NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, December 2010
IObit Toolbox - Free System Utilities
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host
iwilsker@sbcglobal.net
(click to email author)

WEBSITES:
http://iobit.com/toolbox.html
http://iobit.com/toolbox.html#toollist

I have just added another system utility to my growing collection of software. While there have been some controversies in the past about some IObit security products, I have generally been very satisfied with IObit products, and use some of them on a regular basis. I recently downloaded one of the latest additions from IObit, and found that it can fill a niche as a system utility. This newly released free system utility is IObit Toolbox, a comprehensive, integrated collection of 22 utilities that allows the user " ... to display/diagnose PC information, enhance PC security, optimize PC performance and repair PC problems." While IObit says that Toolbox is a "Must-have System Utilities for Administrators and Computer Geeks", there are utilities available that most users would find very helpful.

The latest version of Toolbox, version 1.1, was released in late September, and is a 15.2 MB zip file download (iobit_toolbox.zip), and will run on both 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows 7, Vista, XP, and 2000. Other then extracting the files and instructing Windows Explorer where to copy them (I chose to create a directory named "IObitToolbox"), there is no installation to perform. What is interesting is that Toolbox can be used on a desktop or laptop computer as a comprehensive system utility, or it can be copied to a flash drive and used as a fully portable system utility. I copied the directory I created on my desktop computer, "IObitToolbox", to the flash drive on my key chain where it now happily resides alongside my portable security software and LiberKey portable utilities. Now, I can run IObit Toolbox on my desktop computer as well as any other computer that I need to work on.

When opening Toolbox, either by clicking on toolbox.exe or its icon (a blue circle with a wrench in the center), the user is greeted with a pleasing and easy to read graphical user interface. On the left is the primary menu, consisting of utility functions, including "Clean", "Optimize", "Repair", "Security", and "Control"; if Toolbox has been previously used, a menu item "Recently" will also appear, displaying the most recently used system utilities. When clicking on the main menu on the left of the window, a selection of utilities will appear on the right that includes a descriptive icon, utility name, and a brief description of the functions of that specific utility. While only four utilities are displayed at a time, a slider on the right edge will display any additional utilities under that category.

Under the "Clean" category is a registry cleaner, privacy sweeper, program uninstaller, disk cleaner, and file shredder. Clicking on any item loads that specific program from the hard drive or flash drive, where it runs on top of the interface.

Listed under "Optimize" are six utilities designed to improve system performance, including a memory manager, internet connection booster, startup manager, registry defragmenter, hard drive defragmenter, and a game booster. I tried the "Internet Booster" and it measured my internet connection speed using a third-party bandwidth service (speedtest.net), indicating that I am only getting about two-thirds of the speed that I am paying for, and that my speed is below average for my ISP. Based on these findings, I will repeat the test using other services, such as the free speed tests available from broadband.gov, and if I continue to get below standard speeds, I will place a service call with my ISP. I would not likely have known that my speed has degraded had it not been for the Internet Booster in IObit Toolbox! Other Internet Booster function optimized my browser settings for Firefox and Chrome, but does not modify the Internet Explorer settings on Windows 7 or Vista. The Game Booster function connects to another IObit webpage (http://www.iobit.com/gamebooster.html) where a free copy of Game Booster can be downloaded. Game Booster will , " ... optimize your PC for smoother, more responsive game play in the latest PC games with the touch of a button ... It works by defragmenting game directories, temporarily shutting down background processes, cleaning RAM, and intensifying processor performance. That means you can keep all the features of operating systems ready for when you need them, but turn them off when you are ready to get down to serious business gaming."

The "Repair" category includes a selection of utilities that can recover deleted files, repair or delete broken shortcuts, check the hard drive for errors, analyze Windows for any problems and attempt to repair them, and an IE Helper that can manage Internet Explorer settings, and repair any hijacked settings.

Even though I already carry several security utilities on my flash drive, Toolbox also includes an assortment of useful security utilities aptly under the heading "Security." Toolbox offers a "Security Holes Scanner" that scans Windows for any unpatched security holes, and downloads the necessary patches directly from Microsoft, helping to make Windows a more secure operating system. The Process Manager manages running programs and processes, and displays system performance information. The Driver Manager allows the user to backup any installed drivers, and searches for any updated drivers that may be available. The "IObit Security 360" button connects to the internet, and downloads the latest free version of IObit Security 360 Free, a very popular and highly rated security scanner (five stars from Cnet, ZDnet, and Download.com). According to IObit, "Security 360 Free is an advanced malware & spyware removal utility that detects, removes the deepest infections, and protects your PC from various potential spyware, adware, trojans, keyloggers, bots, worms, and hijackers."

The final category in Toolbox is "Control", where a cloned file scanner can detect and remove useless duplicate files, a disk explorer that displays hard drive information, a system information utility that displays detailed information about the computer and its hardware, and empty folder scanner to delete empty folders, and a system control to enable the user to modify Windows settings.

While IObit Toolbox is clearly intended for serious use, it does make a sacrifice in the name of personal vanity. Clicking on the "Settings" link at the top of the Toolbox window opens a window that allows the user to choose his own image for Toolbox to display (48x48 pixels suggested, in .png format), and also allows the user to change the title of the program from the generic Toolbox title to whatever the user wants, as long as it fits in the space (a maximum of 15 characters is recommended). The language may also be selected, with English, Chinese, German, French, and Czech being available.

Despite the heading on the IObit Toolbox webpage that states that it is "System Utilities for Administrators and Computer Geeks", I found that Toolbox would be appropriate for most users with a modicum of computer knowledge. As always, use the Windows System Restore function to create a restore point before making any system changes, even though most Toolbox utilities contain their own restore function. As a totally free and comprehensive utility, IObit Toolbox should be in every users' own toolbox of utilities.

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