PC optimisation head-to-head – Fix-It Utilities 2011 review

Two leading system optimisation and repair suites go head-to-head
Photo of PC optimisation head-to-head – Fix-It Utilities 2011

Whether you’ve been putting off upgrading your PC or you simply like to keep things tidy, system optimisation suites can tackle the inevitable build-up of clutter, helping you to squeeze extra performance out of a dated machine. We’ve put two of the most popular suites, Tune-Up Utilities and Fix It Utilities, head-to-head to compare the strengths and weaknesses of each.

You can read our accompanying review of Tune-Up Utilities 2011 here. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the newly released Fix It Utilities 11.

Tried and tested
Fix It Utilities 11 promises comprehensive protection and optimisation from its tried-and-tested tools, but unlike the latest edition of Tune-Up Utilities, the suite doesn’t introduce anything major that wasn’t found in the last version.

Minor improvements include a ‘system snapshot’ report, which displays a summary of your operating system version and hardware; greater control and information via the suite’s System Tray icon; a startup analyser to manage processes; and improved activity monitoring, to ensure that the suite’s automatic optimisation is only invoked when the computer is idle.

Difficult to navigate
Fix-it checks for updates on install but doesn’t prompt you to run an initial scan – though a one-click fix is available from its main interface. The software takes a bit of a different approach from Tune-Up Utilities. Although your PC’s current status is summarised in a fairly uncluttered way, we found the suite’s detailed information provided by the suite a little more convoluted and difficult to navigate than that of its rival.

While a list of current problems is summarised for reference, and tools are arranged in categorised lists, little information is given here on the current status of individual areas of the system. One nice touch is the presence of one-click fixes for specific categories, which helps you to quickly correct one area of your system without affecting others.

Useful tools
Fix-It offers a wider range of tools than Tune-Up, adding an internet speed optimiser, memory optimiser and manual scheduler along with handy resources such as a Windows error message tracker, the ability to take snapshots of system status for diagnosis, and a checkpoint manager for safe system restores.

The main difference between the suites is the presence of an anti-malware component that detects and removes viruses and spyware. While not a patch on dedicated software, this is a useful addition for those who, for example, use the Windows firewall and simply require a dedicated anti-malware solution.

The program’s startup and shutdown analyser tells you how many programs have been started up (or shut down), and how long this took – giving you some idea of what improvements can be made to these times, though there’s not a lot of information on exactly how safe it will be to disable certain programs.

Another handy feature is the fact that the Fix-it Utilities disc doubles as a bootable rescue disc, helping you to recover and back up your system and data files, manage partitions and correct problems if Windows fails to start. Those who’ve bought the product online as a download will find an option to create a disc in the program’s main interface.

One-click fix
A one-click fix using Fix-It Utilities began by defragment our hard disk, which we were pleasantly surprised to find took just eight minutes. Following this, the suite took around 15 minutes to scan our system for problems and perform an anti-malware scan, though this included the time it took to correct problems.

It should be noted that Fix-It doesn’t offer a summary and a choice of fixes following a scan. This is rather disappointing – and though you can achieve greater control by running individual tools manually, or opting for category-specific fixes, we’re not sure how many users will appreciate this lack of fine-tuning.

Disappointing performance
After running Fix-It’s various recommended fixes, we were disappointed to find our system appeared to be slightly more sluggish, not less – particularly during system startup. This left us unconvinced by Fix-It’s ‘recommended’ solutions, and rather underwhelmed by the experience as a whole.

While these issues weren’t serious enough to undermine the software entirely, the software does appear to work better as a collection of manual tools, as opposed to Tune-Up, which does a nice job of offering additional information on proposed fixes and of automating the process cleanly.

Despite the wider range of fixes and tools and a potentially useful anti-malware component, Fix-It loses out in our estimation to Tune-Up Utilities, our solution of choice for those looking to keep a PC in good condition.

Company: PC optimisation head-to-head

While it does offer a wide range of tools that work well individually, Fix-It Utilities feels dated and doesn't offer the control we'd like over optimisation. We weren't impressed by its automated fixes and recommendations, and with few significant new features added to this version, Fix-It loses out to Tune-Up Utilities, the best overall solution in this head-to-head.