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Norton makes computer useless ...

Last response: in Windows XP
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February 23, 2012 2:41:24 PM

I've had an ongoing problem with Norton Security Suite. Now, their tech-support as another subject ... but this one is that it has a "feature" called "backup" that really only creates encrypted copies of the files at which you point it, which, if they were important, you'd normally copy to another location anyway, but which doesn't back up the important stuff, i.e. the system, registry, installed/registered applications and their files, etc. As a result, if something happens to your 'C' drive, you still have to reinstall the OS, the app's, etc, all of which can take many full-time days.

What's happened in this case, is that they assign a default location, which, of all the stupidity, is on drive 'C', to which to route their "backup", and, instead of defaulting to no backup and no files to backup, they default to drive 'C' and backup all pictures, music, correspondence, etc. If you have a problem on drive 'C', then, you lose your backup too, so it's useless! Further, and this is
February 23, 2012 2:48:04 PM

I don't know what happened there ... but to continue ...

this is the core of my problem. Norton Backup has created a huge file, apparently backup of files + backup of files + backup of backup ... you get the picture ... and it consumes approximately 288 GB of my 400 GB 'C' drive. That's apparently too large for XP to delete, and Norton Backup is so screwed up that it deletes something entirely unrelated, yet won't give the entire path to it, when told to delete that backup.

Does anyone know how to flush an entire directory from XP under NTFS? Back in the "good old days" there was a command called "deltree" that would do this but there's no such tool that I've found in XP.
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February 26, 2012 1:48:09 AM

Try a third party delete application... file shredder can delete large amounts of files and it may be capable of deleting your backup. If this application can't handle the task, some other application of the type may do it... and if none can, try a file splitting application to split and delete smaller files or move them to a new partition and format that partition. If you don't have a second partition, you will need Minitool Partition Wizard to create one... or you may have to install a second hard drive, move the 288GB backup whole or in parts depending on the HD size... then format the drive to delete the backup file.

http://www.fileshredder.org/
File Shredder comes by default to do a tripple pass shredding files, you may have to change this to a single pass to save time shredding the 288GB backup. Click on Shredder Settings\Algorithms\and select Single One Pass, and Accept.

Google results for Splitter and Joiner
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March 5, 2012 12:17:21 PM

One accompanying issue is that the OS interprets the "backup" set as being corrupted, hence, won't operate on it. This means I can't move it, which is something I attempted. FUrther, because of the large size of the "backup" set, it takes several days just to figure out that it's too large for the "recycle bin." Deleting it requires that I first run chkdsk on the drive onto which Norton has written the backup, which XP thinks is corrupt. Once that's done, Norton can't perform its ultra-slow delete. The result is that I have to run the three-day chkdsk followed by a four-day delete, during which time so much of the processing bandwidth is used that the computer is entirely useless until it's complete.


Now, I have solved this problem to limited extent. I don't know whether it will arise again. Norton Security Suite keeps on complaining that a backup hasn't been done, despite the fact that "Backup" has been disabled. However, I've set it to backup a small USB drive to my NAS, whjich is where the backups I actually use reside. Then, if there's another occurrence of the re-enabling of backup, it will show up on the NAS, where I can more easily dispose of it, because it will be small.

I find it both stupid and silly that the Symantec people think that a copy is a backup, and that a backup on the very drive that's being backed up is of any value. I have a pile of scrap hard drives that purportedly contain data, none of which I can access. when scrap metal prices go up a bit more, I'll scrap 'em.

In the meantime, I'm going to flush Norton Security Suite and replace it with something else, provided I can find something adequate. Backups, meaning REAL backups, will continue to be done with DiskWizard, which takes a complete image and saves it, thereby avoiding the hundreds of hours required to reinstall all the applications and the OS onto a new drive.

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March 5, 2012 6:31:55 PM

Replacing Norton is the first thing I would have done.. and since the backup is useless there is no reason to keep Norton. Money spent on Norton is better spent on faster hardware... since the checkdisk takes days, I assume your system is starving for RAM.. so add some and replace Norton with Avast free or pay Antivirus. The backup may also be readily deleted with enough installed RAM since lack of memory may just drop heavy applications and functions without warning or explanation.

