Do Those 'Speed Up Your PC' Programs Really Work?

Category: Software

I see commercials everywhere for products that promise to speed up my computer. Are they legit? If so, can you recommend any specific product?

Double Your Speed?

I’ve come across the same pitches online, on TV and on the radio. "Speed Up Your Computer," they say, or "Restore your computer to like new condition." One even promises to "double the speed of your computer." So do these magical, all-in-one, "click one button and speed up your computer" programs really work?

It depends on which programs you're talking about. There are scores of free and commercial programs that promise to speed up your PC. Some are built into your operating system. Some third-party programs are effective in limited ways; they eliminate some speed bumps but not others. Some of these programs are really malware in disguise; they install keyloggers and viruses while merely pretending to speed up your PC. And a few well-known third-party utilities do an excellent job of eliminating a wide range of speed barriers.
Does Speedup Software Really Work?

The basics of speeding up your PC are pretty simple. Defragmenting your hard drive helps data get read and written faster. Cleaning the registry prevents conflicts and wasted resources otherwise used in fruitless searches for shortcuts and other things that no longer exist. Deleting unnecessary temporary files cuts down on file management overhead. Shutting down unnecessary processes frees up CPU cycles for important tasks, and can slash your startup time. And perhaps most important, keeping your system free of viruses and spyware will make a dramatic difference in speed.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a penny to accomplish these tasks. All of these housekeeping chores can be done manually, as I have described in these articles:

Some Speedup Programs That You Can Try

I understand how intimidating it may sound to do all of this tinkering. That's why all of these all-in-one speed boosting programs exist -- to make it easy.

Speed-up programs, like many other types of software, started out simply and have grown more complex over time. CCleaner, long a popular junk files cleaner, added registry cleaning and now features privacy tools; basically, it deletes unnecessary things. CCleaner is useful and free, but you'll need separate programs to defragment your hard drive, scan for viruses, etc.

My personal favorite is Advanced System Care Free because it does a lot for free with one click. ASC sniffs out and eliminates spyware; cleans the registry; defragments the hard drive and (optionally) the registry; tweaks Internet settings to maximize performance on different types of connections; optimizes the order of programs loaded at startup; and tweaks system settings to optimize for home, small office, or enterprise use. There's a PRO version of ASC that does even more, which costs $20.

One program I definitely did not like at first review was SlimCleaner. I spent more time trying (and failing) to figure out what this program does than it could ever save me. More importantly, I noticed no gains in performance after running its default mode. CNET's editors give it five stars, but their review is interesting. They gush about "community based" solutions, while noting that the program actually did nothing to speed up the computer on which they tested it. But there are plenty of good user reviews, and SlimCleaner is free, so your mileage may vary.

I should also address PC Matic, which may well have prompted your question. PC Matic advertises heavily on television, and promises to cure a host of computer ills, while speeding up your old computer. Maybe you've seen the "dumb husband / smart wife" version of this commercial, or the more recent "smart dad / dumb daughter" version. Aside from the fact that the commercials are kind of annoying, PCMatic is not a scam, and the $49 software does what it promises.

Let me repeat my earlier warning: there are many bogus "speed up your PC" programs out there. If you run across a Web site that offers to give you a "free analysis" of your system, be cautious. You could be giving the site permission to tamper with your machine. Another favorite scam is the free download that merely identifies (or claims to identify) performance bottlenecks, then hits you up for money in exchange for another program that will actually fix (or claim to fix) the problems. If you encounter such a thing, hit the Back button and try the solutions I've mentioned here.

Do you have any speed up tips to share? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Do Those 'Speed Up Your PC' Programs Really Work?"

(See all 32 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

James Wilcox
15 May 2012

I purchased a program by Iolo from an ad on your webpage which although full of promises to speed up my PC did absolutely nothing. Trying to cancel the program and get a refund was more difficult than pulling teeth. All I could get was an offer to 'upgrade' and take care of other problems.
I'll stay away from Iolo in future.
I already subscribe to your newsletter and purchased your book - both are fine publications but I'm not too pleased with one of your advertisers for sure.


Posted by:

Walter Davis
15 May 2012

One nice freeware is CCleaner from Piriform (formerly Crap Cleaner). Nice and quick and easy to use. Cleans Windows, Apps, restores, cleans free memory, and lots more. Used on XP and now Windows 7.


