There are a lot of software packages which claim to repair your PC and improve its performance. They range from the terminally useless to the extremely valuable and the trick is to know which to pick. Fix-It Utilities 7 has good credentials, as it comes from VCom, whose Partition Commander software for managing hard disk partitions is well regarded. Fix-It is distributed by Avanquest.
The opening screen of the program keeps things simple and concentrates on single-button quick-fixes. The two main Fix-It Wizards are for protection and optimisation and each of these perform several maintenance tasks. There are also two status bars which show you how well your PC is currently doing. They're likely to show your PC in poor light the first time you start Fix-It, and improve considerably when you’ve run some of the Wizards.
The one-click protection Wizard does a virus scan and one for adware, using Trend Micro routines. Trend Micro is an established anti-virus producer and the version provided here includes automatic updates for new virus and adware signatures. On our test system it found no viruses, but deleted four cookies, which may or may not have been causing problems.
The optimisation wizard starts by defragmenting your drives. This is an odd duplication of a function already available in Windows, but you'll come across others as you work through Fix-It Utilities. Described as JETDefrag, the VCom utility doesn't appear to be any quicker than the Microsoft one and doesn't provide a status display to show contiguous and non-contiguous files on your hard drive.
A lack of status display is a common feature of several of the wizards, which simply go about their business behind the scenes and leave a static, text-only display with comments such as ‘Recovering wasted disk space’. A more informative interface would make the software easier to use.
Not that you necessarily want to see Fix-It working. A number of its utilities will run happily in the background and the software includes a scheduler, so you can run them overnight or at mealtimes, when you're not using your PC.
As well as these two wizards, there's a whole screen of one-click fixes, including the Comprehensive Wizard. This one goes through five stages covering system performance, cleaning and recovering space, diagnosing system problems, an AV scan and another for spyware. On our test system, this wizard took over three hours to complete, though 95 per cent of that was for defragmentation.