Review – Norton Utilities 5.0

Norton Utilities 5.0
Company: Symantec
Estimated Price: $99.00

Symantec has released version 5.0 of its utility program for the Macintosh, one of the tools that all Mac users should have for those frightening times when something goes dreadfully wrong.

The premier section of the utility program is Norton Disk Doctor, Symantec’s diagnostic/repair program, which has been improved to permit it to be run from the boot volume. LiveRepair, as it’s called, is user scheduled and not an automatic function, and can even run repairs from the boot volume without having to unmount the drive. To properly utilize LiveRepair, the FileSaver portion of Norton must be activated to track files and monitor the system.

Speed Disk is designed to defragment and optimize your hard drive, plus it can also optimize the B-tree Directory of your hard drive. Symantec has also now added LiveUpdate capability to the Mac side of the aisle in this version. When you click on it, LiveUpdate works through your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to take you to Symantec’s ftp site. From there, you can check your application against the current release and update your application if necessary.

Norton Utilities also offers FileSaver, UnErase, Volume Recover, DiskLight, and Fast Find. FileSaver monitors and scans your hard drive for disk problems, updates the disk directory and tracks files and folders that have been deleted. UnErase permits the user to recover files/folders that were accidentally deleted, while Volume Recover can recover a disk that can no longer be booted from or even seen on the desktop. DiskLight lets you know when the drive is actually doing something–reading from or writing to the drive–especially helpful now that real LED disk activity lights are disappearing from new machines. And since most people now use Sherlock to find things on their Macs, Fast Find is somewhat passeĀ“, though still perfectly useable.

Version 5 has seen some improvements in the user interface, to include integration with NAV (when installed) and access to LiveUpdate. This permits the user to control both utilities from one central point and to schedule the update(s) of the utilities. The one thing I was happy to not see in version 5 was the CrashGuard portion of the utility. I never did have any luck with it in the previous versions of Norton. And because it’s been dropped from the lineup, I suspect I wasn’t the only one.

I’ve been using Norton Utilities 5.0 for the past few months and my experiences with it are very good, and I haven’t had any problems with either Disk Doctor or Speed Disk. Of course, I also have a routine of scheduling my maintenance weekly, first with a rebuild of the Desktop, then using DiskWarrior, then Norton Utilities to check and repair any problems that may have arisen. With a schedule like this, I’ve found my problems with my Mac to be few, small, and easily correctible.

I’ve also utilized LiveUpdate for the first time to update the Utilities portion, and while there were some minor glitches when I went to update, it has worked. For those of you who may be hesitant to utilize the LiveUpdate capability, Symantec has advised they will be posting downloadable updates at their website.

All in all, I have been happy with Norton Utilities since I first started to use it several years ago. While it has proven to be a real lifesaver at times, I most appreciate it for its ability to keep my Mac in tip-top shape so that I don’t experience continuous, nagging problems. Over the years, I’ve learned that setting a regular schedule of computer maintenance and prevention goes a long way to prevent the grievous loss of information on your hard drive and everything you’ve carefully stored on it. Yes, there are other utility programs available for the Mac, but I’ve experienced my best luck with Norton Disk Doctor. Do I use each and every part of the utility? No, I don’t… but the parts I do use (NDD, Speed Disk and UnErase) have proven to be invaluable to me.

System Requirements
PowerPC processor, Mac OS 8.0 or greater (it’s OS 9 compatible), 24MB of RAM, 16MB of hard disk space, CD-ROM drive, and a modem/Internet connection for LiveUpdate capability.

MacMice Rating: 4

Russ Walkowich


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