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System fine tuning for the IT novice

Symantec's Norton SystemWorks Standard Edition simplifies system maintenance -- once you get it installed

Once I was able to get Norton SystemWorks Standard Edition from Symantec installed on my PC the program was a breeze. Unfortunately, getting it installed proved to be a lengthy and frustrating experience.

As part of Symantec’s Norton-branded line of consumer products, SystemWorks is a collection of utility and security tools, designed to keep your computer safe from viruses and spyware as well as tune-up and optimize your PC to get the best system performance possible. The suite includes applications such as Norton Utilities, Cleanup and GoBack, as well as Norton AntiVirus.

As mentioned, while I found SystemWorks to be easy to use, the real challenge was the installation. Not that the installation was complicated, it was a fairly standard process.

However, on my first three attempts, over two nights, the installation ran very slowly and ultimately froze each time. While I was installing on a two-year old Windows XP-based Dell notebook, the specs were well within the recommended minimums. Nevertheless, the CPU would constantly max-out. Only when I went back and attempted the install without GoBack checked did the installation proceed successfully.

Once I had the application installed I found it much easier going. Rather than provide the user with a list of utilities they may not understand, the main SystemWorks menu provides options such as Find and Fix Problems, Optimize Your PC and Erase Unwanted Data. The utilizes are then grouped under each menu, with a brief explication of their function.

Continuing the user friendliness trend, each utility itself is designed to run in a wizard-like fashion, suggesting and automatically performing fixes. While a more manual approach can be taken if desired, the automation is a plus for the IT novice.

Running the One Button Cleanup tool I found quite a few issues on my notebook, including 539 Windows registry errors that were automatically fixed. I also ran a very lengthy hard drive optimization.

Other tools allow for the monitoring of system performance, and various metrics such as CPU and memory utilization, while others allow for the thorough erasure of personal information and the recovery of deleted files.

While the various utilities did identify and simply fix a great number of system issues with my notebook, I can’t report a huge difference in system performance. While my system may be running a little faster, the difference certainly isn’t dramatic.

Also included with SystemWorks is Norton’s AntiVirus suite, which includes protection from both viruses and spyware. It includes intrusion detection, e-mail and instant messaging scanning and phishing protection, with a bar in the browser indicating the Web page visited is legitimate.

With pricing starting at $69.99, Norton SystemWorks Standard Edition is a user-friendly suite of system utilities for the novice user. While the difference in system performance may not be dramatic, with the anti-virus and spyware tools included it may be worth it for users looking to purchase those functions anyway. Just install GoBack separately.