Symantec satisfies a long-felt need with Utilities just for NT

As an OS for power users, NT 4.0 Workstation lacks Win95's warm fuzzies and can scare
off the easily intimidated. Version 4.0 runs on both the Server and Workstation editions
of NT 4.0.


Symantec has avoided some of the superfluous gewgaws in the Win95 Norton Utilities,
such as the System Genie. This NT program is for users who believe in belt-plus-suspenders
management and don't want a lot of small talk.


Geared to system maintenance and data protection, Norton Utilities for NT works well,
but it still seems to be missing some things. First let's look at what it does have.


One feature that users of the Win95 utilities or NT Tools will instantly recognize is
the System Doctor. This module gives an easy and flexible glimpse into your computer's
functions. On the server side, it will prove especially useful to network administrators,
webmasters and technical support personnel.


On the workstation side, you probably won't use it for everyday monitoring but rather
for discovering what exactly is wrong with a desktop computer.


Some of the default monitors gauge CPU use, available disk space and speed of TCP/IP
connections. Other monitors can be added to cover just about any facet of the NT operating
system. The additional utilities will launch and configure from the program, which can be
set to load automatically at startup.


The most useful item is the latest version of Speed Disk. Around for years, this
venerable program's goal is still the same: to help you get as much as you can from your
hard drive. It now optimizes NT File System partitions and the standard File Allocation
Table partitions.


This is no small feat. Symantec is one of the few vendors to offer such a tool.
Optimization speed depends on how fragmented disk files are and what parameters you
specify to work within.


To take advantage of NT's multithreaded nature, you can set Speed Disk to work in
background while you do other things. You can have it run in background all the time,
ensuring speedy data retrieval from heavily accessed servers. Or schedule it to run at
low-load times, letting you move another administrative task into a time slot that does
not conflict with demands on a system.


One of my favorites in all the versions of Norton Utilities is Norton Disk Doctor. If a
disk can't be fixed by Disk Doctor, it's usually not worth the time to try and fix it by
other means. A tool like this is indispensable to almost every user, whatever level of
computer experience or knowledge.


Disk Doctor has always kept a nice balance between hand-holding for neophytes and
knowledgeable customization for those with a few drive crashes under their belts. This
version is no different. It's useful for examining all sorts of writable media and will
come in handy time and again.


The other major modules are the UnErase Wizard and the Protected Recycle Bin. The
Protected Recycle Bin goes the NT Recycle Bin one better by protecting files from deletion
in three additional situations. Files erroneously removed while installing another
program, overwritten while saving or deleted from the command prompt all get cached before
deletion actually takes effect.


Be careful, though. Files do pile up, and older files do get deleted to make way for
new ones. Depending on how much hard-drive space you've allocated to your recycle bin and
how many files you're deleting, a wanted file still might get deleted.


The UnErase Wizard is a pretty good interface for end users who are searching for
missing files.


The program's interface is very similar to the Win95 version, but there are some
discrepancies when it comes to the total package. The NT version has a module that checks
for viruses but doesn't do anything about them.


I guess Symantec expects you to shell out more money for Norton AntiVirus for NT.


One of the good tools in the Win95 version that would be truly helpful with NT is the
Norton Registry Editor. It lets you edit the registry file with relevant help information.
Two other valuable items are a rudimentary tool for mobile power management, and Plug and
Play support for PC Cards.


All in all, Norton Utilities is a good program for Workstation and Server users of
Windows NT 4.0, with a nice collection of tools with a familiar interface and some
features that aren't available elsewhere.


If you work often at an NT machine, you'll need something in this grab bag sooner or
later. But even if you do buy this package, you'll still want the next version of Norton
Utilities for NT.


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