Is your PC tired and sluggish? If you want a faster system, you could certainly break the bank and buy a new machine. Or you could read this article instead.
We’ve found 50 downloads that will make your PC run more quickly and smoothly, help you use the Internet more effectively, and push Windows to work at optimum speed with the interface you want, not what Microsoft gave you.
Most of these downloads are free to use forever; some are free to try, but require that you pay for them after a trial period (we’ve labeled each download accordingly). You won’t have to search high and low on the Internet to find them; they’re all available from the PC World Downloads library.
In this first part of our series we offer you the scoop on the first 11 of these incredible downloads. What are you waiting for? Get downloading; you’re minutes away from a spiffier, faster system.
General Tune-Up Tools
Sometimes the best way to optimize your PC is to use all-in-one tune-up tools that offer a slew of utilities, ranging from file cleanup to Registry cleaners and beyond. Here are some of our favorites.
Advanced WindowsCare V2 Personal
This great free all-in one tool straightens out your Registry, handles Windows startup programs, erases your surfing history, removes spyware and protects you from future infections, and gives your system an all-around optimization.
Be sure to tell the program to create a restore point before it goes to work. And examine, closely, what it will do in its overall system optimization. Apart from that, just direct the program to scan your system, see what it wants to do, and let it do its business.
Download Advanced WindowsCare V2 Personal | Price: Free
This all-around degunker and system cleaner will sweep away unneeded files, control which programs run on startup, undelete, and even completely destroy unwanted files to protect your privacy.
Download TuneUp Utilities | Price: $50 (Trial)
With this tool you can kill junk files, duplicate files, and Internet tracks. It also includes a good cookie cleaner that displays all your cookies, lists their contents, and then lets you eliminate ones you don’t want. Features beyond system cleaning include Registry tools that claim to speed up Internet access. And how about a screen-capture program and wallpaper randomizer on top of that?
Download WinSettings Pro | Price: $50 (Shareware)
Given that Super Utilities has 27 tools for cleaning and optimizing your PC, you’re sure to find a module that you want. Included are a startup organizer, a Registry cleaner, defragmentation tools, antispyware features, and much more.
Download Super Utilities | Price: $60 (Trial)
This excellent no-cost tool promises one-click cleanup and optimization, and it delivers. It scans your system for problems with the Registry, shortcuts, startup programs, and spyware, and then gives you the option of which to clean up. It also deletes traces of your Internet surfing and erases temporary files. Optimization doesn’t get simpler than this.
Download Glary Utilities | Price: Free
Application and Startup Optimization
System sluggishness is often the result of problems with the applications you run. Are they outdated and in need of patching? Do too many run in the background? Use the following utilities to solve those problems and others.
If you make sure that all of your applications are patched and up-to-date, they’ll run faster and be more secure–and so will your PC on the whole. Unfortunately, visiting the Web site for each of your applications can be so time-consuming that you’ll never get around to doing it. Grab this freebie instead. It scans your system, lists all of your applications, and then regularly checks for security patches. When it finds a new patch, it applies the fix.
Download Secunia PSI | Price: Free
One likely reason your system is sluggish is that it’s bedeviled by “craplets”–software that your PC maker installed because it was paid to. Craplets slow down startup and general operation.
This free software removes dozens of unwanted items automatically. It zaps only a specific set of craplets and trialware programs: Those that are specifically put on new PCs, such as QuickBooks Trial, Wild Tangent Games, Dell URL Assistant, and others. (For a full list, go to the PC Decrapifier site.) Before you use this utility, create a restore point in case it kills something you wanted to keep.
Download PC Decrapifier | Price: Free
Unnecessary services and applications that run whenever you start your PC or log in to it are a big cause of system slowdowns. Unfortunately, it’s tough to identify every item that starts up, because nothing in Windows gives you such information. That’s why you need this free tool. It displays every program and service running and offers a great deal of detail about each, such as associated .dll files, the program or service name, and its location on your PC. With that knowledge, you can decide what you don’t want to run on startup.
Download Autoruns | Price: Free
Security Task Manager
Similar to Autoruns, this excellent tool shows you every running program and process. The utility also indicates whether the program is likely malicious, its type, how it launched (for example, upon startup or from within Windows Explorer), and the file name. It lets you delete any program and process with a single click. It also rates files according to how harmless or dangerous they may be. To stop a program, highlight it, click Remove, and you’re done.
Download Security Task Manager | Price: $29 (Trial)
This very good all-around system optimizer frees your PC of unnecessary programs that run on startup and keeps it clean of spyware and other malware. Whenever a program tries to start automatically, WinPatrol sends you an alert so you can block it. In addition, it shows details about the program, including the creator, when the program was added, the file name, and so on. The Delayed Start feature allows you to put off the launch of certain programs for up to an hour. That way, you’ll still have access to the program when you need it.
Download WinPatrol | Price: Free
Strictly speaking, this isn’t an optimization tool because it doesn’t clean your system or tune it up. But it does eliminate a cause of system slowdowns and instability for many people: buggy, bloated Adobe Reader software for reading PDF files.
The free Foxit Reader is smaller, loads quickly, doesn’t take up unnecessary memory, and has no instability issues. So if Adobe Reader slows your system down, this is a great alternative.
Download Foxit Reader | Price: Free