Norton Utilities 2001 integrated suite of programs can help you diagnose and fix problems with computers and improve their performance. You can install the programs on a PC to take full advantage of all the features, or you can run certain programs from the CD without installation. Running programs without installing them can be a time-saver for support technicians, because doing so keeps you from having to install and uninstall the program each time you work on a PC. Here, I will walk you through some of the features of the Norton suite.

When you insert the Norton Utilities CD, the installation menu will appear, allowing you to install or run the WinDoctor from the CD without installing the entire program.

If you choose to install the full version of the Norton utilities program, the process is straightforward without any surprises.

Full installation

For purposes of this article, I have fully installed Norton Utilities 2001 on my system and will review the features from this angle.

The integrated programs
If you install the suite, all of the programs within Norton Utilities will be accessed from the Norton Utilities Integrator shortcut on your desktop. Once you click on it, you will see a menu, much like the one shown in Figure A. (However, in Figure A, the Find And Fix Problems segment is displayed.) From there, you can select a program to run.

Figure A
Norton Utilities is segmented between optimizing performance, finding and fixing problems, and system maintenance.

Live Update
You may have used the Live Update feature of Norton Antivirus to keep your virus definitions up to date. Norton Utilities also allows you to use Live Update to see if there are updates to the integrated programs (Figure B). You can run Live Update from the Utilities Integrator or from the main utilities menu.

Figure B
You can adjust your Internet connection by clicking the Configure button.

Norton Disk Doctor
The Norton Disk Doctor (Figure C) is a handy tool for diagnosing and repairing disk problems.

Figure C
With its numerous features, the Norton Disk Doctor takes over where ScanDisk left off.

It performs several tests, checking everything from the disk’s partition table to its physical surface. You can set it to either generate a report of errors or automatically fix the errors it finds. It can be scheduled to run when Windows boots and can also be set to play music while it runs. It also shows you the last time the disk was checked.

Norton Protection
Norton Protection (Figure D) replaces the Recycle Bin on your desktop.

Figure D
The other tabs in Norton Utilities Options are settings specific to file and program manipulation.

It enhances the standard Windows Recycle Bin process by protecting more files from permanent deletion. To configure Norton Protection, right-click the Norton Protected Recycle Bin icon on your desktop and select Properties. From there, you can choose the types of files that can be protected and recovered. The options are:

  • Files deleted from the DOS prompt.
  • Files created and deleted behind the scenes by Windows applications.
  • Older versions of files you modify and overwrite.

What’s not protected?

Files shared or stored on a network server and files deleted while using your computer after booting into DOS rather than Windows are not protected.

You may find that if you boot to DOS, it will report less free disk space than you expected. This happens because DOS does not deduct the space used by deleted files that are protected by Norton Protection. You must be aware of your free disk space while using Norton Protection, because it saves many more types of deleted files. However, it can be configured to purge files after a certain period of time. As you can see in the image, the default is set at seven days. It also sets the default space to be used by deleted files at 10 percent of the space of the hard drive.

Norton Speed Disk
The performance of a drive will suffer when it has become fragmented. Norton Speed Disk (Figure E) allows you to optimize your drives by defragmenting the files and free space on your disks.

Figure E
The optimization map gives a graphical representation of your hard drive’s file structure and includes a legend to describe what each segment contains.

Defragmenting makes file storage and retrieval more efficient. With this program, you can analyze your disk to determine whether or not it needs to be optimized. You can also schedule the optimizer to run at a specific time.

Norton System Doctor
Norton System Doctor (Figure F) continuously monitors your computer’s hard drive to keep it free of problems and running at peak efficiency.

Figure F
You typically run Norton System Doctor minimized with several key sensors displayed.

You can set it to alert you when there is a problem or to attempt to fix many problems without your attention, but it will also alert you if it is unable to fix those problems. Using graphical sensors to gather the data, the Norton System Doctor main window displays information on nearly every aspect of your computer system, including the disks, memory, CPU, and network.

You can double-click any sensor to get a brief description of what it does. Norton System Doctor is completely customizable. It allows you to add or remove sensors and select the critical conditions you want it to fix automatically. Norton Utilities recommends that you leave it running at all times; you can set it to run automatically whenever Windows starts.

Norton WinDoctor
Norton WinDoctor (Figure G) allows you to diagnose and repair the most common types of Windows problems such as registry errors that are difficult to fix if you are not proficient at using Registry Editor.

Figure G
Use WinDoctor to find and diagnose problems with your registry and other areas.

