Iolo System Mechanic 10 Review

by Reads (21,257)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 8
      • Performance
      • 7
      • Total Score:
      • 7.50
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

  • Effectively cleans junk files
  • Can run automatically
  • Receives program updates
  • Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only worth it in certain instances

By Charles P. Jefferies

You don’t need to buy a new computer to get better performance; for $50, iolo’s System Mechanic 10 claims to improve responsiveness and clean out junk. We take a look in this review. 

Product Overview

System Mechanic 10 is an MSRP $49.95/year subscription-based software that covers all the computers in your house, which is unusual since most competitors limit you to a set number of PC installs; additional years are $19.95-$29.95. It offers the following (quoted from the product website):

  • Performance enhancement:
  • Fix registry errors
  • Improve Windows start-up time
  • Computer cleaning:
  • Get rid of junk files
  • Identifies unused programs
  • Free up hard drive space
  • Fix problems:
  • Registry repairer
  • Finds hard drive errors

Several new features were added to System Mechanic for 2011 (quoted from the product website):

  • Program Accelerator: defragments programs to make them run faster
  • CRUDD Remover: helps identify and eliminate duplicate/conflicting programs on your system
  • Internet Connection Repair: detects bad Internet connections and repairs them

Something interesting about this software is the “Tune-up Definitions”, which is essentially why this is a subscription-based service and not a one-time purchase. The weekly tune-up definitions automatically update the software to improve its diagnosis and repair capabilities.

Overall, System Mechanic 10 includes a plethora of functionality designed to cover your computer from top to bottom. Let’s see how well it works.

Test System Setup

Our test system is a HP Pavilion dv5t notebook with a Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB 7200RPM Seagate hard drive, and Windows 7 64-bit.

Installation and First Use

System Mechanic 10 is an 18MB download and takes just a few minutes to install. The software takes 5-10 minutes to analyze your system once installed; my laptop, which has a good amount of junk on it, was given a “Fair” rating:

Main interface in Iolo System Mechanic 2011 Problem list in Iolo System Mechanic 2011

The “Repair All” option was too tempting:

Before I gave the program the OK to perform all recommended actions, I tried to check out what the exact problems were. It let me go to a wizard (below left) that broke down the actions it wanted to perform, however I could not drill down to the actual items it wanted to delete — I would have been satisfied if it at least gave me the drive paths of the problematic files:

Repair wizard in Iolo System Mechanic 2011Problem description in Iolo System Mechanic 2011

I also found the descriptions of other “problems” lacking; for example, regarding my Internet connection (above right).

I would be interested to know the nature of the tweaks it applies; at it stands, the descriptions implies that it’s “magic”. I am one of those in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” crowd; there was nothing wrong with my Internet connection so I was hesitant to do it without knowing more details. I did it anyway and was mildly surprised at the results. Comparing two computers side-by-side on the same Internet connection, the one with System Mechanic loaded pages noticeably faster (1-2 seconds vs. 2.5-3 seconds); not hugely so, but the difference was there.

I performed all the other recommended fixes as well, including the registry and system clutter cleanup. It freed up a small amount of disk space but other than that, I did not notice any real impact on my system’s performance or responsiveness.

I ran PCMark05, a system benchmarking suite, before and after I applied the System Mechanic tweaks and notice little difference; the before performance was actually slightly higher:

Benchmarks before installing Iolo System Mechanic 2011Benchmarks after installing Iolo System Mechanic 2011

I also timed my Windows start-up time from the time the “Starting Windows” appeared to the time my desktop showed up; before System Mechanic I recorded 28.5 seconds; after I recorded a slightly longer 32.5 seconds. Again, there is not much of a difference; there is a better chance those with older and slower computers will notice a more positive difference, though.

Ease of Use

PC Total Care in Iolo System Mechanic 2011System Mechanic 10 is without a doubt easy to use; the initial Dashboard screen is all most people will look at since that has the “Repair All” button. Those wanting to use the tools individually can go to the Toolbox section and use one of the four all-in-one tools or the arsenal of individual tools:

In my experience you are better off just using the Repair All button on the dashboard or using one of the four all-in-one tools:

System Mechanic has a feature called “Active Care”; this allows users to enable the program to run tasks automatically in the background. This is an important feature; I would have been disappointed if it was not included. The people that this product is marketed to are likely not going to open this software and run it every week.

Conclusion

System Mechanic 10 is functionally competent — that is, it does help clean your system and generally reduce clutter. Running all of the recommended fixes on my test system did not cause any issues, even the registry cleaner (which can be dangerous; fortunately, this software is careful).

Scientifically speaking, it is almost impossible to quantify the results of installing tune-up software like System Mechanic; the results will depend entirely on the system it’s installed on. Is it worth $50/year? For power users and enthusiasts who tend to care a bit more about how their system runs, absolutely not; this product clearly is not marketed towards that crowd. I also wouldn’t recommend buying it for a newer computer with Windows 7, which does a decent job managing system performance on its own. This product would make the most sense for people like your Aunt Sue, who use an older computer and aren’t the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to using a PC; a System Mechanic subscription in that instance has a chance of reducing those “what is wrong with my computer” calls (which always come at the worst possible time). System Mechanic is rather intelligent, especially since it is able to update itself, and can be set to run 100% automatically in the background.

Pros:

  • Effectively cleans junk files
  • Tons of included utilities
  • Can run automatically
  • Receives program updates

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Only worth it in certain instances


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