The latest version, SystemWorks 2001, retains all the handy features you've come to know and expect from Norton, including Utilities, AntiVirus and CleanSweep. But the $59.95 (street) application also adds some nifty new tools: It's now a multiplatform ap-plication, supporting Windows 95, 98, Me, NT and 2000. And it adds a one-button check-up feature that allows you to identify and repair problems with a single mouse click.
When you launch the program, the first SystemWorks screen features the One Button Checkup in the main window and a list of links on the left-hand side. These links take you to the different features mentioned above.
The One Button Check-up integrates the key features of SystemWorks into a single scan-and-repair process. One click will scan your Windows registry, find missing application files, check whether your virus protection is up to date, measure the amount of free space available, check the level of disk fragmentation, diagnose hard-drive problems and more. Once the scan is completed, you can elect to repair the problems with another click. In previous editions, some scans were grouped, but in most cases, you'd have had to run each check separately. Be warned, however: The check-up will take some time on a computer that hasn't been checked recently-or one that has a lot of problems. It found 72 errors on the PC I tested it on, and it took nearly two hours to run its course and repair them. Of course, the fewer errors it finds, the quicker the process.
You also can choose to run the different scans individually, using the menu options available on the left-hand side of the screen. Norton Utilities features tools designed to optimize the performance of your computer, find and fix problems, perform system maintenance, and maintain your registry. Because the application walks you through each step and explains what each tool does, even novice users will be able to understand it.
The left-hand menu also features links to Norton AntiVirus, which will scan for viruses, repair damaged files and update your virus protection; Norton CleanSweep, which cleans your hard drive of files you no longer need; and Symantec Web Partners, a series of helpful Web-based resources for PC maintenance.
There's not much SystemWorks can't do. The improvement in my PC's performance after running the program wasn't huge, but it was definitely noticeable. And it's a great place to start when you've got a sluggish PC and you're not sure why.
Liane Gouthro, a former technology reporter at PCWorld.com, freelances from her home in Brookline, Massachusetts..