Iolo System Mechanic backs up, repairs, and compacts the Windows Registry; protects against spyware; optimises startup files and system memory; and tweaks internet connection settings.
Iolo's System Mechanic, now in version 7.5, has been garnering positive reviews for ages - for good reason.
Iolo System Mechanic's two flavours, regular and Professional, offer Windows repair, tune-ups, and preventive security features that work well and keep a relatively low profile, providing the software equivalent of the "geeky friend" many users lack.
In its £29 inc VAT regular incarnation, System Mechanic 7.5 will back up, repair, and compact the Windows Registry; detect and remove many types of spyware; optimise your startup files and system memory; and tweak your internet connection settings for best performance.
In our tests the Registry and startup optimisations worked well, but our internet connection seemed no faster. (We did not test the spyware removal.)
Using Iolo System Mechanic's ActiveCare feature, you may schedule most of these functions, so you don't have to remember to invoke them yourself.
The Iolo System Mechanic Pro edition, which costs £10 more, adds secure data wiping, data recovery, a firewall, and antivirus protection, although we didn't test the latter two.
We found version 7.5 intuitive and a bit easier to use than previous installments of Iolo System Mechanic. Users who wish to know exactly what is being done and why won't be disappointed; Iolo System Mechanic also offers complete and extremely granular explanations of each action to come.
In fact, perusing System Mechanic's help file is an educational experience that might be worth the price of admission in and of itself.
Over the years, we've used System Mechanic mostly for recovering data and wiping hard drives, but the tune-up features have also worked well. That brings us to our only caveat about the non-pro version: much of what the tune-up portion of the program does is automate tasks that an advanced Windows user (or your geeky friend) will already know how to perform manually using built-in Windows utilities.
If you're not comfortable delving into Windows utilities the regular version of Iolo System Mechanic can easily pay for itself, helping you avoid forking over big bucks for a professional to clean up an aging, sluggish Windows installation. More-advanced users should spring for the Iolo System Mechanic Pro version to get their money's worth.