iolo System Mechanic Free is a cut-down version of iolo's popular PC optimisation suite.

If you've ever used any of the PC speedup packages around then you'll already know what to expect here. So there's a Registry cleaner, for instance; a tool for locating and deleting junk files; a basic defrag module, Windows startup program checker, and so on.

This isn't just an identikit speedup suite, though - these tools are genuinely effective. When we pointed the program at a reasonably clean system and asked it to locate redundant files, for example, it uncovered 820MB; CCleaner could only locate 236MB.

There are also plenty of tools which aren't commonly available in this kind of suite. So there are modules to defragment your memory, back up and restore your Registry; locate and delete (or fix) broken shortcuts; securely erase confidential files; locate duplicate files; thoroughly uninstall applications; view system information; and take snapshots of your PC and display the difference between them, so for instance you can see the changes made to your PC by a program installation.

And just in case that sounds like too much work, System Mechanic also allows you to run several tools at once via its wizards. You might launch the PC Accelerator to run all its speedup functions, say, or use PC Cleanup to free up the maximum hard drive space. Or simply launching PC TotalCare will run all System Mechanic's functions with a click.

There's plenty on offer here, then, but of course the full version of System Mechanic has even more functionality: boot-time defragmentation, special software speedup options, an internet connection tweaker, a module to locate and install updated drivers, disaster recovery tools, the System Troubleshooter to fix common Windows problems, security tools, in-depth Windows startup optimisation, a Windows tweaking tool, and more. If that sounds more appealing then you can always download the System Mechanic trial as an alternative.

What's new in System Mechanic Free 17?

- New. Super Definitions searches even deeper to identify many effective new optimizations, identifying over 40,000 apps, tasks and services that could be running in the background without your knowledge and impacting your system.
- Enhanced. Startup Optimizer alerts you to more types of unwanted bloatware and unnecessary pre-launched apps and services, giving you even greater control over which non-critical items you want disabled or delayed during startup for a faster, more responsive PC.
- Enhanced. Performance Impact Data has been expanded to many more programs so you can better see which apps are taxing your system the most. iolo Labs benchmark testing reveals up to 90% improvement by eliminating unnecessary startup items.

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It's cut down a little, but iolo System Mechanic Free remains a powerful PC maintenance suite with more than enough functionality to make it stand out from the competition