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
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.
is divided into nine distinct sections:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.