Norton Utilities 14 review
An overpriced collection of optimisation tools that falls far short of its promise
Review Date: 16 Mar 2009
Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith
Price when reviewed: £35 (£40 inc VAT)
Norton Utilities was once an invaluable suite of tools for the technically proficient PC user. But after a six-year absence this new version arrives with a different spin. Under the strapline "your PC, good as new", it now focuses on helping inexperienced users improve the performance of an ageing system.
The actual suite of utilities is pretty mean. All you can do from the main 'optimise' section of the interface is clean and defragment your disks and registry and manage startup items and services. The disk cleanup utility does little that the standard Windows feature doesn't (though it's more configurable), and clicking on the defragmenter icon merely launches the native Windows tool.
To test the registry tools, we installed Norton Utilities on an XP system that had seen several years of heavy use, and which was now so bogged down it took 1min 10sec to boot even with a Core i7 CPU and 3GB of RAM. Norton found and repaired 907 errors in our registry, and the defragmenter then compacted its size by 3%. Afterwards we found our boot time had actually increased significantly, to 2min 12sec: not an encouraging result.
The Startup Manager is a good idea, but it doesn't help you identify what you can safely remove: it just shows the names and publishers of startup items. For the inexperienced users at whom the suite's aimed, that's likely to be intimidating. Those who do know what they're doing will be better off with SysInternals' Autoruns utility, which is free and digs more deeply into the registry.
Finally, with the Services Manager you can set non-essential services to manual rather than automatic invocation. This might speed up your boot time by a few seconds, and spare some RAM, but it won't breathe new life into a dying machine.
These uncertain tools are supported by a range of utilities for system monitoring and benchmarking, but as usual with suites like this they're almost all just clones of free tools or existing Windows features. Indeed, a whole section of the program is filled with shortcuts to Windows tools.
That this flimsy package costs £40 inc VAT only adds insult to injury - even the dismal Avanquest System Suite 9 is better value, since that suite at least includes basic virus protection. It all adds up to a travesty of a venerable brand that should have been left to rest in peace.
Author: Darien Graham-Smith
- Sky broadband recovering after copper theft outage
- BT follows Sky and TalkTalk with network-level porn filter
- Google might ditch Intel for its own server chips
- Qualcomm names new CEO - taking him off Microsoft's shortlist
- Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions leap by 22%
- Twitter quickly reverses blocking changes after protest
- Flickr crashes briefly after Yahoo Mail outage
- Government asks ISPs to help with online security
- Sony unveils two-in-one USB stick for tablet storage
- HP's Whitman: desktops aren't dead
- Play it again: Berlin's Computer Game Museum
- Switching from iPhone to Android: what I miss, what I don't
- Tech City: Easy to score when you move the goalposts
- How to remove SkyDrive from the Windows 8.1 Explorer
- Switching from iPhone to Android? Switch off iMessage
- Why is Google pumping more money into Firefox?
- Sky Broadband Shield review
- Samsung Galaxy S4: how to double your battery life
- Motorola Moto G review: first look
- IBM Watson meets Willy Wonka
- Best gifts for Christmas 2013: tech gifts for less than £200
- Online "experts" are full of hot air
- Best tablet PCs to buy in 2013
- Closer to reality: photorealism in computer graphics
- Windows 8.1: Top 10 advanced features
- Securing the Internet of Things
- Internet of Things: five unlikely hacking risks
- Life behind the wall: censorship in China
- 42 best Android apps
- 3D museums that never close
- The importance of load balancing
- Windows Phone App Studio: an easy way to create your first Windows Phone 8 app
- The end of Windows XP support: what it really means for businesses
- Don't rely on Chrome's password vault
- Using Buffer to manage your social media
- Microsoft needs its own Steve Jobs
- Forget credit cards: hackers want your Facebook account
- Can't get fast enough broadband? Here's what to do
- Leap Motion and the battle against UI stagnation
- How to build a really bad network