Is your PC feeling old and creaky, and driving you bananas? Do you start it up in the morning, then go make breakfast and a cup of coffee, because that’s how long it takes to get going? As your computer ages, it inevitably gets slower. Programs are installed, and uninstalled. Files are stored, often unnecessarily, taking up valuable space. Programs run at startup that you never use, slowing down the time it takes your computer to boot and chewing up memory space. Which in turns slows down the programs that you actually do use.
Frankly I was more than a little bit annoyed when my five year old computer seemed to be dying. I was silly and went for a new one. What I should have done first was see if maybe I could get a bit more life out of it, and saved hundreds of pounds. I mean really, it is daft to simply accept that a computer, which is only around four years old, maybe five, is no longer usuable. Why on earth can’t such an expensive item last longer than a few years?
One option is to use a program like System Mechanic 9.5 from Iolo Technologies . This is a utility program that aims to clean up and speed up your PC. One of the advantages of this sort of program is that you could start using it from the beginning, or early in your computer’s life, so you never have the hassle of poor performance.
According to Iolo, System Mechanic:
- Cleans, defrags, and repairs the Windows registry
- Accelerates PC startup in ‘19 ways’
- Defrags and recovers orphaned RAM (memory)
- Boosts internet speed
- Complete low-level drive defrag
- Turns off unused background programs
The program costs $39.95 for a standard one year licence (it can be used on up to three computers). It is possible to buy an additional year, or two years, when you check out.
Tamsin found she particularly liked how easy System Mechanic is to use. “Talk about quick and easy to use,” she says. “It took seconds for Iolo to load onto my machine and start its happy analysis of my system. Now, I’m no fainting flower when it comes to computers but I was dead impressed with all the stuff it found and how quickly it found it. Each issue was clearly explained along with two options – either I could repair the issue manually or I could let Iolo do it for me. In some cases I chose to do it myself but I did let Iolo handle one or two of them.”
Sarah’s experience also started out well. “Being a bit of a tidy computer freak I was looking forward to installing the System Mechanic software and automating a lot of the tedious but necessary hard drive housekeeping tasks,” she comments.
“Installation was easy, the interface was simple and straightforward and there were useful video tutorials - so far so good. I ran the health check and there were a ton of errors in the registry, broken files on the hard drive, files all over the place so the hard drive need defraging too; all in all there were 248 problems. Thirty minutes later it said it was all done and I needed to restart my machine, which I duly did”.
After that it got a little bit more challenging for her. On re-starting she kept getting a window popping up asking for the installation CD for a program called Instantshare, which she couldn’t get rid of. Then another de-frag that should have taken 30-40 minutes but took eight hours.
But was it worth it?
“I can’t say that I’ve noticed my machine running any faster or more efficiently,” Tamsin says, “but I do feel like it has had a much needed bath and is not running unnecessary stuff in the background. Once I’d finished the preliminary sweep, Iolo took up residence in the top right hand corner of my screen. It’s unobtrusive, easy to access and a little vain. Why vain? Because it boasts about all the things it did to fix my machine – constantly. I find this hugely amusing.”
Sarah didn’t get a faster machine either. “Wasn't System Mechanic supposed to make it super-fast? Well it wasn't, it was slower than the tortoise from that well known fable. It's taken me two days to get my machine back to where it was before I installed System Mechanic.”
So the result from our totally inconclusive testing procedure is that it may work, and then again it might not! There’s a free trial available on the website. You may want to see what sort of response you’ll get before you buy. But first set a System Restore point (presuming that you’re using this on an older PC ie pre-Windows Vista). Go to Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore. You should then be able to revert your PC back to the state it was before you installed System Mechanic, should you not like the results.