There are a lot of utilities which claim to improve the performance of a Windows PC and prevent it slowing down. Most of these clear out unnecessary programs and flush caches and temporary files, but Iolo System Mechanic 10.5 goes at least one extra mile.

Iolo System Mechanic 10.5 aims to tidy up your system and speed it up. The latest version uses two new techniques to improve results: Program Accelerator and the excitingly named CRUDD Remover (from the rather contrived acronym, Commonly Redundant or Unnecessary Decelerators and Destabilizers).

The CRUDD Remover looks through the applications on your system and tries to spot any which do the same as others. On our test system, it flagged up Acronis Partition Manager which has a defragmenter and therefore performs a similar task to System Mechanic itself, apparently. You don't have to accept the utility's suggestions, which is handy if you have, for example two video editors on the same PC.

See also: Group test: what's the best PC optimisation software?

The Program Accelerator aims to align programs with their dependent files, so reducing loading times and increasing overall performance. This is different from a drive defragmentor, which puts chunks of programs back together and can actually reduce overall performance, according to Iolo.

The real delight in using the program is that so much of it is done for you automatically. Most programs of this type present lists of files that ‘appear to be redundant' and ask you to pick which ones to delete. Unless you're a real techie, most of these offerings mean nothing, and you'll be shooting in the dark. 

This program does the selection for you, an approach which is only good, of course, if it knows what its doing and doesn't delete something vital. Iolo System Mechanic 10.5 certainly appears to do that and didn't kill anything important when we gave it free rein.

It also performs pretty fast, with a quick system analysis taking around 1 min 20 sec. Performing fixes on the eight problems it highlighted took under 6 min 30 sec. A deeper level analysis and fix, which included correcting 28GB of ‘misaligned' files and 24GB of fragmented ones, took just over 40 minutes.

So it works pretty much as described, but what about the performance improvements? We tried it on a couple of different machines. On one it recovered around 800MB of unnecessary files and on the other around 1.2GB. Worth having then, even in these days of terabyte hard drives.

Performance improvements were harder to measure. We tried timing Windows start up before and after using Startup Optimiser to fix six problems and it took 2 min 46 sec before and 2 min 22 sec after – a 17 percent improvement. 

There are several other utilities in the package, including the Designated Drivers database, Total Registry Revitalizer and Internet Connection Repair – you get the picture.

The application is relatively inexpensive at $40 plus VAT (all prices are quoted in US$), even more so when you realise that Iolo offers a Whole Home Licence, which covers as many PCs as you want to put it on, as long as they're resident in the same home. Quite how the company can tell is not clear – perhaps it relies on that old virtue, trust.

Iolo System Mechanic 10.5: Specs

  • Windows XP/Vista/7, 32/64 bit
  • Windows XP/Vista/7, 32/64 bit


Iolo System Mechanic 10.5 is a great example of what people want from a Windows performance tool – something which works without much intervention and makes discernible improvements to the performance of their systems. In a four-PC home, not that unusual these days, it's going to cost around £5 per computer per year – a potentially good investment.

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