System Mechanic 9 Review
At a Glance
System Mechanic 9
A powerful, easy-to-use toolset, but users should carefully examine all proposed changes before committing.
System Mechanic 9 ($50, as of 7/30/09; 30-day free trial) is a powerful and deep set of tools for analyzing and optimizing your Windows system. It is easy to use, with an elegant interface and an extraordinary degree of customizability and fine control. I did run into one fairly significant issue.
Let's look at the good first, since it outweighs the bad by a wide margin. System Mechanic 9 is one of those programs which can elegantly move from "fire up and forget" to drilling down to the deepest levels and tweaking each option. And when it does drill down, it does so hierarchically, so you can leave most things to defaults and then navigate to particular areas. System Mechanic 9 can also provide a wealth of information if you ask for it, but doesn't overwhelm you with it. You decide how much you want to know about any particular item.
System Mechanic's range of capabilities defies easy categorization, as the suite combines many different tools into one integrated package. It defragments memory, makes sure your deleted files are really deleted, erases unused temp files and old Web caches, optimizes your startup routine, and more. It also allows you to create several profiles of various sets of startup and background processes. If you like to log in to do some raiding in World of Warcraft, for example, you can create a "gaming" profile that deactivates unneeded background processes, such as your Java updater. You can also create an "actually doing work" profile so that you turn the Java on and the Ventrilo off (you don't voice-chat with your guild at work, do you?).
The more you poke around in System Mechanic, the more tools you find. It has an uninstaller that is faster, cleaner, and more useful than your system's default add/remove programs. It also provides easy access to many of Windows' more obscure system settings. Many of the features here can be found elsewhere--some by spelunking through Windows, some by loading up on other programs--but having them all in one place is a tremendous time-saver.
Now to the one problem I found. The "deep search" feature for duplicate files, despite its promise to do the job in "3-5 minutes," at first seemed to be nonresponsive. After talking with tech support, I allowed it to run unhindered; 12 hours later, it had found all my duplicate files and was 9 percent of the way through organizing a list of them. According to the support person who handled my questions, this length of time was normal for scanning a 1.5-terabyte hard drive like the one on my desktop PC. On my notebook, which has a more average-size hard drive, the scan took 15 minutes--much better, but still a ways from the promised 3 to 5 minutes.
Despite this glitch, System Mechanic 9 remains a very strong and useful suite of tools, and a great way to stay on top of all the things that can drag down system performance.