COMPUTER TUNE-UP

When creaky old computers slow down and become prone to errors, people sometimes rush out to buy new ones. That may be overkill. All they need is a good “utility” program. Our new favorite is “Tune-Up Utilities 2011,” from tune-up.com. Note: Ignore the program’s “registry cleaner.” Skip it and use the program’s other utilities, since registries don’t get dirty and fixing them can do more harm than good. The program has an “undo” function if something goes wrong.

Tune-Up

Tune-Up is a $40 program that speeds up your Windows computer. It fixes errors, recovers mistakenly deleted files and shreds files you want to delete so they’re deleted forever. In the process of doing all this, it makes for faster start-up, shut-down and operation.

The program begins with an automatic tune-up. When it comes to something it thinks should be deleted, it asks your permission first. Example: It asked us if it could remove 1,033 broken short cuts. Well that’s not a tough one to answer; if they’re broken, there’s no point in keeping them.

It found 344 old program installation files we no longer needed. It found and removed eight unnecessary programs from the start-up list, all of which slowed down start-up. (They can be started later.) We allowed it to remove 1,444 old system restore points. (If we ever need to take our computer back to an earlier point, we only need the latest one. This move alone freed up 16 gigabytes of storage space.) This clean up was all for free, since the program did it in the first hour of a 15-day free trial.

We weren’t surprised by the thousands of fixes needed on the desktop computer, since it’s six years old. But the Tune-Up also found a few hundred problems on our new laptop, which is less than six months old. In this new machine our recycle bin had already disappeared and our “send to” command wasn’t working. (“Send to” is a handy command when you’re copying a file to a different folder. You just “send it” to that folder.) Finally: When we clicked “optimize,” the whole system started running faster.

Overall, it gets our vote for “good program.” More info at tune-up.com.

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