Launched in October, the latest version of Iolo Technologies System Mechanic 10 Professional (SM 10 Pro) adds new features to improve run-time performance of Windows-based desktop or laptop PCs.
SM 10 Pro could prove useful for IT managers needing to perform repairs on, or tune-up, their firm’s Windows-based desktop or laptop PCs. Other users who would find the software useful are Windows power users.
The package is Windows-only supporting 32- and 64-bit versions of XP Professional, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Professional.
There are two other versions of System Mechanic – a standard version that doesn’t have anti-malware scanning capabilities, nor the facility to search for and recover accidentally deleted files, or the facility to securely erase data from your hard disk. There is also a business package.
We downloaded trial versions of both the Professional and standard versions and installed them on two systems - on a Dell GX280 desktop running Windows XP Professional, and on an Intel Core 2 due 2.24GHz laptop running Windows 7 Ultimate.
The install took less than five minutes but SM 10 Pro informed us that to continue with the installation we would have to uninstall any antivirus or anti-spyware programs.
The reason was that SM would be installing its own anti-malware package, which would conflict with any other package already installed.
We had AVG’s Internet Security Business Edition 2011 installed on our system so we couldn’t install SM 10 Pro on that OS without uninstalling AVG.
The standard version can be installed with any anti-virus system because Iolo’s anti-malware software isn’t included in this version of SM.
We ran our test system on a dual boot system, so we installed the standard version on one partition and SM 10 Pro on the other partition that had no anti-malware package installed.
After this SM 10 Pro then offers to install a PC Health Status widget, useful for checking PC health status at a glance.
SM 10 Pro then prompts for an email address to which it sends web-based reports (called ActiveCare reports) summarising PC status over specific time periods.
Initial system analysis
With SM 10 Pro we first ran a deep analysis of the system to baseline our system and detect any problems that System Mechanic defines as issues.
The deep analysis first checks for system clutter- whether there are any Windows registry problems – and then for any dangerous and unnecessary start-up items.
Next SM checks the hard disk for errors, disk fragmentation problems, and then for registry fragmentation problems.
The results of this scan, which in our case took 9 minutes, are saved and SM lets users view any problems and gives the option to repair them.
We were told there were five problems. The top problem was that a scan for viruses was needed. We used SM 10 Pro’s built-in AV.
Firstly we scanned for malware. Scanning just the operating system disk took one hour 16 minutes and found nothing.
After this the SM 10 Pro removed system clutter, which meant flushing Internet Explorer and Firefox cache files, emptying the recycle bin, removing temporary Windows and offline files and unused downloaded internet files. This action released 150MB of disk space, but required a system restart to take effect.
After this we defragmented the hard drive and backed up the registry, another two problems reported by SM 10 Pro. Defragmenting the hard drive took three minutes and required a system restart.
After working through the repairs, users can have the option to schedule SM to scan user’s PCs at a pre-defined time, to keep the system state up to scratch.
When testing the standard version of SM, it reported that our AV system was ‘not active,’ when it clearly was.
Users can also use the tools used in the scan individually, and there are lots of extra useful ones which users can run. Examples of these including tools to defragment system memory, test internet download speeds, manage Windows processes and services, to name just a few. All are contained in a toolbox option.
There is also the SafetyNet feature which allows users to undo certain System Mechanic actions and revert systems to their prior state, useful if a program or service gets accidentally deleted, for example.
The first new feature is Program Accelerator, which Iolo says is the first technology to address what it calls ‘program misalignment. This is when a program’s execution code is not placed on the hard drive in one block but fragmented, slowing performance.
While we used the package and the program acceleration feature, we did note an improvement in application start up.
The next new feature is the CRUDD remover, with CRUDD standing for Commonly Redundant or Unnecessary Decelerators and Destabilisers.
When we ran the tool it didn’t pick up any redundant programs running. If it had, we would have had the benefit of reduced system memory usage.
One feature which we feel should be in future releases of System Mechanic is a tool to check on the state of the device drivers in Windows.
Sometimes drivers can get corrupted, and vendors do release updated drivers for onboard hardware and external peripherals. Having a tool to deliver updated or even missing drivers would be a big help for power users.
Iolo’s System Mechanic Professional 10 package offers users a feature-rich system which would cost more if the individual features were bought separately.
The package was easy to use, and offered flexible options to control the software tools.
The new features would deliver some benefits to users wishing to upgrade to version 10.