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Norton Utilities 
Software Review by Carol Risz

MVP logoI've always heard that if you're going to do a job well, you need the right tools. The same philosophy holds true for using your computer to your (and its) best advantage.

 Enter: Norton Utilities Version 2.0 for Win95.

 Norton Utilities is an excellent tool for any computer owner/user. It serves as a tune-up kit, a sentry, and a doctor, for your computer and all of its components. 

 Norton Utilities has long been a respected set of utilities for DOS, Win3.xx, and now, Symantec has introduced this version for Win95. Some folks will recognize the classic programs that have made Norton so popular in the computing community: Disk Doctor, System Doctor, Norton Protection, Image, UnErase Wizard, Disk Editor, Speed Disk, System Information, and Norton Diagnostics. 

 Four new Norton programs have been added to Version 2.0: File Compare, Registry Editor, Registry Tracker, and System Genie. 

  • File Compare shows the differences between two versions of a file — items deleted, added, moved or modified.

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  • Registry Editor enables you to edit the Win95 registry, which is the master record containing your system's hardware, software, and network settings, and your personal preference configuration settings. As recommended in the Norton Utilities manual: "Only use the Registry Editor if you have reliable instructions to follow — don't experiment." I couldn't agree more! Editing of the registry, in this writer's opinion, is tantamount to performing brain surgery on your computer, and mistakes can be lethal.

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  • The Registry Tracker allows you monitor changes to the registry and to the .ini files, as well as to setup data and startup files. These changes would occur with the installation of new software or from changes that you choose to make to your system, for example.

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  • The System Genie allows you to change the way Windows looks and feels, handles files, and starts up and runs. While exploring System Genie's functions, I learned a lot about Windows 95. . . sort of like sneaking a peek behind the stage curtain to see what really goes on. System Genie also allowed me to rid my desktop of some programs that I do not use, such as Inbox.

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  • Live Update is another new technology in Version 2.0 that allows your version of Norton Utilities to be automatically updated from a Symantec site via the Internet or via modem. I used a modem connection which downloaded and installed the updates with no intervention on my part once I dialed in. Live Update has a timer, or reminder, screen that periodically reminds you to check with Symantec for new updates, especially for virus definitions used by Norton System Doctor. 
  • Space Wizard scans your disk drives (even floppies and Zip disks) and lists files that may be likely candidates for deletion based on the dates they were last accessed. I had always wondered how much disk space was allocated to various applications resident on my system, especially under Windows95, but until now I didn't have a "clean" way to find out – I didn't know what programs used them and when they were last used. Space Wizard showed that I had 20.6 MB tied up with old Netscape cache files and some other programs. When I clicked "delete" Space Wizard did just that, and a window popped up to remind me that UnErase Wizard would restore the files. Since the file deletion was accidental on my part, a simple mouse-click had all the deleted files restored in just a second or two. I was then able to selectively delete the files I deemed unnecessary. As time goes by, I will be relying heavily on the "last-used date" to rid my system of old programs and old files. 
  • Speed Disk examines the system's drives for wasted space, and makes a recommendation for the type of defragmentation that may be necessary, if any. In my case, three drives were pretty messy, and Speed Disk reorganized the files in a more logical and efficient manner. (Fragmentation occurs as your programs add and delete files during the normal course of using your computer. "Defragging" is just a part of normal housekeeping on any computer.) It also seemed to me that Speed Disk was faster at its job than the Windows 95 defrag program, Disk Defragmenter. 
  • Norton Protection is a "recycle bin" for the Windows 95 Recycle Bin. Protection detects deleted files that Windows 95 does not – such as DOS files.

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  • System Information tells you everything you ever thought you wanted to know about the components installed in your computer. There is more detail offered by this program than any I have used in the past. System Information provides common device information, as well as hard-to-find details, about every area of your computer. It also allows you to benchmark system and drive speeds for comparison with similar components on other standard computers. 
  • Image is a utility that is essential for recovering data within the system, such as deleted files or data from accidentally formatted disks. Image saves the boot record, file allocation tables (FATs), and root directory information to a special file. Image can run in the background or you can invoke it at will. I chose to leave it running all the time. UnErase Wizard and UnFormat use the data that Image stores. 

  • Norton Companion is a wonderful tool! It is an on-line multimedia "partner" that describes the features of Norton Utilities and how to use them. It also is an electronic "instructor" that tells you in adequate detail how your computer stores and processes information. The Norton Disk Companion takes you on an audio/visual tour of the logical and physical organization of your disk storage systems: floppies, hard drives and CD-ROMs. The Norton Memory Companion explains the various memory components and how to manage them. I found the Companions to be most informative, and think they would be helpful to all computer users, both new and more experienced. The explanations are quite clear, very easy to understand and a great way to take some of the mystery out of "what really goes on inside that box." 

  • System Doctor runs in the background on your computer and monitors its environment continuously via "sensors". You specify what conditions you want to have monitored, and you control what happens when System Doctor detects a problem. There are new features in System Doctor in Version 2.0. Virus Scan and Virus Definition Sensors monitor your system for potential virus problems. An Internet Speedometer shows the speed of Internet packet transmission between your computer and your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Disk SMART has been included to work with the new "smart" drives. There are several other new sensors as well.
Norton Utilities is a "comfortable" set of utilities. Help and explanations are always only a mouse-click away. Right-clicking the mouse anywhere in a Norton Utilities program will pop up a window that lets you select from "What's this?" (gives context-sensitive information about the item), and "How To" (provides step-by-step procedures), "Info Desk" (opens the contents for Info Desk). If the Genie could grant real wishes, my wish would be that all Windows 95 programs were as helpful with their "Help" as Norton is. This right-click help feature is what makes this suite of utilities so easy to use and to understand — you don't have to "go get" help. It's right there where you and your mouse are regardless of which function you are accessing. 

 I chose to have all of the functions that the manual recommends to have active to be active on my system. Norton Utilities has a "hide" feature similar to hiding the task bar in Windows 95. The window is "there" but hidden under a thin gray line at the top of my screen. When I move the mouse to the very top of the screen in any program, I can take a look at my system's performance. Each function that is active in the window is represented by a graph. You select the type of graph you wish to see: analog, digital, histogram, or bar. Some functions are represented by a stoplight (red, yellow, green), like the virus scanner for example. 

It took about 30 minutes to install the complete suite of Norton Utilities onto my system — an AMD586-133, 28 MB of ram, PCI bus, 2 MB Trident MPEG video card, 2.4 GB of hard drive space, 4x CD-ROM, 33.6 modem, 16-bit sound card, and network card. The manual states that 31 MB of free disk space are required. The installation was very straightforward, and it required the system to reboot twice in order that it could analyze the present system setup and put certain utilities in place to run when the system starts up. The installation also created two Rescue Disks to be used in the event of a system failure, and the system will now remind me to make new Rescue Disks as my system changes. 

 When you find yourself in an electronic pickle (not IF!), you will be happy that you have the big yellow box containing Norton Utilities for Windows 95 Version 2.0 on your desk! It's the best defense against Windows 95 failures that I have seen so far. 

Symantec Corporation, Peter Norton Group, 10201 Torre Avenue, Cupertino, CA 95014; Symantec Customer Service/Support Center, 175 W. Broadway, Eugene, OR 97401, 1-800-441-7234 

The local retail price for Norton Utilities for Windows 95 is around $90.00, and is delivered on CD-ROM. Diskettes, 3-1/2", are available from Symantec upon request for an additional $9.95 plus $5.00 S/H. The diskette version does not contain the Norton Companion. 

Standard Care Support is provided to all registered users at no cost for 90 days after the first call. Unlimited electronic support is offered on the Web at http://www.symantec.com