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Norton Utilities 2002
First of all and to my deepest regret there are absolutely no new features in Norton Utilities 2002. Norton Crashguard is still missing. In fact the only new feature of this new version is the fact, WipeInfo now works on Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems. Anyway the 2002 release of Norton Utilities continue to provide the best utilities software for every Windows system.
Norton Disk Doctor: here is one of the two most appreciated features of the so-called NU. This tool is like ScanDisk but itís more complete and fast. It checks the integrity of every hard disk and removable media (like ZIP, JAZ, Floppies) and fixes any FAT, folder, file, or cluster errors. This is very useful to rescue damaged disks: it has already proven its efficiency by saving the life of my data disks many times. Sure Norton Disk Doctor can do an accurate test of your hard drive by analysing every cluster: unfortunately this process takes a very long time to complete especially on large hard drives. When the analysis of a disks set is finished a report is displayed telling you which errors were fixed. Note that Norton Disk Doctor can also repair defective File Allocation Table sectors or CMOS related problems to grant you back access to defective drives.
If ever a disk contains too many defective clusters, Norton Disk Doctor can repartition it by eliminating the portion of the disk where defective clusters are and that impeach it work correctly. However there are several drawbacks. First I regret that under Windows Me, Norton Disk Doctor doesnít replace ScanDisk after an incorrect shutdown. But the biggest flaw of Norton Disk Doctor 2002 is that under Windows 2000 or Windows XP, the application is just an interface to the Microsoft Ďchkdskí utility. So you canít check a hard disk if itís in use, and Norton Disk Doctor will offer you to program a Ďchkdskí check at the next Windows reboot. This behaviour under Windows 2000 or Windows XP turns the utility into an useless one.
Norton Speed Disk: This tool is the reason why millions of users have purchased Norton Utilities worldwide. Every version of Windows (even Windows 2000 or Windows XP) comes in standard with a very slow defragmenter tool that is really painful to use. Norton Speed Disk is a powerful and speedy disk defragmenter thatíll rearrange all your hard disk clusters in order to boost your computer overall performance. Indeed when you store data on a hard drive the files are divided in clusters that weigh, depending on the partition you used, the maximum size of 64KB (with FAT 32 30GB and larger disks). So a file of 10MB is divided in 160 clusters: the problem is that after intensive use of the hard disk the clusters are not aligned anymore and are scattered on the hard disk causing a real slow down due to the necessity to find all the clusters. Speed Disk will rearrange clusters intelligently, by putting ones needed by a specific file side by side. It perfectly supports Windows 2000 SP2 as well as Windows XP.
Norton WinDoctor: Norton WinDoctor is a smart tool that analyses your registry and shortcuts to detect the ones that are now useless and that have to be removed. The analysis process is fast and the results it provides are accurate. If you choose to repair the errors it detects you can let it repair them automatically or you can choose the best repairing option. Sure a backup is generated and in case of problem you can restore it to get rid of the conflict that appeared. Indeed changing or modifying the registry is always a risky job.
Norton Optimization Wizard: here is another good utility from Norton Utilities, available only under Windows 9x: this tool is aimed to compress your registry file and defragment your swap file. Compressing the registry makes it much smaller so it can boost your computer. However on our test machine we noticed a gain of 100KB by compressing the registry file: a so few result canít really boost your computer performance. Now letís see the second feature of the tool: every version of Windows uses a swap file as virtual memory to run several applications at the same time. The problem is that when doing a SpeedDisk when Windows is launched the software canít defragment the swap file since itís in use. So Norton Optimization Wizard will launch the Speed Disk defragmentation process before Windows Me finished to start to rearrange the clusters used by the swap file: after doing so youíll really notice a performance increase.
Norton Unerase Wizard: this tool is the guardian of your recycle bin! Indeed if itís enabled each time youíll delete a file definitely by emptying the recycle bin youíll be able to restore it later. It works almost all the time but can be unable to retrieve very old deleted files. This tool is great for those of you that want to be sure to donít accidentally delete any file. However it really slows down Windows. Too bad!
Norton System Doctor: To my mind this tool is absolutely useless. It monitors in real time your computer status by showing vital information like available memory, free hard disk space, hard disk SMART status and more. However itís intended to be used by power users and slows down Windows.
