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