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Keeps Windows 7 clean with System Mechanic 9

A system cleanup tool that works well with Windows 7.

"Good" is always what you want to see when it comes to the state of your system, isn't it? Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

You get a new computer and it runs great. However, after a while, things start to get more and more sluggish. This is true for all operating systems, including those running the all new and shiny Windows 7.

That is because, other than user errors (such as misuse, viruses, spyware, accidental file deletion, harmful changes to the Registry and system settings, and so on), the OS doesn't take good care of itself. It collects and store junks from the Internet. It doesn't completely remove remnants of unwanted applications. Its Registry keeps getting more and more bloated with residual settings, and so on and so forth. All of these result in system clutter that over time slows down the machine.

This is when a cleanup software, like System Mechanic from Iolo, comes in handy.

I tried version 9.0.3 of the software recently, as it's the first I found that works with Windows 7 64-bit (the software itself is 32-bit, however) and it seemed to work well, though not perfectly.

The software has a nice, intuitive interface that shows off all the things it can do. And there are a lot of them: from fixing Registry errors, cleaning up junk files, and optimizing system settings, to handling more serious problems such as security risks and backing up Registry files. Novice users can get all of that done at once or automatically taken care of via the software's ActiveCare feature.

I generally keep my computer pretty clean, but System Mechanic still found almost 100 issues with the computer's Registry. While the computer didn't seem to be noticeably faster after the cleanup operation, it did boot faster and most of all, I felt like it was cleaner. Maybe that's the psychological effect.

What I truly like about the software, however, is its set of comprehensive tools that allow advanced users to tweak the settings of the computer or to take care of a particular task. For example, the Configure Windows Startup tool shows the list of applications and services that automatically start with the computer and allows for disabling or removing them individually. This is a handy tool that replaces the "Software Explorer" part that Microsoft has taken out of the Windows Defender in Windows 7. There are also many other useful tools.

System Mechanic does have its own quirks, however. The most noticeable is the fact that it doesn't recognize most current antivirus software, such as AVG Anti-Virus, Microsoft Security Essential, or Zone Alarm, and kept telling me I need to have one installed. This is probably because Iolo wants to coerce you into buying the Professional version of the software that also incorporates a virus scanner. The second thing is when you do a "Deep System analysis," which can take a while, the process can't be canceled. So make sure you do this when you have time.

Other than that, System Mechanic 9.0.3 is definitely worth a try and you can do that for free. The software comes with 30-day full-function free trial. After that, $39.95 includes a one-year subscription to Iolo Tune-up Definition updates.