In general, System Mechanic 9.5's optimisation routines are geared toward a faster, more error-free computer. This version introduces new features to take advantage of Windows 7's capabilities. Sounds useful, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating - and some of System Mechanic's quirks are hard to swallow.
After scanning our computer, Iolo System Mechanic 9.5 listed several problems, some of them strange for a Win7 install barely a month old: "Your computer has 7.42GB system clutter"; "Your computer has 1 unnecessary startup item"; "Your Internet configuration is not optimised for maximum speed." It then showed a paragraph describing what each of these terms mean.
Notice what's missing? Detail about what those none-too-specific problem items actually are on my PC. System Mechanic's "more detail" function is hidden in an arrow next to the "Remove" or "Optimise" button. You have to select the wizard for each problem area in order to view more details. And there's no wizard for optimising one's internet connection for speed; you simply have to trust that it's tweaking your net connection correctly.
Before we trust a new app to fix problems, we want to know what that system clutter is, what that unnecessary startup item is, what exactly about our internet configuration is slowing us down. No way are we going to push a button to fix it unless we know what the app is fixing - and nor should you.
As it is, getting those details from Iolo System Mechanic 9.5 can only be done in a roundabout way - and only for certain items. We found that the majority of what System Mechanic called "system clutter" was in the Recycle Bin.
Iolo System Mechanic 9.5 determined that the one unnecessary startup file was QuickTime Player in the Quick Launch taskbar. We spoke to a representative at iolo technologies, who explained that this Quick Launch icon deals only with updating QuickTime, and Apple checks for updates using other methods - so this icon isn't really necessary. Still, we don't think it's worth removing unless your taskbar is too busy.
We found one very misleading thing in System Mechanic's reports. System Mechanic indicated with a big green checkmark that our virus scanner was successfully protecting our computer against all malware. This isn't the case: Avira AntiVir is strictly a virus scanner, and since it was the only process we had running, our PC wasn't protected against other forms of malware such as spyware and adware. We run Lavasoft Ad-Aware Free periodically for that. System Mechanic should report that we don't have a system-resident spyware/adware guard running. On a positive note, Iolo System Mechanic 9.5 did correctly detect that we had Windows Firewall turned on.
In our review of the previous version of System Mechanic, we noted that a duplicate file search meant to take 1-3 minutes actually takes far longer. We determined that the problem still exists: several minutes after the expected time, Iolo System Mechanic 9.5 wasn't even close to finishing.
Windows 7 users will be pleased that System Mechanic now supports Jump Lists. When you go to the start menu and select System Mechanic, you can now get a drop-down menu of many useful functions within that program. Instead of just launching System Mechanic, it'll start that function immediately upon launch.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>