Best Free PC Tune-up Utility


For one-click cleaning, the stand-out product is "Glary Utilities". The free version has a disk and registry cleaner; a process, startup, uninstall and context menu manager; a memory optimizer; analyses disk space; removes broken shortcuts, duplicate files and empty folders; erases tracks; shreds, recovers, encrypts and splits files; manges Internet Explorer add ons and provides access to some Windows tools. The $39.95 shareware version adds scheduling, support and consent for commercial use.

Another option is "Advanced WindowsCare Personal" from IObit. The Personal version is a feature-reduced version of their Professional product. Features missing in the Personal version include automated scheduling, commercial use licensing, tech support, and some advanced tuning tweaks. However, the Personal version does include almost everything else: adware/spyware cleaning and immunization, removal of useless temporary files from your hard drives, Windows registry cleaning, startup program analysis, erasure of private browsing history, plus a number of system and security tweaks.

Both of these are impressive free packages, have one click operations, and are recommended for non-technical users. They both lack in one major area: hard-drive defragmentation. However, IObit also offer an excellent free defrag program called "SmartDefrag". If you use this in conjunction with Advanced WindowsCare or Glary Utilities, you'll have a remarkably complete tune-up package.

Those who are more technically inclined will find the lack of fine control in these all-in-one packages frustrating, and it's more likely that you'll be attracted to the use of several specialized packages which offer more settings and better user control. This approach is less convenient than a one-click package that "does it all", but it's more customizable and offers more powerful cleaning functions. And it's also less dangerous, as it will encourage you to stop and think.

There are several different tune-up utility combinations that can be used. Many of you are using some of these utilities already, but for those who aren't, here's our basic "freeware clean-up kit" suggestion:

Spyware/Adware Cleaning:
SUPERAntiSpyware
Disk and Privacy Cleaning:
CCleaner
MRU-Blaster

Registry Cleaner:
EasyCleaner
Defragmenter:
Diskeeper V7
PageDefrag

These are suggestions only. There are some splendid alternatives in each category, which you can find in the appropriate software categories at this site.

We recommend that you run the utilities in order of appearance in the list above. Do check the settings for each program before you run it, particularly CCleaner (some people find the default settings a little aggressive). Remember that cleaning your PC always involves a small element of risk, so backup your data and create a System Restore Point before you start.

If you find that you have spyware that can't be removed by SUPERAntiSpyware, we suggest that you download HijackThis, and follow the instructions. They will also tell you how to paste the output to the Tom Coyote web forums. These folks should be able to help you get rid of the problem permanently. It won't cost you a cent.

So how often should you tune up your PC? We recommend that you run a malware scan weekly and the other cleaning operations monthly. After each monthly Windows update is an excellent time to run a clean up. If you install and uninstall a lot of products you may want to increase this frequency to weekly.

If you have never tuned up your PC, then you should see a real improvement in speed and responsiveness the first time you run these programs. However, on subsequent runs the improvement may be much less noticeable.

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