BTW... "hundreds" of hours to reinstall the OS and applications is actually incorrect... In the first place, a repair reinstallation does not delete or require reinstalling applications... and the reinstallation itself takes about 3/4 to 1 hour, added time for preparations and post installation settings may take at most a couple of hours. A clean installation is a whole different thing... it takes even less time to install the OS and installing applications would take time, but you can install them one by one as you need them. All you need is to backup all your licence serials which you can save with an application called Licence Crawler, you would also need to make a list of the installed applications so you can download them as needed, and backup your personal files to a flash drive, CD/DVD or another partition which you can create with Minitool Partition Wizard.
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March 12, 2012 2:39:17 AM

I wish it were possible to remove the Norton Backup from the Norton Security Suite as provided by Comcast. Sadly, it's not, and it gives me pause that they'd take such a poorly engineered piece of <guess what> and then integrated it into their product. Their own tech support people had no understanding at all of how it works or, for that matter, how stupid a backup program that backs the medium up on itself might be. The fact that XP interprets the backup file as corrupted is another thing I wonder about.

I, for one, don't consider what this "backup' utility does as backup anyway, as it saves only files that you can easily save and restore yourself with the save or move commands. I, myself, don't save music or pictures on my HDD for more than a day, as CD's are cheap and handy for such things. Likewise my correspondence.

The Norton Backup comes in "small" pieces, i.e. subdirectories within the backup file, say, 1/16 of the 288 GB that this one contained, broken up into 16 unequal pieces. each one took several hours to delete after I processed them with Chkdsk, which appeared to make them unreadable by Norton.

I hope I've figured out how to disable the thing. I set the default to an added drive, and set the default backup target to be an old CF Card that now lives in the computer.

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March 19, 2012 6:08:16 PM

When I said it takes hundreds of hours to reinstall the app's, I wasn't referring to a reinstall of the OS onto a drive that had app's on it. Normally what happens is that the HDD simply quits. I then have to replace it with a different drive. Having all the installed/registered applications on an image backup is the obvious solution, and I try to make an image backup frequently. That way I have all the OS and app's back on a new drive in a couple of hours. My smallest HDD's are on the order of 350 GB while the NAS has 2 GB for images and routine remote storage. I simply write the new image backup on top of the previous. That has served me so far.

Installing all that software from all the various vendors, where each of my boxes has two or more HDD's of 350GB or more each would be entirely too time-consuming.

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March 19, 2012 11:46:25 PM

How often do hard drives quit on you? Weeks, months, ??. and what kind of use do you subject them to?.. Is this problem recent or long going?,.. are you sure it's the hard drives and not other faulty computer components? Do you run your HDDs 24/7? if so, how long before they quit?. And do you replace them with new HDDs or HDDs you removed and formatted?

Not sure if you're speaking of one or more computers, so what is System Specs on your computer (or computers).

On the other hand, if Norton antivirus is so problematic and it can't even recover it's own backups, why don't you just replace it?.

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March 19, 2012 11:56:20 PM

Not sure if you're speaking of one or more computers, so what is System Specs on your computer (or computers).
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March 30, 2012 2:27:19 AM

Norton's "Security Suite" is enough of a bother due to the peculiar features of this backup module that can't be removed, that I'm gradually replacing it with other schemes. From what I have read, of the dozen or so major commercial and freeware antivirus suites, the combination covers about 85% of all the known virus and malware programs "out there." However, daily full-image backups seem to be the only real insurance against virus/malware-created difficulties.

I have quite a number of systems, and typically experience about two unrecoverable HDD failures per year. The reason that's a serious problem is because it always seems to happen when it's least convenient, not that it ever is convenient.

I run tasks which sometimes take two or more weeks to complete. It's real nuissance to have to start them over on a new HDD.

Each system has on the order of 750-1250 GB of HDD storage. Normally that's in two drives. If one of them fails, there's generally a full-image backup available.

