How To Make Your Computer Like New Again
We tested Xtra-PC to understand how it really works
Review of: Xtra-PC
Use: Fix old dead or slow computers
Really well packed. You get everything you need, as long as you don't want to run very specific software. Since it's based on Linux, it's practically Virus Proof.
Ease of use
As easy as drinking a glass of water. Just follow 3 easy steps and your computer will be working again in less than 10 minutes.
Great value for money. If you're geek enough, you can make your own and save some bucks, but the effort doesn't really pay off.
Some delays, but on average.
Summary: Xtra-PC is a small USB device that you plug into an old, slow or dead computer (Windows or Mac) to give it new life. Basically, it’s a custom operating system, based on the proven foundation of Linux, that runs directly from the Xtra-PC USB device, and it even works on computers with a missing or crashed hard drive.
Xtra-PC is for us the best way to bring back to life your old slow or dead computer, and that's why we've decided to write this review and let you understand how it really works.
We Don't Like
From $34.99 (30% Off Retail Price)
Your PC behaving strangely? Is it very slow? Does it crash very often? Doesn’t it boot at all?
Well, these are common problems, that everybody have met in their life - to be honest, I’ve got these problems several times - and this comes from several reasons, but the first is: tech devices ages very fast.
In an Independent Survey, 96.04% of interviewed said computer’s life became too short, so PC producers can make more money, and this is indeed true.
Recently the Silicon Valley Giants admitted:
New operating systems are developed to slow down your devices and make their ageing run smoother.
In a perfect life, we should change our computer every 2, maximum 3 years, in order to stay up-to-date with the latest operating systems but, can you afford to change all the computers of your family every 2-3 years?
I can think and afford to have my machine always up-to-date (I’ve to work with it), but not all the other computers of my family. I would love to get my kids’ PCs up-to-date as well, and give them the possibility to play, study and surf the web, with a fast and reliable machine, don’t you?
Being in the tech world for a while, I've personally learnt that, good computer repair shops, normally spend hours, analysing the whole operating system, getting rid of all the useless stuff, tuning here and there, and at the end manage to get the machine working a little better, but still not in a decent way. This because today’s operating systems are too heavy for old machines.
The problem aren't the computers, but the operating systems, because our old computers could still run in a decent way, if Microsoft and Apple, didn't stop to support old operating systems, like Windows XP or Mac OS 9.
Which Is the Solution?
It's hard to accept, but there's really nothing we can do to get our old tired computers running in a decent way, unless we're geek enough to erase the whole hard disk of our machines and install a brand new Linux operating system from scratch.
Now, you'll be probably asking, why Linux? Because Linux is a very lightweight operating system, that can practically run on any computer, it's very fast and reliable, and it's also open-source ..... in other words you don't have to pay for it.
Linux is the solution, but unfortunately only a few of us, are skilled enough to install it properly on our machines, so we've only two options: bring them to a computer repair shop and ask to get Linux installed, and this will cost us about $200, or look for alternative solutions.
We've decided to go for the latter, and test Xtra-PC to see what it can really do for our old slow computers.
Who Xtra-PC Is For?
If you are tired to wait for your computer to catch up, Xtra-PC is the perfect solution. You won't be able to compete with a sparkling new Mac or Windows 10 machine, but your old computer will definitely start working again, most probably (at least in our case) faster than when it was brand new.
Xtra-PC is the right answer, also for those looking for a way to breath new life into their old computer that's just collecting dust. You will be able to get them working again and do all your usual tasks. It's a great opportunity to have spare computers ready to go, so your kids will stop hogging yours.
What Is Xtra-PC?
As we said, Xtra-PC is a small USB device that you plug into an old, slow or dead computer (Windows or Mac) to give it new life. Basically, it’s a custom operating system, based on the proven foundation of Linux, that runs directly from the Xtra-PC USB device.
In simple words, Xtra-PC is a custom version of the Linux operating system, loaded on a USB thumb, so it can run even if your computer is totally dead.
Linux is known amongst geeks for being rock-solid, considerably faster, and far less vulnerable to viruses than Windows. Linux squeezes extra performances out of older processors, and this is where the Xtra-PC guys came into the game.
They've got the idea to create a fully customized Linux operating system and load it on a USB device, allowing everybody to run it and get great performances even from very old computers. Any computer made in 2004 or newer will be able to run Xtra-PC.
How Does It Works?
The setup process is pretty straight forward, and clearly described in the instructions that come with Xtra-PC.
On first boot, Xtra-PC walked me through an easy one-time setup process, during with it automatically installed the correct drivers and software to run all my hardware correctly (CD or DVD-ROM, display, webcam, etc.), including my wireless internet adapter and all other stuff. Initial setup took about 7 mins from start to finish, but this will vary from machine to machine.
Xtra-PC claims that you can get a huge boost in performances, therefore once completed the one-time setup process, we shut down the computer, and compared the boot time of the original Windows operating system with Xtra-PC.
As you can see, the results have been pretty impressive.
There are no doubts, that Xtra-PC loads way faster (almost 10 times faster) than the original Windows operating system, but this isn't all. We tested Xtra-PC with all the usual tasks.
Xtra-PC performed very well, across all the tasks, proving the operating system has been configured aiming to maximum speed, and packed in the proper way, so the user doesn't need to lose time looking to install any further software. The only missing software we would love to see already loaded is Skype, but you can easily install it as you normally do on your Windows or Mac.
