Norton keeps systems, staff humming

In many government organizations, information systems managers not only

support critical agency applications — they must also handle routine software

maintenance, data backup and user support. These everyday fix-and-rescue

requests sap IS workers' time. Nevertheless, ignoring PC problems can have

even more serious consequences, including system crashes or data loss.

To help end users defend against computer problems — and get IS groups

back doing their primary job — agencies often deploy utility software. These

packages include Network Associates Inc.'s McAfee Office 2000, Ontrack Data

International Inc.'s SystemSuite 2000, Cybermedia's FirstAid 2000 or Symantec

Corp.'s Norton SystemWorks.

Of this group, Norton SystemWorks 2001 provides additional utilities

compared with the others, covers more operating systems, is easier for novice

users to operate, and did a better job during testing of finding and solving

problems. Therefore, it's our first choice when you need to protect, tune

and rescue ailing PCs.

No Need to Mix and Match

Norton SystemWorks 2001 isn't a bundle of disparate utilities stuck

together or a "lite" version that you must upgrade later. Rather, you receive

a single product that integrates the full Norton Utilities (finds problems),

Norton CleanSweep (removes stale files), Norton AntiVirus and Norton Web

Services (a free Internet portal for extended support, such as hardware

driver and software updates).

Foremost, a streamlined interface contributes to easy learning and operation.

For example, One Button Checkup scanned our Windows NT 4.0 system for registry

corruption, disk fragmentation, up-to-date virus protection, and low disk

space. Of some 200 problems identified (such as invalid file associations

and debris left from failed software installations), Norton SystemWorks

2001 only missed repairing one problem: a file deleted long before testing.

After this step, we ran the Norton Utilities' System Doctor in the background

to monitor system performance and disk integrity. By setting alarms, we

received alerts when new problems surfaced so they could be immediately

corrected. Alternately, we had the software repair errors without intervention.

Optimal Performance

We also appreciated Norton Speed Disk, which defragments and optimizes

hard disks. Besides moving frequently accessed files at the front of the

disk, the software added extra space between often- and infrequently used

files. This gave each file group space to expand, which helped avoid future

fragmentation.

The companion Optimization Wizard improves the efficiency of the Windows

registry and swap file. After this step, our registry was smaller and the

swap file reset to a more appropriate size (and moved to the beginning of

the hard disk). The result was a noticeable improvement in the speed that

Windows ran.

Tightened Security

We've used Norton AntiVirus for a long time and can attest to its reliable

protection. Still, new features improve security and ease of use. Now, when

a user is online, LiveUpdate detects the Internet connection, then retrieves

and automatically installs any new virus definitions or software patches.

We purposely introduced a virus to our system to test the new AntiVirus

2001 Repair Wizard. We were pleased how easily it guided us through the

process of cleaning the virus off the computer.

For performing in-depth repairs by support technicians, SystemWorks

2001 offers updated tools for editing the registry, comparing files and

diagnosing hardware problems. About the only quibble we have with the SystemWorks

packaging is that you must purchase the Professional Edition ($100) to get

Norton Ghost, which saves and restores images of entire hard disks. As such,

agencies managing numerous systems will be best served by purchasing the

basic edition we tested. You might then consider Norton Ghost 6.5 Enterprise

Edition to quickly install a common configuration on many desktop PCs. Although

some maintenance functions ship with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 98, Windows

Millennium Edition (Me) and Windows 2000, Norton SystemWorks 2001's implementation

is more complete. If you support Windows 95 or Windows NT, SystemWorks adds

essential tools, making it an even more justifiable purchase.

Mike Heck is an InfoWorld contributing editor

and manager of electronic promotions at Unisys Corp. in Blue Bell, Pa.

AT A GLANCE

Norton SystemWorks 2001

Score: A-minus

Symantec Corp.

(800) 441-7234

www.symantec.com

Price and Availability: Single copies of SystemWorks 2001 Standard Editionhave an estimated retail price of $60. Volume and site-license discountsapply.

Remarks: SystemWorks 2001 integrates applications for PC virus protection,problem-solving, systems maintenance, diagnostics and optimization and canbe run by agency workers ranging from novice to expert. This version, thefirst qualified across all Microsoft Windows operating systems, also offersimproved performance and better usability.

BY Mike Heck
December 06, 2000

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