System optimizers are somehow like chocolate - there are so many brands and flavors out there, that trying them all is an extremely difficult task. On the other hand, each time you get to know a new product, you should get some satisfaction...usually. I am not crazy about chocolate, I'd rather eat some fruits and keep my teeth healthy, but when it comes to system optimizers, I like to check everything that comes out.
Today's topic is called XP Smoker Pro and comes as a 50 runs/7 day's trial version, but all features are enabled, as far as I was able to notice. The program has reached its fifth version already and now has done the first step towards its sixth one, the current version number being 5.1.
The installation kit is a little over 4MB in size and the setup process should be easy for everybody to complete. Each time you will start the program, you will be notified about the remaining free trial runs and you will also have the opportunity to register your copy. Enough with these, let's get started!
XP Smoker has a nice interface, organized like most programs of its kind - the left panel with six menus, and the main workspace. Now I'll start pointing out most important tools available in this program, since the interface is just the way it should be - nicely done and easy to use, and I don't have anything else to add about it.
First menu is called Tweaks and has eleven available tools. The first one of them is that tool that I'd like to see available in every system optimizer out there, in order to make beginner's approach to this software family easier. Here, this tool is called Auto Tuner, in other programs it can be named One-Click Optimization, Automatic Tuning and so on, but its goal is the same - to provide easy and powerful tweaking for people who don't want to know everything that's happening during this process, but want to see only the results.
Next, we have two Performance areas. The first one allows you to set options concerning the File System, Memory, Time Outs and few more, while the second Performance area allows you to perform one-click game optimization by stopping services not required when playing games. In the Performance II zone you can also enable your boot up speed and enable processor check routine.
Three down, eight more to go. The Startup Manager, Services, Internet Explorer and Internet Optimizer are used to tweak the items found in their names, and using them is very easy. If you get stuck with the Services, try to hit the Query Running Processes first!
The Shell Tweaks tool lets you stop Windows Update services and disable Performance Counters to free up additional system resources, and it doesn't stop here. IE's Toolbars can be restored to their default layout with a single click, and the Search History can be cleared the same way.
The last interesting feature that can be found in the Tweaks area is called IE Spy Ads. This is a registry patch that adds a long list of advertisers, marketers and crapware pushers to the Restricted Sites zone, stopping them from installing unwanted programs or hijacking your default home page setting.
The next menu takes care of another task that must be performed in order to have a computer running the way it should: Maintenance. There are only eight areas available here, and I'll take care of the most interesting ones right away.
The Disk Usage and Disk Cleaner take care
of reporting the way your disk space is used by individual folders and cleaning junk files. Unfortunately, the first one doesn't have a nice graphical display, using only a tree view instead.
Next two areas allow you to fix obsolete registry entries about shared DLL files and application paths. You don't have to worry about what you have to do, you only have two concerns: to seek and to destroy the problems. I am sure you will find your way!
The Shell Browser gives you quick and easy access to various system directories, while the Control Center does the same thing with some of the Windows utilities that you may not know about yet, starting with the Registry Editor and ending with the Group Policy Editor.
The System Information tool is a basic one, and I don't have anything special to say about it, but the Toolbox has some interesting features in it. For example, you can add SuperFast Shutdown icons to your desktop for fast shutdowns, remove Windows annoyances such as Error Reporting or Tour Windows XP and more.
Last menu that is rich in terms of available options is named Security. The six tools to be found here begin with the Start Menu and finish with the Firewall options. Each of the available areas has a lot of options, and using them is very easy, even if you are new in this field. If you don't know what may happen if you check a certain button, just hover your mouse for a while over it and you'll get a helpful tooltip.
Last three menus that can be found in XP Smoker allow you to set a password for using this program (I bet you wouldn't like it at all to have your kids fooling around with it!), create system restore points and find out more about the program.
This was my ride and I can assure you I enjoyed it, now it's your turn. Have fun and use XP Smoker Pro wisely!The Good
This program is how all good tweakers should be - light, easy to use and powerful. The trial offered by its producer should be enough for everybody, and the tool tips combined with the fair help file can take you from beginner to expert in no time!The Bad
In the future I expect more from some of this program's features, such as Disk Usage and System Information. Apart from these, there's still enough room to fill with new tools, like an uninstaller or font manager, and the interface can be slightly improved. The last thing that I don't like at all is the price, since I have seen programs that look like the Titanic next to a boat when compared to XP Smoker and having a similar price tag! The Truth
XP Smoker is a good application that could become much more popular if the price would be lowered a little and have more features added. Until then, you can take your time and check the trial version, it won't disappoint you at all, I can bet on it!Here are some snapshots of the application in action: