System Mechanic Ultimate Defense Review: Fine But Not Ideal

Review star bar, magnifying glass, System Mechanic Ultimate Defense logo and a star showing a review score of 6.2

System Mechanic’s Ultimate Defense package is an all-in-one computer maintenance and security suite for Windows devices offered by Canadian software company Iolo. The package includes tools that provide PC performance optimization, real-time antivirus protection, on-demand malware removal, password management, and data recovery.

In order to be able to compare its antivirus capabilities to those of competitors, we put System Mechanic through the wringer. We tested its security, privacy, usability, speed, and performance to see if it’s money well spent.

Review score table for System Mechanic Ultimate Defense


System Mechanic: Short Review

ProsCons
Excellent suite of features beyond antivirus softwareSketchy privacy policy
User-friendly serviceScans can slow down systems
Responsive customer serviceNo VPN as part of the package
30-day money-back guaranteeOnly available for Windows

System Mechanic Ultimate Defense is a collection of tune-up utilities that can help you secure, optimize, and maintain your computer. The tools include:

  • Performance optimization
  • Antivirus software
  • Online privacy protection
  • A secure password manager
  • Drive wiping capabilities
  • Deleted file recovery

During our testing of System Mechanic’s antivirus solution, we noticed two main positives. Firstly, the antivirus software did a decent job of detecting malware and viruses. Secondly, we found the software quite easy to install and navigate.

However, System Mechanic’s pricing is a deterrent when you compare it to other antivirus software, including the overall best antivirus packages. In addition, the service has a sketchy privacy policy, which indicates that it’s willing to share all kinds of data with third parties. On top of that, its antivirus scans took much longer than they should and affected our device’s performance.

System Mechanic could be an interesting package to invest in, but we don’t overly recommend it. Like competitors such as Norton 360 and Surfshark One, System Mechanic has chosen an all-in-one solution instead of focusing on one specialty. While this is useful, we do hope they’ll improve their antivirus service to make it faster and more privacy-focused.

Read our full-length System Mechanic Ultimate Defense review below to learn all you need to know about this package. If you want to purchase System Mechanic right away, click the button below. Not satisfied? You can get a full refund if you request it within 30 days.

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System Mechanic Specifications and Subscriptions

Ultimate Defense costs $23.99 per month for the one-year plan. It comes with a free month of unlimited 24/7 technical support. If you don’t cancel this support before the end of the first month, it will automatically renew at $19.95 per month (on top of the existing costs). This is a sneaky way of luring users to purchase technical support.

Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, pricing

Note that Ultimate Defense comes with a suite of seven features:

If you don’t want the full suite of features, Iolo System Mechanic has three other plans: System Mechanic (Basic), System Mechanic Pro, and System Mechanic Business. Thankfully, each plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it before you’re tied to a subscription.

Below is a breakdown of each of the pricing tiers and what the packages come with.

FeatureSystem Mechanic (Basic) System Mechanic Pro System Mechanic Ultimate DefenseSystem Mechanic Business
Price per year*From $39.95From $55.94From $63.94From $49.99
Real-Time Antivirus
Performance Optimization
Private Browsing
Malware protection
Payment Protection
Password Manager
File Recovery
Drive wiping technology
Download LinkGet System Mechanic Get System Mechanic ProGet System Mechanic Ultimate DefenseGet System Mechanic Business

* Prices may vary based on various factors, including your location and cookie tracking.

For the purposes of this review, we tested System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, their most complete package.


Security: Can System Mechanic Be Trusted?

Score scale 6.5/10

We tested System Mechanic’s security to see if it’s up to scratch, and here are our findings:

  • System Mechanic’s products have no AV-Test or AV-Comparatives results.
  • The Ultimate Defense package does a decent job of detecting malware.
  • Real-time threat protection has to be activated manually before it protects your device.
  • Ultimate Defense includes a password manager to keep your login details safe.

For its various security options and antivirus package, System Mechanic gets a 6.5/10.

