Clonezilla is a free to use disk imaging and cloning tool, it is different to similar products in that it runs via a live CD / live USB and is not installed as an application within Windows.
Ashampoo WinOptimizer 18
WinOptimizer 18 is the latest suite of PC cleaning and optimisation tool from software makers Ashampoo. With an emphasis on providing maximum cleaning performance in addition to a whole host of smaller tools for boosting PC performance and user privacy, WinOptimizer has become a “go to” tool for many PC users.
I reviewed WinOptimizer 17 in August of 2019 (click here to read) and was very impressed with what I saw, not only have Ashampoo put together a very solid package which runs well but the individual cleaning and maintenance tools themselves all combine to provide a very noticeable boost to any PC. In fact, I was so impressed last year that WinOptimizer now runs on all my own PCs and I‘m really excited to see what this new version has to offer, so lets go!
- (New) Dashboard overviews feature
- (New) Upgraded defrag tool
- (New) New and up to date cleaners
- (New) Vastly improved user interface
- (New) 1 Licence now covers up to 10PCs!
- Very well designed, convenient and easy to use
- Powerful scheduling system and automatic operation
- Game Booster -live tuning to optimise video games performance
- One Click Optimizer – optimise your PC with a single click
- Powerful real-time optimisation tools boost performance on the fly
- System analyser and benchmarking tools
- Extensive web browser cleaning and privacy tools
- Plus (lots) more system utility tools built in
- Excellent value, especially with the new 10 PC licence
New Features found in WinOptimizer 18
It is clear the folks at Ashampoo do not rest on their laurels and it is great to see a whole new list of features and improvements have been made in the latest version of WinOptimizer!
One of the most important improvements which needs to be mentioned is the upgrading of all of the integrated PC cleaning modules, these are the tools which scan you system and actually remove any unwanted or unnecessary entities leading to a more optimiser PC. As Windows itself evolves, receives ever more updates and generally introduces new ways of working it is important that the tools used to clean and maintain it also keep up!
Top of the list of these improvements is support for the new Microsoft Edge browser along with a completely overhauled algorithm which covers all browser cleaning, this makes WinOptimizer one of the most powerful options for clearing web browser traces and maintaining maximum PC privacy.
Other notable improvements include the new defrag tool which not only defrags disks but actively works to optimize any free space and maximise system performance. Ashampoo now claim this defrag tool will also address issues with TRIM and in turn simultaneously work to maximise the available space on any SSD drives as a result, excellent!
And finally, whilst there are too many improvements to mention one which is noteworthy is the new dashboards which now make the user interface more user friendly than ever before, ideal for helping people who might be less confident about cleaning their PC.
Installing WinOptimizer 18
As with all Ashampoo software the installation of WinOptimiser 18 was quick and simple, this starts with the downloading of the free installer from the Ashampoo website (Click here to download Ashampoo WinOptimiser 18).
Once running the installer will take only a few moments and a couple of clicks to have the install completed, in fact, the only difficult decision you will need to make during the install is which colour scheme to go with!
With the colour scheme chosen the software will then load up and be ready for use, at this point you must then activate your licence or if you are testing the software out click to take advantage of the full 10 day free trial.
And with this the software is installed and ready to use, next I will start the review proper with a look at the excellent cleaning functionality of WinOptimizer 18.
PC Cleaning with WinOptimizer 18
One of the core features of WinOptimizer is its ability to perform a really deep clean of your PC. Such deep cleaning includes removing any unnecessary files, registry entries, browsing traces and broken application links amongst many other things which can, over time, hamper performance and reduce usable disk space.
To start cleaning we can take advantage of the new “Clean” dashboard found on the left side menu, from this newly designed dashboard we can easily see, at a glance, what the state of our PC is and in turn what can be cleaned up.
This analysis is performed automatically once we open this dashboard up and, one completed, will provide an overview of what can be cleaned up on the PC. The main sections analysed here are the registry, web browsing and any unnecessary files residing on the PC, a “show details” button is available for each section which provides more information on exactly what will be cleaned in that section.
