If you’re looking for a free PC maintenance suite then there’s not exactly any shortage of options. A few moments at your favourite search engine will turn up a long list of potential candidates, each promising that they’ve the technology to best improve your PC’s performance, and for no charge at all.
All this free competition makes it difficult for the vendors of commercial PC maintenance packages to stand out from the crowd. But iolo technologies is now fighting back with the new System Mechanic Free, a cut-down version of the company’s flagship System Mechanic suite.
The program includes all the core PC maintenance functionality you’d expect. So there are tools to clean your Registry; highlight and remove unnecessary Windows startup programs; defragment your hard drive; find and delete redundant files, securely wipe confidential documents, and so on.
But these do have a little more power than most similar tools. The “Optimize Windows Startup” doesn’t leave you to decide which startup programs can be removed, for instance – it makes specific recommendations. And the hard drive cleanup tools freed up noticeably more drive space than CCleaner in our tests (although it does also lose a few marks by not providing specific details of what it wants to delete).
There are also a few features which you won’t necessarily find in all the competition. You get options to back up and restore the Registry, for example, or find and repair broken shortcuts. A duplicate file finder may help you free up more drive space; the Advanced Uninstaller thoroughly removes installed applications; and the System Change Tracker allows you to take snapshots of your system state, and compare them, so for instance you can see the changes made by an application you’ve just installed.
And perhaps most conveniently, you don’t have to spend forever exploring each tool in turn. System Mechanic’s All-in-One wizards mean that you could, say, run all the cleanup tools automatically. Or launching PC TotalCare will run every tool in just a few clicks.
Unsurprisingly, the full version of System Mechanic has many more features: boot-time defragmentation, special software speedup options, an internet connection tweaker, a module to locate and install updated drivers, disaster recovery tools, the System Troubleshooter to fix common Windows problems, security tools, in-depth Windows startup optimisation, a Windows tweaking tool, and more. If that sounds more appealing then you can always download the System Mechanic trial as an alternative.
If you’d rather not part with any cash, though, the free version delivers plenty of useful functionality. And it doesn’t hassle you with annoying nag screens, beyond an “Upgrade” dialog displayed if you choose a feature which is only available in the commercial version. (And these are all tagged with an “Advanced” icon, so you’ll only do that once or twice.)
If you’re looking for a free PC maintenance suite, then, the new System Mechanic 10 Free could provide everything you need, and it’s definitely worth a closer look.