Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 130 / JUNE 1991 / PAGE 130

The Norton Backup and the Norton Editor. (utility software) (evaluation)
by Steven Anzovin

The Peter Norton name represents a growing force in the PC utility program world. First there was The Norton Utilities, a best-selling package of lifesaving disk and file tools. Now Symantec, which owns Peter Norton Computing, has released new versions of two other benchmark Norton creations: The Norton Backup and The Norton Editor.

Everybody knows that backing up your hard disk is the first commandment of serious computing. But no matter how many times you hear this, chances are you don't back up as often as you should--and that's courting disaster. The Norton Backup, a network-oriented backup program that also works for users of stand-alone PCs, tries to make backing up as easy as possible so that you won't procrastinate.

Network users can take advantage of The Norton Backup's ability to automatically back up hard drives using multiple DOS devices as targets, including partitions, tape drives, and disk servers. Just enter the backup parameters, hit the Enter key, and head for home. Advanced features for setting the level of data verification, routing backups to more than one device, setting archive flags, and backup-schedule prompting are only a few of the options provided. However, most home users must back up their hard disks to floppies, which has to be one of the most boring tasks in the world. The Norton Backup does everything possible to make backing up to floppies quick and painless.

The program interface is simple and uncluttered. Once you've installed the program, you can select one of five backup types, from a full backup of the entire disk to various partial backup schemes that copy only those files that are new or have been changed since the last backup. The usual procedure is to make a full backup right away and to make only partial backups thereafter, in order to save time and effort.

The Norton Backup also uses more efficient data compression schemes than does the DOS backup command, saving even more time and floppies. (Though I found that a high level of data compression slows backup and restoration times for individual disks, your reward is using fewer disks overall.)

The DOS backup command requires that you format floppies before backing up to them, but The Norton Backup formats them for you. It even rejects bvad floppies without aborting the backup sequence; not every backup program on the market will do that. (Having been through the aggravation of nearly completing a forty-floppy backup and then having to do it all over again because the last floppy developed a bad sector. I'd buy The Norton Backup for this feature alone.)

The Norton Backup is a solid program with no bugs that I could find (I didn't test it on a large network). The only feature I wished for was a timed backup, so backups could be set to occur automatically at a specific time each day (say, 5:01 p.m.). The manual is a model of clarity, but it needs a more comprehensive index.

The Norton Editor isd a lean, mean ASCII text editor geared primarily toward programmers. Though The Norton Editor does have such basics as word-wrap, block markers (for copying, moving, and deleting blocks), and rudimentary paragraph formatting, you wouldn't want it as your primary word processor. But if you write your own Pascal, C, or BASIC programs, it can save you time and effort with several useful features. Autoindenting keeps your code orderly, while an outlining feature displays only lines that begin with a number or letter in the leftmost column. A matching brackets feature finds missing brackets within a line. Along the bottom of the screen is an info bar that gives a running account of RAM use, file size, number of lines, and program settings. Using a hot-key scheme, you can pop out to DOS at any time to run another program and then return to the editor by just pressing Enter. Two files can be viewed at the same time--useful when you want to compare two versions of program code. There's also mouse support including Windows-like menus and dialog boxes.

Probably the biggest advantage of The Norton Editor is its small size and parsimonious use of memory. You can run it in 130K of RAM--you can't do that with any of the leading word processors on the market and still edit files of any size. The Norton Classic Editor, an earlier version of the program included with the package, can run in as little as 50K. This is the editor for programmers with older machines or those who want an editor that doesn't steal RAM from big code files. The only serious problem I found with either program is the lack of a usable U ndo command.

The Norton Backup and The Norton Editor uphold the Norton tradition of usefulness, simplicity, and value. Put both on your shopping list if you're in the market for utilities.