System Mechanic 16 is an amazingly comprehensive tool that provides everything you'll need to clean and speed up your PC, fix system problems and protect your privacy.

If your PC isn't performing, for instance, then System Mechanic will help you defragment your hard drive; optimise your Internet connection settings for faster downloads; defragment and compact the Registry; optimise the boot process by removing unnecessary startup programs, and get a temporary performance boost by closing down selected background processes.

And each of these functions in turn delivers far more than you might expect. So you don't just get a defrag module, for instance: System Mechanic also uses the Program Accelerator, optimising applications by grouping related files together; enhanced AcceleWrite technology helps to improve the efficiency of your drives; and the SSD Accelerator keeps solid state drives running at their peak performance.

And it's the same across the suite, with powerful features and functionality everywhere you look. There are tools here to defragment and compact the Registry; repair hard drive problems; enhance system security, locate unnecessary duplicate files, or recover from disaster if Windows won't boot. A Windows tweaking tool provided easy access to more than 100 key Windows settings, an Advanced Uninstaller completely removes apps to free up hard drive space - and you could still create a very capable maintenance suite from the other tools that we haven't had space to mention.

All this power doesn't make the program difficult to use, though. We launched a single scan of our test PC, for example, and within minutes it uncovered 27 security flaws, 3,314 Registry problems, 885MB of junk files, 3 unnecessary Startup programs, 22 broken shortcuts, 9 potentially unnecessary applications and 3 outdated drivers. If you're the hands-on type you can zoom in on any area to take manual control - find out which drivers need updating, make individual decisions yourself - but if you prefer the simpler life then you can just click "Repair All" and sit back as System Mechanic fixes everything, all on its own.

And even if you do start to investigate a particular performance area yourself, there's plenty of help and assistance on offer. Take Windows Startup programs, for instance. Most similar suites just list those installed on your PC and let you decide what to remove. System Mechanic details the performance impact of each program, where possible, so you can see which might be sapping your resources. And if you're still not sure then it shows you what other System Mechanic users do, making it easy to pick out which programs should stay, and which should really go.

Whether you're a Windows expert or a PC novice, then, System Mechanic has features which will appeal. But don't take our word for it: install the full-featured 30 day trial version, and find out exactly what this powerful suite can do for you.

What's new in System Mechanic 17 (see changelog for more)?

- New. Super Definitions searches even deeper to identify many effective new optimizations, identifying over 40,000 apps, tasks and services that could be running in the background without your knowledge and impacting your system.
- Enhanced. Startup Optimizer alerts you to more types of unwanted bloatware and unnecessary pre-launched apps and services, giving you even greater control over which non-critical items you want disabled or delayed during startup for a faster, more responsive PC.
- Enhanced. Performance Impact Data has been expanded to many more programs so you can better see which apps are taxing your system the most. iolo Labs benchmark testing reveals up to 90% improvement by eliminating unnecessary startup items.

Verdict

System Mechanic is an excellent PC maintenance and tweaking tool that has the power experienced users need, while also remaining very accessible to novices