We’re always looking for ways to increase our computer’s performance, and here’s a look at one product that might help.


I recently wrote a blog piece titled “Items to Address with a PC Tune-Up.” As a result of that piece, I received an e-mail from a software vendor asking me to review and evaluate their own PC tune-up product, System Mechanic from iolo technologies.

I decided to run this program on a home computer, one that gets plenty of use by a couple of people — and one that could probably use a bit of optimization.

According to iolo technologies, System Mechanic will speed up your PC by:

  • Cleaning, running a defrag, and repairing the registry
  • Accelerating PC startup 19 ways
  • Running defrags and recovering orphaned RAM
  • Boosting Internet speed
  • Completing low-level drive defrag
  • Turning off unused background programs

After an easy installation, I ran the program to perform a system analysis. I was given two options:

  • Perform a quick analysis: Checks the system for the most common problem (1-2 minutes).
  • Perform a deep analysis: Checks the system for all types of problems (5-7 minutes).

I selected the deep analysis. It took 45 minutes to run, not the stated 5-7. I ran the same analysis a second time, 12 hours later, thinking the first analysis might take longer, but it still took 45 minutes. However, it does warn that scanning the hard drives for errors could take several additional minutes, and perhaps up to an hour in extreme cases. Both times, the hard drive scans started 30 minutes into analysis. (This particular system has two hard drives: a 160GB C-Drive and a 500 GB D-Drive, with combined data totaling about 500 GB.)

When it’s all said and done, however, the 45-minute analysis time isn’t really a factor for me. I’ve run some disk defragmentation programs that took that long. Nonetheless, it reported my system status as poor.

And viewing the problems, it reported the following:

  • The system drive is 19% fragmented.
  • The computer has 14 repairable security vulnerabilities.
  • The computer has 317 registry problems.
  • The computer has 2.76 GB of system clutter.
  • The computer has 2 unnecessary start-up items.
  • The Internet configuration is not optimized for maximum speed.
  • The memory level is low (40% available).
  • The registry has never been backed up.
  • The registry is 10% fragmented.

I made the selection to repair all, which took an additional 10 minutes and a reboot. Another look showed that the system status was now reported to be good. The install, by the way, gave me an option to make the system status indicator a gadget item in Vista’s sidebar, which I selected to turn on.

I timed my reboots both before and after the repairs, and it remained a painfully slow 1:55, so it didn’t improve my reboot time at all. The system ran perfectly fine after the analysis and subsequent repairs, and I might have even noticed a slight increase in performance opening programs, documents, and such; it was hard to tell, and I had no way to test it against any kind of benchmark. The idle CPU usage remained the same, at around 4-6 percent.

The one thing that was quite noticeable, however, was an increase in Internet speed. And it was significant — really obvious. Web pages opened much faster. I’m not sure what tweaks it performed in that regard, but iolo technologies calls it their NetBooster Technology. Well, it sure boosted my Internet.

Bottom line:

This would never replace the thorough tune-up I outlined in my original blog piece, but it might not be a bad addition to it. Like I said, the increase in Internet speed was pretty impressive, and that alone might make it worth the current price of $39.95.