These days, the real question with paid optimization software such as Symantec's Norton Utilities 15 is not whether it works or how well it functions, but whether you actually need it. With the speed of today's PCs, and with advances in both Windows and its file systems, problems such as disk fragmentation simply aren't the concern they once were.
Moreover, you can use competent freebies such as Piriform's CCleaner for Registry and file housekeeping, and the free version of UltimateDefrag for disk defragmentation, not to mention Windows' own built-in tools. So where does a program like Norton Utilities 15 fit in?
Questions of necessity aside, Norton Utilities 15 brings all the Windows and PC housekeeping tools you could possibly desire under one extremely friendly and easy-to-use roof. Disk defragmentation, Registry cleaning and defragmentation, selection of which Windows services should be running--all are present and accounted for, and simple enough to use. Norton Utilities 15 also provides quick access to information on performance and running processes, as well as a Registry-backup function and an undelete utility to recover accidentally deleted files--again, nothing revolutionary, but all tried-and-true. All worked perfectly in my hands-on tests.
This new version adds what Symantec calls Speed Disk, an updated way of defragmenting and optimizing your hard drive; Disk Doctor, for scanning a hard drive for potential issues and fixing those problems; and UnErase Wizard, for restoring files more easily.
Symantec makes some fine products, and you might find a number of useful components within Norton Utilities 15; but as with Iolo Technologies' System Mechanic, Norton Utilities may have outlived its usefulness. If your system isn't running as fast as you think it should, uninstalling unnecessary software and pruning background applications using Windows' own tools or downloadable freebies are a more cost-effective first defense.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.
--Jon L. Jacobi