NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Norton Utilities V 2.0 for Windows 95 From Symantec
A Review by Bill Shook - May 97
(click to email author)

Norton Utilities (NU) has been the premier collection of utilities since the beginning of the PC. Many tried to emulate them, but Peter Norton was always a step ahead. Although NU has had excellent preventive tools, they've been used mostly to get out of trouble. The Windows 95 preventive tools look better than ever and are a lot easier to use, thanks in part to Windows 95 itself, so maybe there won't be as many dumb crashes (that means those that we could probably avoid).

NU2 is designed for Windows 95 only and is compatible with the new Windows 95 VFAT and FAT32, incorporated in OEM Service Release 2 (OSR 2).

I need to tell you my tale before going on. I first installed NU1 and on the first attempt to run anything, received a screaming message not to run any NU programs with this version of W95 or files would be corrupted! (My W95 version is fall of '96).

I called Peter Mejia, Symantec User Group Coordinator, who confirmed that NU 2.0 must be used on the recent versions of W95 and he'd send me a copy if I planned to review it. Of course, I told him to send it. (The OSR 2 and FAT32 stuff is a story in itself, which I'll not get into here, except to say that I downloaded and read and re-read info from both Microsoft and Symantec and STILL don't know technically why NU1 had a conflict with my Windows 95, since I DON'T USE FAT32, which from what I read is the reason for the problem!). But I can confirm that NU1 corrupts files, EVEN THOUGH I DID NOT EXECUTE ANY NU PROGRAMS! Monitoring by Norton System Doctor which comes up automatically on bootup apparently was the problem. As soon as I noticed this, I uninstalled NU1 and had no further trouble.

NU2 is categorized into four different "modules": Prevention, Recovery, Performance, and Information and each one has available "sensors", totaling 36 that can be set to continually monitor and report on system performance. Norton calls this the Norton System Doctor (there is also a Norton Disk Doctor, which NU users will remember from earlier versions). The 36 sensors that can be set to monitor system performance are:

  • Memory Performance: GDI Resources, Memory Load, Physical Memory, Selectors (16-bit), Swap File Size, Swap File Utilization, System Memory, User Resources,and Virtual Memory.

  • Disk Performance: Disk Fragmentation, Disk Image Information, Disk Integrity, Disk Slack Space, Disk SMART Status, Disk Space, and Disk Surface Test.

  • System Performance: Battery Power, CPU Utilization, Open Files, Rescue Readiness, Threads, Virus Definitions, and Virus Scan.

  • Internet Performance Monitoring: Internet Packet Turnaround, Internet Speedometer, Network Reads Throughput, Network Writes Throughput.

  • Cache Performance: Cache Hits, Cache Memory Utilization, Cache Throughput, and Windows Performance Stats.

  • System Information: Current Date and Time, Norton Protected Files, Norton Utilities LiveUpDate, and Windows Up Time.

It'd probably take most of the newsletter to cover the merits of all the utilities in this package, so let me just highlight a few for you: Norton will sense any and all of the above mentioned sensors, at your option, and will fix many problems itself automatically and take preventive measures to avoid getting your system in serious trouble.

Norton Disk Doctor (NDD), always a standout with NUs, will repair a large number of computer problems, from logical disk structures to the hard drive's surface, and will help determine when your hard drive is starting to go bad so your data can be saved.

Norton Registry Tracker keeps a running file of what changes are happening to your registry so you will always be informed of what is happening to your system.

Norton Registry Editor will allow you to edit the Registry, but it also allows you to UNDO any changes you have made, where REGEDIT will not. CAUTION: Your "Registry", which is actually 2 files, is vital and the heart of your WIN95 system. Don't mess with it unless you know what you are doing! (Is that strong enough?).

Norton File Compare shows the changes in a file, like .INI or Registry files after a program was added to your system.

Speed Disk, which also has always been a standout with NUs, is like MS's Defrag, but will also defrag the Swap File and verify its actions, which MS will not. It will place frequently used files first on the disk for faster access, and verify that the data has been rewritten correctly. Also, it identifies frequently modified files and moves them to the end of the disk so that fragmentation is reduced in the future.

Norton System Genie can make changes to the look and feel of your Desktop, letting you customize it to your liking, including hiding it, if you wish.

The CD version comes with the "Companion Series" of applets, which includes a multimedia tour of storage systems and memory, and through a collection of small videos called The Gallery, provides "how to" to show how specific hardware works and a Q&A.

