Pros: works on most issues, easy to read and follow directions
Cons: many important files deleted rendering utility faulty in some tools
Several weeks ago, my Dell computer had one of those nasty ad-ware parasites on it, constantly bombarding my machine with literally hundreds of rapid fire pop-up ads. I downloaded and installed Iolo Technologies System Mechanic For PC onto my one year old Dell computer.
At a cost of $49.95, I thought that I was getting a great bargain for this software utility that claimed to:
~safely remove parasites
~clean up junk files
~speed up Internet connection
~keep system running smoothly
~kill ad-ware and pop-up programs
~search and remove duplicate files
~clean up tracks..on Internet Explorer, AOL, more
~fix broken shortcuts
~take system snapshots
~maintain complete logs of removed files
Well, certainly, I believed that this utility would solve most of the computer issues as well as help to maintain my system with the full maintenance set-up option. Interestingly enough, I have mixed reactions to Iolo Technologies System Mechanic.
System Mechanic Options
The installation was fast and painless, less than three minutes using DSL for broadband. My O/S is Windows XP Home Office and the Dell that I own is an older model, Dimension 4550. Once installation was complete, there was an icon on my desktop for easy accessibility and an icon in my start-up tray on the tool bar. The System Mechanic is broken down into several easy to understand maintenance groups:
Get Rid of Junk Files: This is the first program that was run on my computer. I had been experiencing less than optimal performance from my computer. With a teenager and a four year old both using the computer, I realized that there were hundreds of unnecessary files clogging my system.
The utility offers two options for removing junk files; the complete scan of the C Drive and a scan of the A Drive Floppy. Scanning the C Drive yielded over 300 junk files, and I use the term loosely. Each listed file can then be considered for removal to the Recycle Bin or for permanent removal. Permanent removal offers the user no chance of retrieval of the files once removed. I opted for the Recycle Bin and I am so glad that I did.
RESULTS: Many programs on my computer failed to work properly after the junk files removal. Error messages abounded stating that important files were missing. My HP Printer, Musicmatch music program, Yahoo Mail, MSN .NET and many others, to name a few. This was not good.
Eliminate Duplicate Files: Worked very well and had no compatibility issues after the elimination.
Clean Up Your Tracks: This tool allows the user to eradicate the movements while using the computer or Internet; several options. Erase "find files or folders" history, erase "find computer" history, erase "Documents" history, erase "RUN" history. I only use the erase "DOCUMENTS" history. I would not want to lose important folders that may be unretrievable.
Another option is for cleaning up cache files on AOL and Internet Explorer. The user can also opt to erase Internet tracks by deleting cookies, internet cache files, recent URLs typed in the browser and visited web pages. Since learning the hard way about deleting cookies from my computer I chose not to erase any of my Internet usage. I have nothing to hide.
RESULTS: I have had zero problems using this tool. Documents folder is always empty and ready to be filled again each time I start my computer.
Eliminate Web Pop Ups: The main purpose for purchasing the System Mechanic and is one extremely safe tool. It has killed literally thousands of pornographic, as well as, other annoying pop-ups by setting the POP-UP Stopper to run as a system tray application while browsing the web.
In the tool bar, near the clock, there is an animated icon of a hammer. The user gets an audible, as well as a visual, indication when pop-ups are being smashed and removed!
RESULTS: Thus far, this portion of the System Mechanic utility makes the fifty dollars spent for it worth every dime. As I review this software, the Pop-Up blocker has killed 15,347 pop-up ads, in less than three hours! I know, it is truly an astounding number.
Fix Registry Problems: My suggestion is to carefully read and re-read the options for making changes to the registry. Serious issues can arise if major changes are made to the computer's system. There is an UNDO option as well as a Back-up Log option in the event that adverse results occur.
Fix Broken Shortcuts: I had no issues after scanning and purging my system of broken shortcuts. In fact, I regained 2MB by performing this action on the first try.
Purge Invalid Uninstallers: I found this tool useful in finding and removing Uninstaller links that are no longer associated with any programs. This helps to remove unnecessary pieces of programs that have been removed through the ADD/REMOVE Programs option in the Control Panel.
RESULTS: Thus far, the FIX IT program of the System Mechanic Utility has helped to purge my computer of unnecessary data. I have found no real issues of a negative type.
