again. Don't fix what ain't broke!

  15. Wolfgangwhs
    November 17, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    MSE is a pretty full blown AV program. I use it on a couple of systems and it seems to do a good job (although I still prefer NIS2011). MSE uses the same process name as the old Defender (MsMpEng.exe) but there is no comparison. The old Defender was what I would call "very rudimentary protection". So think of MSE as a Defender on steroids.

  16. Guest
    November 17, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Anyone know the difference between Microsoft Essentials and Defender?

    Thanks

    • Aibek
      November 18, 2010 at 11:23 am

      Based on my personal experience I can say that MSE is more
      comprehensive. In fact it's a very good piece of security software.

      For the detailed comparison i suggest you ask this on MakeUseOf Answers,
      http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/

      Aibek

  17. Guest
    November 17, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Anyone know the difference between Microsoft Essentials and Defender?

    Thanks

  18. timmyjohnboy
    November 17, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    LOL, I like what you said about the removal tools being the best software the companies put out!

    I can't tell you how many times I've had to uninstall programs such as Norton and McAfee for people. Norton used to have to be uninstalled in a certain order in the control panel but it's really not all that difficult anymore.

    I usually use AVG but I hear it isn't the lightest free AntiVirus out there. I'm personally running ubuntu on my personal laptop so this articoe really doesn't apply to me anymore :)

  19. Wolfgangwhs
    November 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Here are the uninstallers for most AV programs: http://vistaandwindows7tutoria...

  20. snert
    November 17, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I like Revo Uninstaler for getting rid of stuff like this.
    Hey, it works for me.

  21. timmyjohnboy
    November 17, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    LOL, I like what you said about the removal tools being the best software the companies put out!

    I can't tell you how many times I've had to uninstall programs such as Norton and McAfee for people. Norton used to have to be uninstalled in a certain order in the control panel but it's really not all that difficult anymore.

    I usually use AVG but I hear it isn't the lightest free AntiVirus out there. I'm personally running ubuntu on my personal laptop so this articoe really doesn't apply to me anymore :)

  22. snert
    November 17, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I like Revo Uninstaler for getting rid of stuff like this.
    Hey, it works for me.

  23. venkat
    November 14, 2010 at 6:05 am

    These removal tools released by security vendors are quite useful to troubleshoot these products.

  24. Ggam1
    November 11, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    MSE is the best thing Microsoft has put out there lately(I'm still on the fence about Win 7)..best tool for a tech to have.

    • Vintage
      December 6, 2010 at 10:34 pm

      MSE is absolute crap. We purposely infected systems with old and new viruses to determine which anti-virus software was better. Most of the viruses we put on the systems were never discovered by MSE.

  25. Hector M.
    November 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Avg all the way. I've been using it for a long time, recommended.

  26. Elliott
    November 11, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    personally I adore AVG in both it's Free and Paid versions. Never let me down yet.

  27. Anonymous
    November 11, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Does Microsoft Security Essentials check if you have official Windows or not? When we were given this laptop (as a corporate prize), we weren't provided the documents to verify if software in it was legal or not. I want to try MSE, but not so much that I'd risk losing PC authorization for it.

    • jhpot
      November 11, 2010 at 2:00 pm

      Yeah, it checks, but not if you use Ninite to install it: ninite.com

      If it was a corporate prize I'm sure the license is legit, but even if it wasn't all MSE will do is tell you so. I've tried installing this for a client with a less-than-legal license and they didn't lose their system...they just got AVG instead of MSE.

  28. jhpot
    November 11, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Yeah, it checks, but not if you use Ninite to install it: ninite.com

    If it was a corporate prize I'm sure the license is legit, but even if it wasn't all MSE will do is tell you so. I've tried installing this for a client with a less-than-legal license and they didn't lose their system...they just got AVG instead of MSE.

  29. Mayank
    November 11, 2010 at 10:14 am

    But Be Sure That You Have A Genuine WINDOWS OS or Else MSE Will Put A 30 Sec. Time Bomber To Your Computer If It Is Detected As Pirated.

    Because Microsoft Has Updated it's MSE To Ver 2.0.522.0.
    This Update To MSe Is A Silent Update Which Means You Will Not No When It Got Updated.
    And Then You'll Be in Trouble.
    You May Refer To The Full Article: http://www.askvg.com/microsoft...

  30. Lnimtz
    November 11, 2010 at 4:16 am

    People- please go to matousec.com, click projects, click proactive security challenge, scroll to results. There's no question who the best anti-virus is. And it's free.

  31. Lnimtz
    November 11, 2010 at 5:16 am

    People- please go to matousec.com, click projects, click proactive security challenge, scroll to results. There's no question who the best anti-virus is. And it's free.

  32. Mgbarotto
    November 11, 2010 at 1:07 am

    I'm a huge Avast! fan, never really tried Microsoft Secure, one of the first things I usually do when installing an OS is installing 3rd party AV and firewall and disabling OS defaults, but I'll try MSE whenever I have the chance.

  33. Bob
    November 11, 2010 at 12:07 am

    dealt with here complete with links!

    http://www.raymond.cc/blog/arc...

  34. Ashutosh Mishra
    November 10, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Sorry, but Norton has actually been pretty light and effective since the 2009 version. McAfee is probably still all bloat though.

    PC Decrapifier can bulk uninstall crappy software, probably including both Norton and McAfee.

    • Zcompguy
      November 23, 2010 at 2:24 pm

      I wouldn't pay a dime for Norton simply because what you believe to "light" still fills you're computer with hidden garbage you would never find on your own.
      Get rid of it and say good riddence!

  35. Ashutosh Mishra
    November 10, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Sorry, but Norton has actually been pretty light and effective since the 2009 version. McAfee is probably still all bloat though.

    PC Decrapifier can bulk uninstall crappy software, probably including both Norton and McAfee.

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