Norton System Information: Itís a complete tool thatíll display information on your system configuration and status. It displays information about the bios, the ram, the motherboard and more and can also tests your computer with its included benchmarking tool. Best of the all, the memory status panel shows you every different task that is running on your system as well as their memory occupation: a dynamic graph also shows the percentage of used memory. Unfortunately you canít kill tasks from System Information and this is a real regret. The disk tab shows the percentage of occupied space of each of your hard drives: if you select a specific folders Sysinfo will tell you how much space the folder takes on your HD. Accurate information can also be displayed concerning the printer, the display adapter, the network, the internet connection (winsock details, DNS & IP info, available RAS), the CPU features (MMX, APIC, etc.) and the input devices. Strangely in this new release the multimedia-benchmarking tool has disappeared. Using System Information you can print reports about each areas of your system easily: a great feature for system administrators that need to dig into PC configurations to solve problems.
Norton Diagnostics: This old Norton DOS application was adapted to Windows in the previous release of Norton Utilities. The new release 2002 (not available under W2K or XP) provides the same diagnostic features that help you detect potential problems on your hardware. You can test the motherboard, the sound card, the memory, the CD-Rom drive, the keyboard, the speakers, the printer, the modem, the video adapter, the mouse and more. Some of the tests are customizable like the mobo one where you can choose which feature of the motherboard you want to test. This is also a good tool even if novice users wonít use it at all.
Norton WipeInfo: WipeInfo is here to help you ensure all the data you erased from your hard disk is properly erased. It rewrites data using Norton recommendation so youíre sure that your confidential data canít be restored by anybody in order to definitely keep them private. WipeInfo guides users through a clear wizard thatíll explain the interest of the procedure. The only thing to note is that if youíve got large drives itíll take an incredible amount of time to definitely remove data from them. WipeInfo now works with Windows 2000 and Windows XP.
Norton Image: this tool (not available under W2K or XP) takes a photo of your hard drive critical data (that only contains directory information, FAT and boot sector) in order to properly restore data using Norton UnFormat or Norton UnErase wizard. The files that are generated by the tool are small and should be created to ensure accurate restoration phase.
Norton FileCompare: Norton File Compare (not available under W2K or XP) lets advanced users compare their files bytes per bytes and see what may differ between two apparently similar files. When comparing two files the GUI is split in two: on the left the A fileís contents are shown and on the right the B fileís contents are displayed. Everything is clearly shown and you can search for specific information or print the file contents.
Norton UnFormat: This DOS tool can unformat your hard drive. That is to say that after you have formatted a hard disk it can restores every data as they were before you did it. This can works for 50% of the files but rarely for all and itís normal due to the difficulty and delicacy of the operation. So really donít count on Norton UnFormat to retrieve data after a hard disk format.
Norton Registry Tracker: This smart software (not available under W2K or XP) makes photos of your registry and can shows what has changed since the last photo and even restore data as it was when the photo was taken. A very good tool that can be enabled permanently using its tray icon.
Norton Registry Editor: This tool (not available on W2K or XP platforms) is an advanced registry editor that is more complete than the one of every Windows versions. It comes with a powerful undo feature that can undo every change. An historic of your changes is also available. The search feature displayed all the results in one window instead of displaying them one after the other. Like in the Windows Me or Windows 2000 registry editor (REGEDIT) you can add registry branch to a favourites list so you can access them later very quickly. You can also search and replace strings or connect yourself to a remote network registry. Finally the registry editor also lets you see/modify the contents of INI files like Win.ini or system.ini.
Norton Rescue: Norton Rescue (not available on W2K & XP OSes) creates a set of floppies disks you can use to boot your system in emergency mode in case of crashes to scan for viruses under DOS or fix hard drive problems. If youíve got a ZIP drive you can also create a ZIP rescue disk that will contain a real & true reliable Windows OS to boot on in order to backup files (before your format) using a friendly non-DOS environment, edit the registry or run Windows programs to try fixing systemís problems. To be usable the ZIP disk needs to be accompanied by a booting floppy disk thatíll be created by Norton Rescue. Once again this Norton tool is a kick ass life saving solution to retrieve a working system. (Note that itís strongly recommended to have a SCSI, USB or FireWire Iomega ZIP drives since with a parallel port one booting on the rescue disk can be really slow).
Process Viewer: SystemWorks 2002 offers a separated new utility called Process Viewer. You have to install it separately. This new utility lets you view the processes that are currently running on your computer. You can obviously sort processes, search for processes, kill processes, log them and more. This small utility is especially handy to troubleshoot problems by displaying every programs running.