I'm a big believer in preventive maintenance for PCs. Windows systems just accumulate cruft over time, as the disk fills up with junk files, disk access slows down with files broken into multiple fragments, and more and more applications want to be part of the start-up process to run background tasks. And even when you try to be good and uninstall old applications, they still leave remnants of orphaned files, broken shortcuts, and unneeded entries in the Windows Registry file.
And that's when things are going good ... Crashes and bugs can cause corrupted files, and malicious attackers can do even more damage. Since I don't want to wipe my disks and reinstall Windows every year or so, I run variety of tools like Symantec / Norton WinDoctor and CCleaner (freeware) to try to keep the mess to a minimum.
Recently, I've been trying out iolo technologies System Mechanic as a all-in-one approach to keep my systems under control, with PC system and security analysis, optimization, and repair.
System Mechanic has been developed for 10 years and through eight major versions; iolo reports that it is the the #1 best selling PC tune-up product according to NPD Reports.
System Mechanic has some 40 tools to fix, speed-up, and maintain PCs. But it organizes these in an integrated console, so you can just run them all automatically to fix problems, or drill down to individual tools to examine problems and customize the repairs.
And System Mechanic features ActiveCare technology to run in the background to monitor your system status and optionally fix problems. System Mechanic 8.5, released in December, has improved ActiveCare options to stay out of your way when you are working, so it only runs when the system is idle. I have it set to only collect status, which it insists on doing at least once a day.
Version 8.5 also adds a Defragment and Compact Registry tool to clean out bloat, a new DriveSense tool that provides real–time data about the status of hard drives (requires internal SMART drives), and tools to find unnecessarily startup programs and to detect potentially dangerous software.
The System Mechanic interface is a bit confusing in its desire to serve all types of users -- novice, intermediary, and more advanced. The main Dashboard provides one-click display and repair of problems. The ActiveCare tab shows options for automatic fix-up in the background. Then the Power Tools tab offers one-click PC Total Care to run all the tools, or four wizards to run collections of tools: Accelerator, Repair, Cleanup, and Security.
Finally, the Individual Tools tab then reveals all the 40-some tools, but organized slightly differently into seven categories. Plus, there's a Reports tab for IntellStatus information on system resources, and the History of recent changes, including the SafetyNet option to undo changes.
Some of the more interesting tools are Optimize Startup, to suggest removing unnecessary startup programs; and Fix Security Vulnerabilities, including Widows services, network settings, and exploitable file type associations.
Most tests provide options to run quick or complete automatic test and repair, or customize the process by generating a report and then manually choosing items to repair. System Mechanic also provides nice visual status reports on system usage and performance, and clean listings of system elements such as startup programs.
iolo is currently running deals on its website: System Mechanic 8 is $49.95 list, $34.97 on the website, with annual renewals for $29.95, or $14.95 for a limited time. You don't need multiple copies: one license can be installed on up to three machines. And iolo provides free, unlimited technical support and customer service.
There's also a System Mechanic Professional bundle for $69.95 list, $48.97 on the website, with $39.95 annual renewal. It includes other iolo tools: iolo AntiVirus, iolo Personal Firewall, DriveScrubber to securely erase data, and Search and Recover to rescue deleted files from hard drives, CD/DVDs, portable devices, and memory cards.
You can download a trial version to check it out.
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iolo System Mechanic Professional on Amazon.com
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