I love my PC. I’m not going to lie about it. I love building it, tweaking it, and adding to it as time goes on. But there’s one thing that I wish I could automate, and that’s the optimization. Luckily, I recently got my hands on Iolo’s System Mechanic software, and I’m pleased to spend a little time this Saturday to regale you with its many features. If you’re a novice, or even an IT pro, there’s every reason you should give this handy little program a try. It does so much for so little (around $40 at most outlets), that I’d recommend it to anyone who has a well-used computer in need of a little reviving.
Compatible all the way back to Windows XP, System Mechanic (SM from here on out) allows you to install the software once purchased on any number of PCs for use, so don’t be afraid to spread the love around the household. If you’re running it on Win 7 it also has a fantastic widget that monitors your PC’s health and with the click of the mouse can clean up the registry, delete unused data, and tweak overall PC performance. It’s actually pretty amazing, and even if you only use this little piece of the program your system will wind up in better health than it was prior to installation.
The first time I used the software’s full-scan utility (a quick scan takes about a minute, while a deep probing – ha – will take about five or six on an average PC) it uncovered a surprising number of irregularities and “problems”. Most of them were things that Iolo’s software calls CRUDD (Commonly Redundant or Unnecessary Decelerators and Destabilizers) or programs and files that can clutter up your system and slow performance over time and if left unchecked. After cleaning those up (automatically), all that was left were a few registry issues and whatnot.
I then used the Program Accelerator which takes and realigns all of a program’s dependent files. The Iolo folks claim it’s far more efficient than a typical disk defragmenter which often just rearranges files and can separate them even more. It took a bit more time than the scan, but when it finished I found out it eliminated hundreds of fragments and readjusted several thousand. One main affected program, Photoshop CS5 (categorically a sluggish performer and always has been) immediately felt like it operated more smoothly and took less time to start as well.
The software also comes with a Net Booster and a Designated Drivers tool. The former was a little lackluster. I have a pretty decent 50 down, 10 up connection, so maybe I’m a bad person to test it with. But when it comes to MMO ping and web-browsing the increased speed was marginal at best. There was a fraction of a second improvement when loading MMORPG.com, but ping to any gaming server is a bit harder to test. I did notice however that the ping times to other systems on my wireless at home were better overall. I’m wishing we had this in place at the VA Hospital I call my day job, because lord knows we could use it.
The Designated Drivers part of the app was amazing though. I’m the kind of guy that has way too much hardware attached to his PC, and while I try to keep them updated, having something like Designated Drivers go out and find drivers that have been tested and certified by Microsoft is an absolute boon. It found roughly two dozen newer and certified drivers for my system.
My home system has a Sandy Bridge i5 3.4Ghz processor, 16GB of DDR3, and an nVidia GTX 460. It’s not top of the line by any means, but it’s a pretty snappy system. What I noticed before and after using the features of SM was that an already speedy system seemed suddenly quicker to boot, quicker to navigate, and overall just faster. Plus, with the sheer amount of data I keep and backup on my 3.5 TB of storage, I’m really happy knowing that it’s being kept clean and orderly with Iolo’s system in place.
Should you buy it? Well, considering you can get the professional grade version for about $35 over on Amazon via download, my answer would be a resounding yes. Most of you here are PC enthusiasts. Who wouldn’t want a tool that will quietly and efficiently optimize so much of your system for such a low cost? It does everything I mentioned above and so much more. The only downside is you’ll need to “resub” to the service plan on a yearly basis. But for a year’s worth of protection and empowerment? It’s hard to beat $35.