If you’re looking to give a lethargic PC a shot of new life by repairing its damaged registry, defragging its hard drive, or deleting junk files, there are plenty of tune-up utilities that can get the job done. The one thing all of them—including AVG TuneUp and Iolo System Mechanic, PCMag’s Editors’ Choices—have in common is that they use algorithms and secret sauces to whip PCs back into shape. Kromtech’s PCKeeper Live differs in that it also adds Microsoft-certified computer specialists who advise you on how to best improve your PC’s performance. PCKeeper Live’s novel approach to PC optimization and unique price structure makes the utility one to consider, even if it doesn’t quite deliver the same results as the aforementioned utilities.
PCKeeper Live, which is compatible with the Windows 10, 8, 7, and Vista operating systems, has the most flexible price structure I’ve seen in the tune-up utility space. If you want to use the utility very briefly, the six-month option (billed at $59.94 every half year) is the way to go. Kromtech also offers a one-year plan (billed at $95.88 annually), and a two-year option (billed every 24 months at $119). These prices are for one license, so the cost quickly stacks up if you need to tune up multiple PCs. That said, PCKeeper Live’s higher cost comes with unique tune-up features that you won’t find in competing products. I’ll touch on those in a bit.
By contrast, AVG TuneUp and Iolo System Mechanic, the big dogs in the space, have no license limitations. They also cost less, too. If you live in a multiple PC household, this combination of licensing freedom and lower costs can really go a long way to reducing your tune-up bill.
PCKeeper Live has a very basic, easy-to-navigate user interface that isn’t radically different from the competitions’ UIs. PCKeeper Live’s visual design is not as attractive as, say, Anvisoft Cloud System Booster‘s super-slick, panel-based interface, but it gets the job done.
In terms of features, PCKeeper Live has many of the expected tools that are commonplace in the tune-up space. For example, it includes Anti-Theft (software that logs a stolen PC’s location), Disk Cleaner (a tool that deletes junk files), Disk Shredder (which permanently deletes sensitive files), and Uninstaller (a tool that removes programs from your computer). These tools aren’t unique to the space, but don’t assume that makes them unimportant. Running the programs will improve your computer’s overall performance, as you’ll see.
PCKeeper Live also includes a malware removal tool. Though I didn’t review it, my colleague Neil Rubenking took a look at Kromtech PCKeeper Antivirus, a standalone product, and judged it to be mediocre.
Those features are quite useful, but PCKeeper Live has a system-improving tool that competing products lack: Find & Fix.
The Human Touch
Find & Fix gathers nonpersonal information about your PC and transmits the data to Kromtech’s technical squad. Once the information is received, Kromtech’s experts analyze the data and sends you a diagnostic report that lives in the Human Assistance area. Human Assistance is an an inbox in which the company’s Microsoft-certified specialists leave improvement notes after you’ve run PCKeeper Live. If you’re concerned about security, don’t worry. Find & Fix is optional. Agents don’t send you feedback unless you opt in.
I received a handful of useful tips less than 15 minutes after running a scan, including one that suggested that I “Remove Google Update from startup since it only consumes resources.” I could have manually executed many of the suggestions, but I opted to click the Fix Issue Automatically icon. Unfortunately, the Find & Fix tips are only available for a week after a scan, so you should read them as soon as possible.
Find & Fix reminds me of the community-based features in SlimCleaner Plus$29.97 at SlimWare, which help you determine the software that you should or should not uninstall from your PC. The big difference between the two is that Kromtech’s tips come courtesy of professionals who are well-versed in the Windows operating system, whereas SlimCleaner’s rely on crowdsourced information.
I tested PCKeeper Live’s ability to reinvigorate a PC by performing two tests—running the Geekbench system performance tool and measuring boot times—before and after running the Kromtech’s software. I ran each test three times and then averaged and compared the results.
Before the software tuned the system, the 2GHz Intel Core i7 X990 Style-Note notebook with 4GB of RAM and an 80GB Intel SSD drive achieved a 5,914 Geekbench score and booted in 50.3 seconds.
After I ran PCKeeper Live, system performance improved. The Geekbench score rose to 6,122—just a bit more than 200 points behind Anvisoft Cloud System Booster’s category-leading 6328 score. That’s about middle of the pack among apps I’ve tested. The test bed’s boot time, however, only decreased to 45.9 seconds, nearly 13 seconds slower than Ashampoo WinOptimizer‘s excellent 33.2-second mark. That’s the least improvement of any of the utilities I’ve tested. It’s still an improvement, however, and the Geekbench result is more important than the startup-time test. PCs just don’t require nearly as many restarts as they used to.
After running all my tests, I used the computer extensively to get a sense of how the app had changed the responsiveness of the machine. PCKeeper Live delivered a noticeable performance improvement. The entire operating system moved at a snappier pace, even with iTunes and Steam open.
A Low-Price Alternative
PCKeeper Live’s focus on human assistance makes it a tune-up utility that’s great for novice users, as the tips are communicated in everyday language. If you only have one PC to tune up, the flexible pricing scheme is pretty convenient, too—especially if you don’t like the idea of being locked into an annual subscription. The utility won’t clean your PC as well as our top picks, AVG TuneUp or Iolo System Mechanic, but considering its accessibility and wallet-friendliness, PCKeeper Live is still well worth checking out.