If your PC isn’t booting or loading applications at the same pace that it did when you first unboxed it, download Iolo System Mechanic. This excellent tune-up utility improves your PC’s performance by defragging the hard drive, deleting junk files, tweaking CPU and RAM usage in real time, and executing other computer-enhancing tasks. The latest version improves several longtime features, while adding a revamped, attractive interface. Iolo System Mechanic is pricier than some competing products—Windows 10’s integrated tune-up tools are free—but it comes packed with features and an ease of use that make it worth the money.
Price and Licenses
Iolo System Mechanic, which costs $49.95 per year, is compatible with all PCs running Windows XP and later, including Windows 10. Like many tune-up utility companies, Iolo constantly runs discounts, so don’t expect to pay the full price (at the time of this writing, Iolo System Mechanic cost $39.96). Iolo also offers System Mechanic Professional, a $69.95-per-year suite that bundles antivirus, anti-spyware, and anti-malware tools with the standard tune-up package. Just for comparison, AVG TuneUp costs $49.99 per year, while Norton Utilities Premium costs $39.99 per year. Ashampoo WinOptimizer is one of the few tune-up utilities that isn’t subscription-based; it’s a one-time $39.99 purchase.
Unlike most PC tune-up utilities, Iolo System Mechanic lets you install the software on any number of computers, provided that it’s not for business purposes. That’s a welcome benefit in the age of the multi-PC home. Norton Utilities Premium places close behind Iolo with a generous 10-PC license, while the $39.95-per-year Glary Utilities Pro offers just three licenses. Like Iolo System Mechanic, AVG TuneUp boasts unlimited licenses.
As noted earlier Windows 10 includes a handful of built-in tune-up utilities that you may want to check out if you don’t want to spend money on third-party software. The upside? The tools are free and effective! The downside? The tools are a bit scattered across different operating system areas and lack some of the features found in third-party tools. Additionally, Iolo System Mechanic manages to best Windows 10’s tools in a few ways that I’ll highlight in this review’s Performance Improvements section.
The Cleanup Tools
Iolo System Mechanic’s interface has several options in the left pane with their own individual subcategories. In those subcategories are specific clean-up tools, but you can also initiate a one-click tune-up. I won’t discuss all of them, as there are many, but I will highlight a few here.
The Overview screen opens by default after you launch Iolo System Mechanic. It’s here that the Repair Now button appears if Iolo detects a problem. Clicking the icon causes Iolo to launch the appropriate system-fixing tool, such as a hard drive defragger.
Another useful tool is Commonly Redundant or Unnecessary Decelerators and Destabilizers (CRUDD), a feature that removes the useless files that clog your PC. The idea behind the enhanced CRUDD is to eliminate the bundled, extra programs that live on your PC after you install a program. After I ran CRUDD Remover, Iolo detected several problems on my testbed, and it explained them in simple, everyday terms. LiveBoost, another feature, unlocks extra CPU and RAM muscle as needed, and ActiveCare provides real-time system analysis and repair.
PC Accelerator, which smartly realigns all of a program’s dependent files on the hard drive, is touted as being better than disk defragmenters. PC Accelerator took approximately 10 minutes to get the job done, and, when it was finished working, I discovered that it had realigned thousands of files and hundreds of file fragments. There are also a ton of other tools packed into the suite, such as AcceleWrite (a real-time feature that helps organize the way data is written to the PC’s HDD or SSD), IntelliStatus (which displays RAM and hard drive information and serves up cleaning tools), and Stability Guard (a tool that stops system threats using algorithms).
PowerSense is a feature that dynamically senses PC activity and automatically adjusts the computer’s power settings and processor modes in real time to match the task at hand. For example, PowerSense kept my gaming desktop in Balanced Mode while I checked email and surfed the Web, but it kicked the computer into Ultra Performance Gaming Mode when I fired up Steam to play a few PC games. The power increase happened almost instantaneously.
Ultra Performance Mode focuses all processor cores on the task at hand and turns off nonessential background programs. As a result, I had a slightly smoother gaming experience with fewer slowdowns when the action became fast and furious. You can manually switch the power settings and create your own power-management profiles, too.
Privacy Shield lets you disable Wi-Fi Sense, SmartScreen Service, and Microsoft Data Collection and Telemetry Services. This prevents Microsoft from collecting and sharing your personal information. It also lets you disable Windows 10 services that share your Wi-Fi network connections with your contacts, as well as those that collect information regarding your web surfing habits, program usage, and more. You can deactivate those options using Windows 10, but these options are buried in the operating system’s settings menus. I like that Iolo makes them easily accessible.
Performance Improvements and Comparisons
I tested Iolo System Mechanic’s ability to whip a PC back into shape by performing two tests—running the Geekbench system performance tool and measuring boot times—before and after running the tune-up utility to compare the computer’s speed. I ran each test three times, and then averaged the numbers.
Before Iolo System Mechanic scrubbed the system, my testbed that features an Intel Core i5 CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card, 8GB of RAM, 2TB hard drive, and Windows 10 operating system booted in a lengthy 2 minutes and 32 seconds. The rig scored 1,301, 5,960, and 182,137 on Geekbench’s Single-Core, Multi-Core, and Compute Score tests, respectively.
After I used Iolo System Mechanic, I saw much improved system performance. The boot time dropped to a respectable 1 minute and 8 seconds, while the Single-Core, Multi-Core, and Compute Score numbers rose to 1,370, 6,002, and 184,019, respectively. In fact, the new boot time represented the lowest start time I’ve seen on my new testbed—by a hair. Ashampoo WinOptimizer caused the rig to boot in 1 minute and 10 seconds, AVG TuneUp posted a 1 minute and 11 second load, and the default Windows 10 tune-up tools caused the machine to boot in 1 minute and 14 seconds. After Iolo System Mechanic worked its magic, the gaming PC led the competition with its 6002 Multi-Core score, which topped Ashampoo’s 5,937, AVG TuneUp’s 5,967, and Windows 10’s 5,972. Clearly, Iolo System Mechanic improves PC functioning.
So, what do these numbers mean in everyday use? Snappier performance. Chrome, Steam, iTunes, and other resource-heavy applications opened with ease after a tune-up. I could feel the difference. However, there was one area that didn’t see a performance boost: internet speed. Iolo claims that System Mechanic can speed up your PC’s internet connection, but I didn’t see a significant improvement that couldn’t be explained by normal fluctuations when I ran Speedtest by Ookla.
As you can see, Iolo System Mechanic placed first in two of the four categories. That’s because Windows 10’s default tune-up utilities claimed the number one spot in the Single-Core and Compute Score tests with its 1,516 and 6,002 marks, respectively. Iolo System Mechanic, on the other hand, finished last with its 1,370 Single-Core score and second with its 184,019 Compute Score rank.
Raw Geekbench numbers, however, aren’t the be-all and end-all of PC performance. Certainly, the data shows that you can improve your PC’s performance with Windows 10’s built-in tools, but there is another reason you may want to invest in a third-party tune-up utility: convenience.
Iolo System Mechanic has all of its valuable tools in one convenient location. Windows 10 has its Disk Defragmenter, Storage Sense, and Startup applications all located in different places within the operating system. Plus, you get the Incinerator app that Iolo claims permanently deletes unwanted, sensitive files. Windows 10 also has a feature that overwrites deleted data, Cipher, but it requires firing up Windows Powershell and tinkering with the command line. I think it’s safe to say that most people do not want to do that. Likewise, Iolo System Mechanic’s Registry Tuner simplifies the process of backing up the Windows 10 registry, which comes in handy when disaster strikes.
Iolo’s Excellent Evolution
Iolo System Mechanic’s evolution from tune-up utility to an all-around PC enhancer is one that you shouldn’t overlook. Plus, you get unlimited licenses, which can go a long way to justifying the cost if you have a lot of PCs in your household.
If you want just the basic PC tune-up experience, Windows 10’s free tools work just fine. But if you desire a tool that can do more—and with greater ease of use—Editors’ Choice Iolo System Mechanic, a terrific choice for paid tune-up utilities, is the application to download.