Performance is a strange term when referred to a PC or laptop. Most people think processing power; how fast the computer and particularly Windows performs specific tasks. It doesn't all rely on raw gigahertz though; keeping a clean, uncluttered system can improve overall speed significantly. PC Tools Performance Toolkit 2 is designed to keep house and achieve just that.

The main screen shows a rather over-crowded dashboard, with a ‘health meter' and a 1-Click Optimization button on the left, and various performance parameters on the right. It shows hard drive usage, Windows start-up times – though they bear little relation to the times we measured – and details of history and the PC Tools Performance Toolkit 2 subscription. See also: Does PC speed boost software work?

There are four other tabs in PC Tools Performance Toolkit 2, labelled Performance, Privacy, Recovery and Settings. Performance offers registry scanning and compaction, disk defragmentation and optimisation using pre-set profiles. The Privacy tab offers to remove Windows and browser history and permanently erase deleted files. Recovery hunts for lost or duplicate files and repairs some disk errors.

So what do you really get in the way of performance improvements? We tested PC Tools Performance Toolkit 2 in two ways: using the 1-Click Optimize button alone and then following up with manual additions, such as compacting the registry, switching from Balanced to Performance profiles and defragmenting the drive to optimise for start up.

The Performance profile trims out some parts of Windows itself, changing the physical appearance of the operating system's interface. We timed Windows start up and shut down and the time Avast! anti-virus took to perform a quick scan.

The main dashboard panel shows the steps it recommends after you've completed a 1-Click Optimize. On our system these were Clear Document History, Bleach Free Disk Space and Defragment System Drive. But no matter how many times we ran these, they remained stubbornly in the list.

The results of the Performance Toolkit's tuning weren't that convincing. The start up time didn't change after the 1-Click Optimisation and dropped by just nine percent after the extra tuning tasks. The shutdown time dropped by eight percent after the first optimisation, but there was no further change after the second, within the margin of timing error.

The anti-virus quick scan took seven percent less time, but also scanned fewer files and folders, so the overall scan rate increased by only 5 files/sec, from 68 files/sec to 73 files/sec. After the extra optimisations, it actually rose again, back to 68 files/sec. See also: What's the best PC optimisation software?

PC Tools also heralds its duplicate file removal, but this is a manual process. The program presents the duplicates and you decide which to consign to Windows' Recycle Bin.

On our test machine, it spotted 87 duplicate files, totalling 108MB, but since it matches them only by name, quite different files with the same names are flagged up.

You could spend a lot of time going through the list but, with typical hard drives running to hundreds, if not thousands of gigabytes, do you really need to keep such tight control of duplicates? Unless you regularly edit video, where file sizes can be substantial, a few extra copies is unlikely to be a problem. See all software downloads.

PC Tools Performance Toolkit 2: Specs

  • Windows XP/Vista/7, 32/64-bit
  • 1GB RAM (XP 128MB)
  • 500MB drive space
  • Windows XP/Vista/7, 32/64-bit
  • 1GB RAM (XP 128MB)
  • 500MB drive space


While the security improvements after you've run PC Tools Performance Toolkit may give comfort, and the repair facilities are useful, the performance improvements we measured were marginal. The company claims faster start-up and shutdown times, but we saw little difference. Duplicate file removal is hardly a must-have, with storage costs so low, so it's hard to see where the value comes from in this suite.