Posted by:

Joseph
15 May 2012

@actionjksn I notice all you guys who do the "Everybody needs to get rid of Windows and switch to Linux" posts when the article is obviously about windows will never mention any of the cons of using Linux operating system instead of Windows.

LIKE WHAT?


Posted by:

Jami
15 May 2012

I like Toolwiz Care, it is totally free and so many cool functions it has!


Posted by:

Peter Ridgers
15 May 2012

Good article Bob.

'Go Faster Stripe' programs that you pay for do one thing extremely well - they keep your bank balance lean and mean.

I have used CCleaner for many years and it has never let me down.


Posted by:

Terry
15 May 2012

I've been fixing computers for a few years now. Here is what works.

Getting rid of virus/adware/spyware.
Turning of programs running in the background.
If you use IE get rid of the toolbars.

Everything else is basically Snake oil.


Posted by:

Sam
15 May 2012

Is it true what KRM says, that the free version only 'flags' and we have to buy the pro to remove them? It would be helpful to know this as I was about to install this prog. Appreciate all your posts though!! Tx!

EDITOR'S NOTE: There are a few features in the PRO version that are not in the FREE version, but that's to be expected. It's NOT true that you have to buy the Pro version to do any of the repair functions. I just ran the most recent version, and it fixed registry errors, invalid shortcuts, cleaned up history, and removed junk files.


Posted by:

actionjksn
15 May 2012

@Joseph


Joseph
15 May 2012

@actionjksn I notice all you guys who do the "Everybody needs to get rid of Windows and switch to Linux" posts when the article is obviously about windows will never mention any of the cons of using Linux operating system instead of Windows.

LIKE WHAT?

Like The fact that the Windows programs that people use and often need are not compatible. Like if they go to install a piece of hardware they may have to compile something or use the terminal, even though most users of Windows are not advanced enough to even know what that means. Like many of the things on Windows that are automated or require clicking something require opening a terminal which is not something the average Windows user is advanced enough to handle, nor do they have any desire to learn. Like the fact that the appeal of Linux for Linux fan boys is the fact that it is not dumbed down and nearly fully automated nor do they want it to be. They are already complaining that it has been simplified too much. depending on which version your talking about. Which leads to the other thing it is so fragmented with so many versions. And the program incompatibility. So if you don't like Open Office or Libre Office tough luck if you have Linux you can't have Microsoft Office, and guess what some - many people don't want anything but Microsoft office and many other Windows programs. And when you say LIKE WHAT? are you implying that there are no cons to using Linux instead of Windows? Like there are only pros an no cons? I am far more advanced in computers than the average user, I know because I fix several per month so I know where the average users technical level is. And I have trouble with Linux. The average PC user would be lost unless they had someone who is really good with Linux to set everything up and take care of every problem they have. Most people don't want to be on Linux Forums and sometimes even being talked down to because they don't understand, trying to figure out how to do the things that were fairly simple with Windows. Linux is a great and powerful operating system and it would be my first choice for a super computer or something like that. But it is not designed to be as simple to use for the average PC user. It's for geeks and there's nothing wrong with that but it is what it is.


Posted by:

Lorey
16 May 2012

I have used several, but my favorite is Advanced System Care. It's worth every penny for the professional version. All the tools it provides are beyond expectation. It's easy to use and comes with a cool control panel. Not some plain documented interface.
This program is NOT a rip-off at all. If your pc isn't worth the $39 to keep it clean and up to speed, then you get what you buy when you go with all the freebies out there.


Posted by:

SeaCanary
16 May 2012

This article could not have come at a better time. Thanks a bunch for the help.


Posted by:

dwerth
16 May 2012

Today in my email I received from AVG, whom I already utilize, a "Free One Time Fix." With an option to purchase for unlimited uses.

Is this one worth the try?


Posted by:

john
17 May 2012

Hi Bob,
I use System Mechanic from Iolo. In USA is ~40$ and you can use pro version for 30 days full and after you can buy if you are happy with it. I started with version 6 in 2002 or so and now they are at ver.10. I don't work for them but I like this software.

John
Sent from my HTC


Posted by:

John
20 May 2012

I installed Advanced System Care based on the advice in this article. I had to shut down Chrome during the installation in order to continue, while I was in the middle of a complex session with many multiple windows and tabs open. When I reopened Chrome, the whole lot had vanished. The history had also been completely trashed so there was no way to continue an important session. Any software that can trash information like this without a full warning can only be written by a complete cretin. AVOID THIS GARBAGE LIKE THE PLAGUE - anyone recommending it is presumably the author. BE WARNED.

