RealTime IT News

Norton Utilities Returns With a New Purpose

Symantec is resurrecting a name from its past with the re-introduction of Norton Utilities, a set of new and updated tools to optimize PC performance. NU was last seen around 2004 before being merged in with Symantec's Systemworks.

However, as long as there are PCs there will always be poorly-running PCs. As Norton Utilities faded into the background, the need for PC help was filled by everything from trialware, such as System Mechanic from iolo Technologies, to Web-based maintenance like FinallyFast.com, which features amusing commercials of Apple Macintosh computers getting the Windows blue screen of death.

Also, Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) acquired another tools and maintenance vendor, PC Tools, last August, which set the stage for NUs comeback.

"We've been looking at the market recently and what users are doing, and one of the themes that kept coming up was people wanted to run a little faster, but they are running more apps and noticed their systems are bogging down," Robert Reynolds, senior product manager for Norton SystemWorks and Norton Utilities told InternetNews.com.

Symantec observed that an increasing number of users were doing a lot more than in the past with their PC, running many apps and utilities in the background. At the same time, many had underpowered systems. About 40 percent of tech support callers had under 512MB of memory on their machine.

While there's not much Symantec can do about that, it does think it has "a compelling argument for tools that help your PC run like it did when you first got it," said Reynolds.

PC life maintenance

That meant thinking of Norton Utilities in a different way. Instead of being a "bucket of tools" that were hard to use, it was rewritten as a single app, relatively lightweight (20MB) and aimed at PC life maintenance.

The new NU includes a startup manager services manager, which focuses on background services the user would not need. Windows Vista is particularly known for loading a lot of memory and CPU-consuming services that the average home user does not need, so it offers help in choosing which to disable.

NU also has a Registry cleaner and Registry defragmenter, a junk file cleanup utility and performance testing to benchmark the computer and compare it against others.

Norton Utilities is meant to be run regularly to keep the computer from getting to the point where it's clogged with junk files and a Registry full of references it does not need. "Your PC might not be optimized like it would be on a fresh, clean install because you've got apps installed, but we are keeping your system running longer," said Reynolds.

Norton Utilities is now available for purchase in the U.S. through the Symantec online store and will become available in retail locations in the coming weeks. The suggested retail price is $49.99.