Another year, another upgrade. The 2002 Norton Utilities isn't radically different from the 2001 version, except for a mildly cleaned up interface and added support for Windows XP. Norton Utilities has three main tasks in life, to:--Find and fix computer problems--Improve hard-drive performance--Monitor your PC for potential problems Norton Utilities features Disk Doctor, which works like Windows Scandisk, to hunt down and if possible repair disk defects. WinDoctor fixes problems that slip into the Window's Registry, and the System Information program lays out all your computer's specs, including information on installed drivers, printers, multimedia support, input devices as well as which programs are currently running in your memory. It features Speed Disk, a defrag application that reorganizes and repositions the clusters of information on your hard drive to help programs load faster and run better. Speed Disk works in much the same way as Windows' own defragmenter tool. It uses Window's application logs to restructure your drive for quicker application loading, and it's a bit faster than the Window's version, a nice touch, since defragging your drive is a time-intensive process. One old favourite is still there, the Protected Recycle Bin. This allows you to recover deleted files no matter how they we! re deleted. Finally, monitoring is taken care of by the System Doctor which presents a dashboard-like array of status indicators.
Norton Utilities are essentially unchanged from earlier versions, bar the aforementioned Windows XP support and improved support for expunging all traces of deleted files under Windows NT and 2000. Nevertheless it remains one of the few truly 'must-have' software tools any regular PC user should keep at the ready, 'just in case'. Hopefully you'll never need it but when you do, it'll pay for itself in no time at all.--Roger Gann