The are now multiple versions of Windows 95 in existence. The first version, '95original', began shipping in Aug 1995, it was amended to version '95a' in early 1996. Earlier this year new PCs began shipping with version '95b' pre-loaded. There is a world of difference in the disk architecture between 95a and 95b. This knowledge becomes important when you go to purchase a comprehensive utility package such as Norton Utilities.

To determine which version of 95 you are running, go to the Control Panel (click on START/ SETTINGS/ CONTROL PANEL) and click on the SYSTEM icon. If you see '4.00.950' under System: then you are running the original version of 95. If you are running 95a or 95b, you will see '4.00.950a' or '4.00.950b'.

Currently in the stores there are versions 1.0 and 2.0 of Norton Utilities for sale. If you are running 95b you MUST use version 2.0 of Norton's. If you are running 95original or 95a, you can safely use either version. I would recommend you buy version 2.0 of Norton's in order to get the newest and latest tools.

This seems like such a trivial issue to write an entire column about, but I have seen owners of 95b mistakenly purchase Norton's version 1.0 and end up with corrupted files and general behavior problems with 95.

Why buy Norton Utilities? It will provide you with diagnostic and repair utilities far surpassing those which come with Windows 95. Speed Disk and Disk Doctor are a better de-fragmenter and scan-disk utility than 95's system tools. Since I am running my PC near its operational limit, I run the System Doctor all the time to keep an eye on my memory and other resource usage. For the brave-of-heart there are the Registry Tracker, Registry Editor, Disk Editor, Disk Image, and System Information tools. I have seen Rescue Disk provide the necessary information to allow the recovery a hard drive partition which had been damaged by a virus. Of course, you must use these powerful tools correctly and in a timely manner - or risk inadvertently corrupting your PC's configuration!

The presence of these tools on a customer's computer will help the them or a pc-tech maintain and/or recover their computer's configuration. Not a bad investment!

August 24, 1997

Heather Porton