It doesn’t matter how much time, money or effort you put into building a colossal gaming rig when you don’t do your due diligence in your housekeeping in terms of registry, defrags, broken shortcuts, temporary files and general optimisation your system. This can be a lot of work, especially if you are not what one would call a ‘computer person’ then you can find software that does it all for you. One of the options in this market is TuneUp Utilities 2012.
TuneUp Utilities is designed to help you manage and optimise your system and has been around for several years now; the 2012-version is compatible with Windows XP or later and is available now for £24.99. Software like TuneUp Utilities is nothing new, but the latest version of TuneUp was released December last year and, not only is it a upgrade on the previous editions, but it can seriously help to speed up your computer, whether you want your computer to run faster for high-end gaming, or just to be a little bit smoother when exploring Windows, chances are your whole system can benefit from changing just a few options.
The only thing worth considering before purchasing TuneUp is whether you can do everything yourself, because the software doesn’t offer anything new that Windows isn’t already able to do, it just provides one location where you can change everything, and it recommends options and ways of improving your system. TuneUp also scans your drives and settings to find problems (like, for instance, with your registry or broken shortcuts) and tells you recommended options to ‘optimise’ the computer to run best to the specifications you tell it, which are basically whether to prioritise on the appearance or performance of Windows.
After installing TuneUp Utilities 2012, it will ask you what you prefer on your system, using a scale between looking good and running slower, and running faster but looking less swish. There are really simple changes it recommends for you that you can easily do with windows, like turning off unnecessary animations when opening windows, but if you don’t feel confident enough to do this yourself then the software can be really useful as it tells you what it is going to do and you only have to click the button. It should be emphasised here, that it tells you what it is going to do before it does it, so you should scroll down the list (even if you aren’t completely sure what it all means) just to check it isn’t doing anything that will cause problems. For instance, after asking it to ‘optimise my system’, it tried closing several programmes that I didn’t know I had running, as well as programs I knew were running and that I wanted running, like third-party software for managing graphic options, and software for peripherals like my pro-gaming mouse and keyboard, so I made sure TuneUp left these running and closed the other unnecessary stuff.
As well as optimisation tools for general windows settings, TuneUp also offers some of its own core-tools, such as a defragmenter. Which is – unfortunately, and somewhat unsurprisingly – fairly unimpressive, mostly because it is so slow, but this is a minor problem when you can simply use the Windows defrag tool, which this is no better than, or download a pretty decent free one (like Defraggler). The defrag on my machine worked perfectly well and it did a great job of defragging my 1TB drive that was half-full, it just took a long time, which can be a problem as running a defrag can put a load on a system, making it impossible to do much else until it completes.
At the very least, TuneUp 2012 can help speed up your computer by changing some of Windows’ insignificant settings that make very little difference to your computing experience, which are worth looking at if it can make everything run smoother. Something everyone can benefit from.
Appearance/User Interface (UI)
In the picture (below) you can see the startup screen for TuneUp Utilities 2012 and, as you can see, there are sections for maintaining your system, increasing performance, and fixing problems. These three are the ones you want to look at first as they are what will speed your computer up, with the 1-click Maintenance basically doing everything. When I looked here, it said I had two ‘recommendations’ to increase the performance of my computer, these were adding a drop-shadow to my mouse cursor, and disabling animations for popup tooltips, these are very minor changes that are not going to make a big difference, but it does help significantly when you optimise everything like this, like I now have, and I must say that everything is generally running better.
At the bottom of the startup screen you can see the Optimisation status, which tells you how optimised your system is (right now, my PC is completely optimised after running TuneUp’s 1-Click Maintenance and removing some programs). Originally, I had 15 programs and 14 startup programs that could be disabled. As I said earlier, some of what TuneUp calls “optional” I prefer to keep running, like Skype, and software for my gaming peripherals, but it noticed everything else that was running like iTunesHelper and automatic updating processes which are completely needless and are better to not have running automatically, which has all now been disabled and this dramatically decreases the time it takes for your computer to go from turning on and having loaded everything to be ready to start processing important things – what you want to do.
In the bottom-left you can change the “PC optimization mode” which can be incredibly useful, depending on the computer you are using. The Economy mode is probably the most interesting new feature in the 2012-edition, which is supposed to be energy-efficient and runs better on a notebook, or even a low-performance laptop. If you’re not that bothered about economy and you want TuneUp for a proper rig, then you might find use in the ‘Turbo’ mode, which turns all the unnecessary applications off (including Windows Aero theme, switching it to basic) to increase speed for demanding programs, or high-end gaming. This is a very useful feature, especially for gamers, as it is really easy to toggle on and off.
Everything you really need is on this front page in the form of the “1-Click Maintenance”, which does as it says on the tin; you click the button and it then sorts through the computer, deciding what’s best to improve – or to optimise – your system. It then presents you with a screen, detailing all the changes it wants to make and you can change anything you don’t like there, making the entire process pretty easy and also allowing you to stop it from doing anything too rash.
Additionally, there is also an uninstall manager and TuneUp will offer to inform you when a program goes unused for a certain amount of time (20-days, 40-days, etc) and can remove it for you. Again, this isn’t necessary as you can simply go to ‘Add or Remove Programs’ (or Programs and Features for those of you who are as advanced as Windows 7), but, again, it can be useful to have things like this in one place, and it sure is handy to have the program inform you when a program goes unused.
In retrospect, the most useful feature TuneUp has to offer is the ‘Undo changes’ button. Like doing a System Restore with Windows, it will revert back to previous settings before you used TuneUp. For example, if you just ran the 1-click maintenance and it ruined something on your computer (not something that should, or will happen to many people, but it is possible), rather than troll through trying to find that setting/file you can just undo the changes TuneUp did. It is a very nice addition to a program like this which changes settings in Windows, as it can cause problems.
The only question you should be asking is whether it’s worth the money. You can test TuneUp on a full 15-day trial which gives you access to everything, and even just using the trial can help your system as you can use it to defrag your drive, fix registry errors, turn off excessive Windows settings, and uninstall unnecessary programes, which will all help to make your system run faster. Generally, TuneUp is worth the money, but it depends on whether you’re a geek who knows his or her way around a system and can find how to speed everything up themselves, or someone who wants an easy solution. Either way, TuneUp can achieve excellent results in speeding up your system and in the long-term, can prevent you from clogging up the machine again by telling you when to do the maintenance and when it finds fault.