It's not surprising that Adobe's Acrobat and Reader are the top PDF tools, since Adobe invented PDFs, but if there's a factor driving the market for third-party PDF tools (other than cost, since Reader is free) it's the time it takes Adobe's big programs to load. What if Acrobat or Reader could load as fast as the lightweights? That's where PDF SpeedUp enters the race. It makes Acrobat and Reader load faster by disabling plug-ins, updates, splash screens, and other startup slowdowns. You can allow the plug-ins and features you want or enable them as you need them.
We tried PDF SpeedUp with a new, clean installation of Adobe Reader X. We opened and closed Reader several times to see how quickly it loaded. We have to admit, Reader launches fast from a solid-state drive (SSD) in Windows 7. We then started PDF SpeedUp. The program's setup screen selects all applicable options by default. We simply had to uncheck any feature we wanted the program to leave intact. A small window listed all our plug-ins.
Aside from small flags for choosing an interface language, PDF SpeedUp has only two buttons, Optimize and Restore. We clicked Optimize. PDF SpeedUp disabled Reader's browser integration, closing confirmation, plug-ins, and updates and prevented various other features from loading. A pop-up offered to open Reader. We clicked OK. Reader opened. Yes, it did seem quicker. Noticeably quicker. We closed Reader and reopened it. Several times. No doubt about it: PDF SpeedUp made Reader open more quickly, and the difference became more apparent after we restored Reader's full features. Reader worked normally with PDF SpeedUp.
As we said, we weren't exactly checking our e-mail while we waited for Reader to load, but PDF SpeedUp did what it was supposed to. On a slower, older system with many more plug-ins, it could make a much bigger difference. We didn't have a copy of Acrobat to try with PDF SpeedUp, but in our experience, Adobe's ponderous premium tools are especially cumbersome. And if PDF SpeedUp seems particularly designed for Acrobat, it was.