Magic Utilities 2011 Interesting, But Not Enchanting

There are a lot of utility suites, and most verlap with each other--there just aren't that many ways to delete temp files or set startup programs. Magic Utilities 2011 has a lot of the basics, and one or two variants I haven't seen often--but at $40 with a 15-day free trial, it's also on the high end, pricewise.

Clean icons and a colorful interface aid in accessing the features of Magic Utilities 2011.
Magic Utilities offers seven functions: An uninstaller, a startup organizer, a process killer, disk cleaner, file shredder, file encrypter, and easy access to built-in utilities. All do the basics well enough; a few have nice touches. Unfortunately, some of them are buggy as well.

For example, the Magic Utilities process killer at first seemed redundant with Windows's built-in Task Manager, but it has an option to let you see all of the modules (.exe, .dll, etc) that a process is using...a nice way to better understand what's happening in your system. However, when I compared its list to Task Manager, I noticed it was missing some processes that it should have picked up. For example, it did not pick up "Notepad"; I even quit it and restarted it, and Magic Utilities refused to list it as a process, though Task Manager did. Furthermore, it will only show processes from the current user, not "All Users," so you will miss some system processes.

The Disk Cleaner does a more thorough search of your hard drive for possible temporary or junk files than a lot of other programs, but it sweeps too broadly--it found, and wanted to delete, ".tmpl" (template) files, and there was no way to exclude those without excluding ".tmp" as well. I could just exclude the directory they were in, but that's a step a person shouldn't really have to take. The help file did not describe the formatting used to set the filters--and if you're unfamiliar with Windows/DOS wildcard character in file names, as a lot of users are now that the command line is mostly a distant memory, the help file doesn't, well, help.

Another unexpected, but useful, tool in Magic Utilities 2011 is the "Windows Utilities" function, which simply gives you access to a plethora of built-in Windows utilities, such as the Event Viewer and Dr. Watson. Since some of these are buried deep in a maze of twisty little control panel interfaces or can normally be invoked only from a command prompt, this is a pretty handy concept.

These touches of "nifty," though welcome when I was expecting just another boilerplate suite, are not quite enough. The mostly unhelpful Help file and the interface quirkiness weigh against Magic Utilities. To justify a forty-dollar price tag, it needs to either do a lot more, or do what it does with more options and features.

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