[Review] WinUtilities Professional Edition

{rw_text}Software reviewed in this article:

WinUtilities Professional Edition

Version reviewed:

v9.96

System Requirements:

Windows 7/Vista/XP/2003 Server/2000/NT/98

Price:

$49.99 (USD)

The developer has been running a 40% off sale for a while now. So you can get WinUtilities Professional Edition for $29.99 if you use the coupon code YLCO-G9W3.

Software description as per the developer:

WinUtilities is an award winning collection of tools to optimize and speedup your system performance. this suite contains utilities to clean registry, temporary files on your disks, erase your application and internet browser history, cache and cookies. it also supports to defragment your disk drives and improve computer performance and stability. built-in StartUp Cleaner allows you to control startup programs that load automatically with windows, find duplicate files, fix broken shortcuts and uninstall unneeded software. other features include secure file deletion, recycle bin shredding, system maintenance tasks scheduling and undelete deleted files.

Ashraf’s note:

This review was originally written on WinUtilities Professional Edition v9.37. It has been updated to reflect the changes made to WinUtilities Professional Edition since then, with the latest version being v9.96. Although the changes primarily have been improvements, a few new features have also been added. A full change log is available here.

{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • Jack of all trades…
    • Has many, many tools/modules (24 in total) including but not limited to registry cleaner, registery defrag, junk/disk cleaner, disk defrag, startup manager, file undelete, secure delete, and EXE password protector.
  • Almost no learning curve.
  • Automatically creates backups before doing any changes to registry and gives user options to create automatic backups for other tools such as the junk/disk cleaner.
  • Has a ‘1-click’ system maintenance option.
  • Users can schedule times when maintenance will run automatically.
  • Each tool/features/module is treated as if it is independent of the others so user can use multiple modules as the same time.
  • Registry Backup creates non-proprietary .REG backups so user can restore without needing WinUtilities.
  • “WinUtilities Privacy Eraser/History Cleaner” has a “plugin” feature which users can use to define custom files/folders to delete.
  • Has a portable version.

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • …But master of none:
    • Uninstall Manager is simplistic and not much different than the normal uninstaller run by Windows — is not a clean uninstaller
    • Memory optimizer is poor
    • “Document Protector” is a cumbersome encryption tool.
    • Startup manager does not have the ability to delay startup programs.
    • “File Undelete” is a simple MFT reader, no real in-depth recovery of files.
    • “Disk Defrag” doesn’t give users the option to first analyze, then defrag – both are done together (one after another) after the user starts the defrag.
  • Opens module windows underneath the main program window.
  • Comes bundled with Ask Toolbar.
  • Portable version is outdated and not kept-up with the latest version.

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”8″}Pretty much point and click although a little bit of technical knowledge is needed for users if they want to run tools such as registry cleaner at settings other than default; however that sort of necessary knowledge comes with the territory and is not specific to WinUtilities. There is one really annoying thing, though: All WinUtilities module windows are opened underneath the main program window. This is very annoying because whenever you run a module, you must click out of the main program window and into the other window. I also found the “Document Protector” cumbersome to use.
{/for}
{for=”Performance” value=”8″}Works well for the most part and is very reliable. However some tools can be improved, such as the memory optimizer which uses the stereotypical and useless method of memory overloading, allowing users to analyze disk before defragging, etc.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”10″}With so many tools at its disposal, I can see this being useful to many, many people.
{/for}
{for=”Price” value=”7″}$49.99 is pretty much the standard price for these types of programs and WinUtilities’ rivals are priced around there. So, asking $49.99 is fair. However, if you can grab WinUtilities Professional Edition with the 40% off discount, it is an absolute steal at $29.99.
{/for}
{for=”Final Score” value=”8″}
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_badb}WinUtilities Professional Edition comes bundled with Ask Toolbar:

I always find it distasteful when any program requires opt-out instead of opt-in for such bundles. I find it even more distasteful when shareware programs do this. First of all, in my opinion, shareware programs shouldn’t even be bundled with toolbars, nor should they be asking you to change your homepage or default search engine simply because they are shareware: The developer is already making money by selling you the program. However, if shareware programs do have such options they should most definitely be opt-in instead of opt-out.

{/rw_badb} –>

{rw_verdict}[tupr]
{/rw_verdict} –>

Generally speaking, “system utilities” or “system optimization” software, such as WinUtilities, jv16 PowerToolsTuneUp Utilities, WinOptimizer 6, etc., are “jack(s) of all trades but master(s) of none”. In other words, they are compilations of many different features yet none of the features can match up to the functionality provided by a specialized programs. What makes these “system utilities” attractive is the fact that all the features can easily be found in one package as opposed to the user having to download multiple different software.

That being said, the best way to go about reviewing a software like WinUtilities is

  1. See how reliable the software is;
  2. See how many features the software has and how effective they are.

User friendliness is also a category to look at but most of these types of software are fairly straightforward with simple GUIs and wizards with every tool, so there isn’t too much to discuss in that category.

So, lets begin.

Reliability

When it comes to software that claim to be able to repair and clean your registry, defrag your register, remove junk files, defrag your hard drive, etc. you want to make sure the software you are using is safe and reliable. In other words you want to be sure that your Windows won’t crash and burn after you clean your computer with the program.

When trying to evaluate the reliability of a system utility, there are two major things to look for:

  • Does the software have any sort of “backup” or “undo” feature which allows users to undo anything they delete or change, or to restore a backup if something goes horribly wrong.
  • Does the software only delete/change files or entries that should be deleted or changed or does it delete/change major Windows files or registry entries and thus cause your Windows to crash and burn.

The latter point is more important than the former because, obviously, if you are not able to boot into Windows because the system utility killed your boot loader, for example, you won’t be able to use the backup the software created to restore/fix your computer. However the former is still important because it provides a nice safety blanket.

For both criteria, WinUtilities passes with flying colors… for the most part anyway.

Firstly, it has a “Rescue Manager” which allows users to “undo” changes made previously. By default WinUtilities is set to automatically create “restore points” in the “Rescue Manager” when users use the “Registry Cleaner” and the “Duplicate File Finder”; and users have the ability to manually set WinUtilities to automatically create “restore points” in the “Rescue Manager” when using the “Disk Cleaner” (this option is found under “Options” when using the “Disk Cleaner”). However, there is no ability to create “restore points” for the “Shortcuts Fixer”, “History Cleaner”, or “Registry Defrag”. For me, it is not that big of a deal that the “History Cleaner” does not have the ability to create a restore point, but I would like to see the feature added for the “Shortcuts Fixer” and “Registry Defrag”. However, it is worth noting all shortcuts deleted by the “Shortcuts Fixer” are sent to the recycle bin so a user may be able to recover shortcuts depending on if he or she emptied the recycle bin recently or not, and WinUtilities has a registry backup/restore module which can be used to backup the registry before conducting a defrag.

Secondly, in terms of only deleting/changes files or registry entries that should be/can be deleted or changed, WinUtilities ranks fairly high. Now, I say this with confidence because the best way to know if a program is reliable is to use it over time and see if it messes up your computer. I used WinUtilities for a very long time (although I don’t use it anymore) and it never failed me; of course no software is ever perfect so don’t think WinUtilities is 100% right 100% of the time, but WinUtilities is definitely one of the better ones in terms of reliability. However, there is one exception and that is the “Duplicate File Finder”. Many of the files found to be “duplicates” are in fact files that are needed by programs. To be fair, the problem with “Duplicate Files Finder” is not specific or unique to WinUtilities. By definition the idea of trying to find and eliminate all duplicate files is flawed; it just can’t work because many programs have duplicate or similar files that are necessary… not just for fun or user forgetfulness.

Features

As already mentioned, the point of a “system utility” software is that it is one software that comes packed with many different features you would otherwise need to download multiple other software to get. So the best system utility is the one with the most features… right? Eh, not necessarily. However, comparing features is still very useful because most system utilities has similar “core” features (i.e. registry cleaner, junk/disk/privacy cleaner, etc.); it is the peripheral features that are the ones users which will be interested in the most because one system utilitiy may have a feature or two the user wants while another system utility does not.

In terms of the features for WinUtilities, it featured filled although I can’t say it has any one feature that is unique (i.e. you will be able to find most all features in other specialized software). However, as I already said, the point of a software like WinUtilties is not to offer a unique feature but rather to offer many features. In other words, on a superficial level, quantity over quality; and WinUtilities has a lot of quantity.

In total, WinUtilties has 24 “modules” (aka tools or features):

There is also a “1 click maintenance” feature, and the ability to schedule tasks to automatically occur:

As you can see, WinUtilities is extremely feature filled; and WinUtilities does not compromise function over form: Most modules have a step-by-step wizard to guide you through the process of using them, and the modules that don’t have wizards are fairly self-explanatory.

