Many times, while it's on and no software is opened, the hard drive will startup for no reason, even though I've got the Norton enabled. This happens at least once a day.
Don't worry about that too much. Norton could be doing some checks, or even Windows itself could be doing some random task requiring the drive to spin up. Without going into Activity Monitor and observing CPU and Ram use while the drive begins to spin up, you won't know what exactly it is.
Furthermore, if you ask me, all this AV software and firewalls really drains a computer's resources
Welcome to the world of computers. Dedicated third party applications other than Norton, or McAffee won't be as big of a drain but it's a needed thing.
I personally only ran a firewall when I was using a PC. Never ran the AV software constantly or any Spyware software constantly. Then again, I am a PC tech, know what I am doing and I never
used any MS software for internet browsing or email. If you are not familiar with PC security and/or like to use MS software for e-mail web browsing then having the AV software running is a good idea.
First for spyware - google 'spybot', download it (free) then install, update the definitions, then let it run (might take a while). It will kill whatever has gotten past your firewall/anti-virus.
Let me elaborate on that as there are some sleezy programs out there that take advantage of name reconiton to fool people into buying/downloading their crud. The specific name is "Spybot Search and Destroy" or "Spybot S&D."http://www.safer-networking.org/
I updated windows to XP Pro - SP2 and used the firewall in there, it's great and barely slows it down. Deleted my other firewall after I got this.
The windows firewall is a joke. Any program can simply alter a registry entry (a trivial task) and completely bypass it. You're better off with a third-party app such as Outpost or ZoneAlarm.
There is another thread somewhere on the boards that goes into more detail on firewall and AV software recommendations.