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Monday, May 28, 2012

What the Soluto?

I saw a tweet from Dropbox recently about a service called Soluto that really piqued my curiosity. It appears to have been around since 2010, but this is the first I've ever heard about it. Read on to find out more about why I find this service intriguing.

Rather than bore you with a lengthy explanation of what this service is, check out the video below from Soluto that explains this better than I ever could:

I’ve been using the service now for a week and am impressed with it so far. As someone that has worked extensively in technical support, I don’t need to use Soluto and know the “hard” way to do everything Soluto is doing, but I still like it. It makes those speed tweaks much simpler to do and undo. The interface is simple, attractive, and it really saves me time to read Soluto’s quick descriptions of items that can be removed from the startup to speed boot time. In the example of Quicktime below, I already knew what it was, but if I hadn’t known and I didn’t have Soluto, I might have had to do some web searching to find out if it was safe to remove. Soluto makes this really easy and also makes it easy to reverse my decision and put something back in the startup.

Apps safe to remove from boot

Soluto is also useful for reminding me when supported apps need updating:

I found the little “Crash Angel” that popped up from my system tray signifying the death of an app to be very amusing. Take a look at Soluto’s FAQ on how this angel can be helpful and how they come up with their suggested solutions through crowd sourcing.

More information on the crash and the reasons why it may have happened were visible to me from the Soluto website:

While Soluto is somewhat useful for my own needs, an area that it seems to have high potential to shine is with helping other non-technical friends or family. It allows you silently update their PC and tweak settings, while still allowing them to rest easy knowing that you have no access to their personal files. I haven’t had much chance to do this yet, but I did prove on my wife's laptop that I could successfully remove items from the startup list and install the excellent media viewer VLC. I instructed Soluto to perform these actions when her laptop was off, and then saw that it had performed them silently in the background sometime after it was turned on (sorry, I didn’t watch to see exactly how long this took).

Soluto does have some caveats though. You can only support up to 5 PCs (including your own) for free before it gets costly at $6 per month, per PC. Soluto is Windows only, no Mac OS. It is also somewhat limited in what it can do. It cannot allow you to remotely control a PC or transfer files to it. For that, check out the excellent LogMeIn Free software. The selection of apps that can be installed appears fairly limited at this time. Take a look at some of the available apps below:

While not perfect, I still think Soluto is something that looks very promising and is worth checking out. Let me know what you think about it if you try it.