NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2007
Tune Up your Computer with TuneUp Utilities 2007
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host

(click to email author)


Our computers tend to lose performance over time as our registries become bloated with obsolete data. Our hard drives become cluttered with useless and obsolete files and data which consume storage and degrade performance. The default settings for our video and internet connections are not often ideal, compromising viewing and web surfing speed and efficiency. Sometimes we need to recover files that were accidentally deleted, even though they have been removed from the recycle bin. Other times we may need to securely delete files that contained sensitive or personal data ensuring that these files can not likely be recovered.

There are many utilities that perform one of a few of these tasks, but there are only a few utilities that perform all of these tasks well. One such utility is TuneUp Utilities 2007, published by TuneUp Software GmbH, of Darmstadt, Germany (http://www.tune-up.com). This comprehensive utility offers 16 distinct sub-utilities, plus a “Rescue Center” that allows the user to selectively undo any changes that have been made. No special knowledge or skill is necessary to perform the tasks as choices are clearly displayed and explained. An easy to comprehend menu hierarchy makes functions easy to identify and determine which ones to select.

The startup screen for TuneUp Utilities 2007 lists five major categories on the left side; Customize & Analyze, Clean up & Repair, Optimize & Improve, Administer & Control, and File Recovery & Destruction. Other buttons on the main screen connect to the TuneUp website, Rescue Center, and Update Wizard.

The Customize & Analyze screen offers a system control, startup manager, system information, and styler. The system control function allows the user to customize display properties, common usage functions, and communication functions. The communication functions includes options for changing the settings for network connections, Internet Explorer, Firefox, email and chat utilities, and privacy features. The startup manager allows the user to control which programs load at startup, a key influence on computer performance. The startup manager labels each program in the startup as “trustworthy”, “unknown”, or dangerous. On the left side of the startup screen a detailed explanation is displayed providing details on each item in the startup. An item can be prevented from loading at startup by simply unchecking the box adjacent to that item. If an unchecked item is desired at a later time, the box can be rechecked. Items can be permanently deleted from the startup list by clicking on the large red “X” on the menu. If for some reason the user is unhappy with any changes made, the previous startup selections can be restored by clicking on the “Rescue Center”, and selecting to undo the changes to the startup.

A typical hard drive is loaded with useless junk files, and TuneUp 2007 offers a very good drive cleaner under “Clean Up and Repair”. The disk cleaner can safely identify and remove useless files from the hard drive, often freeing up huge amounts of storage. The function “TuneUp Disk Doctor” runs the comprehensive repair function built into XP, checking the hard drive and its file structures for errors, and attempts to repair them. The operating system registry contains a data file containing information and settings on the hardware and software on our machines, and often contains useless and obsolete data. A bloated and inaccurate registry can be a major source of computer problems, as well as saps resources, and slows the boot and shutdown process. The TuneUp Registry Cleaner was one of the most comprehensive registry cleaners I have tried, detecting many errors in my registry that some of the freeware registry cleaners missed. As for all of the other utilities, the Rescue function can restore or undo any changes that have been made cleaning the registry, providing a cushion of safety. Our computers often become sluggish with age and use as our registry becomes fragmented, and our settings are less than optimal for best performance. The Optimize & Improve section offers a memory management function, a registry defragmentation utility, and a system optimizer. Defragmenting the registry compacts it making it faster to load, and consuming fewer resources.

The system optimizer checks the system for settings that may be degrading performance, and allows the user to select optimized settings. There should be no fear changing any settings because they can easily be restored from the rescue function. The default internet setting on most computers do not allow optimal surfing performance; the “Internet Optimization” function allows the user to select his type of internet connection from a list, and then optimize the internal settings to maximize web performance. For those who desire the epitome of convenience, a “1 Click Maintenance” can automate all of the optimization functions and utilities. “Administer & Control” offers a process manager, a registry editor, and an uninstall manager. The process manager allows the user to control what programs are actively running; ceasing unnecessary programs frees up resources and improves performance. Microsoft’s “Add – Remove Programs” feature does not show all software installed on the computer, often making it difficult to uninstall unlisted software; the uninstall manager allows for the easy and complete removal of programs no longer needed.

Sometimes we need to securely remove sensitive information from our hard drives; the shredder in the “File recovery & Destruction” area allows for the secure deletion of files from the hard drive making recovery of those files nearly impossible. Files that have been deleted either accidentally or on purpose (and not shredded) may possibly be recovered using the undelete utility, even if the files have been emptied from the recycle bin.

TuneUp Utilities 2007 is a comprehensive and useful software package available for $39.99 by download directly from the publisher or mirror locations. For those who would like to try the package before paying for it, a free trial version may be downloaded directly from http://www.tune-up.com or the popular download sites such as download.com or Tucows. Published reviews by reputable resources have given TuneUp Utilities 2007 very high ratings. Download.com gave this package its highest editors’ rating of five stars, and Tucows gave it it’s “Editors’ Choice” gold award in January, as well as a “five cow” rating (its highest), along with a statement that it is a “must have” application.

Personally, I like TuneUp Utilities 2007. While none of the many functions are unique, it is convenient to have them all bundled together in an easy to use package offering a quality service. I suggest that readers download the trial version and experiment with the bundle, being cognizant that any changes can be recovered using the integral Rescue Center. If you like the trial, than consider purchasing the product.

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