SystemSuite 4.0

  • Editors' rating
    6.8 Good


  • Impressive array of PC utilities
  • easy to set up
  • excellent printed documentation
  • includes personal firewall.


  • Doesn't check outgoing email for viruses
  • missed a few viruses in our tests.

If you don't want to pay for a master craftsman, a jack-of-all-trades may get the job done just as well. Ontrack's SystemSuite 4.0 is just such a generalist, offering an impressive array of PC utilities that handle everything from anti-virus protection to Registry maintenance, and system monitoring to crash avoidance. Version 4.0 includes the NetDefense personal firewall and scans your email for viruses -- both valuable additions. By comparison, Ontrack's main competitor, Norton SystemWorks 2002, scans email for viruses but doesn't include a firewall. SystemSuite 4.0 doesn't excel at any one task, but if you're on a limited budget it delivers excellent value at £48.50 (ex. VAT; £56.99 inc. VAT).

A single setup program installs all of SystemSuite's utilities, but you can easily pick and choose which ones you want during installation. Once installed, SystemSuite places an icon in your system tray. You can right-click the icon to access commonly used utilities, such as FileUndeleter or Scheduler, or double-click to launch the SystemSuite console. SystemSuite uses a two-paned interface offering utility categories on the left -- Firewall, Antivirus, Optimize And Maintain, Diagnose, Fix, Recover, Uninstall, Cleanup, and Zip. When you click a category, icons for the available utilities are displayed on the right, making it simple to find just the tool you need.

We could list all of SystemSuite's features, but that would take up the entire review, so we'll stick to our favourites. The best of the bunch include DataEraser, which creates a bootable floppy you can use to completely wipe a hard drive's contents -- a handy tool for IT staff preparing a PC for recycling or transferring to another user, for example. The highly customisable and straightforward Uninstall tool not only deletes installed applications, but also archives them, moves them within a system or transports them to a different system. Cleanup also offers tools for examining and deleting unwanted Internet files such as cookies, space-hogging temporary files and extraneous Registry entries. FileUndeleter scans your hard drive, finding hidden or deleted files to recover -- a lifesaver if you accidentally delete an important document. PCDiagnostics runs an array of tests to determine whether your PC hardware is functioning correctly.

In addition to these old favourites, SystemSuite 4.0 includes some key improvements over version 3.0. It throws in, for example, the vital ability to scan incoming email for viruses, and it works in almost any POP3 mail client -- including Outlook Express, Netscape, Eudora, and even Microsoft Exchange clients such as Outlook. However, unlike Norton AntiVirus 2002, it doesn't scan outgoing email to make sure you're not unwittingly sending out infected email, and it can't check Web sites' JavaScript and ActiveX Controls for viruses. As email-based worms and scripted attacks become ever more common, this could prove a serious chink in your security armoury.

By far the biggest and best addition to SystemSuite 4.0, though, is NetDefense. This is a personal firewall that protects your PC from intruders and lets you restrict outgoing traffic, prompting you each time a new application attempts to access the Internet. NetDefense keeps unknown programs or spyware from sending data over the Internet without your knowledge.

Overall, SystemSuite 4.0's anti-virus and firewall utilities performed adequately in our lab tests, although the anti-virus utility did miss a few viruses. Specifically, it failed to find simulated viruses in system memory and on the boot sector of a floppy disk, and it missed a virus attachment sent via email. That performance is roughly comparable to Norton AntiVirus 2002 and McAfee VirusScan 6.0, each of which missed a couple of viruses in our testing. NetDefense managed a clean sweep of Internet security-testing site ShieldsUp's port probing, which is comparable to other firewalls we've tested.

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In this age of online-only documentation, we were thrilled with SystemSuite's 200-page printed manual. This tome details all of the software's features with helpful diagrams and step-by-step instructions.

If you're looking for a complete set of PC utilities and you don't want to spend a lot of money, Ontrack offers a compelling solution. Even if you take advantage of only a fraction of its many features, the retail price of £56.99 (inc. VAT) makes it a bargain. Compared to the £58.65 (inc. VAT) Norton SystemWorks 2002, which doesn't include a personal firewall (£29.32 inc. VAT extra), the bargain is obvious. Still, if you're more worried about absolute protection than saving money, Norton AntiVirus 2002 is a safer bet.


Packaged Quantity 1
Localization English
Category security applications
Subcategory security - desktop antivirus
Package Type retail
Distribution Media CD-ROM
Version 4.0
Subcategory security - desktop antivirus
Category security applications
License Type box pack
Version 4.0
License Category shrinkwrap
System Requirements
Min RAM Size 32 MB
Min Hard Drive Space 20 MB
OS Required Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition, Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, Microsoft Windows XP
OS Family Windows
Additional Requirements CD-ROM, VGA monitor, mouse or compatible device
Brand Kroll Ontrack
Product Line Ontrack SystemSuite
Localization English
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC

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