PC Maintenance Wizard
RESULTS: Although the option to schedule maintenance at specific intervals is available, I have opted to use the System Mechanic whenever I deem it necessary.
Increase Internet Speed: After choosing the Internet connection type that my computer uses, I have an option to optimize my Internet speed either manually configuring it or allowing System Mechanic to configure it for fastest performance. There is a little test that is performed to diagnose any issues with speed of receiving data. Prior to the Speed enhancement, my computer registered 91372 bytes per second when 100 kilobytes of data was sent to my system, with 97628 bytes per second being peak performance. After the speed boost, my computer registered 94047.
Start Up Manager: This tool allows the user to enable, disable or permanently delete programs that are automatically run when Windows starts. I am no expert in this section and have opted to view, but make no changes, to the list at this time.
Tweak Windows Settings: I made a few changes to my computer with this tool which allows the user to make changes to the appearance, security, performance and several other areas of the computer. No adverse reactions here.
Speed Up Hard Drives: Basically, this tool is set up in two parts. First, the user has an option to run the System Mechanic Defrag Wizard to analyze and defragment all drives quickly and start a log of your system's fragmented files. The other part is called the Defragmentation Wizard Profile Manager. Simply, the user can create various profiles for defragment of the hard drives. In other words, I have three such profiles; one to run an optimal defragmentation of the entire C Drive (on weekends), one to run a quick defrag of specific programs (at my convenience), the last to run after my four year old granddaughter has been online!
Defragment Memory: During my constant computer usage, programs often begin to run slowly and less than at optimal performance when RAM is depleted. Files do become fragmented and incontiguous when data that runs applications, screen display data and O/S data use up the memory. This tool allows the user to set specific guidelines for recovering RAM to make programs run smoother and faster.
I use this tool quite often during the day, especially when hardware peripherals, like the web cam and the printer, are in use.
RESULTS: Absolutely no issues whatsoever. I love this feature and it is one of the better tools in the System Mechanic Utility.
Securely Delete Files: Although this tool sounds good, I have not used it at this point. It allows the user to install a type of Recycle Bin where deleted files go into it, separated from the Windows Recycle Bin. It is suggested for use by offices or corporate businesses where security is of the utmost importance.
System Snapshots: A basic tool that allows the user to take a "snapshot" or complete log of the system after installing or removing programs from the computer. These logs can then be compared to other logs from earlier dates.
Eliminate Spyware: This is not a bad tool, in my estimation. Broken down into four groups, parasites found on the computer are appropriately separated. Malware, Adware, Key Loggers and Miscellaneous. While typing this review, I ran this tool. The scan yielded two parasites, eAcceleration and eUniverse. Both were safely and completely removed from my system. Whew! After some parasite removals, restarting the computer is necessary for a complete disinfection.
RESULTS: I like this tool because deletion of spyware, ad-ware and other malicious creatures on my computer is my goal. System mechanic is very good at doing what it claims in this instance.
~Tool Logs ~Product Help ~Download Updates
~Vist www.Iolo.com ~General Preferences ~About System Mechanic
The Good about Hints and Tips:
I especially recommend viewing the hint boxes prior to beginning any of the tools. Many of these tips and hints will save the user hours of undos or possible irreversible system damage. One such example is found in the OPTIMIZE; Tweak Windows Settings:
Please use caution when working with the security elements in this tool. Before exiting and saving any changes, make sure that you are completely sure about all of the options selected in order to prevent any accidental problems accessing critical elements of Windows. Please also note that the only way to change or reset these settings is by accessing this tool, so make sure that you do not restrict your own access thereof.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
In my opinion, using the Iolo Technologies System Mechanic For PC has both good and bad points. The good points far outweigh the bad. My suggestion is to consider other similar utilities that may cost more, but are safer to use on your computer, especially if you are a non-expert in PC maintenance.
It is extremely important to proceed with caution when making major changes to your system. System Mechanic has not rendered my computer unstable nor has it been totally satisfactory.
Out of a possible five stars, I give Iolo Technologies System Mechanic three stars because there are potential damaging effects that novice users will have trouble reconciling. Otherwise, although not the best, it is a good utility once it is adapted to the user's preferences and not the other way around.
This is my contribution into DBCINT'S Comfort Zone W/O where members are challenged to write in a category not familiar to them. Be sure to stretch your wings and try!