Pros / It received an A for diagnostic consistency.
Cons / Word and data processing performance got worse by 2.73 percent.
Verdict / Norton Utilities improved overall performance by 3.84 percent, which is negligible, but its diagnostic consistency was good, though not perfect.
Norton is a Symantec brand known more for its security and antivirus software than its PC system utilities software. While Norton Utilities’ features are very limited, it did significantly improve bootup speed, though the overall performance improvement it made to our computer was below average. If you use other Norton software, you'll find this application easy to use. However, it's difficult for novices.
We tested how much each PC cleaner’s optimization tools improved computer performance using PCMark 8 to benchmark word and data processing, graphics processing, web-browsing speed and video chat quality. In addition, we timed increases in bootup speed using BootRacer. We also ran consistency tests to gauge how trustworthy the app is, as it's not uncommon for PC system utility software to exaggerate or bloat the scan results and continue to claim there are errors after they have already been fixed. Finally, we evaluated how easy the interface was to use.
The overall improvement to our test PC's performance was just 3.84 percent, which was a little below average. It made the biggest improvements to graphics processing, which went up by 6.15 percent. However, word and data processing got slower by 2.73 percent. This sort of trade-off is common with system repair software – gains made in one area are at the expense of another. In fact, in previous years, the results were flipped, with word and data processing having a 6-percent boost while graphics processing had a 3-percent decrease. Either way, this app isn't going to turn your slow computer into a fast, powerful machine.
On a positive note, the diagnostic consistency was very good, receiving an A. While this doesn't reflect changes in computer performance, it means that the app fixes the errors it finds without creating new ones. It wasn't perfect – second scans often found one or two additional errors. Still, other programs usually found more errors on the second scan, so the consistency is almost as good as it gets.
The biggest improvement Norton Utilities made was to startup speed. While our test PC’s bootup was noticeably faster, the best apps we reviewed produced improvements above 40 percent. Even using the Windows startup manager tool improved bootup speed by 42 percent. So, while this software makes a significant improvement, it's not great compared to other apps, or even the tool that's built into Windows.
The program’s user experience and interface both received an A- for ease of use, and it earned a B- for ease of installation. If you routinely use Norton AntiVirus or other popular Norton software, then the app’s interface is a natural extension of that experience. The installation required a reboot and didn't allow for custom installations, which is why it received a lower grade.
- Overall Improvement
- Boot Up Speed Improvement
- Word & Data Processing Improvement
- Video Chat Quality Improvement
Norton Utilities is fronted by a familiar brand many people trust. In our tests, the overall performance improvement to our computer was less than 4 percent. And while the 17.16 percent bootup improvement was noticeable, it wasn't nearly as good as most products we reviewed. If you already use Norton software, then this app has a familiar interface.