The Norton Utilities Overview, one click from the desktop, provides a screen from which you can branch into any specific subject desired. You tell it what you want to do and it identifies what to do it with and launches it if you wish. Want more help? click on the "Go Symantec" button from the Companion Series.

Norton Protection is added to the Recycle Bin with its own directory (folder) called NPROTECT. It adds protection to files not otherwise protected, such as files deleted while in a DOS window and files that have been overwritten. NU uses the UnErase Wizard in conjunction with NPROTECT to allow recovering lost files.

During installation you are prompted to make Rescue diskettes. These allow you to boot up and fix many problems, particularly with disk and Registry problems. NSD bugs you to update this with any significant change or weekly! Files included on them are as follows:

Rescue Disk: (Bootable)
COMMAND.COM, RESCUE.EXE, BOOTINFO.DAT, CMOSINFO.DAT, PARTINFO.DAT, AUTOEXEC.BAT, AUTOEXEC.SAV, CONFIG.SYS, FDISK.EXE, FORMAT.COM, MSDOS,SAV, MSDOS.SYS, IO.SYS, SYS.COM, FORMAT.COM, CONFIG.SAV, USER.REG (SYSTEM.REG, the other Registry file, was too large to fit on a floppy, so NU puts it in the Windows folder. You can then just leave it there for when you want it, or copy it manually to diskettes with a utility, such as SLICE.COM {on the club BBS}, which is what I do.)

Two Emergency disks come with the package and two emergency disks are created/updated during each Rescue disk operation; however, they are not the same. Disk 1 that comes with the package is bootable to DOS with a menu system; the one created is not. However, NDIAGS.EXE, system and component diagnostics, are placed on the emergency disks that are created, but not included on the ones that come with the package. Don't know why they do it this way, but keep backups of both sets and you're covered.

There are 5 DOS based files on the emergency disks: UNERASE.EXE, NDD.EXE, UNFORMAT.EXE, NDIAGS.EXE, and DISKEDIT.EXE. They can be run from the command line, or from the DOS menu mentioned above. Two of these can also be executed from Windows 95: UNERASE & NDD.

These are used in recovery situations and to show you how powerful the NU are, following are a few of the recovery procedures listed in the Contents:

Accessing data on a damaged floppy disk
Recovering files on a disk that appears empty
Recovering a formatted or severely damaged disk
Repairing a disk with incorrect media descriptor byte
Recovering lost or damaged directories
Recovering overwritten files
Recovering corrupt registry files
Recovering an inaccessible disk
Recovering an unbootable hard disk
Recovering lost subdirectories from a corrupt directory
Lifting data from a corrupt or physically damaged hard disk
Repairing cross-linked files

And they say DOS is DEAD!

CAUTION: Throughout the manual and help screens on recovery, you are advised NOT to start Windows until the recovery procedure is concluded since Windows writes to the hard disk and the swap file could overwrite data to be recovered. Also, you are warned from the start not to install NU with problems on the system and that it generally installs more smoothly if any prior versions are first removed.

Another excellent feature with NU 2 is the LiveUpDate. NU will either use the Internet or long distance if you don't have an Internet connection, to automatically download and update new virus data, drivers, or other programs to keep your system current. And it's FREE! And as with all other sensors, Norton System Doctor keeps reminding you that it's time you went for another update, or make new rescue disks, or defrag, or whatever. Of course, you can ignore these, AT YOUR PERIL!

NU2 also includes Norton CrashGuard and Anti-Freeze, which help to recover from crashes and save what you were working on so you don't lose any data.

Now for those of us that prefer hardcopy (even though we're slow to refer to it), despite all the online help, it comes with a very readable and complete manual -- something less than 100 pages but with detailed explanations of the recovery procedures.

And the price is right! You can purchase the complete package at Office Depot, OfficeMax, or a similar outlet for $69.99 and the upgrade for $49.99 (upgrade from any version of NU or PC-Tools). A lot of power for the price!

We wish to thank Peter Mejia, Symantec User Group Coordinator, for allowing us to review NU version 2.0.

System Requirements:
IBM PC or 100% compatible
Windows 95
80486 or higher
31 MB Hard disk space
Double-speed or higher CD-ROM drive
Sound Card (optional)
256 color VGA or better video

Unlimited technical support with installation, configuration, and general usage or 90 days, starting with the first call.

Symantec Corporation
10201 Torre Avenue, Cupertino, CA 95014 USA
800-441-7234 or www.symantec.com

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