System Mechanic Free from Iolo Systems is a stripped-down version of much more comprehensive premium tool. However, it offers good basic cleaning and optimizing for Windows systems with seven primary tools: PC Cleanup, Registry Tuner, Startup Optimizer, Memory Mechanic, Drive Accelerator, Shortcut Repair, and Internet Connection Repair. It can back up and save Registry settings and Undo changes with its SafetyNet feature.
When you install System Mechanic, you have the option to install the full or free version; we chose the freeware. But we still had to provide our e-mail address to receive an activation key for the free version. The installation process also involved selecting our Internet connection and an optional PC health desktop gadget. System Mechanic's dashboard-style user interface is slick and up-to-date yet includes some features that require upgrading to the full version, which can be a bit confusing. As always with such tools, the place to start is with a system scan. System Mechanic found problems in three areas, with three additional recommendations. We opened the detailed information, which included some Registry junk, plus a Registry backup. The recommendations involved cleaning up the startup menu and two more options that required upgrading to the paid version. We could repair all problems or selected problems at once, or run each tool individually; we chose the latter option for our first run. The Startup Organizer tool stood out as offering more information than similar tools for helping users decide which programs don't need to run on startup. Once we'd updated the Tune-Up definitions, we ran the Deep Scan (skipping the hard drive error check) and also the clutter remover. The program's IntelliStatus Report feature showed our drives and RAM with optimization choices.
System Mechanic Free delivers on its promise of good, basic system maintenance. Whether you run the one-click feature or individual tools, it can safely clean, tune, and tweak your PC. The full version offers quite a lot more than the freeware, so if you like System Mechanic Free but need more tools, it's certainly worth checking out. But the free version will be a welcome addition to many systems.