Seven Free PC Maintenance Tools
A reader asks: 'I know I need to clean up my hard drive every once in a while. Are there any other regular PC maintenance tasks you recommend doing on a regular basis?' Yes! Here are seven free programs you can use to clean up and tune up your Windows computer...
Keep Your Computer Running Fast and Reliably
Just like a car, your computer needs regular maintenance to continue performing at its best. Waiting until accumulated minor problems make your computer run intolerably slow is bad for it. A neglected PC works harder than it should and then hardware can start to fail. You may experience a sudden catastrophic crash similar to a car engine seizing up because you never changed the oil.
All-in-one and some specialized PC maintenance tools make it a breeze to keep your system in top shape. Their functions generally include registry cleaning; disk defragmentation; optimization of system settings; and deletion of unnecessary, duplicate or temporary files. Some free PC maintenance tools include scheduling of maintenance, diagnostic tests, cleanup of malware, and system-tweaking options for advanced users.
Smart users perform PC cleanup and tune-up operations at least once a month. Here's what I recommend, and some free computer maintenance tools to help you do the job. Unless otherwise mentioned, all of them work with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers.
CCleaner by Piriform is a popular PC cleaner/optimizer/privacy tool that's developed a sterling reputation over many years. CCleaner zaps temp files, web browser history, cookies, and form inputs, to remove all traces of your online activities. It also mops up after Windows, cleaning out your Recycle Bin, removing unneeded log files, deleting memory dumps, and pruning obsolete registry entries. CCleaner does not include a defrag module, but Piriform also offers the free Defraggler, which does the job quite well.
Advanced SystemCare Free by IObit has been downloaded over 150 million times since 2006. It takes only one click to launch this popular program's comprehensive maintenance scan. It does an excellent job of registry cleaning, disk defragmentation, junk files cleanup, and system optimization. It also clears out spyware and adjusts your system settings to protect your privacy and security. The Homepage Protection option protects your browser from rogue software that tries to change your browser's start page.
NOTE: When downloading Advanced SystemCare, you may be directed to CNET's Download.com site. If so, read this before continuing: DOWNLOAD ALERT: Foistware Warning. This warning has nothing to do with IObit's product, which I like and recommend. But you do have to be careful when downloading from CNET, or you could get annoying "tag-along" software you don't want.
PrivaZer is a hard drive clean-up utility on steroids. It gets rid of junk files and wipes away traces of activity that could compromise your privacy. PrivaZer zaps duplicate files, temporary files, log files, unneeded Windows update files and old Windows installs left over from a system upgrade. In addition to cleaning files and filesystems, Privazer does a thorough scrubbing of your Windows registry, and will also remove web browsing history, saved passwords, and cookies.
The Glary Utilities is another PC maintenance suite, downloaded over 40 million times. It, too, does registry, privacy, defrag and junk files cleanup. It includes an application uninstaller that is more sophisticated than Windows Add/Remove app; for example, you can tag multiple applications to be uninstalled in one operation. It also includes a startup programs manager, a memory manager, and a nifty utility to remove unwanted context menu items. Cleanup can include a sweep for duplicate files, empty file folders, and broken shortcuts. It will also backup and restore all your hardware device drivers. The latest version claims to be 800% faster at analyzing your PC for potential problems.
Speccy and Belarc Advisor are two diagnostic programs I rely on when a computer doesn't seem to be running optimally. See my article What's Going On Inside My PC? to learn how they can help you identify overheating and other potential problems.
The Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool, along with Startup Repair and other utilities that come with Windows are described in my article Free Windows Repair and Recovery Tools.
Don't Forget About Security
Finally, it should go without saying that you need to be vigilant about computer security. Here are the two most important pieces of advice I can give on that subject:
- Keep Your Software Updated - See my related article Computer Security: The Missing Link to learn how to scan your computer for software vulnerabilities, and how to make sure you have the latest versions and security patches.
- Use Anti-Malware Protection - See my list of Free AntiVirus Programs to learn how to get excellent security software for free.
Each of these free PC maintenance programs has additional bells and whistles for advanced users or troubleshooting. Some have premium versions that you can purchase, to get additional features. Read the product features lists carefully if you have a particular issue that you want to resolve. In my opinion, all of these freebies will do a good job of tuning up your computer for top performance. Try a few of them, and then uninstall the ones you don't want to continue using.
Do you have a favorite computer maintenance program I didn't mention? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 17 Jul 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Seven Free PC Maintenance Tools (Posted: 17 Jul 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved