[Contest] Iolo System Mechanic

System Mechanic 12.7 (SM) is the newest version of a popular diagnostic, repair and maintenance program for Windows XP through Windows 8 only. Previous versions of System Mechanic (v. 10 and v. 11) have consistently compared extremely well to the best of this software type in problem diagnosis, repair and maintenance (100% accurate), but the testers felt that the help available was intended more for the savvy user than the newbie. I have not found any comparison done on this newer version, but I will look closely at the new and improved features as well as the help available for this new update and a quick mention of its tried and true tools.

In a nutshell, the following comment from Iolo.com gives their history and viewpoint about SM.

“How is System Mechanic able to find more problems, resolve more errors, and keep my PC running so much faster than the other products I’ve tried?”

…System Mechanic is powered by real science. In 2001, iolo Labs was founded with one mission: find out why PCs slow down and become unstable over time, and then find out how to reverse this aging process. The results of this ongoing scientific research have been encapsulated into what iolo calls Tune-up Definitions™. This information fuels System Mechanic with over 36,000 separately defined threats to PC performance and stability that allows it to scan, diagnose, repair, and speed-up your computer with laser precision. Tune-up Definitions™ are now provided as weekly updates to System Mechanic, with over 10,000 new definitions added in the last year alone.” *
*The Science behind System Mechanic: Tune-up Definitions™ from www.iolo.com 2013.

It is important to know that System Mechanic is totally upgradable (including major upgrades) for the duration of your subscription, has free, unlimited access to online Support, and guaranteed substantial lifetime renewal discounts, which I have found to be true over the years. In my opinion, this is one good investment.

Earlier this month I had a problem; Windows Explorer would not open during the boot. I restarted Windows 7 in Safe Mode, opened the SM program and went to the toolbox in the middle of the left column. When it opened, I clicked on All-in-One Tools and chose run PC Repair only. With 1 click the problem was fixed and I was able to reboot without any difficulty. I can’t tell you how many hours I would have searched Google for help and tried other peoples’ “solutions” hit or miss, and usually miss!!! This was a huge help. I just happened to know which tool to use, but instead, you can manually Quick Scan or Deep Scan for problems and have SM find the problems and suggest the fixes for you. This scanning can also be set up to happen automatically and the fixes can be run automatically or you can check each problem manually to see what SM considers the problem to be.

I find the program to be very easy to use out of the box, and the Help and Tutorials available have improved exponentially. They are clearer to the new user with plenty of actual program pictures and detailed info in an understandable language.

The beauty of this program is in its simplicity of use. The Dashboard Overview, the first page to appear, always reports the System Status as a gauge which clearly shows at a glance where each area’s strengths and weaknesses are and an overall grade of the system’s condition. An available desktop gadget looks just the same. I’ve had this running, so my status is good.

Dashboard Overview (Image 1). Notice that the white background from the open panel merges into its tab on the left side of the window. This happens for all the tabs.

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LiveBoost®, (circled) is the new tool included in this update which uses 3 real-time optimization tools to…

  1. …automatically improve CPU responsiveness by controlling programs which hog CPU power (OptiCore),
  2. …maximize available RAM by monitoring and releasing RAM from unused, idle or low-priority programs (RAMJet), and
  3. …prevent drive fragmentation by improving the method data is written to the disk, minimizes fragmentation, and makes the hard drive more stable with AcceleWrite- (available in Toolbox\ Individual Tools).  (AcceleWrite Image 2 below.)  Note the address across the top of the window to show you where you are and how you got there.  You can also use the links inside this address bar.

Below, a screenshot of LiveBoost (Image A.) as it appears in the program.  This window opens from the LiveBoost\ Real Time Optimization in the left hand list.  Clicking on the “Enabled” boxes toggles “Enabled” and “Disabled.”

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LiveBoost® works quietly in the background, uses minimal resources (1484 k on my computer), and only processes actions when needed.  By clicking on the Dashboard under LiveBoost®, this tool will report on the amount of CPU lag prevented, the accumulated amount of freed RAM, and tracks the amount of fragmentation avoided- as well as other detailed data.  All these tools can be turned on automatically by clicking under LiveBoost® on the Dashboard or from the task bar running up the left side and selecting the tools you wish to automate or disable with 1 click.

In SM version 12, which was released earlier this year, there were new tools then as well, which continue in this version with some tweaks.

  1. Core Data Recalibrator™ (New in v. 12)  This advanced technological tool works to eliminate complex and persistent Windows issues by repairing corruption within Windows’ central communicating system (WMI– Windows Management Instrumentation.)  This tool is accessible from the Active Care\ Automated Tasks tab under the Repair section and automatically from the Problems window which opens after a scan when there is corruption or conflict in the Windows infrastructure.  On the problem page it is listed under “Your computer has [X] core data conflicts within the Windows communication infrastructure.”  Just click Repair to fix the conflicts!  You can also manually read about the problem before fixing it by clicking on the arrow next to the Repair  button as this is a great way to get to know your PC better.
  1. Stability Guard™ (NEW in v. 12) isolates and tracks threats to a PC’s reliability before they can become chronic problems.  Under Reports at the bottom of the left column, click on Reliability, where you can read the tracked and correlated data about your system’s root causes of system crashes, errors, changes and instability, then displays them as statistics which includes a comprehensive reliability rating representing your PC’s reliability over time.  The graph displays events in 3 categories: Failures, Warnings and Information, much like the Event Viewer in Windows.

