TuneUp Utilities 2004 $39.99 ($24.99 upgrade) TuneUp Software www.tune-up.com
Keeping Microsoft Windows happily running isn't fun for anyone. We may be power users, but we aren't masochists. Dealing with Registry errors and other maintenance issues are chores no one likes. TuneUp Utilities 2004 can take some of the pain away, plus it provides some cool Windows customizations.
Some of the program's features parallel Norton SystemWorks'. For example, Tune-Up will search for invalid Registry entries, search for missing files your applications need, and remove space-eating temporary files. A 1-Click Maintenance tool will quickly run through the tune-up regimen. The tool indicates how many problems it finds, but it doesn't provide specifics about what those issues are. You'll have to run each utility by hand for that information.
Several features mirror functions built into Windows. For example, when memory gets tight, the memory optimizer frees RAM by moving unneeded programs to the paging file. It's difficult to say if it does a better job than Windows' default paging system, however. There's also a Registry editor and process manager, both similar to those included in Windows, although with some additional functions.
The app also includes an Uninstall Manager that removes apps you no longer need; a Disk-Cleaner that removes backup, log, Internet cache, and temporary files; an Undelete utility that restores files; and Shredder, a DoD-compliant tool for securely deleting files, making sure other users can't recover your deleted secrets.
A WinStyler feature provides clever functions for customizing the Windows interface. You can use it to modify Windows' visual style; change the image on the Windows login screen; and replace the default My Computer, Recycle Bin, and other icons with graphics of your choice.
TuneUp Utilities was stable and speedy in my tests, repairing Registry problems more quickly than Norton SystemWorks. It is lacking as a complete system tune-up solution, however, failing to include file and disk-repair functions. In addition, it doesn't make a strong case for why some of its tools are better than Windows' built-in functions.
Reprinted with permission from Computer Power User magazine.