| By Michael Lasky |
Windows has always seemed a bit like that closet you’re afraid to open — over time, it mysteriously gets cluttered with obsolete data, orphaned programs, and miscellaneous fritterware.
Here’s a fresh look at an exceptional software package that cleans your PC — and two valuable apps that can reduce printing costs and produce professional-quality portable documents.
A diagnostic suite for all Windows systems
There’s a slew of PC tune-up packages out there — most of them relatively useless, some outright dangerous … and a few that actually work. My favorite is System Mechanic (SM), recently updated to Version 10.5 (info page). This isn’t some small, free, one-trick utility. Think of System Mechanic as a complete PC-maintenance toolkit: full-featured, intelligently engineered, and easy to use. Like many diagnostic apps, SM works in the background; but in my experience, it’s one of the few that do so without any perceptible drag on system performance.
SM gives you a cornucopia of more than 50 diagnostic, repair, and optimization utilities. It safely seeks out and quashes the root system problems that can drag down PC speed and stability. It will, for example, gingerly clean and repair the Windows Registry of broken links, orphaned settings, and other problems that can beset Windows over time.
System Mechanic costs U.S. $40 (list) for a one-year, three-user license package. But currently you can find it for as little as $26 at Amazon. Updates are free for one year.
Before I get into the details of using SM 10.5, let me make one thing clear: I’ve used earlier versions of SM on my XP systems and seen noticeable improvements in overall PC performance. However, running SM on my new Dell Window 7 notebook produced no measurable boost in speed. At this point, I can’t say whether it will help a system that’s been running Win7 for some time. But it most likely won’t hurt. (You can never say never with Windows systems.)