PC optimisation head-to-head – Tune-Up Utilities 2011 review

Leading system optimisation and repair suites go head-to-head
Photo of PC optimisation head-to-head – Tune-Up 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’ll find our accompanying review of Fix-It Utilities here. First, though, we kick things off with Tune-Up Utilities.

What’s new?
Tune-Up Utilities 2011 builds on the success of previous versions, with a handful of new features included in the latest edition. The headline addition is Tune-Up Program Deactivator, which is described as a world innovation. This tool allows users to switch off programs that are rarely used in order to free up resources, with the ability to re-enable them again quickly if needed.

You’ll also find extra information on your PC’s ‘tune-up’ status, an all functions summary page, and a community-driven ratings function that informs users of the relevance of various bits of installed software to the smooth running of a system. The suite’s Turbo mode has also been improved to offer more control over processes, and the interface has undergone a bit of a refresh with a new start centre.

Setup is fast and straightforward – and when starting the software for the first time, you’re given the opportunity to run an initial scan to identify problems with your system.

System scanning
A scan took just under a minute and a half on our test system, and discovered 421 issues, with two recommendations to speed up startup and shutdown – both of which we were happy to invoke. Correcting these problems took just 20 seconds. In addition to system maintenance, a profile can be created to generate recommendations for improving performance in specific environments. Similar analysis can be performed on system health.

Following the (optional) scan, you arrive at an uncluttered interface that displays general status summaries in various categories, along with tabbed views of tool collections that include Optimisation, Cleanup, Problem Resolving and Windows Customisation.

The initial page offers an effective summary of your PC’s current status, and provides shortcuts to configure live optimisation, recent activity and ‘unused potential’, indicating additional areas in which the software may be able to help.

One-click fixes
The software automates many of its functions quite effectively, and a one-click fix takes the hassle out of trawling through tools individually – though those who prefer to run their tasks manually will find all of the essentials well organised into their various categories. The screen that provides an overview of functions is also a nice way to see everything at a glance. Turbo mode can be switched on with one click, and an ‘undo changes’ option can roll a system back.

The range of tools on offer is fairly comprehensive. It includes registry and hard drive defragmentation and repair, startup program manager, secure delete and Windows optimisation and repair – though the last of these duplicates many of the program’s automatic settings. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but Tune-Up’s real strength lies in automating the optimisation and repair process, ticking the most important boxes.

Stand-out features
The suite’s most notable new addition, the Tune-Up Program Deactivator, is of particular interest. It works by listing the various programs you have running, along with the load they place on your system. Each can be enabled or disabled at the click of a button. To give you extra information on how safe this is to do, each program is awarded a ‘usefulness’ rating, according to how it’s judged by the Tune-Up community. While the final decision was left to us, we appreciated having this extra information available – and enjoyed the ease with which, once we’d decided, software could be switched software on and off.

The suite’s Turbo mode comes in particularly useful, too. It’s designed to let you enable or disable certain services, processes and resources to optimise performance when gaming or performing intensive tasks.

Company: PC optimisation head-to-head

We were pleased with both the degree of information offered by Tune-Up Utilities, as well as its general usability and what appeared to be more streamlined operation after accepting the recommended fixes.

Despite having fewer individual tools than its rival Fix-It Utilities, Tune-Up is far nicer to use and we were confident that the changes it made to our system were legitimate and worthwhile. Check out our review of Fix-It Utilities to see how it fared by comparison.