One of my four favorite aspects of WinUtilities is the fact that the “WinUtilities Registry Backup” creates non-proprietary .REG backups so users can restore the backups without having to have WinUtilities installed. The bad thing is each backup created is put in C:/Program Files/WinUtilities/Data/ToolRegBackup so users need to manually go in and move the backup to another place if they plan on keeping the backup at a different location for safe keeping. Another downside to doing registry backups this way is the fact that .REG files are uncompressed; if WinUtilities used a proprietary format, it probably could have been compressed the backups. However, personally speaking, I prefer the non-compress and non-proprietary .REG method over compress and proprietary backup formats.

My second favorite aspect of WinUtilities is the EXE protector. The reason I like EXE protector is, although not unique, it is a rare feature among other programs. For those that don’t know what the EXE protector is, it password protects any .EXE file. Whenever someone tries to run the protected EXE file he or she is prompted to enter a password; if the password is entered properly, the person is able to execute the EXE. If not, they will be locked out. In other words, EXE protector is a quick and painless way to control access to programs.

My third favorite feature of WinUtilities is the ability to empty Windows Clipboard (right-click on the system tray icon -> “Empty Clipboard”). I like it not because it is unique or rare, because it isn’t, but because it is very handy.

My fourth favorite is the fact that users can run different WinUtilities modules/tools simultaneously. In other words, for example, you can be cleaning out your registry and shredding files at the same time. Do take note, though, to not run conflicting modules at the same time, otherwise you may create a problem for yourself. For example, you probably shouldn’t be running the “Disk Cleaner” and “Disk Defrag” at the same time.

In terms of performance, all the tools/features/modules (whatever you want to call them) work as described. However being “master of none”, many WinUtilities features are skewed towards being simplistic:

  • Uninstall manager is simplistic and not much different than the normal uninstaller run by Windows/programs. It doesn’t cleaning remove programs like RevoUninstaller nor does it have the abilities of software like Ashampoo UnInstaller.
  • Memory optimizer is the stereotypical memory-overloading type. It is not very effective, and it almost locks your computer while “optimizing” your memory usage. CleanMem is a lot better.
  • Startup manager does not have the ability to delay startup programs, like WinPatrol and AnVir Task Manager allow.
  • “Document Protector” is a cumbersome encryption tool, requiring users to remove files from the protection list when they want to use files, and manually re-add the files to the protection list when they want to re-encrypt files. There is no way to quickly encrypt/decrypt, or any way to automatically re-encrypt after closing a file. AxCrypt walks all over “Document Protector”.
  • “File Undelete” is a simple MFT reader; it doesn’t do any real “file recovery” like PhotoRec.
  • “Disk Defrag” doesn’t give users the option to first analyze, then defrag – both are done together (one after another) after the user starts the defrag.

Lastly, but not the least:

  • WinUtilities has this annoying habit of opening module windows underneath the main program window. This is very annoying because it forces users to manually minimize the main program window if they want access to the window behind (or bring the module windows to the front by using the taskbar).
  • WinUtilities has a portable edition. However, the portable version is outdated, currently the latest one being v9.44.

This review was conducted on a laptop running Windows 7 Professional 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

{rw_freea}

System optimization/cleaning software similar to WinUtilities Professional Edition:

Specific task oriented software:

{/rw_freea} –>

{rw_verdict2}When I first used WinUtilities three years ago, WinUtilities was one of the better software in its class. Ever since then I have seen WinUtilities grow and become even better with each new update. While I personally prefer to use specialized software for many tasks that WinUtilities does – such as CleanMem, CCleaner, RevoUninstaller, WinPatrol, East-Tec Eraser, AxCrypt, and Auslogics Defrag – WinUtilities is one of the best  “system utilities” out there and I highly recommend it to anyone that wants or needs it.
{/rw_verdict2} –>

Demo Name: WinUtilities Settings
Producer: David Spratt
Play DemoDemo Name: WinUtilties Scheduled Tasks
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities 1-Click Maintenance
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo


Clean Up & Repair

Demo Name: WinUtilities Registry Cleaner
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities Disk Cleaner
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities Uninstall Mananger
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities Shortcuts Fixer
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Optimize & Improve

Demo Name: WinUtilities Disk Defrag
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities BHO Remover
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities Startup Manager
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities Memory Optimizer
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Privacy & Security

Demo Name: WinUtilities Process Manager
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities File Undelete
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities EXE Protector
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities Files Shredder
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities Privacy Eraser
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Files & Folders

Demo Name: WinUtilities File Splitter & Joiner
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities Dupicate Files Finder
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Registry Tools

Demo Name: WinUtilities Registry Search
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilites Registry Backup & Restore
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

System Tools

Demo Name: WinUtilities System Infomation
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: Windows Standard Tools
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities System Controller
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities Task Scheduler
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Demo Name: WinUtilities Auto Shutdown
Producer: David Spratt
Play Demo

Related Posts

  • Giovanni

    x @3K3:

    Thank you very much for your precious tip!!

    Just a question for you guys: I’m pretty sure that I have an old copy of WinUtilities Pro saved somewhere in my HD with a key license that I’ve never used till now.

    For sure it refers to a previous dottech’s freebie shared here a few months ago (remember??) !!!

    Now the question is: what if I downloaded that old copy of WinUtilities Pro, and then update it to the last version, instead of the one offered today by GAOTD????

  • Ulf

    EHm, Version from GAOTD is 9.95, not 9.96!

  • 3K3

    @giovanni:

    As eq5150 stated few posts back, updating v9.95 to the latest v9.96 doesn’t destroy GOTD registration information.
    Nevertheless, I would suggest that you backup registration file of WinUtilities Pro. Its in:

    %WinDir% > system32 > ‘_WKERNEL.SYL’

    A little tip: open ‘_WKERNEL.SYL’ file with notepad. You can change RegName to whatever you want; e.g. giovanni.

    http://img715.imageshack.us/img715/7726/55466202.png

    Regards

  • Ashraf

    @etim: No issue. They are great; they always let me know about programs beforehand so I can prepare reviews. The only reason I stopped mentioning these programs are available as GOTD giveaways is because people come to these reviews even after giveaways have ended; saying “Get this for free from GOTD” just confuses people. I actually have all these reviews tagged as GOTD reviews: http://dottech.org/tag/gotdreviews. I just need to figure out some way to display that tag.

    @Raul: Because it is a really good program:

    While I personally prefer to use specialized software for many tasks that WinUtilities does – such as CleanMem, CCleaner, RevoUninstaller, WinPatrol, East-Tec Eraser, AxCrypt, and Auslogics Defrag – WinUtilities is one of the best “system utilities” out there and I highly recommend it to anyone that wants or needs it.

  • Raul

    “Jack of all trades but master of none. How exactly does this rate TWO thumbs up then!?!

  • etim

    Hi Ashraf—I noticed that this is today’s freebie on GOTD but I didn’t notice you mentioning that—have you had some sort of issue with them lately?

  • giovanni

    Does everybody know whether or not it’s possible to UPDATE this SW in the future without losing the GAOTD license??

  • jacal

    About jv16 2009 v1.9.0.590 and win7 64-bit:
    The registry cleaner broke my indexing database every time I used it (with very conservative settings). Last freeware version doesn’t do this.
    I still recommend ccleaner’s registry cleaner, if you need one. It’s quite safe.

  • Just downloaded WinUtilities on to five computers in my house, yes five! two teenagers computers, mine, a laptop, and my wife’s, I have tried just about all the one click utilities on the market, this one is by far the best, being a bit of a geek I can fix most problems, using WinUtilities just makes my life a whole lot better, and no I do not have shares in the company, grab a copy before it’s to late, good luck Mike.

  • Janet

    System Configuration Utility does not open.

    Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

  • Harlan

    JKDefrag has been replaced by MyDefrag. I have never found much difference among the numerous disk defraggers available, paid and free, and I’ve never seen much difference in performance before-and-after either. Bear in mind that most files moved as part of a thorough defragmentation would not have been accessed too often in the future, and that the same is true for the new files that would have been fragmented if you hadn’t defragmented the disk. In other words, you are adding significant wear on your hard drives in return for little future benefit. From this point of view, a less thorough, less sophisticated defragger may offer a better cost-benefit ratio than highly sophisticated ones like MyDefrag.

  • eq5150

    Regarding GOTD’s 01-10-11 giveaway, after installations, there is an update for v.9.96, overwriting the offered version works with no affect to registration:
    http://i.imgur.com/vNmBe.png

  • OldElmerFudd

    @David Roper:

    Don’t feel bad. I’ve had users bring me computers that not only had never been defragged, but the 6-month “Trial Subscription” to McAfee or whatever had expired 3-4 years before.

    Defragging is something you can do every few months; more often if you move a lot of files around. Otherwise, modern drives and OSes don’t need it as much as the bad old days.

    (In case you’re confused by this reply, I was on a friend’s computer during our original exchange. Completely forgot the nym I use here and ran my real name through!)

    Best

  • Ramesh Kumar

    Dear Ashraf,
    Thanks for this great giveaway – WinUtilities Pro & the excellent review of it which simplified a lot of concepts relating to registry cleaning. I’ve downloaded this giveaway & it is extremely impressive. I am just going to do my first registry cleaning on it.

    To be on the safe side I’ve made restore points in WinUtilities Pro, Glarys Utilities Pro & Advanced SysCare Pro (I got it from you thanks!) before cleaning registry. In the event that I want to use a restore point (after cleaning registry using WinUtilities Pro) to undo registry changes I made by using WinUtilities Pro can I use a restore point created in Glarys Utilities or Advanced SysCare?

    I ask this because WinUtilities stores registry backup in its own proprietory .reg file format & its own folder. This approach differs from the other two apps. Would it deliver a registry rollback if I use restore point of the other 2 apps. All 3 restore points were made almost at the same time.

    I am asking this query because it is a powerful app & I am just being extra careful. Please guide.

    Ramesh

  • David Roper

    @Ron:
    nope, Ron, not in 5 years. My bad.

    It was a 60GB drive, only 17GB free. Not much room for it to work.

    However I will go on by saying that I also used it to clean up my Registry and now things are really fast. I’m surprised at it.

    Happy with WinUtilies, free edition. Very much.

  • Yau

    Thanks for your information. I’ve downloaded the portable edition of WinUtilities Pro. Aside from the issue of registration, I consider it not truely portable because it requires to run a batch file to register some DLL files before the program can be run.

  • bill

    Ashraf, please pardon my goof in an earlier question. I typed the name ” Freddy” by mistake because my friend Freddy had just come in to visit as I began typing. It seems I am becoming too easily distracted as I age.

  • Ron

    @David Roper:

    Yikes! 8 hours? That’s a very long time, even with a 5400 rpm HD. Had you ever defragged it before? I sure hope it doesn’t take that long again.

    Best

  • bill

    Freddy, I’ve downloaded W.U. Pro from GOTD, and the 42kb portable from your direct download link. How do I proceed to put the portable version on a flash drive(or on my computer, for that matter)? I haven’t unpacked / installed either yet. Your Knowledge & instructions would be most appreciated.

  • mgtime

    I have not tried any of the utilities but the System Information says my Processor Architecture is Intel, Processor Type is Intel Pentium, and Processor Level is Intel 16.

    The hitch is that my CPU is the AMD Athlon II X2 235e

  • Hello all. I have found a fairly big problem with this app, and that is the fact that the interface gets messed up on older graphics cards. Parts of the picture from other windows show through, and the links to the utilities cannot easily be seen. This can be worked around by starting WinUtilities on a clean white background.

  • Alex

    WinUtilities 9.3 Pro

    ????? ?????? !!!
    http://ru.giveawayoftheday.com/winutulities-9-37-pro/

  • gpc111

    Great review as always Ashraf. However I would add to the negative list the fact that you must reboot your computer to register the program. At least I did but I also uninstalled a previous version (7.0) before installing this new one. May that is why I had to reboot.

  • foreman1943

    Ashraf,
    I highly value your opinions and comments. One question I have for you is about which anti-virus program do you use and recommend?
    You probably have been ask this hundreds of times. If you have a particular link where you have already commented on this subject, could you please give me the link. I’m leaning towards Nod 32 over AVG. Do you have an opinion or suggestion of these 2 anti-virus programs, or what do you suggest?

    Foreman1943

  • David Roper

    Installed this and defragged my 60GB XP Laptop HD. Took about 8 hours. I was asleep when it finished last night. Didn’t move everything but that’s to be expected. No complaints, just sayin’

    Nice interface for me.

  • Dennis

    I last installed this program when you recommended it on 11/9/2009. I will install this newer version. Thanks, Ashraf!

  • I installed WinUtilitesPro 9.3 (over a previous version), but it seems that the localization strings were lost. It’s a bunch of L0032 L0052 L0128 and so on. Any idea?

    *UPDATE*: it may be that the WinUtilities entry in the StartMenu refers to the old version: I noticed that now there is a “Utilities” submenu, and this works.

  • Ramesh Kumar

    Dear Ashraf,
    You’ve said – “The fourth favorite is the fact that users can run different WinUtilities modules/tools simultaneously. In other words, for example, you can be cleaning out your registry and fixing shortcuts at the same time.”

    Ashraf this may be convenient but could it be risky. If a shortcut is deleted before its registry setting is deleted or the other way around? Should one choose to do things simultaneously or not – at least in certain situations? Should e.g. a shortcut be removed first before deleted first & its registry setting be deleted after that?

    Regards,
    Ramesh