In addition to the Checkup feature, PC Fixer also offers a Tuneup which culls your Registry of the various orphaned or otherwise invalid references that inevitably accumulate on a Windows machine after months or years of installing and uninstalling software and hardware.
PC Fixer found hundreds of such items on each of our three PCs, but though billed as a way to enhance performance and stability, the practical impact of this type of Registry cleaning is arguable since it rarely results in noticeable improvements in either area (and it didnt on any of our systems).
The software also includes a built-in disk defragmenting utility, and it gives you the ability to manually turn on or disable programs that are configured to start with Windows along with Internet Explorer Add-ons (though not Firefox extensions). All PC Fixer does here is consolidate features found various places in Windows, though having everything accessible from one place rather than buried all around the operating system is valuable for novices.
If your system suffers from a problem that PC Fixer can't find or fix, DST offers a live technical support option for a flat $19.99 fee per session. The company says its reps are equipped to deal with issues ranging from problems installing or configuring a piece of hardware or software to a virus or spyware infection.
You can initiate support through online chat or a toll-free phone call and, if necessary, the technician can set up remote access in order to view and control your system. You pay for a support session only by PayPal or Google Checkout ‑ the company doesnt accept credit cards directly.
We tried the live support option on an XP system with a stubborn malware infection that redirected Web searches. We requested support via chat, and upon paying the fee we received a link that let the support rep to view and access our system. As fate would have it, an attempt to restart our system in safe mode for further troubleshooting resulted in blue-screen error, and all further attempts to restart the system in any mode produced the same error, which precluded any further remote access.
Even though DST couldnt fix our malware problem, we still think its live support is worth trying for a couple of reasons. First, the company promises a full refund if a problem isnt resolved to your satisfaction ‑ you can request a refund through the PC Fixer software or through a link on the company Web site.
Second, the support rep we dealt with was not only courteous and professional, but also technically competent, something that cant always be said of technical support personnel these days. Finally, theres a certain appeal to being able to get support from a third party since it saves you from the uncertainty and potential finger-pointing of trying to figure out who to contact about a problem (Microsoft?, PC maker? software publisher?).
PC Fixer is by no means a panacea for anything that might ail a Windows system (were quite sure no such thing exists). But the software is free, and it's a useful diagnostic tool that may very well save you time and trouble of trolling the Web for information about a problem (just dont accept all the softwares suggestions as dogma). Furthermore, the live support option is worthwhile alternative to getting it from more traditional sources.
Pros: Scans Registry to identify and resolve system problems; live remote technical support available for flat $19.99 fee (with money-back guarantee)
Cons: Utility contains ads; some suggested fixes inadvisable
Joe Moran spent six years as an editor and analyst with Ziff-Davis Publishing and several more as a freelance product reviewer. He's also worked in technology public relations and as a corporate IT manager, and he's currently principal of Neighborhood Techs, a technology service firm in Naples, Fla. He holds several industry certifications, including Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA).
This article was first published on SmallBusinessComputing.com.