Norton Utilities  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

Legend has it that in 1982 Peter Norton accidentally deleted an important file and wrote the pivotal UNERASE utility to get it back. UNERASE became the centerpiece of the wildly popular Norton Utilities collection. Peter Norton Computing merged with Symantec in 1990 and Norton Utilities continued to grow and evolve until 2005, when it was absorbed by Norton System Works. Norton Utilities 14 ($49.99 list) marks the return of the Norton Utilities name, but the product itself is completely different, a clean break with the old version. It's built almost entirely on technology obtained by Symantec with its acquisition of PC Tools last year, and it's highly focused on fixing and optimizing your system. I was troubled to find that, while I only had a day or so to test the code before its release, I couldn't measure any significant performance benefit.

Optimizing the System

The product's many features are organized into four main panels: Optimize, Monitor, Windows Tools, and Administer. I ran every single feature on the Optimize panel and let them do their good work. To start I launched "Clean Your Registry", which found almost 200 distinct errors (erroneous or useless data) in the Registry. I let it fix all the errors knowing that if by some mischance this cleanup caused a problem another of the tools would let me roll back those changes.

Windows and programs are constantly adding, changing, and deleting items in the Registry. Like the file system on disk the Registry can get fragmented, possibly making for slower Registry access. I ran the Defragment Your Registry tool, which said it could shrink the Registry by eight percent while defragmenting it. I let it do the job.

Unnecessary Windows services running in the background can slow system performance, but most users have no idea what is and isn't necessary. Turning off the wrong service can bring Windows to a crashing halt, so in general only experts should consider making changes in this area. Norton Utilities offers to manage your services by turning off all but a carefully selected set of recommended ones. It can also cut back to a minimal set of services for raw speed, possibly at the expense of some functionality. And of course you can undo either change. I chose the recommended services option.

You also take a performance hit when too many programs launch at startup and keep running in the background. Norton Utilities offers to manage your startup, but it doesn't offer any particular advice the way it did for services. I left the startup items alone. (full Story)

This entry was posted on Feb 17, 2009 at 1:59 AM and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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