Review: AVG PC Tuneup 2011

October 8, 2010 – 19:58 by in Reviews Print Share 9 Comments
Overview
Manufacturer: AVG Technologies
Price (RRP): $29.99
Best Price: $14.99 (now HALF PRICE!)
Platforms: Windows XP (32/ 64-bit), Windows Vista (32/ 64-bit), Windows 7 (32/ 64-bit)
Requirements: Intel Pentium 1.5GHz or faster, 50MB free hard drive space
Softwarecrew Rating:
 
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When installing a product from a security company we normally wonder how much it’s going to slow our PC down. But AVG want to show that it doesn’t have to be that way.

Their new AVG PC Tuneup 2011 is a complete optimisation package that aims to reduce clutter, fix Registry errors, optimise Windows, and generally enhance just about every aspect of your PCs performance.

This power doesn’t make the program complex, though, and it starts very simply. Launch a System Scan in a click and it will scan for Registry errors, junk files and disk fragmentation, before returning with a detailed report of everything it’s uncovered. And one more click on the “Repair” button will resolve all those issues with surprising speed, giving your system an immediate performance boost.

If you like to check what this kind of tool is doing to your PC, though, you’ll find plenty of controls and options here. If PC Tuneup 2011 says it’s found some “Internet Downloads” that can be deleted, say, you might wonder what those are, but a quick click on the Internet Downloads section will list them all. If the files seem surplus to requirements then you can leave them to be wiped; if you spot something that you’d like to keep, clear the checkbox to its left and it won’t be touched.

The System Scan isn’t quite as thorough as some of the best cleanup tools (though it’s not bad). And a little annoyingly, it won’t tell you up-front how much hard drive space you can save by deleting whatever it’s found. It’s safe, and easy to use, though, and can even be run on a simple schedule to keep your system optimised, so on balance it’s definitely a tool worth having.

Especially as it’s just a small part of what AVG PC Tuneup 2011 has to offer.

System Advisor

The second section of the program, System Advisor, quickly scans your PC for configuration issues and reports on possible problems.

You can expect plenty of advice on your Windows services, for instance. And on our test PC, this was occasionally a little questionable.

We were told that “if you don’t send faxes using this computer, you can free up memory by disabling Fax service”, for example, but the fax service wasn’t running on our system. Disabling it would free up nothing at all. We would prevent it from running, of course, but that would only happen anyway if it was required for something, in which case disabling the service may cause problems.

Other recommendations included disabling Error Reporting, which would prevent you getting feedback on crashes via Windows Problem Reports and Solutions. And it was suggested that we disable the Indexing Service, a step that would greatly slow down any searches we needed to make in Windows and other apps that use the Service (Outlook, say).

To be fair to AVG, it does explain the last two points, if briefly. And elsewhere the System Advisor does make many less contentious suggestions. On our test system it pointed out that we’d be safer not caching encrypted IE pages, for instance; it listed many other services that are reasonable candidates for disabling, like Remote Registry; and the Advisor highlighted elements of AVG PC Tuneup 2011 that we hadn’t used yet, like defragment system files as boot time, offering to set this up in a click.

The System Advisor produced plenty of reasonable advice, then, with just a few questionable points (though none that would cause any real harm). On balance it’s a useful tool, just as long as you’re careful, you evaluate each suggestion, and choose only the ones that you’re positive will work for you.

Resource Usage

The Resource Usage section of PC Tuneup 2011 is AVG’s take on Task Manager: simpler in some areas, but rather more intelligent and useful in others.

Click the Resource Usage tab, then, and you’ll immediately see small performance graphs that highlight CPU, RAM, Disk and Network activity. The program will also point out which process is hogging the most resources,in each category, so if (say) your hard drive is thrashing then the culprit may be identified here. Although there are no guarantees: the information is displayed dynamically and there’s no history, no way to look back at who was doing what a couple of minutes ago.

