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Just like the lead-up to the year 2000, many people in technology industries acted like Microsoft’s end date for supporting Windows XP marked some kind of computer armageddon. The reality is that it just meant there would be no updates to the operating system, including any security vulnerabilities. To fill this gap, IObit has stepped up with a new version of Advanced SystemCare that reinforces the security of your Windows XP system so that you can keep running it without worry.
Version 7.3 of IObit Advanced SystemCare has been tailored to solidify the security of the Microsoft XP operating system, and release notes with the new version assure customers that Windows XP will be supported permanently “to ensure it’s security and performance.”
Should you trust your XP system to the folks at IObit? Does Advanced SystemCare do the job when it comes to security and improving performance of an XP system? To put this to the test, we installed Advanced SystemCare on an unpatched Windows XP system running SP2, that had gone approximately 6 months without a single antivirus or malware scan. According to our tests, IObit Advanced SystemCare identified and fixed hundreds of security issues with the system. In the end, the system ran more smoothly, optimized for the intended use of the system, with all security issues patched and secured.
Below, you’ll find the details of the installation and those tests. And don’t forget, if you think IObit Advanced SystemCare 7.3 will meet your security needs, don’t forget that you can get the software with your Rewards points!
Installing Advanced SystemCare 7.3
If you install the free version of SystemCare prior to purchasing a full license, you’re going to see the usual “extras” as part of the install process. This is tricky though – if you fly through and don’g pay attention, leaving “Express install” checked off will install Yahoo search as default, it’ll make Yahoo! your home page, andinstall an IObit browser toolbar that you may not really want added to your browser.
Don’t fly through this. Click “Custom Install” (it isn’t really for advanced users), and deselect all of those checkboxes for the items you don’t really want. After this, the rest of the install is pretty straightforward.
There are several steps where you can select the options that you want as part of the software. You can opt out of the “Homepage Protection” feature, which basically makes sure that websites or malicious software doesn’t change the browser homepage that you’ve set up as your default (a common browser hack).
The next few screens will introduce you to a few of the new options in 7.3. The Real-Time Protector to block malware in realtime claims to run with so few system resources that it “will not affect your work on your PC”. This is one item tested in our review of the software below.
Once the software is fully installed, the first thing you’ll see is the initial screen filled with all of the features available in IObit Advanced SystemCare.
Enabling or Disabling Features
Blue labels are free features – which include real-time protection against online threats while you surf the web, homepage protection, and the performance monitor for enhancing your PC speed and overall performance. There are also free cleanup tools available.
The bulk of the value in SystemCare really comes from many of the Pro features, which isn’t free. Pro will block malware in real-time – and may even block malware that your existing antivirus software is not able to. It is perfectly acceptable to run Advanced SystemCare in parallel with antivirus software. The system we tested Advanced SystemCare on was running the free edition of AVG Antivirus 2012.
Once the software fully launches, you will start on the “Care” tab, where you can enable or disable different features of the software.
IObit promoted version 7.3 as particularly effective in protecting against any security vulnerabilities in Windows XP. The exact wording in the release notes is, “Supported the update of its already known security holes to maximally ensure Windows XP’s security.”
To take advantage of this, you’ll want to make sure Security Defense and Vulnerability Fix are both selected. The other options are really up to you. Selecting Registry Defrag or Disk Defragment may improve performance, but it can also take up PC resources, and you really may not want to run it on a scheduled basis. You can always run these individual tools manually inside of SystemCare.
Testing Advanced SystemCare on Windows XP
To really put this software through the ringer, we installed it onto a Windowx XP, SP2 computer that hadn’t been patched in over 6-7 months. There were sure to be security issues, malware and adware, and maybe even a virus or two. Advanced SystemCare 7.3 should have a field day with this beast.
The scan goes through eight stages, starting with malware threats and ending with finding and patching any security holes that exist on the system. At the end of the scan, you’ll see the number of items discovered in each stage, and you have the option to fix those issues. The “Security holes” item is the most important one you want to make sure you fix if you’re running Windows XP, as this will ensure the best possible protection for that system.
As you can see from the results page, Advanced SystemCare did a remarkable job on the system, discovering over 23,500 issues on the system. The scan surprisingly took less than 15 minutes, and this was on an older Pentium 4, 2.5Ghz system with only 480 MB of RAM. Advanced SystemCare used hardly any memory or CPU footprint – not only while running in idle monitoring mode, but even when performing a full system scan.
Clicking the button to fix those 23,000 issues took even less time than the scan itself!
Essentially, that’s all you really need to do to take advantage of the Windows XP protection that IObit promises with this version of Advanced SystemCare. Of course, the full version comes with a long list of very useful tools, so those are worth taking a look at as well.
IObit Advanced SystemCare Extra Tools
The first tool you’ll want to run often (available on the Toolbox tab), is the IObit Win Fix tool. This tool claims to examine your operating system and fix any identified issues.
If you run the full scan, you shouldn’t need to run this tool, but it’s a good one to kick off frequently if you’re maintaining a Windows XP system using Advanced SystemCare.
As you can see, there is an impressive library of tools available.
The full, Pro version offers registry and disk cleaners, defrag tools, tools to help transfer data or securely delete data, and then other tools dedicated to performance, security and more.
Enhancing Your PC Performance
Once your security is squared away, Advanced SystemCare will also help you boost your PC performance – even if you’re running an old, outdated Windows XP system. Seriously.
The first thing to do is choose a boost mode, which sets a series of default configurations for optimizing your PC performance.
In the next few steps, you’ll go through and manually enable or disable those settings. Each step involves customizing running Windows system services, non-Windows services, background operations and power settings.
The software automatically recognizes the services you have installed on your system (some that you might have forgotten about), and lets you turn individual services off.
I went through and disabled all of the services I knew were older and that I didn’t use anymore – I turned off a total of about six services and background apps. Afterwards, the performance improvement was just remarkable. The CPU, which was pegged at 50 to 100% most of the time, rested in the single or low double digits most of the time. The RAM consumption dropped by about 30%, which would be expected by disabling running apps and services.
The nice thing about Advanced SystemCare is that even though you could do many of these system performance enhancements on your own, it gives you the one-click convenience of doing them all in one place. It also handles malware and security monitoring and fixes – a critical need on systems where you’re still stuck running XP.
If you have to keep those systems, you can’t go wrong installing Advanced SystemCare to at least give that system a fighting chance at fending off the bad guys.