Iolo System Mechanic 12.0 review

Iolo System Mechanic 12.0 review

The suite is structured like a pyramid, with a one-click fix, called PC TotalCare, at the apex. Use this module to run most of the main sub modules and clean up your PC, without getting into the minutiae of individual tuning and repair. See all security software reviews.

On our test machine, the quick scan of problems took 1 minute 16 seconds and fixing them took just 2min 50s, most of which was spent updating its problem definitions, in a similar way to an AV program updating virus signatures. See also: Group test: best security software of 2014.

At the next level down there are all-in-one tools, like PC Accelerator, PC Repair, PC Cleanup and PC Security. PC Accelerator defragments system memory and the registry and optimises the system drive. PC Repair looks at any problems with the hard drive and PC Cleanup removes system clutter and frees drive space. PC Security repairs security flaws, though doesn't offer its own AV scanning or firewall. For that you need the Pro version of the suite.

These are all manually run tools, but ActiveCare runs many of them automatically. It doesn't run them on a fixed schedule, but fits them in when your PC is idle. During testing, we didn't notice any slow down due to System Mechanic tasks while we were doing other things.

The two new tools are Core Data Recalibrator and Stability Guard, which both have fairly nebulous definitions. The Core Data Recalibrator apparently corrects corruption in Windows information within the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). The Recalibrator is one of the automatic tools which runs as a preventative, so it's hard to measure the effect it has.

Stability Guard is claimed to track new programs introduced to your PC and monitor any impact they might have on its stability. This is handy and you can actually monitor its effect, using the reliability report. This shows any events which could hit stability over a selectable timescale.
Each event has a point on the graph and clicking on it gives details of what occurred, for example an update not completing successfully. Over time, you should be able to tell if Stability Guard has increased the reliability of your machine.

Having run PC TotalCare, removed all the dubious apps installed at startup, and performed a system optimisation, our test machine's startup time reduced from 1min 18s to 1min 14s, hardly earth-shattering. A 2GB file copy from drive to drive dropped from 1min 30s to 1min 21s, again a small improvement.

Our test machine is regularly restored to a comparatively clean install, though, so on a more heavily used system, with a greater build-up of redundant code and registry clutter, you could expect a bigger performance boost.

Sometimes, when we closed System Mechanic, we saw an access violation, though this didn't appear to have a damaging affect. Even so, it's not something you expect from an application designed to increase system stability.

Iolo System Mechanic 12.0: Specs

  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8, 32/64 bit, 256MB RAM, 120MB HD, internet connection
  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8, 32/64 bit, 256MB RAM, 120MB HD, internet connection

OUR VERDICT

With many of the tools included in System Mechanic 12, it's difficult to directly measure individual benefits. Our own measurements in startup and copy times show fairly marginal improvements, but the true value of this suite will be in the long-term stability of a PC and the prevention of system slowdown over time.