system maintenance tasks often consume the seeming few gaps between crises.
While it’s often tempting just to steal a quick breather between outages,
performing regular maintenance can help eliminate future failures. Do yourself
a favor. Leverage maintenance opportunities to prevent future trouble.

course, a wide variety of tools are available to help. From native Windows
applications such as Disk Defragmenter and Check Disk to an unending list of
third party programs, support professionals have many resources at their
disposal. Iolo Technology’s System Mechanic 6 is one
example. The software’s Mobile Toolkit edition collects numerous utilities on a
single CD to help simplify PC maintenance.

covered in an earlier article (System Mechanic 6
Mobile Toolkit simplifies field support
), the Mobile Toolkit license
enables using the software on multiple systems and locations without requiring
software purchases at each site. Check out TechRepublic’s
System Mechanic 6
Photo Gallery
for more information on the software’s maintenance

addition to System Mechanic’s Drive Medic hard disk scanning and repair utility
and Spythonantispyware
program (covered in greater detail in Tap
System Mechanic 6 to recover failing systems
), three Mobile Toolkit
applications also prove helpful when performing system maintenance:

    Junk File Removal Tool

  • Disk Defragmentation Wizard
  • Process Manager

Junk File Removal

the Junk File Removal Tool by clicking the Clean
button from System Mechanic’s Home menu. When you click the Junk File Removal
Tool, the Remove Junk Files menu appears, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Using the Junk File Removal Tool, you can opt for a Quick Clean, a Deep
Clean or specify custom settings.

cleanup modes are available. If you opt for the Quick Clean, the Junk File
Removal Tool will scan Windows’ temporary folders and automatically remove
extraneous files no longer required. Selecting the Deep Clean mode triggers a
scan of all a system’s fixed hard disks and automatically removes all junk
files found.

the quick and deep clean options include respective Analyze links. Click either
one and System Mechanic will perform a quick review of the PC and estimate the
amount of disk space that can be freed using that cleanup mode. In the tests I
performed, the Deep Clean mode typically removed five to six times the number
of junk files the Quick Clean mode did.

of whether you choose the quick or deep clean, clicking the Options button opens
the Automatic Cleanup Options dialog box, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Use the Automatic Cleanup Options dialog box to specify how System Mechanic
should handle junk file disposal.

provided radio buttons instruct System Mechanic how to remove junk files. A
checkbox is also provided to automatically estimate space that will be freed
using the cleanup tool.

with other System Mechanic tools, a custom option enables
specifying your own settings, too.

you’ve entered your preferences, click the Next button and System Mechanic will
scan junk files and remove them as instructed. The application reports on its
progress, as shown in Figure C,
until the operation completes, upon which the tool will display a summary
report of the actions completed.

Figure C

System Mechanic displays its progress while it works.

Disk Defragmentation Wizard

includes its own disk defragmentation utility, but it can’t keep pace with
System Mechanic’s. To access the Disk Defragmentation Wizard, click Optimize
from the Home menu, select Speed Up Hard Drives and
click Disk Defragmentation Wizard. The wizard, shown in Figure D, will appear.

Figure D

The Disk Defragmentation Wizard’s menu works much like the Junk File
Removal Tool.

again, three options exist. You can select a quick, deep or custom action. In
the case of the Disk Defragmentation Wizard, the Quick Defragmentation
defragments a system’s main drive more quickly (although a few hours may still
be required for sizable drives), leaving most files in their original locations
on the system’s hard drive. The Deep Defragmentation option, however,
defragments all attached disk drives and rewrites all defragmented
files to new locations. You can also choose the Custom option to pick and
choose your own defragmentation settings.

the Options button displays the Automatic Defragmentation Options dialog box,
as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Specify whether System Mechanic should perform a quick PC cleanup before
defragmenting, and other settings, by clicking the Options button.

dialog box enables configuring several options, including running a quick PC
cleanup before defragmenting, automatically defragmenting locked files the next
time the system reboots and ignoring prefetch cache
files (typically used by Windows to enhance system performance).

you specify your preferences, click Next. System
Mechanic will perform the actions. As with the Junk File Removal Tool, System
Mechanic will report on its progress (as shown in Figure F) and present a summary upon completion.

Figure F

Mechanic’s disk defragmentation utility provides an alternative to Windows Disk

Process Manager

Windows Task Manager provides basic information on applications actively
running on a PC at any given time. The Task Manager’s Processes tab lists the
name, user and CPU and memory usage for each active service.

Mechanic’s Process Manager displays additional information. Best of all, it
links each active service with its respective Properties dialog box, which
makes sleuthing and determining a task’s associated program and function much
easier to diagnose.

addition to listing the process name, user and CPU and memory usage as Task
Manager does, the Process Manager lists the process’ publisher. Descriptions
are also provided for each process, and the startup mode (manual versus
automatic) is listed for each.

the plus sign that appears alongside each entry, as shown in Figure G, expands an active process’
entry to reveal a host of additional information about that process. The
program’s physical file location, as well as its priority, category, version
number, dependencies and other data are all displayed.

Figure G

System Mechanic’s Process Manager provides much more information about
running processes than does Windows’ Task Manager.

does this information help with routine maintenance? As users download and
install various programs, a wide variety of unwanted and even unknown
applications begin consuming limited system resources.

set to automatically execute each time Windows boots don’t consistently reveal
themselves in the System Tray or Windows’ Startup folder, so identifying them
and ensuring they can be safely removed is greatly simplified when the
additional information the Process Manager provides is available. When you find
an application an end user no longer needs loading on startup, knowing the
publisher and file’s locations and dependencies makes manual removal, when
necessary, much easier.


Junk File Removal Tool, Disk Defragmentation Wizard and Process Manager provide
valuable time-saving accompaniments to standard anti-spyware and hard disk
maintenance routines. Adding these tools to standard maintenance tasks, and
ensuring these applications are run regularly on end users’ PCs, helps ensure
systems continue running well.