The most egregious problem with Norton is that, in the default, it backs up drive 'C' and drive 'D', if that's on the list as well, onto drive 'C'. I preserve those image backups on drives Y and Z, generally, as those are network-accessible, hence, can be restored to another drive under the control of another computer, giving me full use of the smitten computer within half a day or less. It took every bit of five days to remove the Norton Backup file from the 'C' drive on which it resided due to an accidental/inadvertent enabling of the backup software, which had been disabled at one point. Why it would change the default settings in that process is a mystery to me.
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March 31, 2012 4:25:57 AM

Uolricus said:
Norton's "Security Suite" is enough of a bother due to the peculiar features of this backup module that can't be removed, that I'm gradually replacing it with other schemes. From what I have read, of the dozen or so major commercial and freeware antivirus suites, the combination covers about 85% of all the known virus and malware programs "out there." However, daily full-image backups seem to be the only real insurance against virus/malware-created difficulties.

I have quite a number of systems, and typically experience about two unrecoverable HDD failures per year. The reason that's a serious problem is because it always seems to happen when it's least convenient, not that it ever is convenient.


Sure sounds like you have it tough but I believe any problem can be solved if you look around enough or instead go around the problem. If I were in your shoes, I would probably use some application that would help me anticipate a HDD failure. I've used this little application that can scan and diagnose HDDs for general condition or can be set to run in the startup to detect and anticipate failure sounding out a warning when a HDD has reached critical condition. Check "HDD Health" from PANTERASoft. A quick scan from this application shows the HDD condition in %. One HD in my PC shows 100% (Excellent) and another older one is diagnosed as 59% (Normal). This application reads the S.M.A.R.T. attribute from the system BIOS which also gives out a warning when you start the computer, but when the computer is running 24-7 the application would probably be more dependable.

Uolricus said:
I run tasks which sometimes take two or more weeks to complete. It's real nuissance to have to start them over on a new HDD.

Each system has on the order of 750-1250 GB of HDD storage. Normally that's in two drives. If one of them fails, there's generally a full-image backup available.


Full image backups may be possibly substituted by setting the two HDDs in raid... I'm not to familiar with this feature but as far as I know, there are several ways to configure raid and one of them can be set so two HDDs contain the same exact information so when one HDD fails, the other one can take over without having to restore a backup. As I've said, I don't know exactly how this is done, but you could look that info up as "Raid Modes" or open a new question so someone with experience on the subject can give you an answer.

Uolricus said:
The most egregious problem with Norton is that, in the default, it backs up drive 'C' and drive 'D', if that's on the list as well, onto drive 'C'. I preserve those image backups on drives Y and Z, generally, as those are network-accessible, hence, can be restored to another drive under the control of another computer, giving me full use of the smitten computer within half a day or less. It took every bit of five days to remove the Norton Backup file from the 'C' drive on which it resided due to an accidental/inadvertent enabling of the backup software, which had been disabled at one point. Why it would change the default settings in that process is a mystery to me.


I haven't used a Norton product since around 2006 and always used the regular antivirus, so I wouldn't begin to know why it would change the default settings on it's own. So an answer would probably be best left to someone with knowledge on the Norton Security Suite... for instance asking in the Windows XP \ Security Forum or the Security, Utilities, Anti-Malware Forum, or at a Norton Internet Security Comunity forum
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March 31, 2012 1:54:12 PM

Norton doesn't change the default settings on its own. The problem I encountered is that it reverts to the default when it is disabled and then, somehow, re-enabled. This results in its generating its backup of drive C on drive C. The result is that, very quickly, you have a very large piece of drive C taken up by a "default backup set" that is, of course, useless if anything happens to drive C. Deleting it takes several days.

Fortunately, I could remove the drive from this system and install it in another, where it was somewhat easier to delete the offending files. It was about 288 GB on a 400 GB drive.

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March 31, 2012 11:33:00 PM

That explains it... the question now is why it would "disable and then, somehow, re-enabled?"... but I guess that answer is better left to someone with better experience on Norton's Security Suite.

That would delete the file since it probably had to be unlocked before deleting it... you could have even tried to delete it during a reboot either with a simple registry edit or with an application.. an antivirus file may require disabling* the antivirus before rebooting. Wish I'd thought of it before but anyway, the info may help sometime in the future.

