Remember the disaster that occurred after we installed 200 programs on a notebook? Our PC became so slow and was essentially unusable. The TuneUp Blog team then uninstalled all of the programs and compared the machine’s current performance to its original state. The results? Performance significantly improved, however, it was still not at the optimum level. We also noticed some major quirks like audio stutters, tons of “dead” shortcuts, and folders cluttering the entire Windows 7 system (See the “Performance and Stability Update” article.)
The truth: Can an optimization suite solve all Windows issues?
The TuneUp Blog team—with our flagship product, TuneUp Utilities, in mind—made a bold choice and put our very own tool to the test. We wanted to see if and how much our tool could restore the PC’s performance and get rid of the problems crippling this computer.
Readers, please note that while the notebook’s performance improved after many of the benchmark tests, some of the problems could not be resolved by TuneUp Utilities. So, let’s talk about how we tried to improve the computer.
Getting the tuning process started
We used the “Restored PC” (also known as the system after the 200 programs were uninstalled) for more than two weeks. It ran nine hours a day and we used it like we normally would—to edit photos, surf the Web, check our e-mail via Outlook, play games, watch movies, and listen to music. Over the course of these couple of weeks, we repeatedly used TuneUp Utilities and performed the following actions:
- We defragmented our hard disk a couple of times. The “Thorough Defragmentation” option was used in each and every instance.
- We removed 131 invalid short cuts like Start menu and desktop shortcuts, and invalid “Last used” entries that are often found in various programs.
- We corrected about 2200 registry entries. The first time we ran TuneUp Registry Cleaner, it came up with 917 errors. We then rescanned the registry after a couple of restarts and corrected hundreds of additional entries.
- We defragged the registry and were able to reduce it by 12 percent.
- We disabled 14 startup programs.
- We removed almost 12GBytes of unnecessary files.
- We disabled the hibernation feature and gained 2 GBytes of additional hard disk space.
- We disabled the Windows Search feature.
- We enabled Turbo Mode permanently to turn off a couple of unnecessary services, automatic tasks, and background processes.
Below is a screenshot gallery, so that you can see how we cleaned up all of the junk that came with the 200 programs.
Finding out the results
After the two weeks, we figured it was time to go through our series of benchmark tests again; these new results are listed under the “Optimized PC” column. As a quick reminder, “Clean PC” is the fresh install, “Junk PC” is the notebook with the 200 programs installed, and “Restored PC” is the notebook after the 200 programs were removed.
As usual, we made sure that SuperFetch adapted to the programs we used on a regular basis; we also performed each of the tests three times.
Due to all of the disabled startup entries and services, Windows 7 launched faster than ever before. It took little more than a minute for Windows to finish booting. While 15 seconds might not seem like much, it is a noticeable jump in performance.
Neither the removal of the 200 programs nor the use of TuneUp Utilities made a difference—the notebook still needed 11 seconds to shut down. This came as a bit of a surprise, with Windows 7 shutting down less services and processes after the tuning process.
Virus scan performance
This hard-disk-intensive task of scanning 1.5 GBytes of compressed RAR files took 2 seconds less on the “Optimized PC”. This probably has something to do with the hard disk being defragged and the CPU being not as busy as before.
TuneUp Utilities was able to shave two seconds off of the original time it took to start Outlook 2010 Beta—the program never launched faster on this machine! Start-up times for Google Chrome finally went back to normal, however, the slow start-up issue associated with Windows Media Player was not resolved. Like we explained in our last article, this is probably due to a codec that was damaged or altered by the 200 programs we installed and then uninstalled.
Processor, graphics, and memory performance
We were pleasantly surprised with this benchmark. Instead of taking nearly 3 minutes like the “Clean PC”, the “Optimized PC” needed only 2 minutes and 10 seconds to compress the three files. In addition, the frequently occurring hiccups while playing an HD file were gone.
