Even with the system management in Windows 7, PCs and laptops can still get cluttered with programs that don't properly uninstall, temporary files which aren't deleted when they should be, and Registry entries which get left behind. Programs which aim to tidy up all these redundant bits of Windows are collectively termed optimisation suites - Ashampoo WinOptimizer 9 is one. See also: Does pc speed boost software work?
There are a number of optimisation suites available for Windows, but none we know of that offer more individual analysis and tuning tools than Ashampoo's WinOptimizer 9. Even so, the interface is arranged in a way which enables those without detailed PC knowledge to keep their machine running smoothly. See all software downloads.
The 29 separate modules in WinOptimizer 9 are divided into six different groups: Maintain system, Improve performance, Customize Windows, Analyse system, File tools and General.
They encompass tasks big and small, from Tweaking, which handles a huge array of different Windows settings under many different headings, to Icon Saver, which just records the positions of icons on the desktop. One-Click Optimizer, which gets a separate desktop icon after the suite is installed, has three components: Internet Cleaner, Drive Cleaner and Registry Optimizer.
The first clears out temporary files and cookies, the second removes temporary and redundant files from your drives and the third finds and deletes redundant registry entries. It took 33 sec to run on our test Windows 7 system.
Ashampoo WinOptimizer 9: does it speed up your PC?
Optimisation doesn't necessarily result in massive performance improvements. We tried three different tests before and after using the One-Click routines in WinOptimizer 9. Starting up Windows 7 actually took 20 percent longer after optimisation, but closing down was a third faster. The scan time for a Norton 360 v6 quick scan was unaffected.
There are other, custom changes you can make, of course, like selecting which applications start when Windows starts, which may speed Windows start-up further. Other modules which particularly caught our eye included Process Manager, Tuning Assistant and System Benchmark.
Process Manager offers more information than the built-in Windows tool, including the source of each process, which is very helpful if you're trying to spot any suspect ones. With the obscure names some processes are still given (eg BrYNSvc.exe) – even though the 8-character filename restriction is long gone – it's often hard to tell whether they're legitimate.
Tuning Assistant looks at Windows and makes helpful recommendations, such as allowing hibernation, removing administrative network shares and changing the polling rate on USB ports from every millisecond to every five millisecond. System Benchmark performs a number of different speed tests on the system, including runs with the venerable Whetstone and Dhrystone benchmarks, and gives scores you can compare with other machines or with the same system over time.
Some suites cheat when it comes to tools like a disk defragmenter or process controller, by simply calling up the built-in Windows tools from their own menus. WinOptimizer 9 doesn't do this, instead using purpose-written tools for all its modules. The defragmenter is quick, apparently thorough and shows a useful display while its working. Jobs can be scheduled using the Taskplaner (sic), so once you've decided what you need to do regularly, the program can be set to do them at convenient times which won't interfere with your work.
Ashampoo WinOptimizer 9: test results
No WinOptimizer 9/with WinOptimizer 9
Start Up time (min:sec) 1:05/1:19
Shut Down time (min:sec) 0:21/0:14
Quick Scan time (min:sec) 3:06/3:07