We were impressed by System Mechanic's effectiveness in streamlining and optimising our test machine, and would definitely recommend it for those who don't have the time or inclination to carry out these tasks manually. Its potential to extend the life of a computer means it could work out as excellent value for money when upgrade costs are taken into account, and businesses in this position should give this alternative careful consideration.
Wide range of tools; very easy to use; noticeable performance improvements.
Performance boosts subject to system specification and current state of a computer; little information provided on proposed fixes.
Between £9 and £11 per machine for business use
CD or DVD drive (for CD installation), 256MB of RAM, 25MB of available hard disk space, Internet Explorer 6.0 or later, 64/32-bit Windows 7/Vista/XP
We've all experienced the scenario before: a computer is getting a bit long in the tooth and becomes sluggish, less responsive and seemingly cluttered full of processes and applications that are far from essential to the smooth running of your operating system.
Opting for a complete hardware upgrade in this situation is fairly common, and certainly in a business environment could involve considerable expense. So can a suite of tools such as System Mechanic breathe new life into a flagging machine and at least delay the inevitable?
We tested the new System Mechanic 9.5, which includes a number of upgrades and additions. Windows 7 users can benefit from an integrated Jump List to provide information on system status and performance, and a Health Status gadget offers real-time reports on heath, security and other issues.
An EnergyBooster tool, meanwhile, frees up system memory and CPU resources by turning off unused background processes, and there's now an incinerator for the Recycle Bin to permanently delete files to 5220-22M Department of Defence compliance.
In addition, a Registry Revitaliser combines all registry maintenance tools into one handy package, and the new Tune-Up Definitions retrieves updates to enhance performance gathered from data anaylsis of trends from millions of computers globally. Many of the existing tools have also been enhanced to improve performance and ensure full compatibility with Windows 7.
These additions should sit quite nicely with the already extensive collection, which is presented in a very clear interface that shows current system status and allows users to 'Repair All' or view the current reported issues and opt to handle them individually.
The range of tools available are too numerous to list here, but suffice to say that just about every area of a computer that could be optimised or enhanced is covered. To make things a bit more manageable, these are organised into collections that include a PC Accelerator, PC Repair, PC Cleanup, PC Security and the Registry Revitalizer.
There's also a degree of automation here, as the ActiveCare section allows you to set clean up and repair tasks to run in the background to avoid having to repeatedly check and correct issues.
While it's fair to say that System Mechanic is extremely comprehensive and very easy to use, we were really interested in how effective it is at cleaning a system and improving performance. We used the software on a test machine running Windows XP that's around five years old and has been relatively 'neglected' in terms of keeping it uncluttered and in good condition.
This may well reflect a typical situation for many computers in an office so, while the results are somewhat subjective as every condition and configuration will be different, they can be appreciated as a rough approximation.