Symantec search utilities help mine the Net for gold

The main utility is WebFind. It submits your search criteria to several World Wide Web
search engines at once for multiple online searches, when one well-thought-out search
might have been adequate.


Such products needlessly take up Web resources. WebFind does its job well, though,
removing duplicate entries and putting search results in order.


Next on Symantec's lineup is NetFileFind, which works like WebFind with a twist.
Instead of looking for Web sites, NetFileFind searches the Internet for a specific file.
This would be more useful if it were designed for use with intranets.


NetFileFind connects to an Archie server file-indexing system, and reports back
results. It presents you with a list to download or refers the site to the package's
EasyFTP utility, which lets you track your most-visited File Transfer Protocol sites.
Think of EasyFTP as an FTP bookmark.


The next utility, PatchConnect, is similar to CyberMedia Inc.'s Oil Change but not
nearly as good. It scans your system setup to see what hardware and software you have,
then jumps you to certain manufacturers' Web sites to download new drivers and software
patches. If it has no Web or FTP site information, it takes you to Microsoft Corp.'s Web
site.


The problem with this approach is that when you're transferred to the appropriate Web
site, you still must hunt for the right driver. PatchConnect lists your hardware and
software but not which driver versions you have. You can of course go into Windows 95's
Device Manager or the Windows NT Control Panel icon to find the driver versions.


Unlike Oil Change, PatchConnect supports Windows NT as well as Windows 95, as do all
the other Internet FastFind utilities.


Notify, another utility, is useful. It can monitor changes in a Web page, an FTP site,
or network files and folders, alerting you automatically or manually. For automatic mode,
you must leave Notify running constantly--a problem if your system is short on resources.


I was pleased to be able to tell whether network files or folders had been modified,
especially shared document files in a shared folder.


If a Web page, FTP site or file has changed, you can get a pop-up message about it or
retrieve it from a file folder. This is helpful for Web pages with constantly updated
information, and it's valuable on intranets.


Another utility, WebLaunch, lets you access your browser's list of Favorites or
Bookmarks from the Windows Taskbar. In effect, you can have multiple start pages depending
on your needs.


Under Microsoft Windows 95 and NT, the program can drop shortcuts into your desktop to
reference Web sites, but WebLaunch does let you conserve valuable desktop space.


A compression utility called EasyZIP can compress and decompress files from within the
Windows Explorer, much like the tool already in Norton Navigator and Norton NT Tools. This
is such a commonsense utility, it's hard to see why Microsoft Corp. doesn't put something
similar in its operating systems.


Completing the package is a button for access to Internet FastFind's own latest
updates. But missing is a virus scanner to scan files as you download them. Also, you
should be able to limit WebFind to just two or three search engines. PatchConnect's
problems could be easily remedied to make a much stronger product.


Taken together, these utilities score a few hits and a few misses. If you really need
one of them, then the whole package may be worth buying. Otherwise, wait until Symantec
comes out with a more integrated and robust set of Internet tools.


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