We’ve all seen the those incredibly cheesy, late night commercials where people have a computer that’s “running slow”. By “running slow” the commentator really means that they have a computer that’s turned around backwards and and not plugged in and obviously  the screen image is nothing more than terrible looking post-production. Somehow, all of these late night spots came across the late and once great G4 (we’re not going to comment anymore on that station) By some nonsensical hocus-pocus, they act like there’s a magic site you can go to that will turn a 5 year old computer into a brand new state of the art machine. As much as we think that isn’t true and can’t possibly happen, what if it could? Iolo thinks that it can and have a program that they claim can do it called System Mechanic.

SM11 boxshot front 300dpi

System Mechanic (SM) is a application made by Iolo that fully tunes your computer for optimal performance by cleaning out unwanted files, stopping unnecessary programs from launching at start up and cleaning up registry files. That’s just the tip pf the iceberg and it can do all of this automatically.

Setup is a breeze as SM comes in both disc based format and digital download. We tested the download version on our test system  (Windows 8 pro, Core i7, 32GB RAM, 120GB SSD) The system we used was relatively new with the Windows 8 install coming only about a month ago. Still we were curious to see how this program would fare seeing as our usual remedy for sluggish performance is a good, old-fashioned OS wipe and reinstall.

For the record, SM runs on just about any Windows-based machine. If you’re running something earlier than XP, and have very specific reasons for doing so, system troubles should be the last thing you should worry about.

Upon launching SM for the first time, you’re greeted with a screen that gives you a few tips about what the program can do in laymens terms. Not much info is very useful if you’re any kind of power-user. For people of less computer-oriented inclinations, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a read at least once. After that, you’re taken to the main screen of System Mechanic.

SM11 screenshot PowerTools
Not exactly the home screen, but here you’ll find all of the major tool boxes for SM11.

Once here, users are greeted with the dashboard that shows a number of options. The largest and easiest to spot is the big speedometer gauge. It reads the general system health, security and a combination of the two is called Overall. The entire gauge will be dark as the system needs to be scanned before the program can become useful. Running the scan can either be done as a quick or deep scan. It’s very similar to doing a quick or full drive format, except nowhere near as time consuming. The deep scan, which it says can anywhere from 5-7 minutes, was done in under 3 for us.

While simplistic in it’s approach to gauge how the system is doing, it’s incredibly motivating. After our initial run, we were given an orange rating. Needless to say, we’ weren’t exactly thrilled about that. Seeing anything other than all green bars lit prompted us to quickly investigate what exactly was going on.

What we did find wasn’t exactly alarming, but nonetheless reassuring that the program is looking into many things that average users might not worry about. There were about 12 programs on start-up whose usefulness could be called into question. Along with a few hundred megs worth of unnecessary temp files eating up disc space and a good number of registry files that could take a trip to the garbage bin.

We appreciate that fact that on most “problems” we’re given the option to go in to view and choose which error System Mechanic nukes before it actually does so. Also, on the start-up programs, not only are we given names and a rough assessment on performance impact, but also a quick and very precise description ( in laymen’s terms) of what the program does.

There are other things that SM will also look into, like internet security as well, checking to make sure the computer has some sort of anti-virus and firewall in place. These should be easy checks as anyone running Windows 7 or 8 should have the built-in firewall and anti-virus, Windows Firewall and Windows Defender respectively, turned on from the first time the system is booted up.

There are a few other functions that System Mechanic has that make it a great tool for users wanting to keep there machine in check.

ActiveCare – Exactly what it sounds like. System Mechanic will take care of any problem it can before it becomes serious without any prompting. Think of it as cruise control for a smooth running system.

AcceleWrite – For hard drives in the system. This feature will keep the drives healthier by “minimizing the random writing of file data”. Fewer bit of data written to drives means fewer reasons for the drive to die.

Energy Booster – This feature turns off unwanted services running in the background. By doing so, RAM is freed up and less power is used letting a laptop battery last longer.

SM11 screenshot AcceleWrite
There’s also a SSD Accelerator which is supposed to “streamline and optimize” you SSD. We didn’t mention it as a feature since we felt that AcceleWrite was already handling this. SM also comes with Windows 8 integration, but we’re ready to pass on using this at full screen. The regular size app window in plenty for us and those with smaller screens.

At the end of the day, iolo System Mechanic is a solid piece of software that we can seeing helping many people with their computer woes. This could  make the lives of all of those family tech gurus out there a bit easier. Set it up for the parents, put it on Active Care, and relax.

The price point for System Mechanic doesn’t hurt either. As of writing, iolo has it priced at $39.99 on sale (reg $49.99, To some that might seem a bit much, but we’ve seen it in brick and mortar stores for as low as $10. Shopping around works wonders.


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