The Sad Tragic Death of Norton Utilities

Get out your crying towels, because I’m going to tell you a sad story.

Way back in the days of DOS there was this great suite of programs created by a genius named Peter Norton. They were called Norton Utilities. These programs helped maintain your computer by diagnosing and fixing problems and defragmenting the hard drive. The suite also included a disk editor, which I used all the time. In sum, most computer experts used Norton Utilities all the time back in the day.


In 1990 Norton sold his products, including Norton Utilities, to Symantec. Symantec kept the Norton brand and issued new versions of Norton Utilities and released new programs under the well respected Norton name, including Norton Antivirus. I used Norton Utilities up until Windows XP and still use Norton Antivirus. But that’s about to change, for three reasons.

Reason Number One: Conflicts and Resource Hogging

Symantec continues to load too many features into both Norton Utilities and Norton Antivirus that I don’t need and that I don’t want. Both programs have been notorious for years for creating conflicts with other programs and for causing startup and shutdown problems. All of that is irritating, but, given my historical loyalty to the Norton brand, I have thus far overlooked these problems. In the newest version of Norton Antivirus, however, Symantec has added the incredibly annoying Norton Protection Center. This bloatware takes up system tray space and generally seems to be yet another unnecessary resource hog. I don’t want this program, and if I’d known about it before I installed the new version, I would have taken the box back and found another antivirus program. After spending 10 minutes on the net trying unsuccessfully to find out how to remove or disable Norton Protection Center, I gave up and uninstalled Norton Antivirus completely. Simple is better, and with this unwelcome addition, Symantec has finally waddled across the bloatware line.

Reason Number Two: Shameless Upselling

Not only is the Norton Protection Center a blight on my computer in and of itself, it also seems to be nothing more than a thinly disguised ad for other Symantec products. C|Net had this to say about the Norton Protection Center:

[W]ith this year’s debut of the Norton Protection Center, Norton AntiVirus 2006 has lost that uncluttered usability. The Norton Protection Center appears both as a separate icon in the system tray as well as a separate window within the software’s control console. Most of the Protection Center’s functions are useful, such as the alerts it sends if you don’t have the latest virus definitions or haven’t run a system scan in a while and the bar graph in the Status window. However the Protection Center is focused on upselling Symantec’s other products to you rather than providing any new, useful security information. For instance, if you ask to learn more about data recovery, you’re taken directly to the Norton SystemWorks 2006 product page on Symantec’s Web site.

Reason Number Three: Rootkit, Round 2

eWeek reported yesterday that, on the heels of the Sony rootkit fiasco, Symantec has admitted using a rootkit-type feature in Norton SystemWorks that could provide the perfect hiding place for attackers to place malicious files on computers. Symantec, of all people, should know better than this.

It took 15 years, but Symantec has managed to ruin what was once a great set of utilities. I am in the market for a new antivirus program and would love some suggestions in the Comments.

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