WinZip System Utilities Suite
At a Glance
If you're going to sell a suite of system utilities when Windows already contains so many of its own utilities, and freebies such as Piriform's CCleaner exist, that suite had best be good, with useful and unique capabilities. In this case, I'm calling it close, but WinZip--a new player in this space--falls short of that goal.
Like others of its ilk, such as System Mechanic and the Norton Utilities 15, WinZip System Suite brings a number of useful capabilities under one friendly roof. Among them: Disk optimization, hard drive S.M.A.R.T. data retrieval, a drive benchmark, file cleanup, duplicate file removal, file undelete, file encryption and secure delete, registry cleaning and optimization, backup of key system files, a driver updater, and a startup manager.
WinZip System Utilities also provides a PC Fixer which will fix common registry problems that you may choose by symptom. There are also Security and Performance advisors, which can be useful, but don't blindly click through--some of the advisor's recommendations were, at least in my case, unwarranted. I'm perfectly aware of the vulnerabilities caused by sharing folders--my network is private and I shared them for a reason.
One feature unique in my experience is the game optimizer, which is a sort of virtual machine that takes over from Windows and allows you to run your game without a lot of other processes interfering.
You may schedule most of the maintenance and optimization tasks, however, here lies one of the great questions concerning optimization software--does the background application negate the performance benefits garnered by the optimization? I've always leaned towards yes. In most cases, you'll gain more apparent speed by disabling unnecessary startup and background applications using msconfig.exe than you do by running memory and disk optimizers.
The WinZip System Utilities are easy to use and the interface is well-designed, though you should close each utility opened from the launcher before moving on to something else-otherwise, you'll be faced with a daunting stack of windows. There's some duplication of functionality under the various headings, e.g., the driver updater may be found both under Windows Optimizers and Regular Maintenance. All in all, though, it's a professional looking package.
WinZip System Utilities is subscription-based. Most of the utilities will work forever, but certain modules such as the driver updater will not function after your $40 yearly subscription expires. Winzip will automatically email you then renew your subscription for another year, every year, until you tell them not to.
Without the subscription fees, I might recommend the Winzip System Utilities simply for the twin reasons of its good performance, and the convenience it provides in having a strong set of utilities in one place. I find it at least as capable and comprehensive as System Mechani or the Norton Utilities. However, as I said up top, there's just not a lot that any of the utility suites can do that you can't accomplish with Windows itself (especially Windows 7) and a few well-chosen freebies.
--Jon L. Jacobi