A Fresh and Free Approach to Windows Customization and Management

By Adam Stone | Posted June 02, 2006

There are things in life we just don't like doing. Fixing our own plumbing, for example. Even a leaky faucet scares us. But with the right set of wrenches, we're willing to try. If your leaky faucet is your PC, FreshDevices provides the right set of wrenches.

Its twin utilities Fresh Diagnose and Fresh UI can help locate problems, benchmark operating efficiency, customize an interface and enhance performance. Altogether, these free and effective tools can deliver a big boost on the way to better computer health.

Fresh Diagnose delivers analysis and benchmarking functionality across a broad landscape. It can chart an assortment of vital statistics on your CPU, hard disk or motherboard, as well as a wide array of other devices, including memory, display drivers, virtual devices and so on.

Feedback comes in the form of a detailed report on the health of all internal systems, from the video system to the keyboard and mouse to everything in between. You can run tests on processors, multimedia, memory, the CD ROM and your network. Fresh Diagnose also benchmarks system performance for comparison with other systems.

You do need to register with the manufacturer in order to get the benchmark function to work, and we may as well say it here: Some people complain loudly about this need for registration.

Registration is free but you have to do it within a few days of downloading. So what, really? There's no deluge of spyware, spam or adware to follow, and the software itself is entirely free. Yet freeware purists say this taints the spirit of sharing. On the common-sense test, however, we won't quibble with publishers who want to keep in touch with their customers.

We do have one small quibble with this helpful application, however. That would be the time zone diagnostic, which seems like too much of a good thing. We may not know how to fix a leaky faucet, but we're pretty confident about our time zone on any given day.

Just as with that troublesome faucet, diagnosis is only half the battle. There remains the job of tightening things up, greasing the washers, and getting the mechanism to function at peak performance.

That's where Fresh UI enters the picture, with its ability to tweak, fine-tune, and optimize dozens of Windows features. It works with most versions of Windows and offers a way to plumb the depths of your operating system, fine-tuning as you go.

Much like Microsoft's TweakUI, Fresh UI lets you customize the user interface or optimize system settings. The application will personalize Windows application settings, tweak hardware settings and allow for the control of the user environment with policies. It even lets you massage settings for Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.

The big plus here is ease of interaction. The interface is divided by category, making it easy to navigate between options. A simple system backup also offers a degree of comfort for people who may be tweaking in unfamiliar territory. This is deep stuff, after all — well beyond putting up new wallpaper.

Hint: Don't tweak in unfamiliar territory. Read up on the options before you start making system changes. User-friendly though it may be, Fresh UI is not for the novice. As one may well imagine, making changes deep within the bowels of your OS requires a certain level of sophistication, or at the very least a healthy dose of caution.

If our cautionary advice hasn't scared you off, then you're ready to enjoy a range of helpful customizations to your operating system. Fresh UI offers an easy means to determine which applications will launch at startup, for example. You can also can add new items to a right-click menu or customize mouse-button functions.

On the other hand: Why fix it if it's currently working just fine?

We are all in favor of productivity tools, and certainly diagnostics and benchmarking always are worthy endeavors. But some people massage a system that's running fine, just to make it run a little finer. To them we say: Twiddle with your operating system at your own peril. Sometimes good enough really is good enough.

Adapted from winplanet.com.

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