All of these products are fine tools. But for those just getting involved in the Mac platform — or those who may not have bothered to purchase maintenance and anti-virus utilities (and if that’s you, you’re living very dangerously) — I heartedly recommend the new SystemWorks package from Symantec. It includes Norton Utilities for Macintosh (NUM) 6.0, Norton AntiVirus for Macintosh 7.0, LiveUpdate 1.6, Dantz Retrospect Express, and Aladdin’s Spring Cleaning. It’s a sweet little package that will help keep your Mac up and running.
Norton Utilities for the Mac (NUM) is used for disk repair, data recovery, and drive optimization. The latest version has beefed up its ability to recover lost data by scavenging old directories and rebuilding the catalog tree to improve your odds of recovering your info. Version 6.0 also added the ability to create and add custom Speed Disk optimization profiles. While many users won’t need this feature, those heavily into multimedia and gaming should be impressed because you can build and import custom profiles for digital video production, videogames, MP3 files, and more. Or you can incorporate profiles that others make.
NUM 6.0 also lets you rebuild your desktop. Its Disk Doctor feature will let you force-rebuild your desktop by deleting the present one. You can now rebuild directories from Volume Recover and repair, optimize, recover, and wipe free space on volumes, all from a contextual menu.
NUM also now has the ability to update the product via the Internet with LiveUpdate, and Live Repair for hard disks. (LiveUpdate is an Internet-based solution that automatically downloads product patches and updated virus definitions.)
Norton AntiVirus detects and kills computer viruses. One of the things I really like about it is the preference setting that lets you set protection at zero, minimal, standard, or full. Corresponding features will be turned on and off automatically to meet the level of protection you choose. The latest version will also automatically scan e-mail attachments for viruses. When an e-mail attachment is downloaded, the Auto-protect feature looks for viruses and performs repairs if any are needed.
As with NUM, the LiveUpdate feature is beefed up. In the case of AntiVirus, it offers faster downloads, plus HTTP and proxy support. You don’t have to restart the utility after updating virus definitions. And version 7.0 adds a “repair on open” feature, support for Contextual Menus, and offers Auto-protect access from the Control Strip.
Besides offering a better price than purchasing NUM and AntiVirus separately, Norton SystemWorks provides a single interface for accessing both apps, as well as LiveUpdate 1.6. What’s more, it offers a single installation, single bootable disk, one update center, and one tech support number for all three products, all of which makes your computing life a little less troublesome.
And the latest version of NUM and AntiVirus also pave the way for Mac OS X. Norton Utilities can analyze and repair both Mac OS 9 and OS X disks. Norton AntiVirus 7.0 can scan and repair viruses on Mac OS X. (However, you’ll need to boot from OS 9 to repair OS X disks.)
And the inclusion of Retrospect Express (perhaps the most popular backup program for the Mac) and Aladdin Spring Cleaning (a nifty utility that lets you uninstall old software, wipe away Internet tracks, delete unattached aliases, and more) add value to the SystemWorks package.
Despite the new features and extra goodies, if you already own NUM and AntiVirus, SystemWorks might not be worth the upgrade price. Current users of Utilities can upgrade for $49.95. AntiVirus users can upgrade for $39.95.
But if you don’t own either, put this on your must-have list. SystemWorks costs US$129.95. It requires a Power Mac, Mac OS 8.1 or higher, 32MB of RAM, 25MB of available hard disk space for installation, CD-ROM drive, and an Internet connection to take advantage of the LiveUpdate functionality. You’ll need to have 10 percent of your disk space available for the Speed Disk feature.