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.
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.
Despite SystemWorks' lack of real updates, we still find many of its packaged utilities compelling. Disk Doctor is a safe, effective tool for the diagnosis and repair of a variety of file-related problems, such as bad clusters. WinDoctor, in turn, examines and repairs a host of Windows problems that show up in the Registry, including invalid entries and shortcuts. Other SystemWorks modules, however, are much less interesting, and some have long since outlived their usefulness. For example, take Rescue, which boots your system into DOS using data you have previously saved to multiple floppy disks; it doesn't offer you the option to record a CD-ROM. Still, many of these tools help when you want to remove cookies, get system information, or edit your Registry.