Reviewed by: Howard Carson, June 2005
Published by: Allume Systems
Requires: Windows 2000 or XP (any version)
MSRP: US$29.99

Never assume. I assumed that BoostXP was a TWeakUI clone—one of those utilities used to tweak every conceivable user interface item in Windows XP. Those particular utilities operate by modifying Windows Registry settings by means of a friendly and relatively intuitive user interface. Although BoostXP certainly helps you do that, it's much more than a Windows Registry tweaker. In fact, it's one of the most versatile utilities of its kind that we've ever reviewed for Kickstartnews.

BoostXP is another interesting product from the terrifically prolific Allume Systems. Lately I've been repeatedly amazed by Allume's constant (quarterly? monthly?) releases of new programs. The company was founded in 1988 as Aladdin Systems (which you may recognize as the publisher of the well-known StuffIt program), but changed its name to Allume Systems during 2004 in response to a lawsuit over the Aladdin name. With approximately 41 separate versions of utility products for Windows, Mac and Linux, Allume seems to be very well focused. It's that particular type of focus—I appreciate any company that finds its niche and then sticks to its strengths—which provides the company's development staff with the impetus to continually create new and better products. I installed and used BoostXP for six weeks on a Pentium 4 workstation in my home office—my main machine actually—and on an older Dell Cpi Pentium II laptop. Both computers are running Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2. I did not install the version of Anonymizer bundled with BoostXP. Anonymizer is a low level utility which essentially allows you to surf the Internet, leaving little or no trace (originating IP address, etc.) behind.

Allume Systems has built into BoostXP an extremely robust set of features in each and every section. For example, tweaking the desktop Wallpaper settings is not simply a matter changing photos. BoostXP provides a full-fledged photo browser called Photo Explorer. With it you can set up a desktop slide show, set any image as wallpaper, view individual image properties, perform basic image editing including flipping, cropping, text labeling, inverting colors and so on. After you've chosen an image for your desktop or created a Collection of images to run as a screensaver slide show, there are still more options to choose from so that your wallpaper or screensaver can be further enhanced. Similarly, BoostXP also contains a nice little appointment planner called, not surprisingly, Appointment Planner. It features a number of straightforward options for daily and weekly planning, appointments and reminders. The module launches as an apparently separate program out of BoostXP, just like Photo Explorer. It has its own simple interface for entering information. Appointment Planner is ideal for casual users and for all those growing numbers of people who are starting to use a utility PC in the kitchen to take the place of calendars, fridge notes, recipe books, index cards, etc.

BoostXP is also the software version of one of those knife-pliers-screwdriver multitools that are so popular (and useful) these days. In addition to user interface enhancements, it is also possible to make significant performance improvements to your PC by making use of the BoostXP Registry Cleaner to remove useless or orphaned registry entries. Similarly, File Cleaner removes useless or abandoned temp files left by installers, and a handy document list cleaner can be used to clear out all your 'Recently Used' file lists in Windows.

The more technically oriented options in BoostXP include a detailed set of tweaks for system optimization such as thread priority control, half a dozen memory cache optimization controls, and a useful set of file optimization settings. I especially like the one-click buttons for setting up the computer for either Server or Workstation performance.

Among the things we're concerned about on our computers these days, security hovers near the top of the list. BoostXP provides a separate set of security controls which give you direct access to Internet Explorer's security options, as well as letting you control everything that appears to users on the Start menu. Being able to remove dial-up networking and other outside-access methods from view on the Start menu creates a more secure computer. You can also apply certain settings for all users.

The entire feature list in BoostXP requires at least another two pages of description in order to fully detail all of the system, registry, hardware, security and maintenance functions built into the software. All basic maintenance tasks are covered and specific tools such as the Registry cleaner and the file shredder (which permanently deletes files) work extremely well. We'll probably keep using this one because it really does put all of the most common system tools all in one, easy to access spot.

Cons: It all works quite well, but we question the wisdom of using a Related Options approach as opposed to simply placing all of the possible tweaks and system enhancements in a hierarchical list. It's a small quibble in any case.

Pros: Despite the Con mentioned above, using a Related Options section in each category of tweak and enhancement makes for some interesting exploration of your system. This is a customizer's Garden of Eden. We started counting BoostXP's distinct tweak, enhancement and maintenance functions but lost interest after passing 200! Normally, the best feature of system tweaking utilities is the fact that all of configuration options included in Windows—normally scattered throughout the operating system—are conveniently brought together in a single program. With BoostXP you get that of course, with added benefit of being able to tweak the myriad Windows Registry settings which affect system performance and appearance, find free RAM and completely maintain the inner workings of your entire computer. BoostXP proved to be stable and responsive. Allume Systems has done a wonderful job bringing this utility along. The feature and function set is logical, smoothly integrated and works well. What more can you ask? Highly recommended.





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