TuneUp Utilities 2011 review

£30
Price when reviewed

PC tune-up tools are a dubious proposition. Often they make no measurable difference to performance, and when they do help it’s chiefly by removing services and startup items, which can be done without special software.

Yet TuneUp’s latest suite has a few unique tricks. For one, rather than uninstalling an application, TuneUp lets you temporarily deactivate it. Associated background services are disabled, reducing the load on your system, but when you launch the application they’re automatically re-enabled. This could be a big help on overloaded systems, but annoyingly it’s only a one-shot setting. Once you’ve finished using a program you have to go back into the TuneUp interface and manually deactivate it again.

TuneUp Utilities 2011

Another interesting idea is community ratings. Most tune-up packages help you disable startup items, but it’s hard to know which files you need to keep. TuneUp Utilities uses a database of usefulness ratings, assigned by other users to startup items (and applications), to guide you in deciding which you need and which can be safely axed. But the benefit is limited: in our tests we found security and multimedia tools (often the biggest contributors to system slow-down) all had high usefulness ratings, leaving us in the dark as to which we should ditch.

One last distinctive feature is Turbo Mode, which you can activate from the system tray icon. Turn it on and numerous background processes and visual effects (configurable through a simple wizard) are temporarily disabled, to help your foreground applications run more smoothly. Turn it off and everything returns to normal.

TuneUp Utilities also offers the usual Registry cleaner, defragmenter and system analyser modules. These had no visible effect on the speed or stability of our test system, but the analyser did give us some good general advice about disabling shared folders and remote Registry access, and shutting down some unneeded services.

TuneUp Utilities 2011

TuneUp deserves credit for the multiple fresh ideas in this package, but we still have reservations. Turbo Mode and the Program Deactivator give you more flexibility than the old-fashioned approach of simply removing programs and services from your system, but it’s tiresome to have to switch modes to use certain programs and re-deactivate heavy applications after each use.

In light of that compromise, the price feels high, even though it does cover three machines. Still, if you have one or more systems that are seriously overloaded, and removing applications and services isn’t an option, this is one of very few tools we’ve seen that could actually help.

Details

Software subcategory System tools

Requirements

Processor requirement 300MHz

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no
Other operating system support none

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