Even on the newest fastest PC we can suffer from system crashes, applications freezing up, and slow internet. A couple weeks ago, LIUtilities Inc sent us SpeedUpMyPC, the system utility that helps you get the most out of your computer without being a Windows expert. They claims that SpeedUpMyPC can free up memory and other resource, optimize your internet connection, reassign CPU resources to improve performance, prevent crashes and reduce startup times considerably. I put Speed Up My PC to the test on my gaming (well maintained) computer with Windows XP, so let's take a look at this new software:
What's in the box & Purchase
As with all LI Utilities products you can either buy a boxed version or download the program from the website. The downloadable version costs $29.95 and the CD version costs $49.95, even on a 56k modem you will only have to wait 10 minutes for the download. The boxed version includes the software CD, instruction manual, and registration key. The manual is in color, and is only about 12 pages.
Taking a closer look
When you boot up the application, you'll see a general screen. This screen will give you some general information regarding CPU, memory, physical memory, operating system and internet connection. It also offers several suggestions on how to improve your PC’s performance. The instructions are straightforward and the suggestions appear to be rational. Once you click on the link, the program makes the tweaks on its own, requiring no user input. Just for people who really know anything about tweaking. While the software is running, it leaves an icon in the system tray
, so you can mouse over to get system info or click on it to bring up the program to make any necessary changes. There are five different tabs (CPU, Memory, Internet, Startup, Crash Recovery), all of them should give you the opportunity of speeding up a different part of your PC.
The next tab is for CPU usage (this screen is very similar to Windows Task Manager->performance) that claims to give processor time priority to windows based applications when usage exceeds a percentage of your choosing. This shows the percentage rate of CPU usage on the top as well as CPU hourly usage percent .Unlike a regular Windows Task Manager, you can assign more resources to specific programs you feel need those resources a lot more. There's also an option to prioritize window system functions when your CPU usage exceeds a certain percentage, so you can prevent your system from freezing up when a program tries to eat up all your processing power.
The memory monitor is most active portion of the program. There are two helpful bars indicating RAM usage and page file usage. There is also nice option available, which is "Automatic RAM Recovery". The main selling point of this feature is the ability to reallocate memory unnecessarily blocked off by other programs. You can set a cut-off point where the program will automatically free up RAM. Of course you can also define a combination of keys to do the same thing manually. If something eating your memory, try to run "Quick recovery", eventually try to run "Deep RAM Recovery" option. I bet you will be impressed. Usually, the cause is a poorly written program (commonly called a "memory leak") that demands more and more of the computer's memory when it already has access to the memory it needs.
The Internet section lets you monitor your internet bandwidth. There are two graphs, both showing bandwidth usage; one at 1 minute intervals, the other at 1 hour intervals. If you choose "Optimize Internet Settings", it will automatically detect your internet connection and optimize your network settings. To be exact, it changes your MTU and TCP packet sizes in order to provide the maximum download speeds. If you are on broadband you will notice no real difference, but those of you with dial-up could appreciate this feature. You can also "Optimize Browser Settings", this option makes some changes to allow Internet Explorer to have more simultaneous connections to the web.
The "startup" section contains two different tables. The first table shows a record of startup times since the programs install, the second table shows all of the startup items available and how long it takes each one to run up at system start. Of course, you can remove any startup applications here (analogous to MSCONFIG but this is more intuitive way). Also there is a button to optimize startup settings, which requires no user input. Although the startup option isn't very in-depth, it will automatically keep unnecessary programs (spyware, registration reminders and crap like that) from loading.
The final section of SpeedUpMyPC is called Anti-Crash. This feature claims to recover from crashes without having to restart the computer. When ever the system does crash, if SpeedUpMyPC is running, you will able to use the hot key combination to terminate any suspicious tasks and restart the windows shell. Imagine you playing a game, and all of a sudden, it decided to just lock up. The system is still running fine but the game is not. With SpeedUpMyPC, all you have to do is hit the special combination and return to your desktop, with all the programs you left running in the background unaffected from the crash. It's kinda more comfortable (especially for beginners) than usual ALT-TAB/ CTRL-ALT-DEL combination and close the game manually. Additionally, if something begins to run in the background that's not supposed to and it's causing your system to stop responding, SpeedUpMyPC will close the "suspicious"' program and try to recover the system resources. However don't expect this feature will cure your random BSOD's that you having/have had.
Pros / Cons
- Useful Quick Keys to Free Up RAM and Crash Recovery (useful especially on Win95/Win98 systems)
- Excellent monitoring function
- Easy to use for beginners
- No big difference after Optimization
- Internet features could be a bit better
- Consumes 9.6MB of your RAM and about 1-2% of your CPU usage constantly
- Unable to Detect Internet Speed properly when using Proxy
- Boxed version somewhat pricey
- Freeware programs do much of the same
Not every person who owns a computer is an expert. However every PC gamer, regardless of his experience, should have the ability to control their system resources without having to learn a ton of technical details. There are a lot of people that do not know how, or perhaps don't have the time to learn. SpeedUpMyPC allows even inexperienced gamers to control their resources and recover from crashes through a very simple interface that anyone can understand. Of course, experienced system administrators might not find this very useful though.
Note: I'd like to thank LIUtilities for sending over this piece of software.
System Requirements: 400MHZ Intel or AMD compatible CPU, 16 MB RAM, 2x CD-Rom Drive, Windows 98/2000/XP, 2 MB Free Disk Space