Once in this details screen we can, should we wish to, fine-tune what is to be removed in each section whilst it is being cleaned, this is done using the “settings” button found at the bottom of the screen.
Once in the settings page we can select which entries should or shouldn’t be included in the cleaning as well as specifying which, if any, files, folders and even entire drives which should be excluded from the cleaning.
This same process can be followed to fine-tune the settings for the registry cleaner and Internet Cleaner modules also. The Internet Cleaner settings are also fully modular thus allowing a separate set of cleaning rules to be applied individually to each installed browser which is a very useful and well thought out way of allowing maximum cleaning only where it is really needed.
Once the cleaning analysis has been done and the settings fine-tuned each section can then be cleaned individually using the “Delete” button to the right side of the dashboard.
Once all cleaning related settings have been configured we can then also take advantage of the main Overview dashboard which is shown upon first running the application. This dashboard provides a more detailed view of each main section of the PC which might need to be cleaned and with a single click of the optimise button allows a such cleaning to be performed.
In addition to the main dashboard, once all cleaning related settings have been configured it is possible to take advantage of the powerful automation tools Ashampoo have built into the software. The “Automatic” dashboard, which can be easily accessed from the left side menu allows the switching on of the Auto-Clean module which will work continuously in the background keeping the system as clean as is possible with minimal disruption to the PC.
Finally, both of the cleaning tools found on the “Clean” dashboard and the full set of optimisation tools found on the home screen can be run on a set schedule. Using the built in scheduling tool allows PC users to elect which set of tools to run and on what schedule, for example, running the One Click Optimiser tool twice weekly like below:
Making use of WinOptimizer’s One-Click-Optimiser
One of the best attributes of WinOptimizer is undoubtedly its ability to perform a full system clean with just a single click, for this Ashampoo have built the One Click Optimiser tool.
Once any cleaning settings have been set the PC can be cleaned quickly and efficiently using this tool. Simply select the tool from the All Modules page (as is shown below) or activate by clicking the additional desktop shortcut which Ashampoo have made for launching straight into this specific tool.
Once running the One Click Optimizer will run the Internet Cleaner, the Driver Cleaner and the Registry Cleaner modules automatically and take care of making all decisions including deleting any necessary files. Whilst not a new addition to version 18 it is nice to see this tool is still a key feature and is something Ashampoo continue to refine.
Optimising PC Performance with WinOptimizer 18
In addition to the excellent PC cleaning tools WinOptimizer also features several tools designed to free up system resources and help make you PC run faster and smoother.
Starting on the “Automatic” dashboard we see the Auto-Clean, Live-Tuner and Game-Booster tools as are pictured above. Each of these tools is designed to run in the background and make enhancements to the system in real time achieving the maximum system performance possible.
The Auto-Clean module is mainly focused upon disk cleaning and will work to remove web browser traces as well as other unnecessary files as and when applications are opened and closed. The Live-Tuner tool will aim to accelerate application performance and responsiveness by automatically tweaking process priorities with the Game-Booster taking this one step further by actually closing any unnecessary applications and processes considered unnecessary to gaming. Once the Game-Booster is turned off again it will then attempt to automatically restore any processes and application it had initially closed down.
Aside from these three featured performance tools, WinOptimizer 18, brings many other more specialised performance boosting tools into the fold, these include, amongst others:
The start-up tuner provides an effective overview of what applications and services are set to start automatically when your PC starts. In addition to this list many of the applications have been community rated meaning it should be easy to spot any services which might be slowing your PC down and are not necessary as a part of the start up process.
Due to the vastly different ways in which mechanical and a SSD drives work it is necessary to ensure Windows is optimised to get the best performance and durability from your SSD drive.
The SSD tuning tool allows users, at a glance, to see any any Windows services which might have a detrimental effect on a SSD drive and easily turn them on or off accordingly.
