Probably the best known for its 'repair and tune up your Windows' utilitiesIolo System Mechanic 10.5 has just had a 0.5-level upgrade from version 10.5. See also: Does PC speed boost software work?

The new product boasts Accelewrite, Windows 8 integration, more system horsepower and an unlimited home licence, as well as enhancements to many of its other utilities. It also includes SystemShield for basic AV and spyware protection. See also: Group test: what's the best PC optimisation software?

In fact, the unlimited home licence was included in the previous version, but is still very welcome, as it enables you to install the software on all the Windows PCs in your home, without paying again – until the updates stop after 12 months.

Accelewrite is a new technology, designed to keep file segments together. The idea is to reduce fragmentation, so the drive heads have fewer places to search to find the segments of an application or its data, when asked to load it.

This is said to increase the speed of file access and reduce the need for periodic drive housekeeping, such as defragmentation.

One of the really good things about System Mechanic 11 is that you can dig down into its utilities just as far as you feel comfortable.

At the top level, TotalCare Fix runs most of the key apps with a single click, analysing and then fixing the problems it sees with your system.

If you want to go to the next level, or to concentrate on one particular area of performance, four sub-sections labelled PC Accelerator, PC Repair, PC Cleanup and PC Security offer automated wizards running multiple apps.

Further down, you can run any of 34 individual utilities, such as Designated Drivers, Program Accelerator or the unfortunately named CRUDD remover.

The first of these example utilities updates drivers on your system to the latest versions; the second aligns programs with disk sector boundaries to improve loading speeds; and CRUDD is another name for duplicate copies of applications, where you only need to keep the most recent.

Having applied the TotalCare Fix on our test system and removed all the suggested programs from the start-up list that the optimiser suggested, Windows shutdown time dropped from 19s to 10s, an improvement of about 48 percent. The analysis for these fixes took 2 mins 24 secs. The fixes themselves, mostly optimising the system drive, then took another 16 mins 57 secs.

Very good, but the start-up time only dropped from 1 min 10 secs to 1 min 7 sec, a marginal improvement.

However, our test machine is pretty clean, without a lot of disk fragmentation or unwanted files. A PC which has been in use for a while without the benefit of a tool like System Mechanic 11 may show a bigger improvement.

System Shield, iolo's security suite, is bundled in with System Mechanic 11.

It's not particularly quick, taking 52 minutes to scan our 50GB of test files and only looking at 8769 of them, which is a small percentage. You have to trust it knows which to ignore.

The anti-virus shield's resource footprint is fair, producing a 33 percent increase in the time it took to copy a file when a scan was running. We don't have any data from security test labs of iolo System Mechanic's efficacy in catching malware.

Overall, this may be a good basic offering, though you'd still probably be better off with a freebie from AVG or Avast.

Iolo System Mechanic 11.0: Specs

  • PC: Windows XP/Vista/7, 32/64 bit, 256MB RAM, 120MB HD, internet connection
  • PC: Windows XP/Vista/7, 32/64 bit, 256MB RAM, 120MB HD, internet connection


System Mechanic 11 has to be the most comprehensive of the repair and tune-up suites currently available. While not all the utilities within it are state-of-the-art, enough are useful to make it worth its asking price on one machine. Given that you can install it on all your home PCs on the one licence, it looks like good value.