Pros / It received an A for diagnostic consistency.
Cons / Word- and data-processing performance worsened by 2.73 percent after we ran it.
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 utility software. While Norton Utilities improved our test computer’s boot speed significantly, its features are limited, and 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, but novices will likely consider it difficult.
We tested how much each PC cleaner’s optimization tools improved computer performance by using PCMark 10 to benchmark word and data processing, graphics processing, web-browsing speed and video chat quality. In addition, we timed increases in boot speed using BootRacer. We ran consistency tests to gauge each product’s trustworthiness, as it’s not uncommon for PC system utility software to bloat scan results, claiming to find errors that have already been fixed. Finally, we evaluated how easy the interface was to use.
The overall improvement to our test PC’s performance was merely 3.84 percent, which was a little below our category average and well below the best-performing applications in our comparison, Glary Utilities Pro and WinOptimizer. Norton Utilities improved graphics-processing performance by 6.15 percent, but word- and data-processing performance slowed by 2.73 percent after optimization. Such trade-offs are common with system repair software; gains made in one area can come at the expense of another. In fact, in previous years, the results were flipped for this program, with a 6 percent boost for word and data processing and a 3 percent decrease for graphics processing. Regardless, this application isn’t going to turn your slow computer into a fast, powerful machine.
On a positive note, the diagnostic consistency was quite good, earning an A. While diagnostic consistency doesn’t reflect changes in computer performance, it means the software fixed the errors it found without creating or falsifying new ones. The software wasn’t perfect; second scans often found one or two additional errors. Still, other programs usually found more errors on the second scan, so Norton Utilities’ diagnostic consistency was almost as good as it gets.
The biggest improvement Norton Utilities made was to our test computer’s startup speed, which increased 17.16 percent. While the boot time was noticeably faster after the software ran, the best applications we reviewed, such as Glary Utilities Pro, boosted the startup speed by more than 40 percent. Even using the Windows startup manager tool improved boot times by 42 percent. So, while this software makes a significant improvement, it’s not great compared with other products or even with native Windows tools.
The program’s user experience and interface both received an A– for ease of use, and the software earned a B– for ease of installation. If you routinely use Norton AntiVirus or other popular Norton software, then this application’s interface is a natural extension of that experience. The installation process received a lower grade because it required a reboot and didn’t allow for customization.