Xtra-PC comes in 3 different configurations:
- Turbo 16 with 16 GB storage
- Turbo 32 with 32 GB storage
- Pro with 64 GB storage
All of them are packed with the same software except for the Pro that has also a file rescue software.
In our test we didn't notice any big difference except for the speed that's faster on the Turbo 32 and Pro versions.
We have finally tested the free file rescue software that comes with Xtra-PC Pro, trying to recover files from a corrupted hard disk. We did manage to recover 27 file out of 29, so we can say the rescue software works pretty well.
Here below you can see Extra-PC in action.
The User Experience With Xtra-PC.
Extra-PC does really a great job on the performance side, that's one of the main aspect users are looking for, as well as giving to the user all the needed software, but how average users (not tech-savvy) will approach the Extra-PC operating system?
To answer this question, we had our grandparents and kids, use Xtra-PC for one day, and then listen to their comments. To be honest, considering the fact they belong to two generations of age, we were expecting very different feedback, but even if for different reasons, the result was pretty much the same. Take a look here below.
Did you get problems with the user interface?
What do you think about the ease of use?
What do you think about the speed?
Did you find something missing?
Despite the age difference, both grandparents and kids, didn't meet any real problem, with the kids even able to install Skype right away.
Testing a tool, a gadget, a gear or a software, at the beginning and end of the users' age group, is the best way to understand if the product has been engineered in the correct way, and in this case Xtra-PC seems to do well, or at least the learning curve is pretty fast.
What People Think Of Xtra-PC?
Our colleague Dave at lifehacker.com did a very clear review, going straight to the point.
I tried it on a few different XP-era computers and didn't need any drivers. Even wireless and Ethernet worked perfectly. Xtra-PC includes links for Facebook, Minecraft, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix, and optimizes Chromium with the correct plug-ins. Other web-based products like Google Docs work just like you'd expect with any other OS. You could do this yourself, of course, but for $35, Xtra-PC does it for you and provides support - perfect for non-technical people who need an extra computer that's less likely to get viruses.
Searching the web, we found many positive reviews, and as normal some negative too. Reading them, we learnt that negative reviews normally come from user that didn't really understand what Xtra-PC is, and what it does. Here below a few of them.
There are a few negative reviews on this product, one of which suggests that user didn't understand how to use it. In order to run this, you must get your computer to boot from the device, as per included instructions. Once I did, it works like a charm. My old notebook computer came to life and I am able to use it to surf the Internet and download open source software, such as OpenOffice. That said, I don't use the unit very much, since I had to purchase a MacBook for use in my work. But, for me at least, it works just as advertised.
B. H. Larsen
Okay, I do NOT use this to make my PC faster. It would do that, and it does work. I use it as a rescue tool. I can boot into a system, resolve issues, capture files, delete items. On a system that will not boot from an op system error this thing is one of the best tools I have.
I listen to folks say it is a rip off because everything on it is free, or open source. Yes it is. But my time is valuable to me. Sure I could build one, but why should I? These guys took the time to put together a great tool that works really well.
It works as advertised. It has saved my customers from costly bills for file recovery. I have two of them, I have given some away to other tech friends. They all appreciate it, and use it.
This is a great little tool, the price is okay. I would recommend it to anyone who needs what it can provide.
Which Are the Alternatives?
To be honest we couldn't really find valid alternatives to Xtra-PC. We found only the Ubuntu Linux 14.04 Bootable 8 GB USB Flash Drive, but it isn't even comparable with Xtra-PC, because it's a bare bones Ubuntu Linux operating system on a USB thumb, without any software on it. The basic Xtra-PC is 16 GB and comes with all the software installed.
Considering that Linux is a free open-source operating system, at the end the only real alternative, is to make your own "Xtra-PC", but unless you're very tech-savvy, it's gonna be time-consuming with the risk to fail and than have to bring your PC to a computer repair shop.
Xtra-PC starting price is $34.99, so we don't think is even worth to try.
Xtra-PC is practically a whole computer in a USB drive, that's only missing the hardware.
You can personalize and store on it your own files, games, pictures, music, etc., then carry it in a pocket.
Where ever you go, a computer with a USB port is most likely available.
Put your USB stick in, boot the computer, and you're ready to go, everything you need will be there, including your favorite browser bookmarks.
Does it works with all the computer?
Xtra-PC works on all the computers made starting from 2004
Do I need any specific knowledge to use it?
No, once you've done the initial one-time setup process, you go easy-peasy.
Can I use Xtra-PC with more than one computer?
Yes, you can use it with as many computers as you want.
What is going to happen to all my files stored on the computer hard-drive?
Absolutely nothing. Xtra-PC doesn't modify any of your files. You can leave them on the original hard-drive or move what you want on Xtra-PC. They will be accessible in either way.
Ease of use
As I said there aren't valid alternatives to Xtra-PC, unless you're tech-savvy, know Linux and make your own.
Xtra-PC is definitely a great solution if you're looking for a way to breath new life (a fast one) into your old slow computer, and it's a great opportunity to have spare computers ready to go.
It's worth also take into consideration, that Linux is a rock-solid operating system, almost 100% virus proof.
The ease of use and the installed software, make it, a really good bargain for what you get.
If you're not sure yet, you can also give it a shot for 30 days and if it isn't the right thing for you, send it back for a full refund (be sure to do it within 30 days).
Just click on the link bellow to get Xtra-PC.