Keeping your computer healthy – Part 5

For the final instalment of this series of computer maintenance articles, I will be reviewing a program that claims do everything that I’ve explained over the last 4 weeks, more effectively and with greater simplicity that the programs that are bundled with Microsoft Windows.For the price of around £30 you will get a copy of the program Norton Utilities 2001 – The latest in the Norton range, which, amongst other things includes improved versions of Microsoft Scandisk and Disk Defragmenter that we have covered in previous articles.

Before I elaborate on all the features of Norton Utilities, what exactly does Norton Utilities versions of Scandisk and Disk Defragmenter offer in comparison to their Microsoft Windows counterparts?Well for a start they’re faster and do a more thorough job than their Microsoft counterparts.Hopefully you’ve all taken my advice in previous articles on System Maintained and have had a chance to get to use both of the fore mentioned programs.You’ll know what I’m talking about then, when I say that I tend to find that the Norton versions of these programs don’t seem to restart as often whenever a file is saved to the hard drive or when there are a lot of programs running in memory.

Anyway, I digress.One of the most impressive features of this package is the Norton System Doctor; Just launch this program up and it goes about your computer looking for disk problems, fragmented files, missing program files and invalid parts of your Windows Operating System that can be repaired.All in all this will lead to you having a much more stable computer and will probably add a little bit of extra speed into the mix for good measure.After running Norton System Doctor, you would be wise to run another The Norton Optimisation Wizard – Another component of Norton Utilities.

As its name suggests, this program optimises your Windows files and therefore reduces the amount of time that you are waiting for your computer to load and run.Imagine it being very similar to the way that you would take your car to the garage to have its engine tuned.Even by themselves, these two programs, Norton System Doctor and Norton Optimisation Wizard should themselves be worth the £30 asking price.If you are willing to put aside 30 minutes a month to let them free on your computer, then you will find that your machine will become much more pleasant to use.

In addition to just preventive medicine, if the worst does happen and you have a problem booting up into Windows properly, there are a number of ways that Norton Utilities can help you out.First try getting into Windows Safe Mode and then using System Doctor as detailed above.With any luck, you will be able fix the problem that is preventing you from starting Windows properly.The program also has the option of creating a Rescue Disk, which could provide invaluable if you find that one day you are unable to start Windows at all – Not even in safe mode.The Rescue Disk will allow you to at least start your computer so you can attempt to diagnose the problem by following step by step on screen instructions.

This suite of programs also allows you to un-delete files that you mistakenly deleted.For example, if you have spent days doing a 10,000 word report and then you go and accidentally delete the file, chances are that Norton Un-Erase can restore it for you.In harsh comparison there is also a utility called ‘Wipe info’ which allows you to delete files way beyond recovery, so that if you were working with confidential information and didn’t want anybody to be able to recover the file after it was deleted then you could simply shred it.

In addition to all these extremely useful features there are also a number of smaller utilities that may appeal to certain users only, for example, an improved Windows registry editor, the ability to easily compare the properties of two different files and an improved version of the Recycle Bin.

All in all, taking into account the asking price, I would say that Norton Utilities is an extremely good buy for anybody that uses his or her computer a moderate to heavy amount.Obviously if you only ever write the odd letter using your computer then you probably wouldn’t get the use out of the program and therefore it would be hard for me to recommend it.


About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.