New tools for old problems

Peter Norton gained fame from the widespread acceptance of his DOS-based Norton Utilities. Norton Utilities was successful because it plugged some huge, gaping holes in MS-DOS. But that was a long time ago, and Windows NT doesn't have the same holes. You can't compare Symantec's Norton NT Tools to Norton Utilities for DOS and Windows--they're different solutions for different OSs. A better way to look at Norton NT Tools is to view it as four of the best programs from Symantec's family of Norton products, all ported to run as native, 32-bit NT applications (Intel only). Those programs are the AntiVirus Scanner, the File Manager, System Information and System Doctor, and the Control Center.

Norton AntiVirus Scanner
Screen 1 shows Norton AntiVirus Scanner, which works on all NT file systems and can detect (and often eliminate) thousands of viruses. Symantec updates virus lists monthly, and you can download these lists into the product from http://www.symantec.com/avcenter or ftp://ftp.symantec.com (Internet), GO SYMANTEC (CompuServe), SYMANTEC (AOL), and SYM-NAV95 (Microsoft Network--MSN).

Norton File Manager
Screen 2 shows Norton File Manager, which supports local file browsing, network browsing, and FTP server browsing. With an interface adapted from Norton Navigator, Norton File Manager includes several interesting value-added features, such as the capability to zip and unzip files.

Norton System Information and Norton System Doctor
Screen 3 shows Norton System Information and Norton System Doctor, which let you view your system's resources and configuration settings. The System Information program lets you see the overall system environment, and the System Doctor provides ongoing information about system resources.

Norton Control Center
Norton Control Center lets you customize the operation and behavior of Norton AntiVirus Scanner. It also lets you customize Norton System Doctor.

Norton NT Tools Time
Installing Norton NT Tools was easy, and I didn't have to reboot the system. Following installation, the program asked me whether to launch the virus scanner--a handy step in the process. When I launched it, I was annoyed to find that my virus list was outdated and I needed to download a new list--nothing like installing a brand new product from a shrink-wrapped box only to find some of it obsolete. Fortunately, after I ignored that warning, the virus scanner began examining my hard drive with the existing virus list.

You can invoke any of the tools from the Norton NT Tools program group. Alternatively, you can set Norton System Doctor to activate when NT starts, and you can configure the virus scanner to run at scheduled intervals. Symantec provides high-quality printed and electronic documentation for all products.

All the Norton NT Tools worked as advertised when I ran them in the Windows NT Magazine lab. As I reviewed Norton NT Tools, I wondered: How much better is Norton NT Tools than NT's tools? Is Norton File Manager dramatically better than NT's File Manager? Do Norton System Information and Norton System Doctor present system information better than NT's Diagnostic, Performance Monitor (Perfmon), and Disk Administrator programs? (NT has no counterpart for Norton AntiVirus Scanner.)

Judging Norton NT Tools against the standard NT tools is subjective. I find that Norton NT Tools does a better job organizing and presenting information than the standard NT tools. I can also point to specific features in Norton NT Tools that don't have equivalent features in NT.

For example, you can browse local files, network-based files, and FTP server files (assuming you have an Internet connection) with Norton File Manager. Similarly, Norton File Manager provides tool buttons to zip and unzip files. Of course, you can just as well use any FTP client program or a zip and unzip utility. The point, however, is that Norton NT Tools puts several useful tools at your fingertips. You don't have to open a separate program or access the command line to start an FTP client or invoke a zip and unzip utility.

Similarly, Norton System Information and Norton System Doctor programs provide detailed information about system resources in a convenient visual format. Norton System Information presents detailed information similar to the NT Diagnostic tool, but in an appealing, organized fashion. Norton System Doctor displays easy-to-read gauges and indicators that show current CPU, hard disk, and memory utilization.

After comparing the features of Norton NT Tools to the standard Windows NT tools, I concluded that Norton NT Tools would be a worthwhile addition to any NT system I used. The add-on feature in the Norton File Manager impressed me. I like the FTP and zip/unzip support in particular, but you may find other product features that ring your chimes. Norton NT Tools is clearly a product that casts a wide net of features to capture a broad base of potential users.

Tools You Need?
Is Norton NT Tools a valuable addition to most NT systems? Absolutely. Are these tools first class implementations of virus scanning, file management, and system resource management? Sure. Can you live without Norton NT Tools? You'll have to decide. However, considering its price of $49.95, the value-added features in Norton NT Tools make the package pretty hard to pass by.

Norton NT Tools
System Requirements: 386/33 or higher (uniprocessor and multiprocessor machines); EGA, VGA, SVGA; 16MB of RAM; 8.5MB of free hard disk space; NT Workstation version 3.51 or later; NT Server version 3.51 or later
Symantec * 800-441-7234 or 541-334-6054
Email: webmaster@symantec.com
Web: http://www.symantec.com
Price: $49.95 (CD-ROM)