Keep It Clean – iolo’s System Mechanic 11 for Windows

by Jeremiah Hall (doddleNEWS)

As insanely cool as video programs are, once in a while you need to turn your back on them and do some system clean-up.  If you are on Windows, I strongly suggest taking a look at iolo’s System Mechanic 11.  System Mechanic 11 is a suite of tools designed to clean your system, speed-up your system, and keep your registry in tip-top shape.

When you first start System Mechanic 11, a.k.a. SM11, you see a splash screen showing what’s new in the current version, a customer welcome and tutorials on how to use the software.

System Mechanic 11

The bottom of the screen has a skip-this-screen button, as well as a check-box to never show that screen again.  Skipping the opening screen brings you to the main dashboard.

The Dashboard

Here you see the overall health of your system, as well as the various tools.  Underneath the overview is a button that says Analyze now, with an arrow on the side.  Clicking the arrow gives you a choice between a quick analysis, taking 1-2 minutes, and a deep analysis, taking 6-7 minutes.  Quick checks the registry, unwanted start-up items, and checks the machine for clutter, such as temp files.  Deep analysis looks for system clutter, registry problems, unwanted start-up files, and the health of the hard drives, including optimization.  Because of the length of time it takes to test large hard drives, it gives you the option to skip this test.  Be warned, once you start testing the hard drive, you cannot cancel it.  SM11 also gives you this warning before you commit.

My results

Once the analysis is complete, it alerts you to the problems it has found, with the option to fix everything, fix the selected, or do nothing.  In my case I had some defragmentation of the system drive, fifteen registry problems and 200 mb worth of clutter.  It also alerted me to 16 potentially unwanted start up programs, giving me the option to start the Optimize Windows Startup wizard, or hide that warning from appearing again.  I chose to fix the current problems, and ignored the start up files for a rainy day.

The different tools.

Underneath dashboard are four different types of tools.  Activecare consists of automated tasks to do on start-up.  These include defraging the memory, optimizing the system drive, optimize internet configuration, optimize start-up configuration, defrag and compact the registry, repair hard drive errors, repair broken internet connections, repair broken shortcuts, and repair registry problems.

Also included are automatically cleaning up system clutter (i.e. temp files), backing up the registry and repair any security vulnerabilities.  And finally, auto download and installation of tune-up definitions.  Each of these can be activated or deactivated depending on your whims.  Next in internet security, which checks to see if you have anti-virus running and if a firewall is running.

Individual tools.

Next is toolbox.  In the toolbox you have two choices:  all-in-one tools or individual tools.  The all-in-ones include PC Accelerator, PC Repair, PC Cleanup and PC Security.  Each one runs multiple tools for the topic covered.  Or run all four at once, called PC TotalCare.  You can also run tools individually.  This is a rather lengthy list, divided by sections from Increase Performance to Manage Add-ons.  The upshot is that there are over 30 individual tools to help your system perform at it’s peak.  Finally on the side list are the reports, giving you the history of what SM11 has done, as well as the status of your system broken down by drive space, system memory and start-up programs running.

I particularly like the Startup Optimizer.  This let’s you go through the programs that start as part of Windows that you may not need.  I personally don’t need the Windows Media Center Scheduler Service, used to start and stop TV show recording in Windows Media Center, in my day-to-day editing.  This turns it off, with the option to turn it back on if the need arises.  I freed up a small chunk of memory turning off unneeded programs, as well as boosted my start-up time.

Other tools I like include the CRUDD Remover, which removes duplicate programs and the EnergyBooster, which turns off unused background programs (why run a print spooler if there is no printer attached to the machine?).  There is also the DriveAccelerator, which defrags hard drives, and the Program Accelerator, which according to SM11 “re-align[s] programs and their dependent files on the hard drive to speed up program launch time and overall responsiveness.”  There is also the SSD Accelerator, for solid-state drives.

I like the simplicity of the interface.  I like being able to have more control of my editing computer.  SM11 works with all versions of Windows, even the upcoming Windows 8.  I like also like the price.

System Mechanic 11 is subscription-based.  The base price is $39.99 for the download, and then $20.00 each additional year.  Program updates are included in the price, as well as definition updates.  When I started using System Mechanic, it was version 10.  The good news is you can run it on as many computers as you have in your home.  My wife’s laptop, my daughter’s laptop, my netbook, my edit system, the dog’s laptop, all covered under one license.  And you can add additional time whenever you want.

System Mechanic 11 – check it out here.  Happy cutting.

About Jeremiah Hall

I am a videographer living in the Cincinnati, OH area. I have over fifteen years experience, with my name on a couple of Emmys and a Murrow or two. When I'm not in front of After Effects or teaching editing techniques, I like to play with camera equipment and as much tech as I can find the time for.