Review: Avanquest SystemSuite 10 Professional
|Platforms:||Windows XP, Windows Vista (32/ 64-bit), Windows 7 (32/ 64-bit)|
|Requirements:||56 MB hard drive space|
There’s a great deal of competition in the PC utility suite market, and it’s not easy to make your package stand out from the crowd. Avanquest have succeeded with a simple tactic, though – they’ve packed SystemSuite 10 Professional with so many features that it demands you take a closer look.
The program includes a complete security suite, for instance: antivirus, firewall, identity and browsing protection. There’s a stack of PC recovery tools, including file undelete modules, the System Restore-like Recovery Commander, and a Rescue Disc to get an unbootable PC working again. Other utilities will optimise your Registry, hard drive, startup programs and Windows settings for improved performance. And a host of other features will variously diagnose problems, maintain your system, clean up junk and generally ensure your PC is always running at its best.
A lengthy list, then, but as is often the case in these collections, there are a few tools that seem to have been thrown in to make up the numbers. Like the Windows Update button that just launches Windows Update. Or the Clock Sync option to set your clock to an internet time server, which Windows does already. And the rather pointless Memory Optimizer, which does little more than customise the size of your paging file.
SystemSuite 10 Professional does have plenty of more substantial tools, though. How would they perform? We took a closer look.
SystemSuite 10 Professional includes an antivirus engine to keep your PC malware-free. You’re able to scan your entire hard drive, system areas only, or the files or folders you specify. Real-time protection looks for incoming threats via email, and the virus definitions are updated several times a day to ensure it’ll catch the latest threats.
The bundled NetDefense firewall performed better, successfully blocking all unsolicited connections to our test PC. It’s a little noisy by modern standards, asking you for permission every time a new program wants to go online, which can be annoying. The blizzard of pop-ups soon fades, though, and the program is reasonably configurable so should be able to adapt to your networking needs.
Browsing protection comes in two forms. Web Defence is the program’s antiphishing module, highlighting known malicious sites in your search results so you’re warned of danger before you even click the link.
And Data Vault is intended to store user names, passwords, credit card numbers and other personal information, then allow you to securely paste these into web forms to bypass keyloggers. We found Internet Explorer displayed scripting errors until the Data Vault addon was removed, though, so this part of the suite didn’t work for us.
PC maintenance is normally a tedious business, but SystemSuite 10 Professional offers a helping hand with a range of cleanup and management tools.
You get a couple of ways to delete junk files, for instance. The Temporary Files Cleaner searches out redundant files of various types, though won’t actually ask for verification before deleting them, so you have to trust it’ll make the right decision.
And the Advanced File Cleaner deletes files based on their extension, which can recover a lot more space, but is potentially dangerous. Is it really safe to delete files that happen to match the pattern *.~*, for example? Probably not.
The program can wipe your internet tracks: the history, cookies or cache, as well as letting you remove unwanted ActiveX controls and IE plugins. These options work well enough, but they’re focused on IE, with some support for Firefox; if you prefer Chrome, Opera or Safari then you’re out of luck.
Elsewhere you’ll find a Registry cleaner that seeks out and deletes leftover Registry keys. The Disk Fixer scans your hard drive for file system errors, and repairs them. And there’s also a defrag tool, although this isn’t very configurable, and it insists on having at least 15% free space on your hard drive before it will even start.
And of course any of these options can be scheduled to run automatically, every day, week, month or three months, at the time you specify. Which could be very useful if you never quite get around to running these kind of housekeeping tasks yourself.
SystemSuite 10 Professional includes some interesting disaster recovery tools, that could help you survive a range of serious PC problems.
The File Undeleter, for example, is able to catch recently deleted files for easy recovery later. It works like the Recycle Bin, but captures files deleted by applications, as well as through Explorer. That part of the program works well, but the regular file undelete option is less successful. It’s slow, only ever displays file and folder names in short DOS 8.3 format (\progra~1 instead of \program files), and didn’t seem to search our entire drive, only ever returning results from a few folders.
There was better news in the program’s ability to create checkpoints, backups of the Registry and key system files. This has a down side, because we found our test PC would freeze for up to 2 minutes while each checkpoint was created. But if there’s a problem later, then it’s easy to restore a previous checkpoint and quickly get your system back to normal.
You get the option to build a rescue disc, too, a bootable CD that could come in very handy if Windows won’t start. Launch your system from the disc instead and you’ll find options to fix common boot issues, resolve partition problems, or edit files on your hard drive. All fairly basic, but one day it could just save you from a great deal of pain.
Other interesting tools include the Startup Commander, which not only lists all your Windows services and startup programs, but also recommends which ones can be disabled (and, perhaps more importantly, which should really be left alone).
A simple archiving tool provides a way to work with ZIP files, and includes options to create them, extract data, back up data to a ZIP file, repair a corrupted ZIP file, and more.
A Shredder tool integrates with Explorer to help you destroy confidential files. Right-click, choose the Shred Files option and they’ll be overwritten, ensuring no-one can ever recover them and view the contents.
Other highlights include a hardware diagnostics tool, a system information program, and the Media Verifier, which scans optical media to ensure they can be read without errors.
And just about everything can be tweaked via a detailed Settings dialog, to ensure each module works precisely the way you’d like.