PROS / Optimization improved boot-up speed by 15 percent.
CONS / This app decreased graphics processing performance by 5.64 percent.
VERDICT / After our tests, Norton Utilities improved our test computer by an average of 7 percent overall, despite a drop in graphics processing.
Developed by Symantec, Norton is known more for security and antivirus software than system repair software. While the features of Norton Utilities are limited in comparison to the best system repair software we reviewed, it did significantly improve boot-up speed. However, the overall improvement was below average, largely due to a dip in the graphics processing performance. If you use Norton's other software, then you'll find this application very familiar and easy to use. Otherwise, it can pose some learning curves to a novice user.
With every PC repair app in our review, we scrutinized how effective each app was at improving our test computer. To do this, we used PCMark 8 to benchmark the performance – both before and after optimization – of word and data processing, graphics processing, web-browsing speed, and video chat quality. We also recorded improvements made to the boot-up speed and ran consistency tests to gauge how well each app detected and fixed problems.
After multiple rounds of testing, the average overall improvement made to our test computer's performance was just 7 percent. This was 1.3 percent below average. It improved word and data processing 6.65 percent, and it improved video chat quality by 5.39 percent, but the graphics processing performance decreased by 5.64 percent. Still, the improvements were too little to result in a noticeably faster computer.
Norton Utilities startup manager improved the boot-up speed of our test computer by 15 percent, which was its best feature. For context, a 15 percent improvement on a one-minute boot-up speed shaves off 9 seconds, which is significant. So while the overall improvements to performance were negligible, a computer that boots up 15 percent faster is significant. As such, if boot-up speed is priority, then Norton Utilities is a good option. However, the best boot-up speed improvement made in our review was 32.5 percent.
Norton Utilities' diagnostic consistency score was 97 percent, which means you can trust it to find and fix issues. Only a few products we tested had a higher diagnostic consistency rate. We found this score by scanning our test computer, recording the number of issues the app found, fixing the issues and running the scan again. We ran nearly 30 rounds of these tests.
Ideally, the app shouldn't find issues immediately after fixing them. While consistency isn't an indication of whether or not the issues it finds and fixes will actually improve anything, it is an indication of the app's trustworthiness, as a low consistency score suggests the app is either exaggerating the results or is missing issues in every scan.
We gave the overall ease of use and ease of installation a C. If you're familiar with other Norton apps, like Norton AntiVirus, then the interface is a natural extension of that experience. However, if you're a novice user, the user experience can present some complications.
The biggest flaw to the user experience is the lack of convenience features. Norton Utilities doesn't have a software updater, driver stats, a process manager, hard-drive monitor and memory monitors. The only convenience feature it has is a junk-file cleaner, though it wasn't very effective, as it only recovered 350MB of storage.
Norton Utilities has some features beyond the system-optimizing tools. It has a system backup and restore tool, a file-recovery tool and a registry-repair tool. The backup tools are an essential part of protecting your data, and the file-recovery tool is excellent for recovering accidentally deleted files.
Norton Utilities is a brand many people trust, and that's worth consideration, especially given its high diagnostic consistency score. From our tests, this system repair app only improved our test PC by 7 percent, which was below average. The boot-up speed was boosted by 15 percent, which is noticeable but not great. If you already use Norton software, you'll find this app easy to use. Otherwise, you might mind it a bit difficult.