When run, it checks all the information necessary for Windows to function properly, such as lost shortcuts, invalid registry entries, broken applications, and missing .dll files. Its Wizard interface lets you choose the kinds of diagnostic tests to perform.

After running the tests, Norton WinDoctor will display a report of the problems it has found. Norton WinDoctor allows you to tailor the repair process to your own needs. You can specify which problems to fix and how to fix them or you can let it automatically fix all problems found. If a repair is made that messes up something else on your system, you can undo it using the Repair History feature.

Norton WinDoctor can be run directly from the CD without installing the software. To do so, simply insert the CD and choose WinDoctor from the menu.

System Information
The System Information program gives you detailed information about your computer, peripherals, keyboard, mouse, printers, and multimedia devices attached to your computer. It also provides information about your computer’s Internet and network connections. The information is displayed according to category on the nine tabs of the System Information window (see Figure H). You will only see eight tabs if you are running Windows 2000 because the Internet tab will be missing for security reasons.

Figure H
Not shown here, but on pre-Windows 2000 versions, the System tab also lets you perform a system benchmark test.

The System tab provides you with an overview of your system. It includes such information as:

  • The manufacturer, type, and speed of the processor.
  • A description of the BIOS and bus.
  • The number and types of ports.
  • The amount of physical memory (RAM) and the amount currently in use.
  • The size of local floppy and hard disks.

The information in the System tab’s fields can be copied and pasted directly into other applications for hardware inventory reports, troubleshooting, etc.

The Display tab lists performance details about your video monitor, graphics card, and video device driver that allow you to analyze how they are performing.

The Printer tab provides information about any installed printer, including network (shared) printers and fax machines. This tab can tell you the printer type, port, characteristics, and capabilities. By default, this tab displays information about the printer designated the default Windows printer. You can select another printer from the drop-down list, which contains the names of all installed local and network printers.

The Memory tab contains information on system memory and every application, process, and device driver that is loaded into memory. It includes a graphical display showing the number of bytes of Windows memory currently available; used by all applications; and used by one or more selected applications, processes, or DLLs. The Memory tab also includes information on both the physical memory (RAM) installed on your system and Windows virtual memory; the Windows swap file provides virtual memory. When you double-click an item in the Memory tab, a list will display details for that item. Clicking the Details button displays more information on system memory and current 16-bit and 32-bit memory usage.

The Drive tab allows you to view the folder tree of any hard disk to which you have access, including compressed disks, network drive, CD-ROM drive, or floppy disk. You can select folders to see how much disk space they use, and you can perform benchmark tests on the drive if you are using Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me.

The Input tab shows the types of input devices attached to the computer. The Multimedia tab shows which audio, video, and joystick devices are attached to your computer.

The Network tab provides information about the networks to which your system is attached. If you are on a Microsoft network, this tab will show the hierarchy and names of network resources you can access, such as remote folders, printers, faxes, or modems. If you work with Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me on a Novell NetWare network, this tab will include information about the servers, volumes, users, and groups that are available.

The Internet tab shows details about the system’s Internet connection. Due to security concerns, this tab only appears on Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Me.

UnErase Wizard
Using the UnErase wizard (Figure I) will help you recover deleted files protected by Norton Protection, the standard Windows Recycle Bin, or Novell’s Salvage.

Figure I
If using Norton utilities, it is a good idea to first configure Norton Protection by clicking on its Enable Protection check box so the UnErase Wizard can find and recover your files easier.

On Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Me, the UnErase Wizard frequently recovers unprotected files as well as those deleted from the Recycle Bin. Although the UnErase Wizard can recover files that you did not first protect with Norton Protection, it is a good idea to enable Norton Protection to ensure successful recovery of all deleted files.

The UnErase Wizard allows you to search for a deleted file by its filename or words contained in the file. The UnErase Wizard shouldn’t be used to recover and overwrite files with existing copies in use by either the system or running applications, such as the SYSTEM.DAT file, USER.DAT file, applications’ Registry (.DAT) files, and any applications or DLLs in the Windows System folder.

Norton Utilities can help you diagnose and fix problems with your computer and can alert you to potential problems. I’ve only hit the highlights of the product and pointed out a few tools that you should definitely check out. As with most Norton products, this one is easy to use. I highly recommend this suite of utilities for any support technician, as it can save you valuable time and effort.

You be the judge

How would you rate Norton Utilities 2001 against previous Norton Utilities releases? How about against similar products from other manufacturers? Post a comment to this article and share your opinion.