We’ve all seen them – those ads on nearly every software website that offer to clean your registry or speed up your downloads. Many of us have learned to ignore them. Occasionally, however, you come across such an application that actually does what it says. It really cleans the registry, and it really can help repair your system. Such a program is IObit Toolbox. It’s a general purpose repair package reminiscent of the old Norton Utilities. It’s useful, portable, works on several versions of Windows, and to top it off, it’s free.
Note: IObit Toolbox contains many applications. Many of them are small, simple tools that perform a single task. As such, those will be mostly ignored in this review in favor of the less common, or simply more interesting tools.
Getting IObit Toolbox
The beta version of Toolbox 2.0 (which will be described here) is surprisingly hard to find. Even the links on the official forum announcement point to the 1.0 stable version. So far, the best download link I’ve yet found for 2.0 is here at TechSpot.
It’s a portable application, so instead of an installer you’ll get a ZIP file with the application. Just extract the ZIP file normally and run Toolbox.exe to begin.
The Registry Cleaner is simple and thorough, but not without its flaws. For example, in the screenshot below, you can see that Toolbox assigns a Risk level to the threats it finds. What it doesn’t say is precisely what the risk is pertaining to. Is the threat itself high-risk, or the act of removing it? Since Toolbox automatically selected the low-risk items for action, that suggests the latter. Going to the Help menu was no use, since the menu item does not appear to be connected to any dialog (this seems to be true on both the Stable and Beta versions).
You might not think that IObit Uninstaller would be a particularly useful app, but you may be surprised. Along with the ability to select multiple items for removal, you can perform several more advanced tricks, like being able to open the Registry right to the entries for the selected application. If you’ve ever had a package stuck in limbo, not quite installed but not quite deleted, you’ll fall in love with the uninstaller.
Performance Optimization Options
I first tried the Smart RAM application. This tool says it will scan your system memory for unneeded blocks to free. There are two levels of optimization, the Smart Scan and Deep Scan. On my tests, the Smart Scan claimed to free approximately 200-300MB of memory. The Deep Scan acted somewhat differently, first ballooning the used RAM to 100% of physical before dropping about 500MB off the previous total. After a brief period of slowness immediately following the scan, my system tended to remain almost a gig below original RAM usage (while Smart RAM continues to run in the background).
The purpose of the Internet Booster is to tweak your system and browser settings to improve overall Internet speed. Some users may find this more beneficial than others. Users of OSes and browsers that are already heavily optimized for speed (like Windows 7 and Google Chrome) will get little benefit from this section.
The most notable tool in this section is WinFix. When run, it performs a surprisingly comprehensive scan of your Windows settings to see if there are any configuration problems it can address. This can be anything from restoring missing system files to putting a My Computer icon back on the desktop.
The only problem I’ve yet encountered with WinFix is that it does not seem to be fully Windows 7 aware. For example, WinFix repeatedly tells me that I have no working taskbar or desktop, though the system is fully functional. This is the Beta however, and this is precisely the type of issues a Beta release is intended to work out.
Unfortunately, there’s not much to say about the tools in this section. The Security Hole Scanner appears to be mainly a wrapper or front end for your normal Windows Update utility. To date, the scanner has yet to give a single result for my system, which is already set for auto updates from Microsoft.
Next up is the Process Manager, which is nearly identical in design and functionality to the existing Windows task manager. There are even a few situations in which Toolbox’s Process Manager actually lags behind the built-in version. In the Services pane, for example, Toolbox still shows svchost.exe for the bulk of services, while Win7 shows the proper names.
In this section you’ll find a few utilities for file and disk management. The one that most stands out is the Disk Explorer, which can scan your drive(s) and give you a report on disk usage. You can use it to see which files and folders on your disk are using up the most space.
The others tools in the Control section are a Cloned Files Scanner, System Information, and Empty Folder Scanner.
While there’s certainly room for improvement in some areas, IObit Toolbox is clearly an extremely useful and well designed software suite. The utilities are typically very well thought out and can really help automate or improve many common administration and repair options. I, for one, will be taking it with me next time my neighbor’s computer goes down.