Cleanup utilities: Can they speed up your PC?

What happens when you take a clutch of cluttered old PCs, install four Windows optimizers, and check for improvements?

By Patrick Miller, PC World |  Software, utilities

For comparison's sake, we also tried uninstalling 49 applications (using WinOptimizer 7's uninstall feature) from the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge, running WinOptimizer 7's cleanup functions, and then running WorldBench 6. We found an improvement of three points in WorldBench 6 (from 60 to 63, or 5%)--a larger increase than anything we saw from the standard cleanup functions. While such a result won't make your PC like new, it will make multitasking and disk-heavy operations a bit less painful. To sweep away system clutter, uninstalling old programs is your best bet.

Boot-Time Results

Testing boot times can be tricky, because it's hard to know exactly when all background processes and services have loaded into memory--even if you get to the Windows desktop quickly, your PC might still be loading tasks, so it isn't fully responsive yet. William Wang in the PCWorld Labs tested boot times by setting each PC to open a Notepad document on startup, and stopping the stopwatch when he saw it appear on screen. He tested each setup ten times. (Click the chart below to see it at full size.)

Each utility managed to speed startup slightly, though typically by no more than a few seconds. Oddly, System Mechanic 10 caused a negligible increase in startup time in the Dell D520 and the Toshiba M645-S4055, but the difference fell within the margin of error. The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge, meanwhile, enjoyed faster boot times across the board; CCleaner came in first with a 10-second improvement (19% faster), followed by System Mechanic 10 (9 seconds), WinOptimizer 7 (6 seconds), and System Speedup (4 seconds).

When we approached the utility vendors about our findings, Iolo Labs (maker of System Mechanic) requested that we try a tool the company uses for its own boot-time tests: Microsoft's Windows Performance Toolkit. The tool wouldn't work on our XP and Vista PCs, but the two Windows 7 systems reported a boot-time improvement of 14 seconds for the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge (29%) and 17 seconds for the Toshiba M645-S4055 (25%).

Net-Connection Speed Boost?

While all of the utilities made claims about improving overall performance, System Mechanic 10 also touted its NetBooster and Internet Connection Repair tools: "By adjusting the settings that affect network and Internet connection speeds, NetBooster fine-tunes your configurations so that more data can be transferred."


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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