Photo editing performance
Thanks to an optimized Windows, the notebook was able to apply the “Enhance” effect in 21 seconds. Again, due to a combination of all of the tuning techniques, the processor and graphics card were able to process the image just as quickly as before.
Cinebench R10 performance
We were really intrigued by the results of Cinebench, which is designed to test how well the processor and the graphics chip perform. TuneUp Utilities helped increase the performance of the graphics chip and especially the single CPU render test.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat performance
A bit of a mixed bag here—after TuneUp Utilities finished its job, gaming performance increased immensely compared to the “Junk PC” and “Restored PC” benchmarks. But, it did not quite get back to the original levels. (Note: We were able to increase the performance to exactly the original levels when we followed the steps detailed in our gaming blog series.)
PCMark Vantage performance
After conducting the hour-and-a-half-long PCMark benchmark, we noticed that performance was almost back to normal. A level of 2544 points (in comparison with the original 2624 points) is absolutely fantastic, especially considering that we destroyed Windows with the 200 programs.
All in all, the optimization software suite restored the notebook’s performance back to the original levels—and, in some cases, it was even better. In a few cases, however, TuneUp Utilities missed this mark and was not able to speed up the system.
Resolving all of the problems
After we uninstalled the 200 programs, the TuneUp Blog team noticed some major issues with the machine. We were really anxious to see not only how performance improved but also what TuneUp Utilities could do about these issues.
- Strange pauses during file copy – This completely disappeared. We copied a lot of videos and photos from a DSLR camera, camcorder, USB thumb drive, and external hard disk. All of the pauses were gone, as if they had never existed!
- Garbage in “Documents” and “Program Files” – TuneUp Utilities does not offer a feature to get rid of orphaned or empty program and document folders. However, we should also note that cleaning up this mess was done manually in about 5 minutes.
- Remaining Start Menu folders – TuneUp Utilities removed all of the invalid shortcuts within the Start menu folder, but it did not delete the empty folders itself. We needed to do that by hand as well.
- Empty Control Panel – Perfect score! TuneUp Utilities fixed this error: The Windows 7 Control Panel worked as expected, no matter how often we launched it.
- Weird noises during audio playback – Although we are still not entirely sure what caused these weird audio hiccups, we noticed that (thanks to the Windows tuning) these issues were a thing of the past.
- Orphaned Startup Programs – Interestingly, after the optimization process with TuneUp Utilities some of the invalid start-up entries were gone (for example, the InstallShield entry), while others, like the ZoneAlarm client or updater, remained. These invalid entries do not in any shape or form impact the boot-up performance; they are merely part of the junk that was left over by the 200 programs.
- Huge Temporary Files – Gone! We were not only able to delete the 3.5 GBytes of temporary data but also a couple of GBytes worth of unnecessary files and folders. As our test bed had only a relatively small, 120-GByte hard disk, we found ourselves very happy with the disk space we were able to recover.
- Start page changed to Yahoo – The start page was still set to Yahoo. But TuneUp Utilities has no way of knowing if we changed this deliberately or if a freeware tool modified the start page. So we just made the change manually.
- A new “Temp” Folder on the hard disk – The folder still exists, despite optimization with TuneUp Utilities However, it is actually good that the optimization suite does not delete folders containing installation files that you might need later. We ended up manually deleting it.
- Spamihilator still active – Not anymore! Spamihilator was disabled by TuneUp Utilities and we couldn’t be happier.
Although some small, residual folders and entries remained, TuneUp Utilities effectively solved the biggest problems and helped clean up the computer. It got the machine’s performance pretty much back to normal.
We’ve been testing this theory and working with this PC since December 2009. During the entire testing period, the TuneUp Blog team could not wait for the day when we finally would be able to just wipe the hard disk and reinstall Windows 7. What we did not expect—the test notebook was finally fun to work with (yet again) after we removed all of the programs and optimized the system. Its performance has been snappy, and we have not encountered a single problem since—and are now using the machine on a daily basis.
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