January 05, 2004

A New Kind of Iatrogenesis?

Ever since I installed Norton Systemworks, I've been having problems with my computer. Performance slows down, applications freeze, and at least a few times each day it seems as though the whole thing is about to crash and burn. Perhaps I don't have enough RAM to be running continuous scans of my machine? But in any case, I am losing faith in these doctors (the DiskDoctor, the WinDoctor, the doctor who performs the One-Button Checkup): I begin to suspect their cure is worse than the disease.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at January 5, 2004 10:57 PM

I can't speak for PCs, but I've never used systemworks installed on the main computer after one such run-in with the program. A mac computer guru advised against it as well, saying it was enough to use the systemworks disk for occasional work when needed. The autobackups and assorted background noise weren't worth the hassle.

Posted by: bryan at January 5, 2004 11:20 PM

If you are using a PC, let me suggest Grisoft's AVG (free edition). Haven't had a hitch since I started using it. Much less resource-intensive than Norton or McAfee.

Posted by: MisterBS at January 5, 2004 11:25 PM

Well, I'm monitoring this thread. I've purchased a new computer, and am wondering how to secure it.

I just went over to the McAfee site, and got blocked at one point, because I wasn't using Internet Explorer (I was using Netscape). Makes me wonder if McAfee is a secret Microsoft subsidiary - MS opens the holes, McAfee charges to close them.

Posted by: Barry at January 6, 2004 11:09 AM

I think I've had a similiar experience (not with Norton) but I am at least as ignorant as you are (no offense). It seems to use up at least 10% of my RAM, but sometimes as much of 50% disappears. But maybe that's the workings of the original parasites; sometimes I fear that these have just been neutralized without being eradicated. I think that Microsoft is telling me to upgrade -- they just announced that they're not supporting 98 any more.

I imagine little tiny cyber-Gateses moving through my computer while I sleep with their bolt-cutters and crowbars.....

Posted by: zizka at January 6, 2004 12:03 PM

I installed Norton Internet Security last month after I had some problems with Explorer that I thought might be security-related, and I've also had more crashes (at least a few times a week, as compared to almost never before), and Word runs much more slowly. I also have to disable it to access most sites because it really slows internet access down.

Posted by: af at January 6, 2004 12:04 PM

Systemworks does bog things down. What do you want from it?

Posted by: ogged at January 6, 2004 01:59 PM

Perfect protection, with no system load whatsoever, of course :)

Since (at a guess) I'm not going to get that, does it do, for how much of a load?

Posted by: Barry at January 6, 2004 02:48 PM

Here's a nice site on XP, specifically shutting down all the services that run by default on it, services you probably do not need and probably are not using. It's comprehensive, easy to follow, and very clear about what things are needed to run what other things. If you run XP (home or pro), it's worth your time.


Also, here are three really super (all entirely 100% free with no hidden crud) Windows-based utilities (98, XP, ME, etc.) for cleaning out *crud*. They pick up and remove spyware, adware, popups, homepage-hijackers, and so forth.

Spybot Search and Destroy
(both of these are readily available from http://www.tucows.com)


AdAware and Spybot S&D are both programs with solid, reliable default options. Neither is likely to 'break' anything if you just scan and remove the identified problems. The not-very-clueful can run these utilities with good results. (This information is based on the observed results of instructing average people to go get, install, and use these programs. I do tech support for an ISP for a living and I have a pretty good idea what the average person can manage on his or her computer.)

HijackThis is *not* a toy. If you run it without a clue, you can break things big time... but it's a powerful tool that can help you fix very broken computers. If you do not know what you are doing, find a reliable person to help you with this one.

Best of luck!

Posted by: teep at January 6, 2004 05:14 PM

I had a problem with Systemworks myself--it was slowing down boot time considerably, and demonstrating a number of other problems.

I removed it from my registry and put the program into start up manually, following the directions on Symantec's site. This changes the load order of the ccApp.exe file, which seems to have solved all of the problems I was having. Here's the URL:


I am planning on switching away from Symantec as soon as I can find a program compatible with SystemWorks. I know McAfee makes a virus program, but I haven't been able to locate a suite with the same programs included in SystemWorks.

Posted by: Winston Smith at January 6, 2004 07:20 PM


I've had similar problems. Norton used to make a great antivirus; starting with 2003 (I think), it's making a program that can basically destabalize your entire system. I had to get rid of it, reformat, and start over. I recommend nod32 (google it).


Posted by: Wes at January 6, 2004 07:52 PM

I had a lot of problems with ME. I kept getting viruses (even with McAfee as my protection), my system was constantly booting me offline and there were other problems. I switched to 98 and added pc-cillin as my viral protection.

I haven't had problems since the switch, but now Microsoft has announced they won't update 98 anymore.

Posted by: A at January 6, 2004 08:41 PM

"What do you want from it?"

Since you ask: I honestly don't know. Virus scan, of course (but I already had that as a stand-alone application). And the delete thing-y is useful. But I think I'll delete a few more things and then remove Systemworks. It makes too many demands on my system.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at January 6, 2004 11:18 PM

I tried SystemWorks because I've been spoiled by NT/XP/2k's process management, but it wasn't nearly so useful. My wife is finally letting me rebuild the computer tonight, and it's staying off.

Posted by: ABD Instructor at January 7, 2004 08:34 AM

If you already have virus scan, the only other thing you really must have is a firewall. ZoneAlarm is very good, and free, as is the new darling of the geek crowd, Kerio Personal Firewall. Both require a bit of initial configuration, but nothing you can't manage. Both will occasionally cause strange behavior, but all you have to remember is that every time your computer does something odd, you need to think "firewall!" "That's odd...firewall!" Got it?

Posted by: ogged at January 7, 2004 11:40 AM

Thanks to the advice above, I've removed Systemworks. So far, things are running much more smoothly.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at January 9, 2004 03:06 PM

Ogged, I tremble when I hear phrases like 'Both require a bit of initial configuration,...' in a fear which phrases like '...but nothing you can't manage' don't quite soothe.

Is there a good source of info on ZoneAlarm?


Posted by: Barry at January 10, 2004 09:55 AM