*Right click on the antivirus icon in the right bottom corner and click disable, or start\run\msconfig\enter\startup tab, uncheck the antivirus, services tab, uncheck antivirus service or services.

Add "Delete on Reboot" to Right Click Menu
http://forums.speedguide.net/showthread.php?172398-Add-...

Two tools to remove locked Windows files on restart
http://downloadsquad.switched.com/2008/11/12/two-tools-...
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April 1, 2012 1:28:21 AM

First of all, I'm not sure how, exactly, the disabled backup was re-enabled. I suspect it had to do with the fact that Norton complains when it can't do its backup, irrespective of whether or not it's enabled. Then, of course, on this one machine, there's the fact that my wife uses it, and I suspect she told the computer to "fix it", which probably re-enabled the backup, albeit with Norton's ultra-stupid defaults.

Deleting a collection of files as large as what I had to delete does, under XP, take a long time. There were some 20 subdirectories, each taking about 4-7 hours to delete. I suspect doing it automatically wouldn't have gone much faster. Further, because Norton makes these files unreadable to XP, the OS believes they're corrupt.

Because I maintain image backups, it wasn't hard to recover from this issue. However, I am familiar with simple raid implementations. I used RAID-5 under NT4, and have a couple of RAID-5 boxes that were useable back then. These were SCSI-based, and of considerably smaller capacity than the bloatware in common usage today would allow.

I built a couple of Raid boxes based on 72-bit words using single-error-correction, double error detection hardware that's now obsolete. That worked fine with an array of disks that coughed up their data concurrently thereby allowing parallel correction in just a few tens of nanoseconds. Writeback allowed the corretion to be made permanent.

I'm not sold on RAID as the only solution to the problem of lower and lower manufactured goods. Fortunately, most drives are built overseas, where quality is still preserved to some extent.

The fact that I use about 30 HDD's at a time exposes me to HD failure more than the average user. I find backups and spare drives to be an adequate solution overall, to the failure frequency issue.

What troubles me is how long it takes to delete large spans of data.
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April 1, 2012 6:10:34 AM

OK, as I said, I don't know much about raid, so you know best.

If I recall correctly, you mentioned Norton saves the backup on the same partition?, but there must be a better way or it wouldn't make much sense saving backups on the same partition... if you could save them on a saparate partition you could simply format it to quickly remove the backups.
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April 1, 2012 10:34:41 PM

I believe I explained the problem. Though you can set the destination to which the "default backup" file, without which Norton refuses to behave properly. is written, but, when the "Backup utility" is disabled, it apparently forgets what the setting is, and if, subsequently, one presses "FIX" when it's complaining that there's no backup been done, it reverts to the original default, which is on the default drive, which is 'C'.

Now if anyone I knew were writing a backup utility that did any backup on the 'C' drive, I'd let them know how silly that is, first because a backup of drive 'C' should be done, but not on 'C', nor should 'D' be done on 'D', or 'E' on 'E', neither should anything be backed up on 'C' simply because it would make the rather important default drive for nearly any operation eventually "go away" because it would become full. XP seems to have real problems with large file moves and deletes. Under FAT file systems, it was easy to delete something simply by removing the indicators that it was present. Initially, one simply wrote a deleted data address mark into its header on the disk, but that won't work under XP.
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April 2, 2012 2:10:11 AM

Yes, you had explained it at the beggining in more or less words.. but I didn't fully understand it.. not that understanding it I can help much.. I have been suggesting ways to workaround the problem, but the solution may be in the antivirus itself... in that sense I have reached my limit so I would suggest you search for advice somewhere else... if someone here had something to contribute they would have already pitched in, so your best chance in my opinion, would be asking in the Norton comunity forum as some Norton users may have already faced the same problem, and with any luck, may have even solved it.

I still believe the solution should be in the antivirus backup configuration as no configuration should be forced on the user... and if it is not flexible enough, then Norton must be even worse than I thought. My advice is you ask in the Norton community as you would be making contact with all Norton users and experts.
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April 3, 2012 4:40:19 PM

It's just a sloppy software design problem. somebody was trying to do something "kewl" rather than doing something useful. That's a common error among software vendors these days.
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