Magic Utilities offers seven functions: An uninstaller, a startup organiser, a process killer, disk cleaner, file shredder, file encrypter and easy access to built-in utilities. All do the basics well enough, a few have nice touches. Unfortunately, some of them are buggy as well.

For example, the Magic Utilities process killer at first seemed redundant with Windows's built-in Task Manager, but it has an option to let you see all of the modules (.exe, .dll, etc) that a process is using, which is a nice way to better understand what's happening in your system.

However, when I compared its list to Task Manager, I noticed it was missing some processes that it should have picked up. For example, it did not pick up "Notepad". I even quit it and restarted it, and Magic Utilities refused to list it as a process, though Task Manager did. Furthermore, it will only show processes from the current user, not "All Users," so you will miss some system processes.

The Disk Cleaner does a more thorough search of your hard drive for possible temporary or junk files than a lot of other programs, but it sweeps too broadly. It found, and wanted to delete, ".tmpl" (template) files, and there was no way to exclude those without excluding ".tmp" as well. I could just exclude the directory they were in, but that's a step a person shouldn't really have to take.

The help file did not describe the formatting used to set the filters, and if you're unfamiliar with Windows/DOS wildcard character in file names, as a lot of users are now that the command line is mostly a distant memory, the help file doesn't help.

Another unexpected, but useful, tool in Magic Utilities 2011 is the "Windows Utilities" function, which simply gives you access to a plethora of built-in Windows utilities, such as the Event Viewer and Dr. Watson. Since some of these are buried deep in a maze of twisty little control panel interfaces or can normally be invoked only from a command prompt, this is a pretty handy concept.

OUR VERDICT

These touches of "nifty," though welcome when I was expecting just another boilerplate suite, are not quite enough. The mostly unhelpful Help file and the interface quirkiness weigh against Magic Utilities. To justify a £25 price tag, it needs to either do a lot more, or do what it does with more options and features.