Iolo's System Mechanic Pro 8 can keep your system performing optimally, albeit at the expense of a fair amount of time to set up initially. It has a multitude of useful tools which take the legwork out of optimising Windows operating systems. However, having no other option but to use Iolo’s anti-virus package could be a step too far for many users.
Multitude of useful tools which take the legwork out of optimising Windows operating systems.
No support for 64-bit systems; third party security tools may need to be uninstalled.
$ 69.95 for one year subscription
Launched in August, version 8 of Iolo Technologies' System Mechanic Professional is an all-in-one system for giving clued-in users all they need to keep their Windows operating system secure and performing optimally.
New in this release are updated versions of Iolo's ActiveCare, DriveSense and its registry defragmentation and optimisation tool.
The first thing to note is that any third-party anti-virus (AV) systems will have to be uninstalled to run System Mechanic since it has its own AV package, and you cannot have both running simultaneously. So we had to uninstall our own AV package, Webroot’s AntiVirus with AntiSpyware & Firewall.
We installed the trial evaluation we downloaded from Iolo’s website, and installed it on both Windows XP Professional and Vista Ultimate.
The first screen users will see is an overview dashboard indicating the current health and security of the system with a dial.
The next step is to check what problems have been uncovered. Two options initially available are a quick scan and a deeper one. Choosing the quick scan took a couple of minutes and uncovered what System Mechanic said were six problems.
Firstly System Mechanic informed us that the AV system and client firewall were not running. So we turned them both on and proceeded with the next two items on the list, two Windows registry problems - some invalid references to shared dynamic link libraries; and 229MB of what it called file clutter but was in fact an un-emptied recycle bin and an un-flushed internet cache.
The other two problems identified were an un-optimised network connection and a low system memory warning.
If you need to undo any of the actions taken by System Mechanic, in the event that your system becomes unstable, the SafetyNet feature allows you to undo that specific action.
Next we decided to run a full system scan and see what System Mechanic uncovered. The full scan takes much longer than the quick scan, anything up to 15 times longer depending on the number and capacity of hard drives it has to scan.
The updated version of ActiveCare in System Mechanic 8 has a smarter engine, which Iolo says detects when users aren’t typing or using the mouse and uses system resources accordingly in the background until it detects such usage.
We could schedule ActiveCare to run every six hours, and customise it not to run at specific times, or if the system was a laptop running on battery power.
We could also stop ActiveCare from running if the CPU utilisation went above a user-definable figure – the default is set at 25 per cent. System Mechanic 8 also uses what Iolo call ZeroRAM technology, which needs less system resources than before.
The new version of DriveSense shows drive attributes taken from hard disk industry standard Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (Smart).
Smart takes data from onboard hard drive sensors installed by disk manufacturers, which DriveSense displays in real time through colour-coded gauges. For instance, checking the current status of our hard drive we could see 14 Smart parameters, including the current drive temperature, as well as seek, read and write error rates.
Another feature is an upgraded Search and Recover application, which has an enhanced DriveScrubber application with new options for cleaning files off hard drives.
For users who wish to clean drives to ensure they aren’t readable by standard search and recover tools, then this will suffice. But it may not stop people with access to dedicated hardware from being able to pull information off the drive.
System Mechanic works on several levels of user hardware expertise. There are easy to use one-click diagnostic and system correction wizards for less clued-in users, and individual tools which can be accessed by more IT-savvy users.
In conclusion, Iolo System Mechanic Pro 8 can help keep users’ Windows operating systems performing optimally, although the initial scan can take a fair amount of time.
What we think is a downside to System Mechanic is that it forces users who are probably used to their own AV system to use Iolo’s AV package. It would be much better to allow users the option of turning off Iolo’s package and allowing them to use a system they are used to.
System Mechanic 8 supports Windows 2000 and XP systems, but currently only 32-bit versions of Windows Vista. Iolo said that it is working on 64-bit versions for XP and Vista.