Symantec/Norton gives you the works

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

Symantec Norton SystemWorks 2.0.
Windows 95/98.
$99 (street); $149 (Pro version).

Norton Utilities (now owned by Symantec) has been one of the classic utility packages since almost the dawn of the personal computing era, with versions for DOS, Macintosh, Windows, and now Windows 95/98.  It forms the cornerstone of Symantec's SystemWorks suite for Windows 9x-- a package bundling almost the complete set of Symantec utilities to provide complete system protection, recently upgraded to version 2.0.

                              The SystemWorks box contains complete versions of the newly-updated
                              Norton Utilities 4.0 and Norton AntiVirus 5.0, along with Norton CrashGuard
                              4.0, and new to a Symantec package, CleanSweep 4.5 (purchased by
                              Symantec from Quarterdeck).

                              As well as providing all these products, the new version of SystemWorks
                              integrates them far better than the original version did--and far better than the
                              competing McAfee Office from Network Associates.

                              A single setup program installs all the products, and lets users pick and
                              choose between them. And a single Live Update module upgrades all from the
                              Internet. As well, Symantec has done a good job of integrating the overlap
                              between the programs--Norton Utilities now uses Norton AntiVirus, rather than
                              its own more limited anti-virus functions, for example.

                              New features

                              New to Norton Utilities 4.0 are a System Check Wizard, Registry-checking
                              features in WinDoctor, and a Connection Doctor, to optimize Internet
                              activities. NU continues to include a wide range of features, from the classic
                              Norton Disk Doctor and Speed Disk to its powerful low-level Disk Editor.

                              Norton AntiVirus 5.0 adds the ability to quarantine suspected files, keeping
                              them from doing harm, and making it easy to send them to Symantec for
                              analysis. (When I had to do this, with a seemingly incurable virus problem, I
                              received response within 24 hours--including a call back from a technician
                              who walked me through the steps of removing the virus. Well done,

                              I am less impressed with CrashGuard. Like other products in its class, I''m
                              not convinced that it actually reduces system crashes. Luckily, you can
                              choose not to install it, or can give it a try, knowing that it can be easily

                              The new component in the program is Quarterdeck''s award-winning
                              CleanSweep, which monitors program installation, and can be used to remove
                              programs more reliably than Windows'' built-in routines. In its first incarnation
                              in the suite, it is less well-integrated than its partners--Norton Utilities'' Space
                              Wizard, for instance, duplicates some of its functions, and it doesn''t monitor
                              updates through the Symantec Live Update Pro.

                              Norton Web Services includes a six-month subscription to Live Update Pro,
                              which offers to notify users of updates to all their installed software, not just
                              the Symantec ones covered by the standard Live Update feature.

                              Additional features are included in SystemWorks 2.0 Pro. This version adds in
                              a copy of Norton 2000, which tests for Year 2000 compliance. Unlike most
                              other programs in this product category, which are limited to checking the
                              system Bios and hardware clock, Norton 2000 can also check for problematic
                              applications and fix spreadsheet and database files.

                              Also included in the Pro version is Norton Ghost, for cloning complete hard

                              Both versions of the Suite include a Bonus CD, with WinFax Pro 9.0 Lite,
                              file-encryption software, and a version of Symantec''s Visual Page Web-page
                              development software. While useful, there is no attempt to integrate these into
                              the main suite.

                              A lot of value for the money, perhaps more than most users will need. And
                              loading all these modules can be a drain on system resources--I leave Norton
                              AntiVirus running in the background, but turn off all the Norton Utilities
                              background features, preferring to have them run only when needed. *

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