It doesn’t matter what new tools and technologies Microsoft builds into each successive version of Windows, there are a myriad of third-party tools out there that claim to go further, improving performance, cleaning out clutter and rooting out problems and errors, all with a single click.
One such tool is Ashampoo’s WinOptimizer – version 9 is out now, and promises a comprehensive selection of tools and tweaks to keep your PC running as smoothly as possible. While it’s true these programs do produce short-term gains, there is a danger of them going too far, and introducing problems by injudicious use of registry cleaning tools and other system modifications.
Nevertheless, thousands of PC users continue to trust their machines to third-party apps promising miraculous results without having to perform more than a few clicks. For those put off by high price tags, Ashampoo has produced this, a cut-down freeware version of WinOptimizer.
Gone is the slick interface and many of the tools, but the core functionality remains, split into four sections: Overview for a quick-fire scan of your system, Modules where you can run its various tools individually or access the one-click optimization module, Backups for restoring mistakes the program makes, and Favorites, a place for accessing and organising favourite tools.
Some degree of technical knowledge is useful here – although the program is happy to make all the hard and fast decisions for you, the more effort you make the less likely you are to experience problems. That means taking the time to explore what exactly the program can do via the Modules section: here you’ll find 20 separate tools split into six categories such as clean up, optimize performance, tune system settings and diagnosis and information.
We’re actually quietly impressed with this supposedly cut-down version of the program. The 20 tools cover most bases and will do much to improve your system’s performance if used carefully. We’re not entirely happy to see a Registry cleaning tool with no Registry defrag (where the actual performance improvement takes place) feature, but naturally it’s one of many limitations with this free version. If you can live without all the extras, you’ll find plenty here to help keep your PC running quickly, smoothly and securely.