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PC tune-up software: does it really work?

Part Two: Windows Vista

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Round-up Installing tune-up and registry fixing software was hit and miss when we tested on a five-year-old Windows XP laptop. Faster Microsoft Office and Windows boot-up times were possible with some software packages, but occasionally performance took a dive and a similarly priced Ram upgrade thrashed the rest of the field.

PC speed-up software

Some of the services Avanquest Fix-it Utilities 9 offers to disable can speed up performance

This time - in the second of our three-part investigation; we'll be looking at Windows 7 in due course - we’ve tested the same five tune-up applications on a newer, faster computer. There's a caveat: this computer runs Vista. That makes start-up time much slower than on the old XP laptop and the potential benefit of tune-up software greater.

The five applications on test explicitly say – in their advertising – that they will speed up your computer or, more carefully, they are “designed” to speed up your computer. Again, we’ve added a Ram upgrade into the mix to try and gauge where your money is best spent: hardware or software. The upgrade costs £30 and doubles the basic 2GB Ram to 4GB - although it's only 3.5GB in practice, due to the 32-bit Windows limitation - and is a similar price to the applications on test.

The test system is an 18-month-old reviewers PC running Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit. It includes an Intel Q9450 quad core processor, 2GB of 800MHz DDR 2 Ram, a 320GB Seagate 7200rpm hard drive, an AMD ATI Radeon HD 3850 256MB graphics card all plugged into an Intel X38 motherboard.

A freshly installed copy of Vista takes under 90 seconds to boot-up on this PC, but after a year’s use and many program installs - and removals - it doesn’t feel particularly nippy any more. In fact, Vista SP2 takes over three minutes to boot up. Ubuntu Linux, in comparison, only takes 41 seconds.

PC speed-up software

Using Desktop Maestro V3.0’s Minimal Services setting reduced performance and made our PC ugly, ugly, ugly
Click for a full-size screenshot

An application that could speed up this computer is, in theory, a nice alternative to reinstalling Vista, which would add a day or two of reinstalling programs, configuring settings, and backing up and restoring files.

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