Security testing: How does System Mechanic measure up?

As we do in our antivirus reviews, we used third-party testing results alongside our own tests to make a judgment call on the security of System Mechanic’s antivirus solution, “System Shield.”

First, we checked for independent testing results from two reputed evaluation sources: AV-Test and AV-Comparatives. Unfortunately, neither of those websites has any current information on System Mechanic Ultimate Defense. This lack of testing makes it hard to see how it compares to other antivirus software like Kaspersky and Norton, which have consistent AV-Test and AV-Comparatives records.

Instead, we ran our own test to verify if the antivirus could identify malware and alert us. We did this by introducing a dummy anti-malware test file from the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR). We ran multiple folder scans, and the antivirus didn’t disappoint. The software detected the malware when we scanned the folder containing the malware file.

Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, malware detection

However, this manner of testing isn’t as thorough as we’d have liked it to be. New kinds of malware are created and spread constantly, and an openly available dummy test file isn’t able to show us how quickly an antivirus provider can adjust to these new threats. System Mechanic responded well to our tests, but we’re hesitant to give it our full points as of now.

Real-time threat protection

Real-time protection runs in the background and alerts you of any dangers to your computer. This might just be the most important feature any antivirus software could have.

Unfortunately, System Mechanic’s real-time protection is not enabled by default. You’ll have to click on “System Shield” and check the real-time protection button to activate it. While this is a definite drawback, we found that, once enabled, this feature performed well. It works alongside the Malware Killer, which detects and removes malware when activated.

Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, Real-time protection

During our testing, System Mechanic’s real-time protection proved to be robust as it alerted us each time it spotted something fishy. That certainly doesn’t mean it’s the best in the business, however.

When it comes to real-time protection, Bitdefender has a leg up over most antivirus programs, including System Mechanic. Bitdefender’s Advanced Threat Defense feature does an excellent job of blocking zero-day attacks. Read our full Bitdefender review to learn more about this feature.

Antivirus scans

With System Mechanic’s antivirus feature, you can scan your device in three ways, which you can easily pick between on the main dashboard:

  • Full System Scan: You can check your entire device in one go using the full scan option. Keep in mind that this will take longer than any other scan mentioned in this list.
  • Quick Scan: For a speedy, surface scan that checks the “usual suspects,” choose the quick scan option.
  • One Folder: Scan one specific folder if you suspect something dodgy is hiding inside of it.
  • One File: You can also scan one particular file to make sure it’s virus-free.

Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, scans

ByePass

Aside from your standard virus protection, System Mechanic has multiple other features up its sleeve to keep you safe online. ByePass is one of those. You can easily keep yourself safer online by using strong, unique passwords. ByePass is a secure password manager that keeps track of all your passwords and credit card details.

Simply add your login details to ByePass, and you won’t have to remember your passwords anymore. Instead, they’ll be safely stored using military-grade encryption. By using ByePass’s password generator and autofill options, you can easily create good passwords and log into all your accounts with one click.

Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, byepass

If you’d like to learn more about how this works and what kind of competition is out there, have a look at our best password managers article.


Privacy: How Does System Mechanic Handle Your Data?

Score showing 5 out of 10 on the scale

As a platform that also reviews various VPN providers, we’re well aware of the importance of online security products that respect and protect your privacy. We reviewed System Mechanic’s privacy protection features and privacy policy document to see how this all-in-one solution performs on this front. Here’s what we found:

  • System Mechanic’s Privacy Guardian feature keeps your browsing sessions private and helps you stop Windows data collection.
  • The company’s VPN, ioloVPN, is not included in the all-in-one solution.
  • The service collects several logs and is willing to share them with third parties.

For these reasons, we gave System mechanic a 5 out of 10 for privacy.

Privacy Guardian

Included in System Mechanic’s Ultimate Defense package is Privacy Guardian. This collection of privacy features enables you to limit what your OS, the websites you visit, and other parties know about you.