 

ActiveCare® found to the left of LiveBoost® at the bottom of the Dashboard Overview page or in the ActiveCare Automated Tasks list on the left margin, gives you complete control over when and what automated tasks run.  It is clearly outlined in the help section as well as being quite user-friendly in the actual program.For your convenience, the chart below is taken from the help file in System Mechanic and provides a condensed overview of what each task provides.  Simply click the toggle button next to each task to Enable or Disable the automated optimization, monitor or repair.Optimize

Automatically optimize startup configuration Various programs and services load when Windows starts.Eliminating startup items that are unneeded or potentially dangerous boosts overall PC speed and reclaims valuable memory.
Automatically optimize Internet configuration Net Booster optimizes various settings to suit your type of Internet connection.Adapting these settings boosts Web download rates and improves overall Internet speed and stability.
Automatically optimize system drive Over time, hard drives begin to suffer from fragmentation, misalignment, and other types of performance loss.Optimizing hard drives re-aligns and defragments files on traditional system drives while restoring efficiency to all solid-state drives, resulting in improved program speed and overall system responsiveness.
Automatically recover unused memory When available memory is too low, overall PC performance declines.Defragmenting reclaims valuable memory and improves PC efficiency, stability, and speed.
Automatically defragment and compact registry The Windows registry holds critical settings that are continually accessed by software, hardware, and the operating system.  Defragmenting reorganizes the registry, which improves registry access speed and efficiency.

 

Repair

 

Automatically repair core data conflicts Windows depends on a central communication system that allows software and hardware to exchange critical information.Repairing corruption within this system can help resolve hardware conflicts, false alarms, and other symptoms of PC unreliability.
Automatically repair registry problems Over time, the Windows registry can become corrupt, leading to degraded performance and system crashes.Removing obsolete and invalid entries improves overall PC efficiency and stability.
Automatically repair broken shortcuts Broken shortcuts occur when the target files have been moved or deleted.Repairing these shortcuts speeds processing and eliminates unexpected errors.
Automatically repair broken Internet connection Rogue programs or destructive software can damage your Internet connection. Repairing the connection restores Internet access.
Automatically repair hard drive errors A damaged hard drive can prevent files from being accessed or saved and can cause system crashes.Repairing hard drive errors protects your data and improves overall PC stability.

 

Secure

 

Automatically repair security vulnerabilities Malicious programs exploit known security flaws in operating systems and Web browsers.Repairing security flaws protects your PC and your data.
Automatically back up registry every 14 days The Windows registry is vital to your computer’s ability to run correctly. Backups allow you to restore the registry if it ever becomes damaged.It is recommended that you back up the registry every 14 days.
*For users who also have System Shield (AntiMalware and Firewall) installed (System Mechanic Pro):
Automatically scan for viruses and spyware on a regular schedule Regular scanning detects and removes, viruses, spyware, and other malicious files that can damage your computer, waste system resources, and lead to data loss.  (For people using other companies’ security suites, this Internet Security tab will note that you have adequate protection and list the name of the programs you use.)

Maintain

 

Automatically clean up excessive system clutter With regular usage, temporary files and other unneeded debris accumulate.  It is recommended that excessive amounts of system clutter be deleted to reclaim disk space and speed overall processing.
Automatically download and install updated Tune-up Definitions Keeping Tune-up Definitions up-to-date ensures that the optimization and speed-up tools in System Mechanic can protect you from the latest threats to PC speed and performance.

 

Note:  You can also designate individual problems for automated or manual repair that show up on the Dashboard’s Problems pane after a scan (on the upper left side under Dashboard.)  To reach the options available to you, click on the arrow next to the Repair button.

 

Toolbox All-in-One ToolsThe tried and true of SM’s diagnosis, repair and maintenance tools along with some new ones.

To access:  Under Toolbox on the navigation bar, click All-in-one Tools.

What they do:  All-in-one tools incorporate the essential fixes and optimizations into one easy-to-use wizard, taking the guesswork out of computer maintenance and repair.  The wizards list the problems found and then ask permission to repair (if not automated to repair.)

*1 Below is a chart which presents all the wizards with their purposes and benefits at a glance-

PowerTools™ (All-in-One Wizards) are listed.

