Does your PC have that not-so-fresh feeling? If it's over a year old, there's a good chance that it isn't running as smoothly as it did when you first bought the machine. Over time, the Windows registry goes awry, programs leave behind junk even when they're uninstalled, and other miscellaneous performance-draining scenarios have a negative impact on the system. PC Tools Performance Toolkit aims to de-clutter and streamline your PC by implementing a number of tuning measures.
This utility suite offers real-time system monitoring, system optimisation, file restoration, and browser-history deletion. The program, which you can purchase for £39.99, works as advertised, but the three PC installation limit may be a turn off for some, especially when other suites, such as the recently reviewed System Mechanic 11, don’t have any such installation restrictions.
PC Tools Performance Toolkit is compatible with Windows 7, Vista and XP, and requires 100MB of disk space, along with an Internet connection for registering the software and receiving updates. Once installed, the software immediately performs a scan – it discovered over 100 registry problems on my Windows 7 test machine. The system health meter, which displays information using a colour-coding system, returned poor results that saw the needle dip into the red. If I hadn't previously known that my testbed packed a load of problems, the health meter made that fact clear enough.
The Dashboard, and the interface overall, is easy to read and features descriptions in everyday language. It's been revamped to consolidate and streamline areas, which means there are fewer screens to click through – a welcome change. I like that you can view computer hard drive capacity information (both internal and external), as well as the programs that automatically launch at start up. The latter can be tweaked to improve a computer's boot time by lessening the program load at boot up.
Clicking the large "1-Click" button began the clean-up process, which took just seconds to complete. Afterwards, there were zero registry problems found. PC Tools Performance Toolkit also gives you the option to perform more targeted repairs instead of only broad, overarching clean-ups. There are utilities to "Clean your Registry," "Defragment Disks," "Boost your Windows Startup," "Shred your Files," a "Duplicate File Finder," and more – I like the flexibility available here.
You can also create custom scans, set automatic scan times, use the Performance Slider to find the balance between slick Windows appearance and performance, and use the backup and robust recovery features to dig up deleted files (even ones that have been purged from the Recycle Bin). Overall, there's a lot to like here.
I tested PC Tools Performance Toolkit's ability to clean up a PC by performing two tests – running the Geekbench system performance tool and measuring boot times. I performed both tests three times and averaged the results, both before and after I’d used the suite to clean the PC. My test system was a 2GHz Intel Core i7-powered notebook with 4GB of RAM and an 80GB Intel SSD.
Before PC Tools Performance Toolkit scrubbed the system, the laptop achieved a 5,914 Geekbench score, and booted in 50.2 seconds. After using PC Tools Performance Toolkit, the GeekBench score rose to 6,002, a modest increase, and less than both Norton Utilities 15 (6,141) and Iolo’s System Mechanic 11 (6,452) achieved. The notebook boot time decreased to 40.1 seconds, which was almost equal to Norton’s time of 38.3 seconds, but both programs were left in the dust by System Mechanic’s streamlining to the tune of 31.7 seconds.
After running the tests, I also used the computer extensively to get a sense of how the app had changed the responsiveness of the machine. PC Tools delivered a noticeable performance improvement – iTunes and Steam opened a bit faster in the fresh environment.
PC Tools Performance Toolkit did a satisfactory job of cleaning up and increasing our test machine's overall performance, and it’s a solid enough tune-up utility. It also boasts some impressive recovery features. However, the suite didn’t quite match Norton’s performance in terms of optimisation, and both lag behind the Best Buy winner, System Mechanic 11 – which costs £15 less than both this package and Norton Utilities 15. The value for money issue is compounded when you consider the three installation limit here, which seems outdated – and the fact that System Mechanic has no such installation restrictions.