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NortonLive Ultimate Help Desk

At a Glance
Product NortonLive Ultimate Help Desk [Website]
Summary 24/7 unlimited live support for your computer and many electronic gadgets
Pros • Simple remote setup
• Cost effective multiple computer ("family") plans
• No user intervention required
Cons • Limited reports on what was fixed
• Not informed about "family" plan

Introduction

Recently, I looked at Norton’s Rescue Me, a simple tool that provides top level diagnostics for your computer. The result of that scan indicated that my test computer was infected with malware. Of course, I found that alarming, since the then currently installed security suite, Kaspersky Internet Security 2012, had given me a clean bill of health.

I understand that no single product will catch 100% of all viruses and malware infections. So to be fair, I uninstalled Kaspersky and installed the Norton Security Suite. My ISP, Comcast, provides a version of Norton 360 free of charge, so that’s what I installed. My thinking was that if the Norton Rescue Me scanner found malware, then the Norton security suite should also find the malware. I was wrong.

I ran a complete system scan with up-to-date signatures, and Norton Security Suite found only three tracking cookies. I then ran Super Anti Spyware (professional) with up-to-date signatures and also got a clean bill of health. However, a subsequent run of Rescue Me still reported malware. That’s when we decided to try out the NortonLive Ultimate Help Desk.

As the graphic above indicates, Ultimate Help Desk promises to fix not only your PC problems, but also offers assistance with router configurations, mobile phone setup, printer setup and other devices including cameras and MP Players. The Ultimate Help Desk costs $19.99/month. There is also a setup fee of $49.99, so your initial month costs $69.98.

A family plan that covers up to three computers is also available for $19.99/month with a $69.99 setup fee. I only discovered the family plan when I navigated to the “purchase” page on Norton’s site. The representative who took my order didn’t inform me about the family plan, either. If you have multiple computers in your home, this plan could be a good deal for you.

Ultimate Help Desk plans are available that cover 3, 5 or 10 computers. You have the option of cancelling at any time. But if you interrupt your subscription and want to restart the service the next time you have a problem, you’ll pay another setup fee plus the first monthly charge. In addition, there are other versions of Ultimate Help Desk. Here’s a comparison chart.

How It Works

If your computer won’t boot at all, Ultimate Help Desk isn’t going to be able to help you. You need a computer that boots and has an internet connection with a working browser. All computer support is provided through a remote desktop connection.

After providing basic account information and a credit card, the Norton support representative transfers you to a support technician who initiates a remote control session with you. During the course of AV/malware removal, most likely your computer will have to reboot several times. You have the option of providing the technician with your password, or, if you feel like watching, you can enter your password in when the computer reboots. As long as the support ticket is open, the remote control software is active, and the technician can reconnect – even after a reboot.

The Norton Solutions Toolkit is one of several programs downloaded and installed onto your computer shortly after the technician connects to your computer (Figure 1). The technician updates the status at the bottom of the screen as each task is completed.

Solutions Toolkit

Figure 1: Solutions Toolkit

Once the technician takes control of your computer, he or she terminates the phone call and advises you that they will call back if they need input from you (password) or when they have completed their work. You can watch the process or just walk away and wait for your phone call. Of course, I was interested to see how they repaired my computer.

I was somewhat surprised that not all tasks performed by the technician were automated by the Solutions Toolkit. My tech performed quite a few tasks manually, including the deletion of unneeded application data and temporary internet files and updating Adobe Air, Adobe Flash and Java. Figure 2 shows the “pre-flight” tests that were performed by the Solutions Toolkit.

Pre Flight tasks initially performed

Figure 2: Pre Flight tasks initially performed

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