Privacy Guardian can automatically delete tracking cookies and browsing data, protect you from phishing attempts in your inbox, and stop data collection by Windows 10. It also offers Digital Fingerprinting Protection to hide your online habits. This works by scrambling all the data that browser fingerprinting scripts use to collect your personal information.

Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, privacy guardian

All in all, Privacy Guardian offers some nice options to make your online presence more anonymous. It even safeguards you from online fraud and targeted ads. However, it doesn’t offer as complete a package as it could have, since System Mechanic Ultimate Defense doesn’t offer its own VPN.

The company that owns System Mechanic, Iolo, does offer a separate VPN subscription, but you’ll have to add that to your regular subscription. This is unfortunate, since some of our best antiviruses have built-in VPNs.

Would you rather take out a standalone VPN in addition to Ultimate Defense? Then check out our post on the overall best VPNs of this moment.

System Mechanic’s privacy policy

Iolo Technologies has an extensive privacy policy that covers all of its products, including System Mechanic Ultimate Defense. When we studied it, we quickly noticed that the service collects a variety of logs, including:

  • Identifiers (such as your real name, alias, postal address, unique personal identifier, online identifier, internet protocol address, email address, and account name)
  • Commercial information (such as transaction data)
  • Financial data (such as credit card information)
  • Internet and other network and device activity (such as browsing history and information on interaction with a website, application, or advertisement)
  • Geolocation data (on an IP-based or city/state/zip level)
  • Age and gender
  • Information you voluntarily provide as you use the products (such as additional profile information or user-generated content)

While most of these logs are pretty standard, they are very invasive as a whole. On top of that, the most troubling aspect of System Mechanic is the following statement.

RealDefense may sell, transfer, or disclose personal data, including your contact information, to its affiliates, licensees, partners, and other third parties as appropriate in accordance with the terms of written agreements for legitimate business or marketing purposes.

This willingness to share information with third parties is cause for concern.

The good news is that there’s no record of any System Mechanic data breaches. Even so, Iolo could take a cue from Bitdefender’s privacy policy, which encourages users to take charge of their privacy and even recommends useful third-party extensions like AdBlock Plus.

If you want to examine System Mechanic’s privacy policy yourself, be sure to read our article on how to spot privacy risks in user agreements and privacy policies.


Usability: How User-Friendly Is System Mechanic Ultimate Defense?

Score scale 8/10

Any product’s ease-of-use can make the difference between an excellent buy and a dreadful experience. When we tested System Mechanic’s usability, we came to the following conclusions:

  • Ultimate Defense is only available for Windows users.
  • The app is quick to install, attractive, organized, and easy to navigate.
  • The antivirus section is straightforward and easy to navigate.
  • System Mechanic offers various features that help to clean your device and keep it organized.
  • The knowledge base is full of helpful articles.
  • Customer support is prompt and knowledgeable.

We were very content with System Mechanic’s usability, so the service earns an 8 out of 10.

How do I install Ultimate Defense?

Iolo’s website is clean, well laid out, and easy to navigate, so you should have no problems finding the software you want. If you hover your cursor over or click on the “Products” tab at the top of the homepage, you’ll find the software listed among a suite of other products. Keep in mind that System Mechanic is only available for Windows. If you have any other operating system, you’ll have to look for a different antivirus solution.

Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, products website drop-down menu

Installing System Mechanic is not difficult, either. We’ve outlined the steps to follow below:

  1. Visit Iolo’s website via this link, and you’ll automatically be taken to the billing section.
  2. Enter your payment details.
  3. Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, payment information
  4. Download the installation wizard, also called the Iolo download manager.
  5. Open the Iolo download manager. The download will usually be saved in your downloads folder, so check there if you have trouble locating the setup file.
  6. Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, installation wizard
  7. Grant the installation wizard access to certain systems and network settings to complete the installation.
  8. Once the installation is done, you can access the software. You can simply log in using your email address.

Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, windows app

System Mechanic Ultimate Defense’s software

We feared the Ultimate Defense app might be full of clutter, since it packs a suite of seven features. However, the software pleasantly surprised us and turned out to be exceptionally user-friendly.