Click “View Details”, though, and there are more details available via AVG’s Task Manager. So you can view your applications and processes, for instance, along with their current CPU, memory, disk and network use. There’s not the fine detail you’ll get from Windows – no Working Set, no Private Working Set, just “Memory” – but most people will find it more straightforward and easier to use.

And there are extra functions, too, interesting options that you won’t find with Windows alone.

If a process is being a particular nuisance, say, and you can’t close it down, then right-clicking it provides a Freeze option that should stop the program in its tracks.

Running apps and processes are also rated as “Trustworthy”, or not, which in theory should be interesting if you’re looking for malware. Right now it seems to rate rather too many programs as “Unknown” for this to be useful, though, even extremely well known programs like Skype, so we wouldn’t rely on it too much.

There’s also a list of Locked Files, all the files that your apps have opened right now. If you’ve ever tried to move or delete a file and have Windows complain that you can’t because it’s “in use” then you’ll know this can be helpful, just to point you at the offending application. But it’s also interesting as a pointer to which programs are working on your hard drive, and what they might be doing.

And perhaps best of all is the Search FileInspect button, which at a click will open a web page with more information on the currently selected program. It’s a real time saver, and will quickly help you figure out which processes are essential, and which can be safely disabled to free up resources and improve system performance.

Advanced Tools

The final “Tools” tab in an application like this is normally a place to hide all the junk, the feeble filler applets that extend the feature list, but are so weak you’ll never actually bother to use them. But AVG PC Tuneup 2011 could not be more different: there’s more than enough tools here to create an excellent PC maintenance suite, all on their own.

There’s plenty of help on offer to clean up your hard drive, for instance. An “Explore Disks” option highlights where your drive space is being used; a Remove Duplicates applet tracks down duplicate files; and a Cleanup tool removes leftover junk in a few clicks.

Optimisation tools start with an excellent defrag utility. A detailed Startup Manager gives you control over many of the programs that may be launched when Windows starts, even shell and browser extensions. An “Optimise Services” tool provides an easy way to decide which Windows services you need, and the Internet Optimizer tunes your web connection for the best possible speeds.

You also get a useful set of privacy tools, to erase your web and application histories, or securely wipe everything from individual files to entire drives.

Other applets include a Registry defragmenter, an Undelete tool, and a capable system information program.

And last, but not least, there’s a full-featured tweaking tool. This lets you customise the Start menu, taskbar, Explorer, security settings, IE and Office, start and shutdown options, more than 200 settings in total.

Put it all together and you’ve got a hugely impressive library of PC maintenance tools. And with helpful automated wizards for beginners, as well as low-level controls for experts, there really is a great deal for everyone. So if your system is a mess, slower than it used to be, and generally in need of an overhaul, then turn to AVG PC Tuneup 2011 – it’ll quickly have your system back at its peak performance.

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Verdict:
AVG PC Tuneup 2011 is an extremely strong maintenance and optimisation suite, an entire library of essential apps in a single, very reasonably priced package. So if your PC isn't performing then download the trial, and take a closer look - there's sure to be plenty here that can help
We Like:
Simple automated wizards, strong disk cleanup options, effective defrag tool, powerful Startup Program manager, FileInspect integration reveals more about running programs, useful tweaking tool, lengthy list of features, great value for money
We Don't Like:
System Advisor occasionally offers mildly questionable advice, AVG Task Manager can't display the performance history of an application
Softwarecrew Rating:
 

9 Comments »

  • George says:

    I refuse to buy this software which is not for sale… it’s for rent! Now everybody is getting in the habit of charging for a “subscription” instead of selling the software. What a ripoff. So basically instead of selling you the software once, they sell it to you every year. Not me!

  • Gordon says:

    I agree that one of the best things to do is shut down unnecessary programs that needlessly load into memory. I go through this clean-up process regularly on my PC.

    Unfortunately, it seems that ALL software suppliers think you should load ALL their libraries at start-up. Printer manufacturers seem to be some of the worst, eg ‘Surely, you must want to load their photo editing software EVERY SINGLE TIME you start your PC.’!

