It's rare that a piece of "miracle" software actually lives up to its developers' claims. The $70 program Reimage--which claims to provide hassle-free relief for damaged Windows installs--delivers on its promise.
All it takes to start repairing your system is to click the "Start Scan" button on the Reimage website. You are then prompted to save the installer, which is a very small program that downloads the rest of the Reimage files (about 7MB worth). When those components have fully downloaded, the install process is complete and the Reimage scanning process begins.
During the scan, Reimage thoroughly checks your system. In addition to looking for damaged or modified Windows files and registry entries, it also looks at how much free space your hard drive has, how much memory is installed in your computer, how hot your processor is, and which programs are causing crashes (and how often). Findings are presented in easy-to-understand, non-technical language.
Reimage even checks your system for malware infections. You're probably running an antivirus program that offers full-time protection already, but no program detects every single infection. It never hurts to double-check your system for nasties like Trojans, hijackers, and rootkits, and Reimage is up to the task. The malware scanner is powered by multiple systems, including Avira, which develops one of the most widely-used antivirus programs in the world.
Once you're ready accept Reimage's recommendations and complete the repair process your system will reboot. Prior to booting Windows, Reimage will step in and finish repairing and replacing any files it flagged during the scan. When that's done, your computer finishes loading Windows and displays your newly-repaired desktop.
On my problematic Windows 7 test system, the entire process took about 45 minutes. While no infections were found, Reimage accurately noted several stability problems. The Novell Netware client, Teamviewer, and Google Chrome had all caused a number of crashes recently, and Reimage picked up on all three. After a quick reboot to replace files that were in use (which took less than five minutes), I was deposited back at my Windows desktop. Three days later, I had yet to experience a single crash and my system was running beautifully.
If a Reimage operation happens to cause a program to stop working on your computer, you can undo the changes. That said, I performed several scans on multiple computers running a wide variety of software and never experienced any unexpected "breakage."
There is one major downside to Reimage: a working Internet connection is required. In my many years as a technician, one of the most common problems I fixed for people was (you guessed it) a broken Internet connection. I also expect that DNS-hijacking malware will prevent Reimage from contacting its servers in order to block removal or repair attempts.
While I count Reimage's price tag of $70 per year as a minus, there's a caveat. For the average home user who doesn't know how to reinstall Windows or completely remove nasty malware, $69.95 per year is a very good deal. A single trip to the computer repair shop would cost you more than that, and Reimage can definitely prevent those visits. Two more PCs can be covered for $30, and that's an absolute steal if you have a close friend or family member that gets stung by the periodic computer repair bill.
All in all, Reimage is a fantastic repair utility that can fix some of the ugliest Windows problems out there. It won't totally replace your local computer technician, but it definitely has the potential to save you money, time, and frustration.