First of all, the dashboard is attractive and easy on the eye. When you first open the app, System Mechanic will give you a tour to help you get familiar with the interface. What impressed us most is how System Mechanic organizes its features: all seven of them are arranged neatly on the left-hand side of the app.

When you open the app, the default view is a dashboard that houses tune-up utilities to analyze, clean, speed up, recover and maintain your computer. In this section, you’ll also ActiveCare, which scans your computer regularly to ensure peak performance, and Liveboost, which allocates your processing power to ensure top performance for memory-intensive programs.

Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, user interface

Below the collection of tune-up utilities are the six other features in descending order: Privacy Guardian, ByePass, Malware Killer, Antivirus, Search and Recover, and Drive Scrubber. Clicking each product option opens up a dashboard and various settings under that feature.

When you click the antivirus tab, you’ll see the option to activate real-time protection at the top. Below, you’ll see a tab to select the kind of antivirus scan to run. There are also tabs to check which files are quarantined and exclude specific files from antivirus processing. Overall, the antivirus section is well-organized, and all the important buttons are right on the main screen.

If you want to customize your overall System Mechanic settings and privacy, go to the settings button in the bottom-right of the interface.

Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, settings

System Mechanic’s Tune-Up Features

Aside from offering antivirus solutions, System Mechanic is also focused on providing features that help you clean and organize your device. There are three tools in the software that we’d like to highlight here:

  • Deep Clean: An option that gets rid of unnecessary clutter. If you notice your computer slowing down, you can configure your CPU and RAM usage using LiveBoost.
  • Search and Recover: This feature helps you recover any file you’ve deleted. It’s particularly handy when you accidentally delete important files.
  • DriveScrubber: This feature erases information from your PC permanently and is especially useful if you work with sensitive information or need to clear your PC so you can sell or give it to someone.

How easy is it to cancel System Mechanic Ultimate Defense?

System Mechanic doesn’t place any unnecessary obstacles in your way if you want to cancel your account. All you need to do is follow these steps :

  1. Go to your AOL Account at myaccount.aol.com.
  2. Sign in with your AOL screen name and password.
  3. You’ll see the “My Services” tab. Click on “System Mechanic/Search and Recover.”
  4. Click “Cancel Service.”
  5. Click “Cancel Service” again to confirm.

We appreciate it when a service makes cancellation straightforward like this, as it shows a dedication to the customer, even if that customer wants to quit the service.

System Mechanic’s customer support

Iolo has a comprehensive knowledge base full of setup guides, how-to guides, and FAQs. They’ve grouped the articles under each feature, making it easy to find relevant articles. For instance, there are 29 articles under “System Mechanic.”

If you can’t find what you need in the knowledge base, System Mechanic offers live chat and phone support. We tested the live chat support with some dummy questions and received prompt and detailed responses.

Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, live chat

The live agent even gave us a special offer.

Screenshot of System Mechanic Ultimate Defense, live chat offer

Alternatively, you can contact System Mechanic by phone 24/7. The number is toll-free, so you don’t have to worry about paying any charges. Unfortunately, this support is only available for users in the U.S. and Canada.

LiveTech

If you want extensive support from technicians, you can sign up for Iolo’s LiveTech 24/7 technical support. This expert support team can help you clean up and remove viruses, malware, and spyware. They are also available to diagnose conflicts and errors to speed up your PC, fix bluescreens, and optimize internet connections.

Unfortunately, LiveTech does come at an extra cost of $240 per year for unlimited troubleshooting, with support for three computers and three mobile devices. One-time troubleshooting on one computer and one mobile device costs $99.


Speed and Performance: Will System Mechanic Ultimate Defense Slow Down My System?

Score showing 5 out of 10 on the scale

System Mechanic can have a significant impact on your computer’s performance. Here’s what we found when we ran a full scan:

  • Scans can take hours.
  • Scans take up lots of memory and half of your system’s CPU.
  • It’s best to run scans during off-hours.

