Like your home and the furnishings inside, a PC and its software environment need periodic "housekeeping." Corel's WinZip Systems Utilities Suite (SUS) is one of countless software packages that bundle together multiple tools for helping you with this cleanup. What can SUS really do for your computer? And is it worth the time and money? We'll find out in this review.
As a general rule, systems utilities suites can help PCs to run at optimal performance by defragging hard drives, improving RAM usage, removing registry "cruft" (junk entries), reducing disk fragmentation, and so forth. They can also minimize security hazards like malware and tracking cookies.
Left unchecked, these issues can slow down system response and even lead to BSoD ("Blue Screen of Death") and other freeze/crash disasters. There's no intrinsic reason why an older computer should slow down over time. Yet without proper Windows and hardware housecleaning, it all but inevitably will.
Meanwhile, there's certainly no shortage of individual third-party PC utilities. Many, like CCleaner, are free; most others are highly affordable. However, choosing and managing multiple single-task tools can be way more than many users want to do.
Hence the existence of packages like WinZip SUS, which collects a Swiss Army knife's worth of tools into one download and runs them in a single management window.
Corel's WinZip System Utilities Suite costs $39.95/year, a fair price to ensure you've got the tools to keep your system humming. You can do a free online scan with SUS. You don't need to make a purchase unless you also want SUS to correct errors uncovered by the scans. Also, you can buy two additional licenses, covering two additional PCs, for a total of $19.99 per year. (For expanded views of screenshots at right, please click on the images.)
Officially, SUS runs on Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 (32/64 bit). It also ran on my Windows 8 test machine.
SUS contains more than 20 system utilities, grouped into categories such as Smart PC Care; Registry Optimizers; Disk Cleaners & Optimizers; Windows Optimizers; Security & Privacy; Backup & Recovery; Common Problem Fixers; and Regular Maintenance.
Impressively, WinZip SUS supports over a dozen languages, including English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, Japanese, Norwegian, Chinese Simplified, Finnish, and Swedish.
Common concerns that WinZip SUS addresses include memory optimization; automatic updates to new drivers; removal of unwanted cookies; password protection of files; recovery, or undeletion, of inadvertently deleted files; and "secure deletion," to wipe disk space so that deleted files can't be retrieved. That's just for starters.
For example, SUS also comes with a Game Optimizer, a "private virtual desktop" designed to let users play games with maximum processing power, without interruption from other applications.
Specifically, for this review, I tested SUS on a three-year-old Lenovo ThinkPad 3000 G530 notebook PC with an Intel Core Duo (64-bit) and 3GB RAM, running Windows 8 Pro (migrated from Windows Vista).
WinZip SUS installed quickly and easily on my test PC, but I'd like to add one mild cautionary note. The default install includes a "FINDR" toolbar. If you don't want this toolbar, be sure to uncheck the "I Accept" box for this at the beginning of the install.
I tried just about every utility in WinZip SUS on my test notebook. Since the notebook didn't have a lot "wrong" with it, there wasn't that much to find. WinZip SUS did offer to make some changes to aspects of memory performance. Yet I wasn't sure what the impact might be, so I let those be.
I discovered the UI (user interrface) to be straighforward and easy to use. All scans and fixes were quick and simple. I let SUS delete cookies and tmp files, I also used the Uninstall Manager to remove Adobe Reader (and the accompanying McAfee Anti-Virus that I'd allowed the Adobe Install to include).
WinZip's PC Fixer utility told me, "OS not supported." Windows 8 isn't on the official list yet, so that's certainly not unreasonable.
The only hiccup I uncovered is that, although Windows 8's built-in firewall was enabled, the System & Security Advisor scan reported, "Firewall: Not Installed." Then again, though, Win8 isn't officially supported.
Another complaint is that WinZip SUS doesn't appear to differentiate between minor issues versus items that could pose major performance or security threats. To be fair, though, that's a common failing I've seen elsewhere.
There's little doubt in my mind that modern versions of Microsoft Windows, like their older siblings (XP and previous) need -- or at least can benefit from -- additional system/security utility tools to supplement any that are included in Windows and to fill in the gaps for those that aren't.
While it's entirely possible that for a given task, some single-purpose tool might be best. But a suite like WinZip System Utilities Suite is simpler -- and probably less expensive -- to acquire, use and maintain. You can always supplement WinZip SUS with a few individual tools if you think that the suite's own offerings don't give you everything you need.
Features worthy of particular note include the file wiping tool and also the Game Optimizer
Pricewise, $39.95 for a year's worth of protection on a machine is certainly affordable, and SUS is a real bargain compared to alternatives like either wrangling multiple tools or doing without.
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