Magix PC Check & Tuning is one of the best known systems management suites available for Windows PCs. In this review, we'll take a detailed look at how well the many tools in this "Swiss Army knife" software package might (or might not) work at helping you to keep your computer humming.
Every time you use your computer -- to do a web search, work on a document, edit a photo, or do email, for instance -- you're leaving it more "messy" and suboptimized than when you started. The same is true each time you install or update software.
Moreover, given the dozens of background processes running continuously on the system, even simply leaving your PC on means that cookies, temp files, orphaned registry entries, and bits of temp files are being left on the hard drive. Larger files might become fragmented (stored in non-continuous areas of the hard drive).
Virtual dust bunnies might not ever make any noticeable difference in your computer's efficiency, reliability or security. On the other hand, cumulatively, they might cause your machine to slow to a crawl, or to freeze or crash periodically.
Windows includes some utilities to tidy up and to keep an eye on hardware and software health, but not necessarily for all the things that need cleanup. Also, these built-in tools don't necessarily do things well in terms of either execution or user interface.
Free and low-cost individual third-party software utilities are available to do many of these tasks. However, this approach means that you have to figure out what functions you want, and then find, select, and install a bunch of stuff. That's a lot of effort.
One example is the widely used Magix PC Check & Tuning.
Magix PC Check & Tuning 2013 is a suite of performance/reliability utilities for a Windows PC. The suite supports both 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows 7 and Vista, and 32-bit versions of Windows XP.
Key features include "one-click" check and optimization; driver and software update; live system monitoring; a high-speed mode; a performance check; and a hard disk and Internet "traces" cleaner.
Also on the list are hard drive defrag; registry cleanup/defrag; energy-saving optimization; Internet "tuning;" system start optimization; and optimization of Windows design/settings, including "hidden" Windows settings
For this review, I performed some basic testing on a three-plus-year-old Lenovo ThinkPad 3000 G530 notebook with an Intel Core Duo (64-bit), 3GB RAM, running Windows 8 Pro (migrated from Windows Vista).
Because I haven't used this machine that much since migrating it to Windows 8 Pro -- not to mention just having used it for a review of WinZip System Utilitiea Suite -- there wasn't much for Magix to find or do.
On my test machine, though, Magix PC Check did its thing quickly enough. (For expanded views of screen shots at right, please click on the images.)
The top-level bar offers utilities by function-category: PC Check; Increase Performance; Free Up Memory; Performance Check; Configure Windows; and Info - My PC.
"Clean" (Internet traces) took only ten or so seconds to fix. "Defrag" took about ten minutes. Not everything went perfectly, however. "Update programs" did identify an available update for one of the installed programs. However, "Open online overview" took me to a web page in German, even though everything else on my system is in English.
On the home screen, "Update drivers" identified two update-worthy drivers. Commendably, selecting "Install" for these went to a popup starting with the cautionary "Are you sure that you want to install this driver?" followed by, "The Magix driver update has chosen this driver as suitable for your computer. However, it may lead to problems in certain cases." Magix then suggested creating a system restore point before doing the driver install. (I decided to pass on installing the recommended driver updates.)
"Configure system startup" showed that one or two programs had crept into the sequence (not unreasonably, but unnecessarily), so I slid them back out.
"Scan registry" found no invalid entries other than one for some piece of "obsolete software."
"Defrag registry" (not much to do) took only a few seconds. Yet the changes don't go into effect until you reboot.
'Free Up Memory'
Free Up Memory is a useful, albeit misleadingly named, tab. These tools are really about freeing up storage.
This includes uninstalling programs (as an alternative to Windows' built-in install) and the hard drive (deleting temp files and other "garbage data" from programs that neglected to tidy up after themselves).
Free Up Memory also includes a data manager, for identifying large (disk-consuming) folders and files, so you can delete them (archiving to external media or storage first, if you care about them, of course).
You can also delete Internet history (removing cookies, browser history, Internet temporary files, etc.).
Performance Check compares your PC's performance to that of "all the other PC Check & Tuning 2013" users as well as to "up-to-date reference PCs."
For example, Magix rated the performance of the ThinkPad notebook I'm using for this review as "Poor" and "Faster than 18% of all tested PCs."
Configure Windows conveniently aggregates settings for a number of things you may want to change, so you don't have to go hunting through the Windows Control Panel.
It provides configuration settings that include General, Windows 8, Start, Windows Design, Advanced, and Netbook Tuning (display tweaks for netbooks with lower screen resolutions).
You can activate automatic Windows updates, make hidden files/folders visible, and make "delete" bypass the Recycle bin.
You can also set startup to log user in automatically; display the info area in the taskbar, and activate or deactivate the indexing service (for quick searching).
The defaults here all seemed reasonable.
'Info - My PC'
This category offers interesting info.
For example, the "Hard drive status" tells me the hard drive's temperature (106 degrees Fahrenheit) and age, in terms of how long it's been operating since it was installed.
Other items offer info about the hardware, Windows version, active processes (such as Task Manager shows), and performance load.
Given that I was using a machine that didn't have much stuff to clean or tweak, I can't tell whether whatever Magix PC Check did made any positive difference. For what it's worth, so far it hasn't seemed to gronk anything (make things worse).
I have mixed opinions about this suite. It doesn't feel as straightforwardly usable as, say, WinZip System Utilities Suite.
Magix does have a simple interface which includes the main screen's big "Check PC" and "Fix All Problems" buttons. On the other hand, it feels like some things are cryptic or a little buried... and that some things simply aren't there.
In the "Configure Windows" tool, while mousing over the mini-question-mark icon provides some information, it seems like the info isn't as well documented as it might be.
Another gripe: Magix uses two unnecessarily different ways to set options. On the main "Check PC" view, the little "Settings" button brings up a checklist of what you want "Fix all problems" to do. Elsewhere, options are set using large slider-bars. This is inconsistent.
Also, I don't see any "scheduling" - a way to automatically set runs.
On the positive side, though, Magix doesn't take casual liberties fixing stuff. For example, the "Driver Update" tool provides cautionary advice rather than simply proceeding.
And again, all Windows PCs can benefit from -- and may even need -- additional system utilities beyond the ones that Microsoft includes with Windows.
For $50-ish, you get your money's worth if you decide to buy Magix PC Check & Tuning, as long as you remember to use it periodically. The suite brings together a large number of tools for keeping your PC up to snuff, while also offering cool extras such as the data scrubber, the driver updater, and "Info - My PC."
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