    However, to be honest, I think the real reason AVG PC tuneup 2011 has been put out by AVG is because AVG Anti-virus 2011 actually cripples your PC performance. It needs every bit of resource it can get it’s greedy little bytes on!

    I’ve just installed AVG Anti-virus 2011. A big mistake as far as PC performance is concerned. It now takes forever for any applications to load. I don’t dare see what a scan does to PC performance. I’m now going to uninstall it!

    I want a PC that has as little software bloat as possible and only loads stuff into memory as and when it, i.e. I, need it.

    I also have more comments on web site writers about using fancy flash animations that gobble up cpu cycles. All software developers should be made to work and test their software on machines that are 5 years old… but that’s another story.

  • Chris Wiles says:

    Hi George,

    Unfortunately most software titles are going down the “rental” route. I suppose the one key advantage is that you receive major updates during that period, rather than having to pay for an update. Two different examples are iolo System Mechanic and TuneUp Utilities. The former is based on a subscription. If you purchased System Mechanic 9 in June, you’d have received v10, released in September, free of charge. If you bought TuneUp Utilities 2010 in August, with 2011 on-sale in October, you’d have had to upgrade again. The advantage being that you have a license that never expires, as long as you don’t want to upgrade.

    Both systems have their advantages. I guess software developers believe that $30 is hardly a huge amount of money for their application, so they are entitled to rent the cost of using the product if they keep pushing out new updates and definition files? ie. if you bought AVG Internet Security now, for $15 (it’s available for that price, if you look around…) would you seriously expect to keep getting unlimited updates every day, of every month, year on year?

    The rental model does work for software that’s consistently updated. These software companies have to pay their developers to keep releasing the updates and the hosting required to push them out over the Internet – I wouldn’t want to pay AVG’s hosting bills, for example!

  • Peter says:

    AusLogics BoostSpeed ? … oh sorry you mean AVG PC Tuneup 2011?

    Oh, yes both are the same, but AusLogics BoostSpeed was first…. I have to say, that I hate musicians who play known tunes under deferent name of song (presented as their original) and the same way I do not understand why AVG PC Tuneup do not say under the title “developed by Auslogics”?

    AVG is an excellent security oriented company and if they sale something under their name it should be original, not retail job.

    Anyway, I found AusLogics BoostSpeed (the same way as AVG PC Tuneup) very compact and intensely working on resolving PC problems. Only result is not as much remarkable as I would assume. IObit Advanced Care do less intense clean-up but result is faster PC, which is the point ;-) .

    Peter Novy

  • Angela says:

    I downloaded and ran the software to boost my computer’s performance. However, I experienced some problems and want to “Rescue” my old files and restore my computer to it’s original state. My problem is that I can’t find the specific location to perform this task. Does anyone know how I might accomplish this?

  • Could not agree more with Peter. I have used the beta version of ASC4b2 and I am very happy with the app. Oh, yes, it is free as well :)

    Cheers,
    Ivan K.

  • Glen says:

    DON’T use the Registry Defragment part of the program. I used it and it claimed to have sped up the computer by 2.1%, but after rebooting, the summary box appeared and FROZE my computer. The mouse would move, but would not do anything, including shutting down the computer. After five (5) restarts, Microsoft fixes, HP restoration, I finally got it back working.

  • Chris Wiles says:

    Hi Glen,

    I think you could say that for most Registry optimization/defragmentation tools. Sometimes they can be very aggressive and remove legitimate Registry keys, which can cause system issues. Always backup your Registry first, before optimizing.

  • MarkO says:

    I have the same issue with Glen mention here regarding Registry Defragment part of the program. This also happens to AusLogics BoostSpeed but my experience here is mild compared to Glen, everything is fine upon a second system restart.

    Something tells me Gordon’s experience with slow applications load is somewhat related to the Registry Defragment. This also have some affects with opening of windows explorer.

    Other than that, it’s still a good program in my opinion.