Data loss is not something that happens only to other people. Misadventure will cause you, too, to lose files, folders, or even entire disks — if it hasn’t already. A package such as Norton Utilities 7.0.1 for Macintosh — Symantec’s OS X-only update to its well-known set of tools for file and disk recovery and maintenance — can save your day.
Norton Disk Doctor, the suite’s main application, checks for a variety of problems on your disk and its files, and in most cases, it offers to fix them. You select the volumes you want to check, and the program shows its progress in the main window. It can also optionally perform a media scan to see whether your disk has any bad blocks. This check, as well as more-elaborate repairs, can’t be performed on the current startup disk, so you have to boot into OS 9 from the Norton Utilities 7.0 CD and run the OS 9 version of Norton Utilities, also on the CD. The only thing new in this version is that it runs in OS X and checks for some new,OS X-specific errors. No single trial can verify the efficacy of Norton Disk Doctor’s catalog-repair abilities, but the repairs it performs are appropriate and wide ranging.
Norton Utilities 7.0’s Speed Disk, the Mac’s most capable and configurable disk optimizer and defragmenter, is also fundamentally unchanged, with one exception: it now includes an optimization profile — a collection of rules for distributing a disk’s files to maximize performance — specifically for OS X. While Speed Disk can perform simple defragmentation on the current startup disk, you will have to boot from another volume if you want to perform a full optimization.
To test UnErase, which aims to recover accidentally deleted files, we deleted a large image file made with OS X’s Disk Copy utility, and we restored it to another disk. Since Disk Copy verifies the integrity of its files, we were able to make sure that the file was recovered with its contents intact. However, this positive outcome is the direct result of our not having changed any files on the disk; the longer you wait after deleting the file and then trying to recover it, the less likely you are to unerase a file successfully.
Norton Disk Doctor, Speed Disk, and UnErase performed as expected, but Norton Disk Doctor and Speed Disk were much slower than their OS 9-only predecessor, version 6.0.3, running on the same machine.
Finally, we are concerned about the three kernel extensions (kexts) that Norton Utilities installs; without them, Norton Disk Doctor won’t even verify non-startup disks. Kexts are the OS X equivalent of OS 9’s Extensions (or INITs), and as such, they should be installed only in rare cases. While it’s entirely possible that some of Norton Utilities’ advanced features require something as invasive as a kext, it should be possible to verify a non-startup volume without installing them.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Norton Utilities 7.0.1 is a worthwhile addition to any conscientious OS X user’s tool chest; however, if you’re looking for a bargain, we recommend purchasing Nor-ton SystemWorks 2.0, which includes Norton Utilities 7, the OS X-native Norton AntiVirus 8.0, a recovery-only version of DiskWarrior, and several other tools, for $30 more.