Has your computer been running slow lately? It’s one of those inalienable facts of owning a Windows machine. Eventually, you’ll start to see the speed of your PC degrade to the point where it’s almost indistinguishable from cold molasses.
Or perhaps you’re eager to hang on to your old Windows XP PC for a bit longer, and want to eek out as much speed as you possibly can? We’d strongly recommend that you consider moving to a more modern version of Windows, but apparently lots of you are still quite wed to Microsoft’s gracefully aging OS.
In that case, meet Ashampoo’s WinOptimizer 11 ($39.95). This shareware package promises to be “the tuning specialist for your PC”, remedying system errors, freeing disk space and securely and permanently removing private files. Think of it as a janitor for your computer. And guess what? You can get it for free with our rewards program. But, is it worth your hard-earned points? Let’s find out.
Installing Ashampoo WinOptimizer
Ashampoo Winoptimizer 11 runs on Windows XP, Windows 8 and everything in-between. Even Vista. Just download the EXE and double click it.
Fair warning, it tries to flog you other software packages by Ashampoo on a couple of stages of the install process. These ‘nag screens’ are also seen when you run it for the first time.
Handily, whilst installing WinOptimizer, you can choose the skin that you want to use. You have two options, the first is a rather pleasant, subdued dark theme, whilst the other one is a bit brighter, and looks like a traditional Windows utility.
Once you have picked what skin you want and have finally installed WinOptimizer, you will be asked if you want to run regular cleans of your system.
In the past, we’ve talked about how overzealous cleaning can break Windows. Indeed, it’s easily done; one registry tweak here, one deleted DLL there, and suddenly, you’re left with a very expensive paperweight and no access to your files.
Thankfully, WinOptimizer is a solid product that promises to perk up your Windows installation, without breaking it. How do I know? I’ve been using it on-and-off for the past week on a wheezy Lenovo laptop from yesteryear. This machine has seen better days. And yet, I found after using it, it became perceptibly less glacial. And… Well? It still works.
On the first run, WinOptimizer will ask you a few configuration questions, including if you’re using a Solid State Drive, and if you would like to automatically remove old backup files. These will fundamentally influence how WinOptimizer works throughout your system.
And then it’s on to optimizing your system! We’ve talked about optimizing your computer for gaming in the past. It’s not hard, but it’s certainly time consuming. Thankfully, WinOptimiser does a lot of the hard work for you with its Game Booster mode. Just flick a switch, and non-essential services and processes are killed. Done with your game? Flick that switch again, and it’ll go back to its previous state.
But what about optimizing and cleaning your state? On loading, you’re presented with a menu with three options: clean up, optimize and protect. These aren’t single actions, but rather are collections of utilities that have been grouped based upon their functionality, which are then run in sequence.
But what if you want to take a slightly more surgical approach to optimizing your system? Well, you can do that too, as WinOptimizer grants you access to each of the utilities used in the broader, more thorough scans.
Need to defragment your machine? No worries. Is your registry looking a bit peaky? WinOptimizer will cure what ails you. Accidentally deleted an important document? Get it back post-haste with the Undeleter utility.
There are some utilities that aren’t really about system optimization, yet are included in WinOptimizer. These include File Splitter and Joiner, which allows you to (ironically enough) fragment a file into multiple, smaller files which can then be e-mailed, or shared on mediums where it’s not possible to send large files.
There’s also an encryption and decryption utility, although I’d recommend you use a specialized encryption utility, such as GPG or KeyBase.
Whilst handy to have, these (slightly gimmicky) tools aren’t anything to write home about. The real value is found in the core utilities of WinOptimizer.
So, how do you get your hands on Ashampoo WinOptimizer 11? Well, first you have to sign up for MakeUseOf’s rewards program. Then you need to build up some points! Once you have enough, you can cash them in for a copy. Simple enough, right?
But should you? Admittedly, there’s some chaff amongst the wheat in WinOptimizer. Furthermore, a lot of the functionality of WinOptimizer is found within the core Windows utilities, or in other third-party applications such as the venerable CCleaner. Despite that, I found that using it noticeably sped up my system that (admittedly) was on its last legs.
But what do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you scored yourself a copy? Thinking of getting one? Are you a die-hard user? Drop me a comment below, and tell me all about it.