Uniblue – PowerSuite 2011 review

All-in-one system maintenance suite
Photo of Uniblue – PowerSuite 2011
£79.90

The web is full of dodgy free advice and tools that claim to be able to work wonders with a slow or crotchety PC. Genuine help is out there – but sifting through the dross to find it can be a mind-numbing experience. Uniblue’s PowerSuite 2011 is a collection of three utilities aimed at taking the guesswork out of keeping Windows under control.

What you get
PowerSuite 2011 comprises three separate programs – RegistryBooster, DriverScanner and SpeedUpMyPC. These are all available individually, but oddly you don’t save anything by buying the bundle (although it’s worth checking the website for promotional offers).

The three modules are tied together using a redesigned dashboard interface, but not all settings are managed centrally. On first launch, each module runs a full scan.

RegistryBooster
On our well-used Windows 7 test machine, RegistryBooster found 312 registry errors (none of which were serious).

We’re a bit cynical about registry cleaning programs, as they mostly prey on users’ obsession for tidiness – even on a brand new installation of Windows 7 it still found dozens of errors’. But at least RegistryBooster always backs up the registry first, so it’s easy to restore if there’s a problem.

SpeedUpMyPC
When SpeedUpMyPC ran for the first time, it found 1,519 performance issues (the vast majority of which were just temporary junk’ files).

The program identified many tweaks to Windows services and settings, disabling several services it deemed unnecessary and making changes to many areas of Windows, such as graphical effects and TCP/IP settings. It’s worth checking these, as we discovered it wanted to disable the Windows’ search indexer, something we wouldn’t recommend on Windows 7.

More worryingly, it also disabled IPv6, which prevented us joining a Windows 7 Homegroup (it didn’t appear to affect existing Homegroup memberships, though). Again, we question the wisdom of this, but at least you can quickly undo changes individually.

The program also enables various Speed tools’ to improve application launch speed, generate image thumbnails and limit CPU usage by Windows processes. There’s not a vast amount of technical detail given about these tweaks, though.

Although our PC did start up much quicker (1 min 20s versus 2 min 38s), and seemed a little more responsive with the tweaked settings, the penalty of lost functionality was not acceptable. This seemingly undiscriminating approach to services definitely needs looking at.

DriverScanner
We’ve previously reviewed the 2010 version of DriverScanner and found it very useful. The new 2011 interface is a little cleaner and more informative, and the program still does a very useful job.

As ever, it’s not infallible – it seems to prioritise driver date stamps over version numbers, so you need to check before installing. At least now it gives you full version information before downloading or installing the new drivers.

Company: Uniblue


Verdict
Although the new interface is an improvement, and the programs are very easy to use, it's still a lot of money to shell out for a maintenance utility. For less technical users we can see the benefits, but given our experiences in Windows 7, a more conservative approach to disabling useful services and settings in SpeedUpMyPC might be in order. Despite this, it's still one of the better programs in this category.