TuneUp Utilities 2012 

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While a new version of an OS (Operating System), such as Windows, might take a number of years to make a commercial appearance, utilities designed to keep the OS running smoothly operate on a short gestation period.

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New versions of utilities are generally released on an annual basis with the year appendage being used to identify the current version.  One such product that falls into this category is TuneUp Utilities 2012.  Available with a three user licence this product provides a range of tools covering different aspects relating to the smooth running of your Windows computer system.

As with the previous versions of thus software, you can take an all-in-one approach with its 1 Click Maintenance tool or run the main program which allows you to target specific areas of your computer system set-up and then carry out any actions that might deem to be necessary.  The 1 Click Maintenance tool has its own desktop icon. 

When selected, 1 Click Maintenance works its way through a list of tasks that are made up of Clean the Registry, Defrag the Registry, Remove broken shortcuts, Delete temporary files, Optimise the system start-up and shutdown procedure plus defrag the hard disk.  On the test system, which had three hard disks, the 1 Click Maintenance tool was able to identify just over 500 problems, make 8 recommendations regarding speed-up issues and offer to regain approximately 89MB of hard disk space.  This seemed a reasonable initial pay back for installing this software.  Options are available to examine the results for each of the different tasks and then deselect any results that you did not want to be included in any further action.  Once you are happy with the selection of items for maintenance, you can let TuneUp carry out its work.

However, it was noticeable that the various targeted sections related to the systems C: drive.  For any additional drives you really need to run the product’s main program which can be accessed from its own desktop icon, the system tray or a supplied desktop gadget.

Using a tabbed interface, the TuneUp main interface opens with the Status & Recommendation tab displayed.  As its title indicates, this tab will show the condition of your computer with regards to Maintain System, Increase Performance and Fix Problems.  Colour coding, using green, yellow and red, will be displayed to indicate the health of your system in each category.  When problems have been identified in a particular area, you can drill down for a more detailed look as you decide whether TuneUp should proceed or ignore the problems either for a set period or permanently.

As well as the three areas just mentioned, this first tab also contains a System Protection option.  This feature allows you to undo any action that TuneUp has carried out.  When selected, it will bring up a list of all the various actions clearly labelled with a date/time time to help you identify the particular action you wish to be reversed.

The four other tabs are labelled Optimise System, Gain Disk Space, Fix Problems and Customise Windows.  The Optimise System tab allows you to reduce system load and carry out certain maintenance tasks.  Tools are provided to disable programs, start-up options and uninstall programs.  Often your system will, over time, build up a large collection of programs that run in the background taking up valuable resources.  TuneUp new enhanced deactivation feature allows you to select programs from a list of those currently running and disable those you do not need.  These programs will be graded according to their load impact and usefulness.  These disabled items are not totally removed and will have their status re-activated by TuneUp when you need them in the future.

When TuneUp Utilities 2012 is set up on a laptop or netbook, it has a new Economy Mode which can help expand battery life.  TuneUp claims an improvement of 30% is possible but I was only able to achieve a 20% improvement.  This same Economy Mode is also claimed to reduce power consumption on a desktop system.

For those programs that form part of your start-up procedure, TuneUp will evaluate each one and give it a useful rating.  You can then select to disable those not required.  TuneUp will highlight any new entries that have been added to the list since last accessed.  Rather than opt for the Windows uninstall feature, TuneUp has its own offering.  I found it took a little longer to appear than the Windows offering.  The TuneUp version does provide information regarding the size, last used and usefulness of each title. 

You can also run maintenance tasks to clean and defrag the Registry, remove broken shortcuts, optimise the system start-up and shutdown routine plus defrag the hard drive with the option to cherry pick which drives will be included.  TuneUp will list each of the hard drives detected on the system and show how much space could be saved on each drive by the removal of items such as log files, temporary files and the IE cache.  In the case of the test system, the saving was estimated as 11.27GB.  While you can select the drives for group action, you have to select the appropriate category of files, such as Unnecessary or Old Backups, to be tackled individually.  You can also request TuneUp to process your hard disks to see what is taking up all the space of your drives.  I was quite surprised to discover that 50% of one of my drives was made up of video files but only 6% of music files.

The Fix Problems section divides its functionality into Common, Hard Disk and Restore issues.  The common problems are categorised as display, icon, files & folders, updates and Windows installer.  The TuneUp Doctor will check selected drives for issues using a normal or thorough setting.  While Disk Doctor encountered no difficulties with my internal drives, it hung when checking an external hard drive.  There is also a feature to display and close running processes.  Of the approximately 100 processes on the test system, only two (TuneUp Process Manager and System Idle Process) revealed a CPU usage of over 0%.

The final section deals with modifying Windows settings and customising the appearance of Windows.  Overall this is an excellent product that provides background monitoring and problem fixing capabilities.  It is the product that I trust to manage my work system.

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