PowerTool Purpose Benefit
PC TotalCare Combines the most critical repair, speed-boosting, cleanup, and protection tools into one wizard. A complete tune-up that will improve the overall operation of your computer.
PC Accelerator Runs all the essential speed-boosting tools at once to achieve maximum gains in performance. Improved Web download rates; programs will work faster and with greater reliability.
PC Repair Diagnoses and fixes errors in the registry, hard drives, software, and hardware. Detection and repair of critical system problems.
PC Cleanup Finds and removes the debris left behind by temporary files, cache files, untidy programs, and system freezes. Elimination of unneeded clutter that can overtax a computer’s resources.
PC Security Protects the vital registry and repairs security flaws and vulnerabilities that leave computers open to attack. Increased level of protection.

 

*1 Copied from the in-program Help and used for its clarity and conciseness.

*Specialized Tool-  The following Specialized Tool is offered with its benefits

Specialized Tool Purpose Benefit
Total Registry Revitalizer Keeps the vital registry protected, clean, and organized. A complete approach to maintaining the registry, one of the most critical components of your PC.

 

*1 Individual Tools – Get the right tool for the job- (many are found in the All-in-One Tools clumped together as a wizard)

Function Category Benefit Tools
Maximize Performance Resolve performance-draining issues and maximize the speed and performance of your PC. Defragment MemoryRemove Software RedundanciesTurn Off Unused Background ProgramsOptimize Windows StartupOptimize Internet SettingsFind and Install Updated DriversDefragment and Compact RegistryRe-align Programs on the Hard Drive

Defragment Hard Drive

Configure Boot-Time Defragmentation

Configure Right-Click Defragmentation

Maximize Solid-State Drive Speed

Configure Real-Time File Optimization

Enhance Protection Increase the level of protection and strengthen the defense of your computer. Fix Security VulnerabilitiesBack Up or Restore RegistryConfigure Automatic System Defense
Clean Up System Clutter Clean out unneeded files, which frees up drive space and other system resources. Clean PC ClutterFind and Remove Junk Files
Repair Problems Fix PC problems and reduce computer crashes and failures. Repair Registry ProblemsRepair Broken ShortcutsRepair Hard Drive ProblemsCreate Drive Medic Emergency CDTroubleshoot System Problems
Ensure Personal Privacy Permanently erase the tracks of Internet activity and deleted data. Erase Private DataSecurely Delete FilesConfigure Desktop File Incinerator
Manage System Configuration Manage and configure various internal settings for your computer. Configure Windows StartupManage Running ProgramsCustomize Advanced Windows SettingsCustomize Advanced Internet SettingsFind Duplicate FilesRemove Installed Programs
Perform Diagnostics Run a variety of system reports, for performance-tracking or troubleshooting. View System Information ReportMeasure Internet Download SpeedTrack System ChangesMonitor Hard Drive Status
(The site says) The below function category is available only for Windows Vista users: (but it works on my Windows 7 PC)   J
Manage Add-ons Enable access to bonus mini-programs that supplement System Mechanic.(This current picture of my gadget shows a yellow bar which indicates 1 problem- but the system is still in good shape because the upper color is still green.  All the text and the numbers at the bottom are all linked to more information) Configure PC Health Status Gadget

 

The Last section is Reports, which is at the bottom of the left hand Navigation bar.  The 3 subdivisions include…

  1. IntelliStatus which reports major system information such as Hard drive space for all of your drives with a cleanup button; System memory of all kinds with an Optimize button; list of Startup programs, list of Running programs with a configure button which opens SM’s Process Manager; a super-powered Windows Task Manager; and lastly, an Internet speed calculator for a quick checkup and the ability to optimize the internet connection
  1. History which lists the program’s most recent actions, an Odometer, which tracks the number of Repairs/ Optimizations and the amount of Drive space freed, both time-limited and total lifetime. It also includes SafetyNet which allows you to reverse any saved SM actions and turn startup programs back on.  SafetyNet can also be activated by clicking the link at the top right hand corner of the SM page (just about all of them.)
  1. Reliability which documents your PC’s reliability over time using a timeline graph with a visual history of problems and repairs over the past 90 days and how they affect reliability over time.  The second graph zooms in on the highlighted area of the first graph.  Here one can mouse over any dot on the graph and it will reveal the program and what occurred at that time.  Below this second graph is a list of situation results, Failures, Warnings and Information, each with a tic box depending on what you want reported.  It reports the source of the problem or comment, gives a summary of comments, and the date and time in a 3-column chart.  Each dot on the timeline corresponds with each of these listed problems or comments.  Lastly on this page is the Crash Odometer, which, in chart format, counts the sources of crashes over the past 90 days and then the past 10 days along with date and time.  It’s fascinating to compare this chart with the number of dots on the timeline, giving you a total perspective of where the problems are coming from.

In conclusion, System Mechanic is one excellent diagnostic problem solver for Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and 8, and it’s improving all the time.  It has weekly updates to diagnose problems and treat PC’s more and more accurately over time.  Not every tool is the very best available, but overall, this is a fine program that does an exceptional job of maintaining, monitoring and treating a growing number of PC issues.  I’ve used it for years and I highly recommend it!

Reviewer: Grateful

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