What, more Norton stuff already?

by Alan Zisman (c) 1999. First published in Toronto Computes, November 1999

Norton Utilities 5.0: $149.95, $74.95 upgrade
Norton Antivirus 6.0:. $104.95, $44.95 upgrade
Norton Utilities 2000: $74.95, $44.95 upgrade
Norton AntiVirus 2000: $59.95, $29.95 upgrade.
Norton SystemWorks 2000: Standard version-- $89.95, $59.95 upgrade. Professional version-- $149.95, $119.95 upgrade.

?Internet Time? was a cliché in the computer industry?change happening faster than we could get used to it. A few years ago it seemed that by the time you to downloaded a copy of Netscape Navigator, there was a  newer version.

Netscape has slowed down of late, but it the mantle of constant change has been taken over by Symantec, with their Norton line of utility and antivirus programs.

It seems like they just released new versions of these programs, both for Windows and the Mac, but those versions have already been replaced by even newer versions. As in the past, each offers lots of value, and pretty much defines its respective category. Lets take a look at what?s new in each.

For the Mac?

The Symantec/Norton products on the Macintosh haven?t offered the overwhelming number of features of their PC cousins. Instead, they?ve focused on delivering a strong core set of capabilities. These new versions are no exceptions.

Norton Utilities 5.0 and Antivirus 6.0 each now include Live Update. Like the PC versions, they offer a simple way to keep the versions up to date, using the Internet. This is an especially useful feature for antivirus programs?while the Mac has had fewer viruses than PCs, the new generation of Word Macro viruses can be equally destructive on Macs or PCs, and an antivirus program can only offer peace of mind if its virus definitions are up to date.

Symantec promises that all the key features of Norton Utilities have been updated and improved, partly to be able to work better with large hard drives, and Apple?s new HFS+ file system, built into newer Macs. The new version also supports Firewire devices?the new, high-speed interface built into the latest generation of G3 and G4 desktops.

Nice feature?if you install Norton Antivirus, it gets added to the Norton Utilities main interface, letting users start it up the same way as Norton Disk Doctor or Speed Disk.

Norton Antivirus 6.0 promises faster virus scans, while improving the user interface. The program is self-repairing, checking itself at startup, and prompting for the installation CD to replace missing pieces. It will unstuff compressed files in order to check them. Unlike the PC version, however, it won?t automatically check e-mail. The Live Update feature is invaluable?get it and use it regularly!

Owners of pre-PowerMacs or users of System 7.x: don?t even think about these two?they won?t run on your Mac. And we  wonder why the Mac versions are significantly more expensive than the PC equivalents.

On the PC side of the fence?

Symantec offers these programs in two ways?individually, or as part of the SystemWork suite. All new versions come with a ?2000? moniker, a naming fad that doesn?t seem to have spread to the Mac.

Norton Utilities 2000 offers the most modest upgrade of the bunch?it really is version 4.5, and is pretty similar to the recent version 4.0. The new version now supports hard drives over 20 gigs in size. LiveAdvisor is a new feature, using the Internet to check in with Symantec for news, tips, and upgrades. You may want to turn off some of the features that run in the background, and I personally find the CrashGuard feature (promising to catch system crashes) often causes more problems then it solves.

Norton AntiVirus 2000 can run on nearly all PCs?it includes versions for DOS and Windows 3.1 along with support for Windows 95 and 98, and NT versions from 3.51 through 4.0 and including the not-yet-released Windows 2000, though older systems get version 4, rather than the newest version 6.

This new version gives two valuable features?running in the background, it will scan e-mail attachments as you receive them. As well, it can check inside many sorts of compressed files, even checking compressed files that are contained inside other compressed files. As with the Mac version, use the Live Update feature regularly to keep it up to date.

Both of these products, along with Cleansweep, an uninstallation program, and a trial subscription of Norton Web Services are bundled together in the Standard Version of the SystemWorks 2000 suite. The Professional version of the suite adds Norton 2000 to check hardware and applications for potential Y2K problems, and Ghost 2000 for cloning hard drives.

Like the previous version, you can choose which programs to install?unlike those versions, you can dig deep into each program, customizing which individual features to install. As with the earlier versions, it offers lots of added value for less than the cost of buying (or upgrading) just the Utilities and Antivirus packages.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan