Review: Clean your friends' messed-up computers with WinPatrolToGo | Download Product Review - CNET Download.com

Review: Clean your friends' messed-up computers with WinPatrolToGo

Clean and protect your Startup Menu and more with this flexible freeware.

WinPatrolToGo is the fully portable version of the same tool that keeps your PC running smoothly. Like WinPatrol, it's the freeware version of shareware, WinPatrol Plus. All versions of WinPatrol let you access and edit your PV's Startup programs, Services, Hidden Files, and IE helper objects, among other features. But it doesn't take much experience to access your Services or Startup Menu directly, you say, and that's true, except WinPatrol's family of tools does more, such as warning you when a program tries to set itself up in your Startup Menu, providing instant information about any entry, and even killing and removing unwanted items.

Clicking WinPatrolToGo's extracted program file opened its user interface, which is basically a tabbed properties sheet spruced up with colored icons. It's clean and easy to use, with a prominent "Help" button that opened a Web-based manual. The two most important things to know about WinPatrolToGo (and its family) are its main feature, the Startup Programs tool, and Scotty the Watch Dog, a mascot that appears when alerts are issued, such as when a program wants to start with Windows. When you first run WinPatrolToGo, Scotty scans your Startup Menu and displays the results, and then warns you of any changes. You can click on any item to get information about it, kill the task, and remove it from the list. WinPatrolToGo's other tools have similar powers, so use them with care.

Scotty sniffed out no problems in our Startup Menu, Services, or Hidden Files, which is what we expected. If your system is clean, WinPatrolToGo helps you keep it that way (though for daily use, the installed WinPatrol is a better choice). It's when you need the "ToGo" part that WinPatrolToGo really shines. Light and fast, it can quickly reveal the likely cause of a wide range of issues that regularly plague inexperienced users; everything from masses of unwanted toolbars to malware and viruses. While we recommend experience when using WinPatrolToGo, careful beginners should be OK. If you do your own PC maintenance, or, better yet, everyone else's, WinPatrolToGo makes a great addition to your USB toolkit.

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