capsule review

Norton Utilities 6.0

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With the release of Mac OS X looming, it's heartening to witness the issuance of such mainstay utilities as Symantec's Norton Utilities for Macintosh (NUM) in OS X beta-compatible form. You might wish, however, that Symantec had included features likely to tempt those who have no immediate plans to run OS X. Unfortunately, NUM 6.0 offers very little beyond the troubleshooting suite's standards - DiskDoctor, a diagnostic and repair utility; UnErase and Volume Recover, for recovering deleted files; and Speed Disk, a disk-optimization application.

New and Improved?

The value of the few new features is difficult to discern. Volume Recover now lets you rebuild a disk's directory - which, according to Symantec, increases the chances of recovering your data - yet we had no more luck recovering data from a corrupt Zip disk than with the previous iteration. And while the latest version of UnErase did manage to recover about 33 percent more files from our Zip disk than did UnErase 5.0.3, few of the recovered files contained usable data.

The updated Speed Disk is more flexible, allowing you to select from a few optimization profiles. For example, the Multimedia setting quickly maximizes adjacent free space without optimizing or defragmenting other files on the drive; you can also defragment only recently used files. These settings do speed up the optimization process, but once the volume is optimized, you probably won't notice a performance gain from the drive.

On a positive note, NUM now scans, repairs, and optimizes OS X-beta volumes when booted under OS 9. In our tests, NUM was able to correct thousands of creation and modification dates on an OS X volume, as well as optimize the volume.

Old Standby

While version 6.0's new features may not compel many current NUM 5.X users to upgrade, NUM remains a worthwhile utility. Alsoft's DiskWarrior ( ) continues to handle low-level corruption more capably, but NUM has its uses. With FileSaver enabled, the program improves your chances of recovering lost files; Speed Disk is an able disk-optimization program; and DiskDoctor can put many ailing volumes and files back on their feet.

What's Up, Doc?:   Norton Utilities 6.0's DiskDoctor scans and repairs Mac OS X-beta volumes.

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