Norton SystemWorks 2003 review: Norton SystemWorks 2003

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Excellent set of hard drive utilities; many user-configurable options; easy-to-navigate interface.

The Bad Difficult to remove previous SystemWorks versions; outrageously expensive phone support; erratically effective in-product help system; only one new, minor feature.

The Bottom Line If you already have SystemWorks, don't bother with this extremely minor upgrade. But if you don't own SystemWorks, buy this version for its high-grade hard drive utilities and the PC protection it provides.

Don't Miss

Norton SystemWorks 2003 is the heir to a package of Norton utilities that date back to the PC's DOS-based history of the mid-1980s. This suite has always been a classy, do-it-all, Swiss-Army-knife-like program, bundling a powerful disk defragmenter, an automated PC diagnosis and repair utility, and, more recently, Norton AntiVirus. If you rely solely on Windows' own utilities, such as ScanDisk, to accomplish these tasks for you, it's time to invest in your PC's future. No matter what version of Windows you use, you'll find Norton SystemWorks 2003's powerful extra features indispensable, and the suite will soon pay for itself--it costs around $70. But if you already own SystemWorks 2002 or even SystemWorks 2001, don't bother upgrading. The improvements in this version are purely cosmetic. Norton SystemWorks 2003 is the heir to a package of Norton utilities that date back to the PC's DOS-based history of the mid-1980s. This suite has always been a classy, do-it-all, Swiss-Army-knife-like program, bundling a powerful disk defragmenter, an automated PC diagnosis and repair utility, and, more recently, Norton AntiVirus. If you rely solely on Windows' own utilities, such as ScanDisk, to accomplish these tasks for you, it's time to invest in your PC's future. No matter what version of Windows you use, you'll find Norton SystemWorks 2003's powerful extra features indispensable, and the suite will soon pay for itself--it costs around $70. But if you already own SystemWorks 2002 or even SystemWorks 2001, don't bother upgrading. The improvements in this version are purely cosmetic.

Installation and interface
When we installed SystemWorks 2003 afresh, it worked without a hitch. However, we sometimes encountered difficulties when we installed the suite over previous releases. Before SystemWorks 2003 will install, it first attempts to remove earlier product versions--in our tests, the program occasionally failed to do so. When that happened, the program advised us to run SymClean, and we had to find an executable file under the Support > SymClean subdirectory on the SystemWorks disc itself. Norton should automate this process. And for us, SymClean did not always remove the previous SystemWorks versions. In one test, it took three tries and several system reboots (SymClean requires a reboot each time) to finish its work. Each attempt was successful but dealt with only one part of SystemWorks 2002's main modules.

Once installed, SystemWorks 2003 looks exactly like SystemWorks 2002 and is extremely easy to configure. The default configuration installs all modules and activates all of Norton's resident programs: Registry Tracker, System Doctor, and Antivirus Auto-Protect, to name a few. The Custom option, on the other hand, lets you select which modules to install.

Feature set
There is one new feature, Connection Keep Alive, which sends packets across a dial-up Internet connection at a default rate of roughly one per minute or any number of minutes you choose. While not as sophisticated as Stay Connected, Connection Keep Alive does prevent disconnection when you're not actively online and can be configured to connect to any address you choose.

Other than that, there are no significant differences between SystemWorks 2003 and its immediate predecessors. Three of the program's main utilities are still present: Utilities, AntiVirus, and CleanSweep. And the new Web Tools main program module simply regroups several former CleanSweep features.

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Norton SystemWorks 2003

Part Number: 10025223
MSRP: $69.95 Low Price: $62.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Category utilities
  • Compatibility PC