ISSUE 579: Zisman- Nov 28 2000
The high-tech office
worth the price for peace of
Last week, I wrote about Symantec's
Norton AntiVirus utility and how some people suggest that software
companies and the media over-hype the threat of virus in-
Perhaps coincidentally, a day after sending in that
column, Norton AntiVirus announced that it had "quarantined" a file
sent to my computer as an e-mail attachment. The file, appearing to be
a JPEG graphic, was actually a Visual Basic Script file, generated by
the VBS.Plan.A virus. It came from the computer of a public relations
firm, without the owner's knowledge. The virus had hijacked his e-mail
software's address book.
Because Norton AntiVirus automatically checks all
e-mail attachments as they are received and, most importantly, be-
cause I have the utility set to keep its virus definitions up to date,
the software caught this virus before it had a chance to infect my sys-
tem. I was able to inform the sender so that he could clean up his
system and in-
form others who may have been infected.
So while software companies and the media may spread
hysteria about individual viruses, the odds of being infected with one
(or more!) of the many viruses that are out there are actually quite
high. I strongly recommend that readers use an anti-virus utility and
that they keep its virus definition files up to date. (One of the
reasons I recommend Norton AntiVirus is the ease of updating it.)
Along with Norton AntiVirus, Symantec has also updated
its other key utility product, Norton Utilities, to a new 2001 version
($93). While I believe every computer user needs to install anti-virus
software (and I personally prefer Norton AntiVirus), the latest
generation of the classic Norton Utilities line is less of a must-have.
It does offer a collection of features to
optimize your computer's performance, find and fix problems and keep
your system tuned up. But if you purchased last year's Norton Utilities
2000 package, what's new? What do you get for the $53 to order the
downloadable upgrade? Not much.
The new version supports Micro-
soft's new Windows ME operating system and includes what was
previously a separate product for NT and Windows 2000 users. (NT and
Win 2000 users should note that they don't get all the features
available to Win9x users.) But users of Windows 95 or 98 will find this
year's model identical to last year's in a new box.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. The product,
whether sold as a 2000 or 2001 version, offers a lot. The Norton Disk
Doctor and Speed Disk programs offer more options and better features
than the bare bones equivalents (ScanDisk and Defrag) that ship with
Windows. The Norton Protected Recycle Bin makes it possible to
(sometimes) retrieve deleted files, even after you "empty the trash."
WinDoctor is one
of my favourite features, finding and mostly fixing a host of minor
glitches on my systems.
The RescueDisk option is a powerful tool that may save
your bacon if your system won't boot up at all. And it still includes
the classic set of DOS-only tools that most of us will never use, but
in the right hands can be powerful emergency (computer) lifesavers.
By default, the program's setup wants to load the
System Doctor, which loads a bunch of gauges on-screen which are
continually monitoring your system, warning you if you're low on disk
space, high on file fragmentation, and more. This takes up a bunch of
valuable screen space and continually running all these tests saps
system performance -- though the estimated 10 - 15 per cent performance
hit is less than older versions.
If you choose the custom installation option, you can
opt to not have System Doctor running all the time, but can still load
it when you want to.
Norton Utilities is also available together with the
AntiVirus program and more as part of the $127.99 SystemWorks 2001