Advanced System Optimizer v1.03

Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, November 2005
Published by: Systweak Software
Requires: Microsoft Windows 95, 98, 98SE, NT, 2000, XP or Vista
MSRP: $39.95

Multitools often leave me feeling somewhat less than fully satisfied. The problem is that the designer of a multitool always has to make concessions: If the pliers are too large, the folding handles might then be too bulky; if one of the cutting blades is too rigidly locked when deployed, it will be too difficult to release and fold with one hand; the alloy used for handles and pliers can't be used for cutting blades or tweezers; what combination of screwdrivers tips is truly useful given the appeal of the combination of other utensils being considered? It's a tough process. So it is with software multitools. How far should the designer go when making decisions about which functions and utilities to include? Advanced System Optimizer (ASO) is an example of a designer erring on the side of optimism—more is better!

Since when does a system optimization tool include a personal scheduler and a desktop note utility? Since Systweak said it should. The list of system optimization and customization tools in ASO is impressive and includes everything from the usual file, cache, history, temp and bak file search & destroy functions, to a nice range of Windows user interface custom settings that appear to have been culled from Systweak's excellent BoostXP utility program. About the only thing missing is a hard disk defragmenter.


ASO is divided into nine distinct sections:

  • System Cleaning includes trash and junk file deletion, a registry cleaner and fixer and a startup and autorun program manager. The registry cleaner does not dig as deeply into Windows as I'd like, but it's effective enough for most typical Windows home and small office PCs.
  • System Optimizers deals with memory and registry defragmentation and also provides access to a Windows optimizer which contains the selection of appearance & function tweak options from BoostXP. It's not as comprehensive as Systweak's BoostXP or Allume's BoostXP. (And do these companies realize they're using the same product name? Or is Systweak the actual BoostXP developer licensing its product to Allume? It wouldn't be the first time a U.S. company used an off-shore development company). In any case, there's still plenty to play with.
  • System Tools includes a reasonably robust hardware and settings analyzer, a detailed file & folder info/properties tool, and a system analyzer which is designed to review system settings in order to help optimize the operating system. It's adequate for non-Geeks and there's nothing in this section that can get you into trouble.
  • Privacy & Security offers one-click tools for detecting and erasing all traces of online activity, a rather thorough secure delete function to permanently get rid of unwanted files, and a spyware utility which provides some basic protection against incursion attempts. The spyware tool missed quite a few common items so I can't really recommend it, but if you're not running AdAware or SpyBot Search & Destroy, it's better than nothing.
  • The Organizers section contains an appointment planner, sticky pad for typing desktop notes, and a media file organizer which searches your hard drives for audio, video, image and other media files and can be used to do a general listing of just about anything. There's a great little Info tool for adding comments and metadata to various kinds of media files which will accept that sort of thing (JPG, AVI, MOV, etc.).
  • Backup & Restore is a basic storage utility which helps you do a 2 or 3 click backup of crucial Windows system files, perform more elaborate system, file or drive backups on the spot or according to a schedule. There's also an encryption tool for securing folders against uninvited inquiries.
  • Safe Execution provides a program uninstaller, a terrific program blocker which can be used to prevent any basic Windows system program from running or to block any other installed program from running—very handy indeed for shared PCs. Safe Execution also has a logon settings tool with control over all of Windows security controls, a delightful Windows logon customizer, general logon and user rights controls, and various choices for logon dialogs.
  • Files & Folders provides a duplicate file finder, a repair tool for fixing and recovering ZIP files, and a file splitter which allows you save large files using multiple disks (floppy, CD or DVD). It's not meant to crack encrypted ZIPs.
  • Beautify Windows provides access to a wall paper changer, half a dozen Windows appearance controls, and a rather nice icon manager which can make use of icons from most common icon stores on your system or any Windows-compatible icon or custom icon collection.

Despite the long list of controls, functions and tools, the UI is well organized with as few nested dialogs as possible (there's nothing worse than clicking into layer after layer of options dialogs). There's enough here to keep the dedicated system customizer busy for days if not weeks. The well-organized format is easy to use and even the most non-technical users should be able to improve their systems and have a little customization fun.

Cons: Some MOV files gave the Media Files Organizer (MFO) absolute fits—merely selecting the file in the list pane caused the MFO to exit without warning. It's a minor bug because it doesn't cause any system instability, but if you've got MOV files from a number of sources you will run into the problem. Systweak needs to spend a couple of Rupees on a better review of the user interface and help system text. Systweak is based in Jaipur, India and despite that country's very long tradition of turning out superbly literate English speakers and writers, the ASO UI and help system contain a surprising amount of bad English. It's not horrible, but it needs to be corrected in order to help improve ASO's acceptance as a useful, professionally developed product for home and small office Windows PC users.

Pros: I'm not completely sure, but as of this writing it appears as though ASO contains the most comprehensive feature and function collection of any tool of this type on the market. Fast registry service routines for both defragmentation and cleanout—almost 20x faster than SystemSuite and 5x times faster than Symantec's Norton SystemWorks. Although some of the speed is achieved because Advanced System Optimizer simply doesn't delve as deeply into the Registry, ASO still does a creditable job. The ASO team has taken the friendliest possible approach in the design and implementation of the huge list of features, functions and tools. In fact, ASO may be the easiest to use of all the system optimization and maintenance tools on the market as of this writing. Even the most computer illiterate users should be able to use ASO to enhance and maintain their systems. That's quite a compliment. It's a consequence of this approach that ASO doesn't dig as deeply into your Windows PC as some of the high-end products such as SystemSuite 2006 and Symantec Norton SystemWorks. However, that lack of deep attack is ultimately a benefit to non-technical PC users because ASO also doesn't dig up problems which require answers or selection responses that non-technical users can't provide. The fact remains too that ASO does a passable job of analyzing, cleaning, stabilizing, securing, backing up and customizing a PC. That's the whole point. Recommended.





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