Uniblue PowerSuite 2012 Review
by: Howard Carson, February 2012
by: Uniblue Systems Limited
Requires: Intel Pentium 4 1GHz or equivalent, 512MB RAM, 750MB free hard disk space, Windows XP/Vista/7, Internet Explorer 7 or higher, graphics mode 1024x768 true color (highest 32-bit), active Internet connection
MSRP: US$119.90 but currently on sale at US$59.95
Uniblue Systems has reworked and updated three of its premium system utilities - RegistryBooster, DriverScanner and SpeedUpMyPC - and merged them under an single user interface. Here's the refresher course on the the three components: 1) Registry Booster is designed to optimize Windows PC operation by reparing or removing broken, corrupt and abandoned registry entries, and cleaning & defragmenting the registry; 2) DriverScanner is a driver database scanning tool designed to track and fetch updates for hardware drivers already installed in your Windows PC; 3) SpeedUpMyPC is designed to optimize a Windows PC to help improve the speed of everything from booting to program launches. Believe it or don't believe it, but Windows systems maintenance is a fact of computer life. You may think your Windows installation on a laptop or desktop PC is running well enough or good enough for all purposes. Silly rabbit. In particular, without regular registry maintenance and without the latest system and component drivers, chances are that a six-month-or-older Windows installation has developed problems or inconsistencies to such an extent that unexplained, occasional program launch failures, crashes or lockups are beginning to take place. Subtle slowdowns in system operation and longer bootup times are also a symptom of the need for system maintenance.
Uniblue PowerSuite 2012 provides a set of integrated components specifically designed to clean up, adjust and maintain Windows installations of all kinds, and as far as we could determine, to do so in a way that is sufficient for the needs of the vast majority of home and small business PC desktop and laptop computer users.
Registry maintenance performed by the RegistryBooster component operates selectably on three levels:
- Detection of dead Windows Registry entries left behind by uninstalled programs or otherwise set by disabled software components no longer in use.
- Removal of selected dead and useless registry entries.
- Defragmenting the registry for optimal system performance.
Why should you care about this? Care because the combination of badly fragmented Windows registries, registries containing an overburden of dead and useless entries, and registries containing errors brought on by unwieldy size or entry corruption remain a significant cause of system slowdowns and fatal system crashes.
Driver maintenance is performed by the DriverScanner component which operates on three levels as well:
- Creating a list of hardware and device drivers for everything currently installed in or connected to & driven by your laptop or desktop PC.
- Maintaining version control of system drivers and scanning for updates.
- Prompting driver updates as they become available.
Why should you care about this? Care because out-of-date hardware drivers are another frequent cause of system crashes, slowdowns, lockups, long bootup times and boot failures. The problems occur because Microsoft sometimes does its own system and software updates in ways which require hardware makers (video cards, sound cards, network cards, fax modems, etc., etc., etc.) to update their own drivers in order to comply with whatever changes have been made to Windows by Microsoft. This sort of thing is too hard to track for individual Windows desktop and laptop PC users mainly because they bought their machines for actual use, research, gaming, enjoyment, communication and productivity, not for a computer tinkering hobby. Do you know which video card is installed in your laptop or desktop PC? Do you what sound card you've got? Do you know where to go for updated new drivers? If the anwer to any of the questions is "Um, I think so," then you're better off relying on a well designed bit of hardware driver scanner software.
System optimization maintenance is performed by the SpeedUpMyPC component which operates on three levels:
- Resource monitoring of RAM, CPU, program priority settings, file caches and background processes.
- Reconfiguration of system condition for better hard drive, memory, registry, browser and Internet speeds.
- Detection and selective deletion of junk files, temp files and all manner of other junk which accumulates in Windows systems.
Why should you care about this? Care because the more junked up Windows becomes, the more that installed programs (games, productivity software, etc., etc.) are re-prioritized, and the more junk/temp and deleted files Windows has to track, the slower and more plodding the system becomes. It's just like a basement in a house or a garage out back. If they're stuffed full of useless junk, there's no room to store something more important which comes along. In Windows systems, lack of uninterrupted file storage space means that new files (photos, videos, text files, word processor documents and so on) are automatically broken up into pieces and then fitted into available chunks of storage space by the operating. Reassembling a file (e.g., when you want to look at a particular photo) means that Windows has to assemble all the bits & pieces, then send them to the image viewer for display. Windows laptops and PCs are very fast these, but even the most powerful systems slow down because of file fragmentation. Freeing up storage space won't defragment your hard drive, but it will certainly free up more continguous storage space for new files than you had before. Of course we'd love it if the next version of PowerSuite included a hard drive defragmentation component.
PowerSuite 2012 is simple to use. After installation, launch the software from the Windows system tray to perform spot actions, to schedule different actions and to reconfigure the default setup. The user interface is straightforward and Uniblue has mercifully continued to use friendly, plain language to instruct and explain. There are obvious links to the help system in case you're not sure what to set or how to configure PowerSuite for some unusual aspect of your particular machine, but the user interface generally guides you clearly.
The current sale price of PowerSuite 2012 is very good value, most especially because the software works properly. There are some competing system utilities on the market which contain components that only pretend to work, or which are insufficiently tested and end up doing more harm than good to your registry, or which tweak registry settings for speed boosts which end up actually slowing down your system in many situations. PowerSuite 2012 does what it says it will do and in addition provides sufficiently secure and well-tested performance that you may wonder how you limped along without it. It's not perfect - nothing is - but it's reliable, effective and fairly priced. I'd love to see Uniblue partner with Diskkeeper to produce a PowerSuite version that includes a hard disk defragmentation component and keep the same pricing. Such a version would be the killer utility app for hard drive-based Windows systems.
Cons: In fully loaded Windows Vista systems, Registry Booster sometimes either doesn't exit cleanly or gets tripped up by some sloppily programmed utility running in the background. The solution is to do a reboot, then shut down all the useless junk running in the System Tray before running PowerSuite. No such problems - at least none that we noticed - when running PowerSuite 2012 in Windows XP or Windows 7. Firewalls ocassionally give PowerSuite a few problems, but giving PowerSuite and its components permission to get back & forth through the firewall solves things. The point here is that both your firewall software maker and Uniblue should spend a bit more time on instructions to configure firewall permissions for utility software like PowerSuite 2012. Windows systems which are already running consistently well and which aren't burdened by user misconfigurations won't benefit much (or at all) from the SpeedUpMyPC component.
Pros: Uniblue PowerSuite 2012 works very well, and why shouldn't it? Uniblue has been developing and producing this kind of Windows system utility software for a very long time and they've figured it out quite well. The Registry Booster component remains the best balance on the market between thorough registry maintenance and safe registry maintenance. The component can set up on your system as a bootup maintenance utility, but that's usually a setup which works best for users who are constantly trying, installing and uninstalling new software. RegistryBooster is well along on the way to becoming something which Microsoft would do well to incorporate into the next iteration of Windows. The DriverScanner component gets better with each iteration and has now reached the point at which usually only the oddest/rarest drivers supporting really esoteric devices or unknown new hardware trip it up. The SpeedUpMyPC component tweaks gently, effectively and noticeably especially in Windows installations which have become junked up or manually misconfigured by users. PowerSuite 2012 is a solid value, a comprehensive and necessary Windows maintenance utility, works well and remains easy to use. Highly recommended.