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Norton GoBack 3.0 review:

Norton GoBack 3.0

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MSRP: $39.95

Norton GoBack 3.0

(Part #: 10205569)
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The Good Restores entire system to a previous state.

The Bad Not as helpful for the Windows Me OS, which has similar utility already built in.

The Bottom Line If you have Windows Me, skip this utility. Everyone else, keep handy GoBack around to restore system operation and prevent the needless headache of reinstalling Windows.

CNET Editors' Rating

9.0 Overall

So you've just finished downloading and installing a dandy new utility, but it corrupted your copy of Internet Explorer. Or perhaps you slipped up and opened a nasty attachment, unleashing a virus that's gobbled up your system. You'll go half mad trying to undo the damage, unless you're running Symantec's Norton GoBack 3.0, a nifty utility that allows you to easily and reliably restore your system to a time when it worked properly. Windows Me fans can pass on this app, since the OS has a similar utility built right in. But if you run any other version of Windows, keep a copy of GoBack on hand.So you've just finished downloading and installing a dandy new utility, but it corrupted your copy of Internet Explorer. Or perhaps you slipped up and opened a nasty attachment, unleashing a virus that's gobbled up your system. You'll go half mad trying to undo the damage, unless you're running Symantec's Norton GoBack 3.0, a nifty utility that allows you to easily and reliably restore your system to a time when it worked properly. (Note: Roxio sold GoBack to Symantec on June 16, 2003.) Windows Me fans can pass on this app, since the OS has a similar utility built right in. But if you run any other version of Windows, keep a copy of GoBack on hand.

Easy installation
The installation process is easy: Simply agree to the user license and view the read-me file, then choose either an easy or custom install and select which drives (C:, D:, and so on) you want GoBack to protect. GoBack then installs and examines your drives to take the baseline snapshot of the system. Reboot the system to complete the installation, and you're ready to go.

How it works
GoBack works like a virtual drive. Once you've installed the software, it allocates about 10 percent of your hard drive to saving snapshots, or virtual photographs, of your system's state at any given time. (You can allocate less space if you're in a crunch.) GoBack hides these snapshot files (gobackio.bin) in the root directory of your C: drive, and while you can elect to copy the snapshot file to another of the drive's partitions, it must reside on the physical drive--that means you can't save snapshots to removable media such as a CD-RW or a Jaz drive if drive space is a concern.

After GoBack takes the initial snapshot of the system, the software creates new snapshots whenever it detects a change in a file, in software, or in your system's configuration. This system is handy because you don't have to guess how often to update your snapshots. Plus, there's no need to maintain the space allocated to GoBack snapshots. All snapshots remain on the system until they fill up the drive space you've allocated to GoBack. At this point, GoBack deletes the oldest snapshots to make space for the newer ones. Depending on the size of the drive, you may be able to choose among hundreds of snapshots.

Back to the way things were
GoBack works in the background with no noticeable performance degradation, so you won't see it running while you use other apps on your PC. In fact, you generally won't access the utility until you need it. If you hit a snag and have to revert to an earlier state--or even if, say, you want to install some software, then change your mind and want to revert to a snapshot before the installation--just open the GoBack control panel by double-clicking the GoBack icon in the system tray. With the control panel open, click one of the clearly labeled buttons to select a snapshot, revert the hard drive(s) to an earlier point, or view the details of all disk-related activity on the PC. There's also a handy interactive tutorial to help you learn how to use GoBack and a help feature that addresses common questions.

Reverting to a past setup usually takes just a minute or so because, in most cases, you haven't changed many files (larger differences between past and present states may require additional time to restore). You can also use the Advanced Features button in the GoBack control panel to create manual or automatic restoration points for the system. For example, you may not want to take a snapshot every time you make a change, or perhaps you're going to install some software and want to take a snapshot first.

Solid service
Unfortunately, Symantec doesn't provide free telephone support. The Symantec Web site does, however, provide a great deal of &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Esymantec%2Ecom%2Ftechsupp%2Fngb%2Fngb%5F36%5Ftasks%2Ehtml" target="_blank">free support information, including an in-depth knowledge base and an extensive FAQ.

Thanks to GoBack, you no longer need to troubleshoot frustrating system problems; you just revert the system to a point in the past when things were working properly. It's a powerful tool for anyone looking to simplify problem-solving tasks on the PC.

To restore your system, just highlight a snapshot time in the GoBack control panel, then click Revert Now.

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