EDITOR'S NOTE: John, the irony here is that ASC did *exactly* what it was supposed to do. One of the things ASC offers is to erase your browser history. It's an optional feature on the Quick Care screen, but you must have missed that. Sorry you had a bad experience with it, but that's not the fault of the software. And just for the record, I'm not the author of ASC. Further, I have no financial stake in the company, nor do I make money by recommending it.


Posted by:

Glenda
22 May 2012

Hi all, I have been using advanced system care for ages. I liked the free one so much, I spent "chicken feed" on the pro one. (Meaning it's quite cheap) It does everything I need. I aso use CCleaner, and run Malawarebytes Antimalaware from time to time. I have Microsoft Essentials and I never have a problem. Just quietly, I think firefox and chrome go a bit 'funny' when you do some things through them..


Posted by:

Jack
10 Aug 2012

I also use the Advanced System Care Pro version on my PC and laptop and have been very pleased with the software. I began with the free version and upgraded to the Pro version when it was offered a very low price. You just have to take the time to learn what the software does and confrom it for your individual needs.


Posted by:

LindaSView
05 Oct 2013

This is the latest about being duped by PC MATIC and it cost me in time far more than the darn program. I do not know why and how, PC Pitstop, which started several years ago, with great online tools and tests for your computer for free and then offered tips for issues it may have found, started gouging the consumer with those pathetic ads. It is not a one click fix and woe to the end-user who does the "Fix it For Me" box. As Bob says, a system image/backups are very important as that tool nearly wiped-out my whole harddrive. It's a disgrace the pitstop crew went in to "greed mode" and I can't fathom the amount of demands they have had from people, mostly novices who believed in the ads, to give them their money back, but I've seen hundreds of posts from angry users-and they were somewhat tech savvy. I feel for those who really fell for how simple it was to use and more than likely had to pay big bucks to get their computers up and running again with a good chance, some of their stuff was unrecoverable. It's a shame what happened at the pitstop, but live and learn!
LindaSView


Posted by:

Barry Watson
09 Dec 2013

Do not, I repeat, do NOT buy "Fixcleaner," sold by Slimware Utilities. My PC was running slow, so after reading the reviews (no doubt "planted" by Slimware, because they were almost all great!), I paid $34.95 for this utility that promised to speed things up, etc. Here's what it did: Initially, it sped my PC up a little. Two wks. later my games wouldn't play or play correctly, so I sent an e-mail via their "Support" option. They never responded, so I tried their "Chat" section. The tech, "Bernard," took control of my computer and keyboard and "fixed" things. Over the next 8 months I had to use Chat about 12 times. Things got worse. Games wouldn't play, flashing lights, screen went completely black, strange happenings. In short, Fixcleaner not only failed to fix anything, it put, or allowed, several nasty viruses into my PC, as well as some spyware. I had to have a local shop fix it. This is a SCAM.


Posted by:

Jimmie Bales
17 Nov 2014

I installed PCmatic on my 2005 dell 4700 desktop running winxp home edition because avg and avg tuneup was doing nothing to address the popup adware that would pop up every time I clicked the mouse. I was seriously considering purchasing another computer because of this problem. After running the pcmatic program all adware was removed/disabled/quarantined or whatever it does, drivers were updated and the computer ran faster and very smoothly. I give PCmatic 5 stars our of 5.


Posted by:

Jimmie Bales
17 Nov 2014

I installed PCmatic on my 2005 dell 4700 desktop running winxp home edition because avg and avg tuneup was doing nothing to address the popup adware that would pop up every time I clicked the mouse. I was seriously considering purchasing another computer because of this problem. After running the pcmatic program all adware was removed/disabled/quarantined or whatever it does, drivers were updated and the computer ran faster and very smoothly. I give PCmatic 5 stars our of 5.


Posted by:

Rebecca Fransway
19 Apr 2015

I downloaded speed up my pc from mypcgeeksupport.com. I thought I was paying 19.99 for the software. They billed my debit card $47 and had it set up to bill my debit card every month. I uninstalled the software and asked for my money back. No one will contact me. Don't ever give these people access to any of your accounts.


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