The Internet Tuner is another interesting tool which works to optimise the PCs internet connection speed. This optimisation can be done manually or automatically using the auto-optimisation wizard and can help imp[rove performance of certain applications such as internet enabled games.
Enhancing Privacy with WinOptimizer 18
With their WinOptimizer line of software, Ashampoo, have always put a great deal of emphasis on providing top notch privacy tools for PC users. Whilst the cleaning tools mentioned earlier will help maintain privacy by performing tasks such as removing 3rd party cookies and deleting browsing history, WinOptimizer 18 includes two other tools to help maximise privacy.
Windows 10 Privacy Tool:
The Windows 10 Privacy Tool is a useful addition which allows users to easily configure of all aspects of a Windows system which might compromise privacy. In fact, this privacy tool is so useful it is almost worthy of being a separate piece of software in its own right!
As can be see from the screen shot above this tool looks at several key areas of a Windows 10 configuration and for each area provides an easy method of reconfiguring any settings which might compromise security. For example, we can specify which applications can access the Windows telemetry and location data, which apps can have access to the internet and to other networks such as Bluetooth as well as disabling hardware such as allowing applications use of the webcam!
What’s important to note here is that whilst these settings can be changed without this tool the convenience in bringing them all together in one place and giving an explanation of each is of great value in my opinion. Bringing all of this together in one easy to use tool helps users easily understand what their current privacy levels are and adjust them accordingly making for a more secure PC!
AntiSpy Anti-Spyware Tool:
This anti-spyware tool further enhances the privacy of a Windows system by allowing control over key services which could allow user privacy to be compromised. This includes often overlooked areas such as automatically submitting error reports, script execution settings and media player meta-data services.
Other Useful System Utilities found in WinOptimizer 18
Aside from the core cleaning, performance tuning and privacy tools WinOptimizer 18 offers many other built-in tools to help manage and monitor you system. These tools, as with all of the other tools within WinOptimizer can be accessed via the “All Modules” dashboard, some of the more notable tools include:
This tool is useful for quickly gaining insight into your PC hardware specifications and the specifications of any attached peripherals.
The system benchmarking tool shows a brief overview of the PCs hardware configuration and allows a full system benchmark to be established. This can be especially useful when evaluating new hardware configurations.
The HDD Inspector tool allows you to easily see the health status of all attached hard drives including the drive statistics. You can also see the SMART self diagnostic figures for any system drives.
Context Menu Manager:
A useful tool for slimming down you context menus by removing unnecessary entries.
As well as removing junk, increasing disk space and improving PC performance, WinOptimizer 18 also helps boost the security of your PC. This is in the form of specialist tools providing file encryption, secure deletion and ADS (alternate data streams) configuration.
The ADS tool in particular is an interesting addition which checks for hidden information attached to files thus potentially helping to prevent malware.
Ashampoo have a great website and provide a comprehensive Q&A section which handles most problems you might encounter. Should you still need to get in touch with a support representative you can submit support tickets online.
Ashampoo WinOptimizer 18 is priced at $49.99. This is a perpetual licence which now covers up to 10 PCs making it exceptionally good value for families or anyone who works across multiple PCs.
Be sure to also check out Ashampoo’s deals page as they regularly have great deals across their entire range of software (including WinOptimizer 18). Click Here to find out more!
With WinOptimizer 18, Ashampoo continues to prove itself as a leading developer of PC cleaning and system maintenance utility software. Whilst this new version is nothing revolutionary in itself it does however build further on an already solid framework provided by the previous version.
One of the biggest improvements is to the suite of PC cleaning tools which have been updated fully to be as powerful as possible and take into account any new applications such as the Microsoft Edge browser. In addition to this upgrade the interface, menu and dashboards have all been overhauled making version 18 of this popular software even easier and more user friendly than ever before.
All in all a great piece of software which has just been made even better, great job Ashampoo!