Iolo System Mechanic 8.0 is a tune-up program that aims to restore even the most poorly treated of PCs to good humour by fixing a battery of system problems and conflicts.

At its simplest level, Iolo System Mechanic 8.0's menu headings are clear and kept to a minimum, but should you want more power, a series of sub-menus lend easy access to the more advanced stuff.

The Tools section is one area of Iolo System Mechanic 8.0 users may want to check out in greater detail. From here you can run such features as the PC Accelerator and PC Repair to target specific areas. Perhaps more usefully, the Individual Tools let you defragment and optimise various aspects of your PC (from the startup process to memory and the hard drive).

With Iolo System Mechanic 8.0 you can clean out temporary internet files and cookies, fix Windows vulnerabilities, obtain a health report on your hard drive, or assess the speed of your internet connection.

Admittedly, most of these functions can already be performed in Windows should you have the necessary knowhow, but Iolo System Mechanic 8.0 makes it so easy to access them in one place.

Iolo System Mechanic 8.0's footprint is pleasingly light and the software also monitors your PC for usage. If the machine is on but you haven't used it for a while, ActiveCare automatically starts checking your system, searching for wasteful temporary files, registry and hard drive errors.

Even in full mode, Iolo System Mechanic 8.0 is fast, and it took less than two minutes to list several hundred errors on our two test PCs and fix them. While it didn't make a huge amount of difference to our Vista laptop, the XP PC did seem slightly faster and was relieved of a couple of irritating startup faults.

Iolo System Mechanic 8.0 also offers spyware controls, although we'd still recommend that you pair this application with a dedicated spyware program.

NEXT PAGE: images, system requirements and our expert verdict