Tune Your PC to Perfection – Symantec’s Norton SystemWorks 1.0 disk/file management software and Network Associates’ McAfee Office file maintenance software – Software Review – Evaluation
Victoria Hall Smith
Requirements WIN 95/98, 32MB of RAM, 189MB of hard-disk
space, CD-ROM drive
Est. Street Price $100 READER SERVICE 115
Publisher Network Associates, 800-338-8754,
Requirements WIN 95/98, 32MB of RAM, 115MB of hard-disk space,
List Price $70 READER SERVICE 116
Publisher Symantec, 800-441-7234, www.symantec.com
THE MORE WE USE OUR computers, the more productive we become–and the more we unintentionally degrade their performance with duplicate and outdated files, conflicting drivers, and fragmented hard disks. Symantec and Network Associates have gathered their ample libraries of utility products and bundled them into suites that aim to simplify keeping PCs humming and bad events at bay. But similar purposes don’t automatically yield similar products.
Symantec’s Norton SystemWorks 1.0 includes the granddaddy of system maintenance Norton Utilities, along with Norton AntiVirus, CrashGuard, and Web Services. Its free bonus pack is loaded with Quarterdeck’s Remove-It 98, a lite version of Symantec’s WinFax Pro, and everything you need for mobile computing and remote access. Because most of these products have been in Symantec’s stable for some time, integration is pretty seamless and our installation of SystemWorks was uneventful, though it took us an hour to install and configure all the utilities in this suite.
Norton Disk Doctor offered to repair a minor problem it detected when it scanned for lost clusters, but some SystemWorks repair options were confusing. For example, WinDoctor found several invalid or lost keys in our Windows 98 registry, but advised us to save them to a floppy as well as deleting them. Overall, though, we noticed about a 30 percent improvement in our PC’s performance after using System-Works.
McAfee Office from Network Associates is a collection of 10 security and utility programs drawn from its own leading products and those gained in last year’s acquisition of CyberMedia. System analysis, repair, and monitoring are handled by Nuts & Bolts 98, which is designed for experienced users; First Aid 98 is intended for novices who want to tweak their computers. Both utilities share nearly identical features, but Nuts & Bolts is a more sophisticated product for fine-tuning PCs. The virus-fighter McAfee VirusScan 4.0 scanned our system for infections and Guard Dog helped protect our Web browsing experience from unwanted cookies or privacy invasions. Unfortunately, the package’s 2000 ToolBox utility did little to fix the ominous Year 2000 problem except checking the date fields in our software while leaving our BIOS alone.
Despite the considerable promise and strength of McAfee Office’s individual products, the suite was one of the most unstable shipping programs we have ever used. In a particularly boneheaded move, the software required us to install each utility separately, restart our PC, and then run a test for compatibility (imagine having to install every portion of Microsoft Office, reboot, and then test it!). Actually, we didn’t have to test our system–it crashed every time we attempted to add another utility. It took over an hour with Network Associates’s technical support staff and disabling many features before we could get many features to work.
McAfee Office is an impressive suite of products, but the company has more work to do on compatibility, so much so that we suggest you wait for the next version. For now, make the move to Norton SystemWorks.
PROS A bargain bundle of impressive utilities
CONS Ludicrously clumsy installation and confounding system crashes
PROS Well-integrated collection of PC utilities
CONS Some confusing error messages
HOME OFFICE COMPUTING’S product scores are weighted averages of 1- to 10-point ratings for: Value (30 percent of total), Performance (30 percent of total), Ease of Use (20 percent of total), and Suitability for Home Office Use (20 percent of total).
V = Value
P = Performance
E = Ease of Use
S = Suitability for Home Office Use
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