One reader recently provided his list of Symantec symptoms. "My dislike for Symantec products has been steadily growing primarily with the level of disaster of their Norton AntiVirus program," the reader wrote. "Used to be something I considered standard issue for virus problems, but it has really gotten bad over the past few years, with the 2004 version being the worst I have seen. I would cite them on the following problems: 1. Installation failures that are difficult to detect/fix; 2. Undetected virus infections, where other programs easily detect the infected files; 3. Complicated and messy hooks into the OS; 4. Conflicts with other programs resulting in poor PC performance, to the point of uninstalling; and 5. Poor technical support." One specific issue that seems to have been driving this recent wave of complaints is Symantec's policy of sunsetting support for the 2003 version of Norton products when the 2005 version is released. "I purchased NAV 2003 just over a year ago," wrote one reader. "Last month I paid for another year's subscription to the Live Update service, but NAV is refusing to download any new virus definitions. It keeps telling me I have to renew my subscription, even though I have done so. I wrote Symantec asking for help, and all they told me is that support for NAV 2003 has been discontinued ... It's disgusting. I have an up-to-date subscription and a version of the software that I've had only a year. How can they refuse to help me?" Another reader had renewed her Live Update subscription for Norton SystemWorks 2003 in September. "Last week, barely two months after renewing, my program stopped working properly," she wrote. "I contacted Symantec technical support and was told that the 2003 program was discontinued and I would have to purchase Norton SystemWorks 2005. I told them I had only used two months of the year's renewal I purchased in September. They then told me that if I purchased the 2005 version that night for $39.95, they would add the remaining ten months onto my new subscription. When asked if I had to purchase the 2005 edition in order to use the renewal they had sold me two months ago, I was told yes, because the product has been discontinued. I paid them for protection from Sept. 2004 to Sept. 2005, and now they want to extort more money from me for the same protection." Predictably, some of the gripes center around Symantec's use of product activation. "I'm another utterly disgusted Symantec customer," wrote one reader. "I had a hard drive replaced, and was able to reload all software without a problem except Norton SystemWorks Pro 2004. It stated I was guilty of excess activation. I have only loaded one other time in addition to the original install that I can recall. I have tried telephone -- toll and 800 numbers -- all times of day and night, but cannot get through no matter how long I kept the line open. Online was no better, and it doesn't offer an activation fix. Needless to say they have lost a repeat customer. I've purchased SystemWorks for years, but no longer!" Who better to diagnosis what the problem is with Symantec products than someone who treats sick computers for a living? "We specialize in computers and see a high volume of systems every year," a reseller recently wrote. "Our experience of Norton AntiVirus 2004 meant that we quickly withdrew the product from our shelves as fundamentally flawed to protect our customers. Problems ranged from boot loops, instability, random crashing, halting, no shutdown, no start up, failure of the engine during early subscription lifetime -- stops protecting and has no outward indicator to tell the user -- and activation knockouts. When installed the product is a huge resource hog taking in some cases 70 percent or more of system resources while idle. Our early experience of the 2005 product so far has been very similar, and we will not be stocking this on our shelves either. Norton used to have a good product, but now I would classify the anti virus products as junk." With all these different symptoms, it might not be possible for us to identify one specific Symantec syndrome. Still, if you're suffering from any of them, there is one certain cure. If you need a prescription, just check out the recommendations readers had earlier this year when we asked them which alternative anti-virus vendor they trust. Link. Like I said, I make half of my living from the damage caused by this one product. Sickening to think of it that way...but easily avoided. Just get a free AV that supports their product. It's as simple as that. Good luck!