|Norton Utilities for the Mac|
|Written by Joe FaraceHits : 445|
|Thursday, 31 December 1998 19:00|
I remember when I suffered from Norton envy and was resentful of Windows and DOS users who had access to Norton Utilities. Since Norton Utilities for the Macintosh (NUM) became available, IÕve been an enthusiastic user.
Norton Utilities 4.0 is now PowerPC native, which means computer users should see significant improvements in performance. But I couldn't tell with my 225 MHz Power Computing machine. NUM 4.0 supports the new HFS+ file structure Apple Computer rolled out with System 8 and features enhanced SCSI/IDE support. All of my favorite toolsÑ-Disk Doctor, Speed Disk and FileSaver-Ñare back with updated interfaces.
The mostly useless Norton Utility Disk Light is back too, but I wouldn't install it. I feel the same indifference toward CrashGuard, which is supposed to help you recover from crashes and let you save your work before restarting the application when a crash occurs. Mostly I find it gives me messages about bus errors, essentially improving on the cryptic Mac OS error messages. NUM 4.0 already monitors your system, and I prefer messages like "there is a disk bitmap error, would you like to run Disk Doctor?"
Disk Doctor is the most valuable part of NUM 4.0, and the new version checks for more kinds of errors. As with older versions, I sometimes have to run Disk Doctor twice because not every error gets fixed the first time. One of the biggest mistakes many users make is to run it only when NUM gives them an error message. You should run Disk Doctor even when you encounter a system freeze and have to restart your computer. It's been my experience that it is much easier to fix small problems often than to fix big ones a few times.
The next most powerful tool is FileSaver, which has saved my hard disk from ruin on more than one occasion.
When I first installed NUM 4.0, I was running System 7.6.1 and the two FileSaver extensions produced a conflict that locked up my system after startup. Symantec's solution is to use NUM's Disk Info to make a series of four invisible FileSaver files visible, then delete them. While I was able to do this easily, I worry about Mac OS newbies who purchased the computer because somebody told them it was easy to use. All of a sudden, the poor dweebs are working with invisible files and trying to get them to do a reverse Claude Rains impersonation.
Other utilities are back, including Unerase which now lets users recover folders as well as files and lets you do user-defined searches for files you accidentally tossed into the trash can. Volume Recover helps you recover disks that have been crashed or accidentally initialized, including hard drives, floppy disks and Zip or Jaz disks. Unerase and Volume Recover are two utilities you will use less than the others but when you need them, they're great.
Unfortunately, this version of NUM has problems. In addition to the Extension conflict I mentioned before, I started having more hard disk problems after I installed NUM 4.01 than before. Longtime Mac users know that if they encounter any kind of problem immediately after installing new software, it's rarely a coincidence. I've always been impressed with SymantecÕs customer support, but this time it was different. Instead of sharp, technical advice, I got attitude and a shifting of blame to meÑ"there must be something wrong with your hardware."
It's not just me, folks. Problems with version 4.0 have been reported on the Web, especially with hard disks using non-Apple drivers. Symantec recently posted a 4.01 updater on its Web site and a 5.02 updater for Norton Anti-Virus that addresses problems with NUM 4.0.
I've taken these shots at NUM 4.0 only because I love it. The package has its faults but it doesnÕt change my mind that this is the one indispensable package for every Macintosh user. I know Symantec will eventually fix these problems, but I must caution readers to wait for a version later than 4.01.
Norton Utilities 4.0, Mac OS and Windows compatible. Symantec Corp., 10201 Torre Ave. Cupertino, CA 95014-2132 800-441-7234; 408-253-9600, fax: 408-253-3968, Internet: http://www.symantec.com. Requires: Mac OS computer with PowerPC processor, Mac OS 7.5 or later, 16MB of RAM, 25MB hard disk space and CD-ROM drive.