Tune-up utilities are designed to perform a very basic, straightforward function—improve your computer’s overall system performance by repairing the Windows registry, defragging the hard drive, deleting Web browser cookies, and other tasks. However, that changed with SlimWare Utilities, which offers an application,SlimCleaner Free (the PCMag Editors’ Choice for free tune-up utilities), that aggregates data collected from its user base to recommend the optimal settings for your PC. Now, the company’s premium tune-up product, PC SlimCleaner Plus (starting at $29.97 for a one-year license), builds on that solid foundation by adding numerous features, including power-consumption options and the ability to recognize out-of-date antivirus software. SlimCleaner Plus is easy to use, and has effective tune-up chops, but its license limitations prevent it from toppling the reigning paid tune-up king, Iolo System Mechanic 14.
System Requirements and Setup
Compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8 PCs, SlimCleaner Plus requires just an Internet connection for downloading the software and any updates that may be required during installation. Unlike Iolo System Mechanic, our Editors’ Choice for paid tune-up utilities, SlimCleaner Plus limits the number of installation licenses. You get one PC license for $29.97, three for $34.95, five for $56.95, ten for $100.95, and 25 for $230. Iolo, on the other hand, lets you install its System Mechanic software on as many PCs as you’d like—that’s a sweet, potentially money-saving deal in the age of the multi-PC home. I wish SlimCleaner Plus, and other tune-up utilities, would adopt this model.
If you’re wondering about the differences between SlimCleaner Plus and SlimCleaner Free, here’s the skinny: SlimCleaner Plus has a one-click scan and fix button, laptop power consumption settings, and the ability to deactivate unneeded features for greater computing efficiency. SlimCleaner Free lacks those features, as well as SlimCleaner Plus’s ability to identify inactive or out-of-date anti-virus software, and the recently added Instant Alerts, which leverages community recommendations to notify you that unwanted software came bundled with an application (such as a toolbar that came packaged with another application).
The new features worked well in my testing. After it scanned my PC, SlimCleaner recognized that I needed a new antivirus program, and it allowed me to quickly tweak my laptop’s power settings for additional battery life. If you’re serious about keeping your PC fresh, SlimCleaner Plus has enough features to inspire you to open your wallet.
Clicking one of the categories located in the column located left of the main content area—Cleaner, Optimize, Software, Updates, Browsers, Disk Tools, Windows Tools—highlights the selection, displays sub-categories, and shows either cleaning options or system analysis information.
The Cleaner area—the section that contains tabs for Windows, Applications, Browsers, Advanced, and Registry—is what you’ll encounter on firing up the application. Clicking the Analyze button causes SlimCleaner to run and spit back a list of problems—my initial scan uncovered dozens upon dozens on my test computer. The Clean button removed all the problem files and Web cookies, but I preserved the log-in cookies of Facebook and other sites I frequent using the IntelliCookie Filter. That’s a great touch.
That’s far from the only tool at your disposal. Optimizer lets you alter which programs boot at launch, which is handy for those who may not realize that resource hogs are slowing the boot process and hindering the overall system performance. Here you can find detailed file information so you know exactly what it does before taking action, and rate programs yourself. I especially like that SlimCleaner Plus gives you a warning if you are about to remove software that’s been well-received by the community; it’s a nice way to safeguard yourself from removing a file that may prove vital to the computing experience.
Running Uninstaller causes SlimCleaner to scan your computer and display the total number of software installs. I began scrolling through the long list of software, uninstalling unwanted applications such as Fraps and IOBit Malware Fighter. I don’t like that you can’t select multiple applications at once; you have to uninstall applications one at a time, which quickly became a chore. SlimCleaner Plus also has a browser cleaner, HDD defragger, duplicate file finder, and the ability to schedule a scan on a daily or weekly basis.
I tested SlimCleaner’s ability to whip a PC back into shape by performing two tests—running the Geekbench system performance tool and measuring boot times—before and after running the software to compare the testbed’s potency. Each test was run three times and averaged. Before SlimCleaner scrubbed the system, the 2 GHz Intel Core i7-990X Style-Note notebook with 4GB of RAM, and an 80GB Intel SSD drive achieved a 4,210 Geekbench multicore score and booted in 50.3 seconds.
After using SlimCleaner Plus, the system saw improved performance. The GeekBench score rose to 4,701 (which was short of Iolo System Mechanic 14’s 4815 score, but better than Anvisoft Cloud System Booster‘s 4,612 score), and the boot time decreased to 41.1 seconds (a bit behind Iolo System Mechanic’s 39.7 seconds mark, and slightly faster than Anvisoft Cloud System Booster’s 42.4 mark).
Those numbers wouldn’t mean much if it didn’t translate into user-noticeable improvements—fortunately, it does. Windows, iTunes, and Steam opened with extra pep that wasn’t present when the machine was junked up.
A Very Useful Tune-Up Utility
SlimCleaner Plus’s license limitations prevent it from snatching the Editors’ Choice award for paid tune-up utilities from Iolo System Mechanic 14. Still, SlimCleaner Plus’s effective cleaning and community-based monitoring make it a utility to try if you want to turn back the clock on a gunked-up computer.