Overall, we gave System Mechanic a 5 out of 10 for speed and performance.

How long does a scan take?

We tested System Mechanic’s quick and full scans. The quick scan took about five minutes. Surprisingly, the service took nearly five hours to run a full scan. This is incredibly long compared to other antivirus solutions, which tend to take an hour at most, and 20 to 30 minutes on average. Avast, for example, only took sixteen minutes to perform a full scan.

Of course, the length of time of a scan depends on a range of factors, including the number of files on your computer, your RAM, the type of hard drive, and CPU performance. Here are the specifications of the computer we used for our testing:

  • Intel Core i5 CPU
  • 4GB of RAM
  • A solid-state drive (SSD)
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • 64-Bit system (English)

If you have a higher-performing computer (or fewer files on your device), your scan might take shorter. Even so, System Mechanic took an unusually long time to complete its scan.

How does Ultimate Defense impact my CPU?

A full scan consumed about 240-275MB of working memory and about 45-40% of CPU resources. Many of our top antiviruses hover between 20-50% of CPU usage, so System Mechanic’s figure is on the high side, but not unusual.

However, there are plenty of virus scanners that use much less memory and CPU. For example, Sophos antivirus took only 12.8 MB of our memory and between 0.4% and 0.9% of CPU usage, while Surfshark Antivirus used 60-80MB of working memory and 5-10% of CPU resources.

While performing the Ultimate Defense scan, we experienced some lag and slight heating of our laptop as well. All in all, we can’t recommend this service for its speed and performance. If you’re really keen on using it, we suggest running full scans only when you’re not actively using your device.


Final Verdict: Is System Mechanic Ultimate Defense a Good Virus Scanner?

Overall, our System Mechanic Ultimate Defense review has shown that this software does an okay job of detecting and handling viruses and malware. It isn’t our favorite, however, and there are definitely better-performing packages out on the market.

System Mechanic offers an interesting combination of features that might be a good choice for people who want antivirus protection, tune-up services, and password storage tools in one. However, its lacking speed and performance, along with the lack of a good privacy agreement, make it a less-than-ideal choice. You might be better off with an all-around solution provided by Norton 360 or NordVPN.

Since System Mechanic is only available for Windows, you’d also need to look elsewhere for any other OS. Here are some of our antivirus recommendations for different devices:

You can learn more about antivirus software on our antivirus page.

Want to try System Mechanic anyway? You can check out their antivirus by clicking the button below.

Visit System Mechanic
System Mechanic Ultimate Defense Review: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have further questions about System Mechanic Ultimate Defense? We’re happy to help. Just click a question below to see the answer.

No, System Mechanic Ultimate Defense is not a virus. Rather, it’s an all-in-one PC cleaner, antivirus, password manager, and data recovery software package. Read our System Mechanic Ultimate Defense review to learn more.

System Mechanic Ultimate Defense has various functions, including performance optimization, malware protection and removal, online privacy protection, password management, drive wiping, and file recovery. Learn more in our System Mechanic Ultimate Defense review.

System Mechanic’s free version only allows you to scan your computer. However, you won’t be able to fix the problems that come up. Your best bet is to choose a paid plan. This will give you an antivirus service along with tune-up features and various other tools.

Yes, System Mechanic Professional comes with antivirus as part of the package. It also comes with other features, including performance optimization. You can learn more about antivirus software in our post on what antivirus software is and how it works.

System Mechanic does not come with a VPN, although its parent company Iolo has a VPN service. If you want a robust VPN, check out our overall best VPNs article.

System Mechanic comes with a firewall as part of its security tools. When activated, the firewall filters all your network traffic to keep infected files, malware, and viruses from entering your computer or network. Learn more in our post on firewalls and antiviruses.

Tech journalist
Wisdom is a B2B SaaS consultant and tech writer, with several years of software review and writing experience under his belt. He combines a background in data science, mathematics and digital marketing with a knack for storytelling.