Built for speed

Increase your Internet speed--really!--with this simple program.

We're always a little skeptical of programs that promise to enhance Internet speed, because a lot of the time they just don't work, at least not in any noticeable way. Though we can't promise that Network Mechanic lives up to its claim of increasing network speed by up to 300 percent, we can say that it provided us with an impressively faster connection.

The program is easy to install and configure. Users simply choose which type of Internet service they have from among four choices and click Optimize Now. Windows has to be restarted in order for the optimization to take effect, and take effect it does. Everything was zippier, and the more demanding the job, the more noticeable the difference. Normal Web sites loaded almost instantly, which was nice, but not a huge improvement over our already pretty-fast normal cable Internet. Then we tried a particularly Flash-heavy site that we frequent (and frequently wait for as it loads), and the difference was obvious (and wonderful). We tried downloading some songs with a peer-to-peer file-sharing program and had similarly impressive results. Network Mechanic has a few other options, as well, including a browser cookie and cache eraser and some enhancements for Outlook Express and Internet Explorer, but the network optimization is really what it's all about. The program's built-in Help file is brief but adequate.

Network Mechanic has a 7-day trial period. The program installs a desktop icon without asking but uninstalls cleanly. We recommend this program to all users.

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