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Review of:
Wintility
 
by David Heinig, Alamo PC

Admittedly, I jumped at the chance to review Wintility based on the features I read on the box and interpreting the package as being a suite of programs. By that I mean, the uninstall feature was like Uninstaller 3.0, the back-up utility being a standalone program like a version of Cheyenne or other well known program, etc. 

What Wintiliy turned out to be is a comprehensive all-in-one data management program for your PC. That's not such a bad thing! An ability to manage the myriad of files and documents that tend to grow and accumulate on a hard drive can become a laborious task. Once over the shock and disappointment, I dug in and began my investigation of Wintility. 

 As has become my practice, I began my review with the box. I love to read propaganda and marketing information to see if that is indeed what I'll find on the inside. Wintility is quite a feature-filled program capable of cataloging, uninstalling, back up and archiving, find and searching, compress and uncompressing, to mention the headliners. 

 According to PX Technologies, each feature is able to: 

     
  • Catalog is a database that describes the way your programs and files are grouped or organized. This feature only creates lists information about where files and groups are presumably located. In other words, Wintility will keep a list of your programs, files and other data in it's database. It will provide a location directory tree structure where the data was when it found it. This is an interesting feature for those with removable media; the disk doesn't have to be in the drive for you to find out where the file is located.

  •  New programs installed can be categorized in three ways, automatically using a "descriptor", through a "snap shot" install or manually using the File menu, Create option. Wintility has a database of common program descriptors. If the program is a pretty common over-the-counter software package, the descriptor list will have a category for you to identify the program against. For example, my list has utility, productivity, Internet, etc. The nice thing about the descriptor install is the program being installed is cataloged automatically. Under may Internet group, Wintility registered FrontPage 97, MS Networking, Eudora, and Windows Messaging. 

     More user-manipulated methods are required if the program cannot identify the software being installed. The "snap shot" installation means Wintility will group the program files together into one very large grouping. Most of my programs that couldn't be identified by a descriptor were placed under the Miscellaneous group and Wintility put all the program files together. Here Wintility knew the program name but just lumped all the files together under one group icon and directory structure like, Citrix, Directx, etc. 

     Worse case scenario is the Create option where you, the user, have to provide the grouping identification and how the files are grouped together. Everything here is fully manual. 
     
     

  • Uninstall (this one will be short and sweet - when you trash it, its gone) — there are three ways to uninstall programs and files in Wintility, trash it, back it up first or archive it. The nice feature here is the ability of Wintility to keep files if they are identified against another group. In this case the file name will be deleted from the group in which the file was referenced, but be retained on the hard drive because it was mentioned in another group. Wintility uninstall will also delete any references to files in your startup group. Wintility is so good at this, it will even uninstall itself! (Nothing new, I know, but in this case it has better have had the feature — right?)

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  • Backup/Archive - My interpretation of these words may be different form yours, but I use an archive procedure to save data in another location that I don't use often, but may need quickly. A backup, on the other hand, is a process I use to save current data and files for safekeeping. These are files I use all the time or are new and will need. What I want to do here is make sure I have a copy should something go wrong with the one I'm using.

  •  Wintility has all the common features that a good backup program should have and allows the usual types of backups to be performed. These include, Full, Incremental, Differential and something called, "Full when modified." 

     Scheduling a backup is also pretty convenient and provides for, Day of the Week, Day of the Month, Month and None (don't control generations). A generation meaning the number of flexible disks to be used before disk repeat is initiated. 

     Find/Search — Once you have your groups put together, files backed-up to some media, its time to find the stuff from time to time for reuse. Wintility provides the capability to search and find data by file description or file name (no big surprise here); but you can also search for text inside of files. The search and find feature also works on compressed data. 
     
     

  • Compress/Decompress — This is a double-duty feature in that they will compress and decompress files on your media; they are also 100% PKZip compatible and can be used to for transmitting and unzipping after receipt. Wintility compresses the group catalog data along with the files when compressed as a group. This is a nice feature so files and programs don't have to be regrouped or torn apart.
Some other utility features available are: 
     
  • System Diagnostics - once application and user files are cataloged, this feature will tell the user if a file has been deleted, modified or is missing.

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  • Statistics - use this utility to track disk space use and availability.

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  • Check Startup Files - automatically checks the main startup group to ensure needed files are available.

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  • Find Duplicates - ensures you don't keep extra copies of files on your system. 
  • Temporary File Control - a file designated as "temporary" can be marked for automatic deletion.
So, that's the textbook definitions and discussions; how does it really work? I installed the utility on my PC at work. With al the stuff I use and install all the time, in addition to the files and documents I have everywhere, I figured this was the best place to put it through it's paces. 

 The installation process took about eight to ten minutes. The actual installation of program files was pretty quick; the automatic cataloging process the program conducted took most of the time. 

 I ended up with seven "descriptor" cataloged groups, all of which were very accurate. The obvious common everyday programs were cataloged and their respective pictorial icons accompanied the name of the program. By this I mean, Acrobat had it's little three-point swirl, Microsoft Office 97 had the puzzle-piece icon, and so on. Wintility didn't have a descriptor for programs like Inforad, the Air Touch Paging software, FCSearch, a database utility of grant sources, and Citrix Winframe Client. Each program was correctly grouped together, however and the associated files were also categorized with the program files. 

 All in all, the utility was very easy to use, just as advertised. I have a new PC at home and it'll be awhile before I can put it through it's paces there. So, I think I'll keep it a work and play with some more. I liked being able to group my web page files together and this will give me a chance to archive and logically remove files from my system. I've been reluctant to just start throwing a bunch of files onto disks ad hoping I had a logical grouping going on. Now I can do that with confidence. 

 The Wintility window looks just like the Windows Explorer or File Manager that made learning the software package easy to do. The toolbar comes nicely grouped right from the install. The icons are a bit bigger than normal, which is great for the eyes. There's lots of color used just about everywhere making it pleasant to view and gives the layout a welcome appearance. The ease of use made the program quick to learn and implement. It's utility is comprehensive without being bulky. Most programs today are getting very complex and are hard to learn; it seems to be a requirement that in order to be modern a program has to be hard to use and confusing; Wintility is a welcome change to the Office Suite syndrome. 

 The PX Technologies web site at www.wintility.com is informative yet simple. It is easy to get around in and information is grouped well. There's an upgrade area for the program itself and additional descriptors, as they become available. There are no new descriptors right now. I have one concern about the software upgrade process. The user is expected to download the entire program to get a fresh copy of the root executable file. The newer executable replaces the old one in the installed program. I have asked he web master to think about including one more downloadable address for just the executable rather than make someone go through a download of the entire program that takes more than two hours. 

 The manufacturer's suggested price for the program was disappointing. These guys want over $69.00 for the package! I hope they get "real" and sell it for around $49.00 where it belongs. Otherwise, I think people will be pushed away from a valuable product. The original manufacturer, PX Technologies, is used to creating programs for Fortune 100 firms; it's priced that way too! If they want us everyday folks to buy it too, they're going to have to make some price adjustment (hopefully they won't reduce the content along with it). 

To learn more about Wintility, contact the folks at PX Technologies, 1563 Solano Ave., Berkeley, CA 94707. 

 David Heinig is a member of the Information Technology Department for Avance Inc., here in San Antonio, as the Local Area Network Analyst and Administrator.