Utility suites tend to focus on a variety of standard tasks. Greatis Software's RegRun Security Suite 3.5 Standard Edition, on the other hand, supplies tools specifically designed to manage the executables that Windows runs upon start-up--many of which never show up in your Startup program group or your system tray. There's a lot going for the $19.95 RegRun Standard Edition, and its Start Control utility in particular provides useful access to behind-the-scenes operations that occur regularly in Windows. If RegRun provided documentation to match its best modules, we'd give the product a stronger recommendation. As it is, this suite is appropriate only for computer veterans who already understand all of the concepts involved. Beginners will do better with Norton SystemWorks.
You can download a standard 30-day trial version of RegRun Security Suite from Greatis Software's Web site as a 3.6MB executable file that installs to a directory of your choice. RegRun's main interface divides its tools into four separate sections: Startup, Security, Registry, and a catchall category called Utilities. In addition, the Options category simply duplicates many of the tools under Security without offering anything of its own.
After launching RegRun, we quickly discovered that the Web Update on the program's main menu wouldn't work until we downloaded a separate application from Greatis Software's download site. This standalone app checks for updates and installs them into its own directory. Unfortunately, the Web Update option in RegRun refused to acknowledge the update checker's presence until we actually used it for the first time. After that, RegRun's Web Update feature worked normally.
Several of RegRun's utilities consist only of tab selections.
RegRun's interface lists several features that are unavailable without an upgrade to RegRun Gold Edition. Click Bootlog or Startup Analyzer under the Startup options, Trojan Analyzer or Registry Tracer under the Security options, File Extension Manager or WinCleaner under Utilities, or any of the entries under Registry tools, and you get a dialog box stating, "This feature is available only in the $49.95 Gold edition." We think advertising in this fashion is frustrating and counterproductive.
RegRun's tools provide you with a way to control all of the executables running on your computer, both those that are obvious (those listed in Windows' Startup group and in the system tray) and those behind the scenes. Although you can find the same information in Windows' own hard-to-find System Configuration Utility, RegRun's Start Control tool, for example, offers many more features. For example, right-click an executable under Start Control in RegRun and select Explore Location from the menu options, and the utility launches a quick search for that executable with your default Registry-editing tool and displays the result. Right-click and select Sort Order, and you'll be able to direct the order in which your current start-up executables load. Right-click and select What's This? from the menu, and you'll see a dialog box containing information about that item's size, drive location, company of origin, and product version. Click Search in that box to launch a Web search (using your default search engine) for mentions of that executable--or search newsgroups and Microsoft's DLL archive and knowledge base. Compared to the Windows System Configuration Utility, which does not link to external sites, RegRun is in a class by itself.
Start Control, one of many utilities within RegRun, uses a traffic-light metaphor. Green means a particular start-up executable is running; yellow means it is currently bypassed; red means you can safely delete that executable from the Registry.
Either from within Start Control or from the main RegRun menu, you can launch a variety of additional tools, including the Startup Optimizer, which doesn't actually optimize but instead makes recommendations regarding each of your start-up executables, such as whether you need to run it. Each executable is labeled as Necessary, Optional, Unknown, Useless, or Dangerous (a Trojan horse), complete with the executable's name, program, current running status, product association, and manufacturer. Startup Optimizer's spreadsheet-like display allows you to sort by any of its fields, then delete, bypass, or add any executable to the run list at start-up or scan an executable using whatever antivirus program you have installed.
RegRun's Security tools focus on Trojan viruses that swap out legitimate executables on your computer. RegRun's Secure Start utility operates during booting before Windows loads and warns you if it encounters any changes during bootup within your Windows Registry and initialization files. Secure Start lets you halt Windows to examine any of these files, then accept or reject its proposed modifications.
The Startup Optimizer is an easy way to summarize which start-up executables are important to your system and what they contain.
In turn, RegRun's Watch Dog utility quietly monitors start-up programs while you work in Windows, advising you if any modifications are being made to key areas of your Registry and initialization files. File Protection, another utility, allows you to add files to a list of those that RegRun checks to prevent changes; again, you can accept or reject any changes as they occur. Infection Detector, another utility, doesn't scan for Trojan horses; instead, it employs a bait-and-switch technique that should attract Trojans with dummy files and fake Registry folders.
Given that RegRun's developer is located in Russia, it's understandable that RegRun doesn't provide telephone technical support. Unfortunately, the 21-page, printed QuickStart Guide that comes with RegRun doesn't make up for the loss. It answers 21 generalized questions about the suite only superficially. The in-product help system also suffers from awkward and sometimes incomprehensible English that's far too terse and doesn't walk average users through fairly complex concepts. (Do you understand what "System drivers is a low level of the start-up process" means?) Another example: RegRun merely lists several options under the help system page for Start Control's Registry tab, without any explanation about why and when you would want to apply them. Some help file pages also appear to be scrambled. The hotlink that should take you to Start Control takes you instead to a page about the Registry.
Some help links don't exist or lead to inaccurate pages.
Greatis Software, which makes RegRun, offers its QuickStart Guide as a download from its Web site. Oddly, the site's RegRun FAQ turns out to be an exact copy of the very same QuickStart Guide. An option to "Ask RegRun's experts online" goes to a bulletin board forum where you can find some useful answers. Finally, you can e-mail Greatis Software directly for tech support. Replies are relatively prompt--we've received answers within 48 hours--but language barriers make some of the answers difficult to understand.