A cut-down version of Iolo's popular disk-optimisation suite, Iolo System Mechanic Free 10.8.5 offers a Registry cleaner, a storage defragging tool, a tool for locating and deleting junk files, and a device that finds and removes uneccessary startup items.

You can run several tools at once, which is useful when you consider that System Mechanic Free also includes modules to defragment your memory, back up and restore your Registry; locate and delete (or fix) broken shortcuts; securely erase confidential files; locate duplicate files; thoroughly uninstall applications; view system information; and take snapshots of your PC or laptop and display the difference between them.

In hiking and wilderness circles there's a well-known story about an inexperienced woodsman who thought he would try going au naturel in the woods, eating nuts and berries for the winter. Unfortunately, the cold, hard fact that you can't survive by burning more calories than you take in caught up with him after a couple of months. If you were to apply that lesson to system tune-up suites such as System Mechanic Free, they'd probably cease to exist in short order, since most of them don't speed up your PC enough to offset their own CPU and resource usage.

If System Mechanic Free didn't spawn a background process (its service manager), I wouldn't have started this review with the caloric-intake analogy. The program does feature one of the most effective Registry scanners and file-clutter cleaners I've used: It spotted 41 problems that CCleaner and SpeedUpMyPC didn't catch, as well as a lot of junk files. It's capable of backing up your Registry, too. See all software downloads.

However, System Mechanic Free is also slow to boot, and it doesn't do much else other than tell you about what you can do with the pay-for Standard or Professional versions of the software. The paid versions provides features such as security-flaw checks, secure erase, online backup, and antimalware functions.

The plain truth of the matter is that with the advances in Windows Vista and 7, a little knowledge plus Windows' own tools and free software will let you do 95 percent of what System Mechanic--or virtually any other tune-up suite--will do. That said, System Mechanic Free does a better job of cleaning up junk than the free CCleaner does, so it can be useful for that. Afterward, though, you might want to uninstall it to remove the unnecessary background process. See also: Does pc speed boost software work?

Iolo System Mechanic Free 10.8.5: Specs

  • Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows XP
  • 256MB of memory, 30MB of hard-drive space
  • Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows XP
  • 256MB of memory, 30MB of hard-drive space

OUR VERDICT

It's free, and it offers a small advantage over other free PC optimisation tools, so you have nothing to lose by installing Iolo System Mechanic Free 10.8.5. Just bear in mind that it is unlikely to have a profound impact on your PC's performance.

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