The Norton Utilities for Macintosh. (utility program) (Review) (evaluation)
by Steven Anzovin
On the PC, The Norton Utilities has long been the best-selling set of disk tools. Now Peter Norton has ported his bag of tricks to the Mac and has come up with a winning package of utilities for fixing disks and saving data. The package includes Norton Disk Doctor, UnErase, Speed Disk, Format Recover, Disk Editor, Keyfinder, and Fast Find.
If you sometimes see the sick Mac face when you boot up or if you've lost work to a damaged or crashed disk, you need Norton Disk Doctor. This suite of diagnostic and recovery programs can fix 45 kinds of problems that render disks unbootable and files unreadable. I tried it on a couple of corrupted MS-DOS files I had earlier ported to my Mac, and the program recovered everything but a few bytes.
Whiplash is a common malady on the Mac that's caused by slapping yourself in the forehead when you've trashed a file you really wanted to keep. The trashed files are actually still on your disk, but they can be overwritten at any time by another file. Norton's FileSaver cdev keeps track of hundreds of deleted files, while another program, UnErase, helps you save them before they're gone forever. UnErase displays a list of files you can still recover and tells you if they're in good shape or if they're poor candidates for recovery. I tried to recover several trashed files and found that, in most cases, even files in poor condition can be UnErased with only minor patchups.
If you've forgotten yourself so much that you've accidentally formatted your disk, the Format Recover program can probably restore most of the lost material.
Speed Disk optimizes your disk by defragmenting files that have been splattered all over the disk by frequent write operations. Fragmented files make your drive do more seeks, which really slow things down. While Speed Disk isn't as fast as other defragmenters, such as Symantec;s HD Tuneup, it gets the job done - and it reorganizes your directories, which speeds up your disk even more.
The documentation is easy to use and well organized. The instructions on how to recover from a disk crash or fix a damaged disk are right up front in the manual, where panicked users can find them quickly. Also included in the package is a red emergency floppy that you can use immediately to help get you out of a jam. Many of the other disk utility programs make you create your own emergency startup disk, which the typical lazy user may never get around to doing.
Rounding out the package are some useful utilities for managing files and folders from the Open and Save dialog boxes, customizing the look of the Finder, snooping around in hex and ASCII, and more. All in all, The Norton Utilities for the Macintosh is a package well worth having, even if you already own another disk utility.