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Norton SystemWorks 3.0 for Mac review: Norton SystemWorks 3.0 for Mac

Norton SystemWorks 3.0 for Mac

Daniel Drew Turner
4 min read
Review summary
Norton's SystemWorks 3.0 is an übersuite. It bundles the 8.0 version of the venerable Norton Utilities, which includes the disk-repair utility Disk Doctor, the defragmentation utility Speed Disk, the deletion tool Wipe Info, the file-recovery tool UnErase, and the recovery duo FileSaver and Volume Recover. There's also Norton AntiVirus 9.0 for Mac; Aladdin Spring Cleaning, which scans hard drives for duplicate files and orphaned aliases; and Dantz Retrospect Express Backup, a personal version of the professional backup software of the same name. If you've been a satisfied long-term user of Symantec or any of SystemWorks' components, the $130 price (less $50 upgrade rebate) is a good value. However, other disk-repair utilities such as AlSoft's Disk Warrior and MicroMat's Tech Tool Pro offer even more tools for less money. SystemWorks 3.0 installs cleanly over previous Norton products; however, the process is not exactly easy: Symantec recommends that you first boot from the CD and run Norton Disk Doctor on the boot partition, then reboot to the hard drive, then install SystemWorks. Finally, you need to reboot again.
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If you use a variety of the SystemWorks tools, you can save space by using the new Norton Launcher to make one alias in your Dock or preferred launch utility.

Ironically, since the overall look and feel of SystemWorks has remained largely unchanged for years (aside from some Aquafication in the OS X version), some long-learned Mac-user behavior can get you into trouble during the install process. For instance: Setting the start-up drive in the OS X System Preferences to the SystemWorks CD means you can't access the Preferences while booted from the CD. Instead, you'll either have to eject the CD during a reboot or know the trick of holding down the Option key while rebooting so that you can select a start-up drive. We recommend booting to the CD by holding down the C key instead.
Installing Spring Cleaning and Retrospect was an easier process, though both recommended logging out and logging back in. Also, it would be nice to see an integrated installer for all Symantec and third-party apps in the package.
Once installed, however, SystemWorks opens a new Norton Launcher listing all the main tools, such as Speed Disk, UnErase, and Norton AntiVirus, grouping them by use. Additional tools such as Spring Cleaning and Retrospect are found separately in the Applications folder.
SystemWorks 3.0 has been called a Swiss army knife of utility suites, and it doesn't disappoint. The latest version includes support of the new Panther Mac OS X release.
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One of Spring Cleaning's core functions is to identify and delete duplicate files; unfortunately, it can't distinguish between different versions of applications that have the same name.

Norton Utilities 8.0 now scans removable media when it starts up, automatically boots the OS X version from the CD, and schedules regular runs of the FileSaver utility, which saves a snapshot of your hard drive to assist in data recovery in case of a kernel panic or an application crash.
Norton AntiVirus 9.0, included with SystemWorks 3.0, now has the ability to detect PC-specific viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. Although these maladies don't affect Macs, it's still possible for Mac users to pass along infected e-mail attachments to Windows users.
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Norton Speed Disk scans hard drive blocks, theoretically improving overall system speed. In this image, Speed Disk is not being run while booted from the Norton CD, which is recommended.

Also included is Dantz Retrospect Express 5.0, which adds Mac OS X and 9 compatibility and improved handling of Unix permissions. Retrospect's automated backup ability, which allows you to designate an array of vital files to back up with one click, now works with DVD-R drives, DVD-RW drives, and Apple's SuperDrive.
Aladdin Spring Cleaning 5.0.1 adds compatibility for Mac OS X 10.2 and also includes related utilities for finding and clearing out orphaned aliases and preferences, Internet caches, and empty folders. Unfortunately, in our informal testing, Spring Cleaning identified different versions of the same application as duplicates (iChat 1.1 and iChat 1.0, for example). If you keep older versions of apps for compatibility purposes, be careful that you don't delete them.
On a 700MHz iBook with 384MB of RAM, running each individual utility took enough time to get a cup of coffee--pretty fast, for utilities. However, running Speed Disk (a disk optimization tool) from the CD, which Symantec recommends, took more than an hour, though faster CD drives might yield faster results. There is no estimated-time-remaining feature, unfortunately, and if the computer goes to sleep during Speed Disk, there is the chance you'll need to reboot instead of waking your Mac.
Unfortunately, Symantec phone support is pricey at $29.95 per call or $2.95 per minute. Phone support is available only from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday.
As with the PC version, online help for Norton SystemWorks 3.0 for Mac relies primarily on a mix of its own Help tool and Web-based FAQs and forums. The Norton and Spring Cleaning components have fairly good built-in help files, while Retrospect points users to Dantz Web pages.

Norton SystemWorks 3.0 for Mac

Score Breakdown

Setup 6Features 8Support 6