Windows is a complicated beast. It’s open to anyone and everyone meaning each and every experience can be custom tailored. The downside, of course, is that maintaining performance (either by the end user or professional PC repairmen) becomes exponentially more difficult and convoluted. A growing number of people know how to tweak Windows’ inner settings to extract the most performance out of Redmond’s OS. But for a still very large group of people, keeping Windows in tip-top shape as well as customizing the core OS to suit personal tastes is a trip into the unknown.
TuneUp Utilities has been on our Windows box for a couple years now. Where many performance enhancing programs seemingly quite, TuneUp pushes on. Not only that, appearance/UI tweaks are tossed in to boot.
Join us after the break as we take a look at TuneUp utilities 2012 and see if it really is worth the $49.95 asking price…
For first time PC owners/computer noobs, PC performance utilities can be quite daunting. On that note, we’ll admit that TuneUp 2012 itself is pretty expansive not only in features, but also in menu choices. To some that may be a turn off. But we feel that the way it is laid out gains large amounts of ground in terms of usability.
Upon opening TuneUp Utilities you’re presented with the screen above; a large screen that is chock full of grouped settings panes allowing you to tweak and alter a ton of options. “Status & Recommendations” as seen above is a general pane that aims to give quick fixes and one-click options to thinks such as system maintenance, increasing general system performance, fixing basic problems, and general system protection. In testing we found that TuneUp Utilities did quite a good job of finding various issues with our PC, fixing it, and managing to fix said problems without messing up other areas of our system.
In the “Optimize System” pane, users are presented with options to disable startup programs, outright disable programs, and completely uninstall programs. Besides going through and specifically choosing programs to disable/uninstall, users can select “Economy Mode” and “Turbo Mode”. Think of these modes as profiles (that can also be configured) to quick, one-click commands and tasks.
Besides program maintenance, the Optimize System tab also allows registry cleaning/maintenance, optimization of system startup and shutdown, and disk defrag.
Continuing on to the right is a section for disk-based maintenance. Here one can “delete unnecessary files” (aka: Windows temp files, etc.), delete old backups (backups taken before system updates), and disable a multitude of Windows functions. Clicking on the main drive letter box allows you to toggle between hard disks (if applicable).
“Fix Problems” sounds pretty ambiguous and generalized. Truth be told, it is. But let’s not get held up on details for there’s plenty of utility still to be had. In this particular section, some of the more obscure (dare we say “weird”) Windows problems can be fixed. Clicking on “fix common problems” pops up a repair wizard window with a lengthy list issues that can be quickly repaired with a simple click. Things such as missing icons to removing shortcut arrows from shortcut icons to a broken Windows Update can be remedied in a single click.
Other tasks such as checking the hard disk for errors and restoring deleted files can be done as well. The latter, we might add, is super helpful for those instances when you thought something incredibly important was gone for good.
Finally, in the window above users can see and close running processes as well as check system information (RAM, HDD space, processor speed, etc.).
The last section (and our favorite section we’ll add) is the “Customize Windows” section. For users of Windows skinning applications such as Windows Blinds, we’ll go out and say that TuneUp Utilities isn’t quite as expansive in terms of theme availability. But, as we’ve said before, there’s plenty to love.
Some of the editable features of Windows include changing the Windows Visual style (themes), changing the Windows login screen, and skinning/altering system elements. Selecting “system elements” brings up a TuneUp Styler window with its own set of tabs and settings. This is where you really drill down into more mundane OS variables if changing things such as folder, Start menu, Exlporer, and Control Panel icons are your cup of tea.
So far we’ve dealt with the friendlier, categorized menu structure for navigating TuneUp Utilities 2012. But there is actually another, in our eyes, somewhat faster way to tap into TuneUp’s power — clicking “overview of all functions” in the top right in any tab will bring up a window like you see above. It’s pretty chaotic for the normal computer user we’re sure, but for more seasoned users it offers a quicker and sometimes faster way to get in and get out of system maintenance.
Looking back over everything we’ve covered seems daunting. And we’ll admit that it can be a bit challenging for more “non-techies”. But we’ll also say that TuneUp Utilities does a pretty good job of taking some of the more involved aspects of tweaking and skinning Windows, repackages it, and delivers it in a style that is much more approachable. For that, we applaud TuneUp. We managed to clean up ~1.5 GB in total from our main hard drive as well as increase boot times by a few seconds.
Normally the program runs $49.95 but for a limited time is on sale for $34.95. Better yet, users of a previous version of TuneUp Utilities looking to upgrade can get an even better discount price of $29.95.
If you’re the type who likes relatively simple choices and one-click fixes TuneUp is for you. If you’re the type that already knows a decent bit about Windows and can manually fix a good deal of what TuneUp does, save your money for another day.
Available for Windows XP, Vista and 7.
*A special thanks to TuneUp for the review copy of 2012.