Captain Optimizer Is Promising, But Not Ready for Promotion

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Captain Optimizer ($50, 14-day free trial) is a suite of Windows optimization and maintenance tools that, despite several good features, is probably closer to Lieutenant Optimizer. There's a lot to like here--and I have seen the program improve rapidly during the time spent reviewing it--but there are still many small issues that detract from the good it does.

A fair number of utilities and functions are included among Captain Optimizer's various tabs and pages.
On the good side, Captain Optimizer has a wide range of utility features, including one I particularly like--a scan for out-of-date drivers, showing not just which drivers are old, but how old they are, and it will automatically fetch and install updated drivers (much as standalone program SlimDrivers does). As with many utility programs, it also digs up user-accessible settings (such as controls for how memory is cached or swapped) from places where few users will find them and presents them as easily-settable options.

Unfortunately, interface issues are a problem throughout Captain Optimizer. Some windows have a clickable "minimize" button, but don't minimize. Many of the screens which show data as a list will highlight column headers when you mouse over them, but clicking them does nothing. A basic rule of interface design is that if a screen object reacts to mouse motion, it indicates you can do something. If nothing happens, it is confusing.

I experienced a reproducible "hard crash" error on one of my computers (a 64-bit Windows 7 system while using the duplicate file finder. The folks at Softarama were responsive and helpful, even to the point of sending me a debug build to produce a log file, but the issue could not be resolved on my end or duplicated on theirs. This bug did not repeat on the other computers I tested the software on.

The duplicate file finder encapsulates the issues I have with Captain Optimizer rather nicely. It works quickly enough, offers several options (compare name and file size alone, or do a Cyclic Redundancy Check for a more accurate report), but when you have a list of 18,000+ duplicate files (as I did), the inability to sort them in order to find the few which are of significant size is a serious flaw.

There were other issues. Captain Optimizer's security scanner tells me I do not have a personal firewall or an anti-virus installed... but I do. It's a very common one (Norton), it's active, and the Windows Control Panel security feature recognizes it as being there. If it's reporting a non-error as an error, it's hard not to wonder if real errors are being missed.

The trial/demo of Captain Optimizer allows for scanning but not fixing, which means a user is asked to pay before verifying it does all the things it says it does. (I used both a locked and unlocked version to perform this review and test the software.) I do want to note that Captain Optimizer improved a great deal during this review's development, fixing a number of issues and adding features. I am hesitant to recommend it over the many similar tools which exist, such as System Mechanic or Jv16 Power Tools, but I would like to re-examine it in a few months and see whether it's earned a promotion.

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