So how effective are the protection and optimisation Wizards in improving your PCs performance? Having run the Comprehensive Wizard on an Athlon XP 2100+ under Windows XP and on a 2.8GHz P4 under Windows Vista Business, both were running a little snappier and both had more disk space available. Fix-It Utilities isn’t going to turn a sluggish, cluttered slow-poke of a PC into a svelte gunslinger, but it will make just about any machine more secure and tidy.
We’ve highlighted the main utilities included in the suite, but there are a lot of one-shot applets, too. Disk Cleaner, for example, checks your recycle bin, temporary files, and ‘files unchanged since the year 2000’, among its 17 categories of possibly redundant files. Interestingly, it spotted 349 unchanged files on a two month-old Vista system.
More weirdly, it offered to delete all jpgs, all gifs or all files over 5MB. It’s hard to think of a valid use for these selections. Fortunately, all files are deselected for cleaning by default and you can view and select individual files within each category.
Startup Commander is another useful tool, which shows all the programs that run automatically when you start your Windows system. It gives guidance on which are essential and shouldn’t be touched and which you can consider disabling if you want to improve your start up speed or prevent a particular piece of software from running.
Cunningly named, Recovery Commander handles problems with Windows installations which have stopped running. In particular, it can run from the ground up, even if you can’t get into Windows, and restore your system to a previously working state. Yes, Windows can do this, after a fashion, through its text-mode start-up screens, but Recover Commander is more comprehensive and gives you the option to select different restore points, rather than just the last known, working one.
There’s quite a bit of duplication with Windows utilities in the functions provided by Fix-It Utilities. Several of the tasks the program can perform are already available, if you know where to look. There’s some advantage in bringing them all together in one umbrella application, but the real benefit of Fix-It is the wealth of different tools on offer. Most day-to-day diagnostics and repairs are catered for. As a final incentive, the asking price of £30 is for a three-use licence, ideal for a family with several PCs or a small business.