This guide is a collaboration between Michael Louie and Connor McBrine-Ellis.
These tools that we’re about to show you will noticably optimize your system, and fix problems you didn’t even know existed! And in this tutorial you’ll find out that to have a healthy system running well you really don’t need to have to spend any money on software to do it for you – all the tools are available for free!
Tools that are built-in to Windows:
In all Windows operating systems you will find the programs Disk Defragmenter and Disk Cleanup which are really useful. Disk Defragmenter will rearrange the files on your computer into an optimal order, so that your files aren’t scattered all over the disk. Disk Cleanup will clean the “crap” off of your hard disk boosting your speed, although to be honest, this feature isn’t functional much anymore, it only really removes a couple kilobytes of data, which used to be quite a bit, but no longer really makes a difference.
You may also use the Add/ Remove Programs system maintenance tool to delete games and programs you no longer use.
Another good idea to speed start up times is to stop unnecessary programs from loading at startup – to do this go to Start -> Run. Type in the box “msconfig”, without the quotes, and then visit the startup tab. Remove any applications you’re sure you don’t need to run at startup.
To really get into optimizing your system so that you REALLY notice the difference, you’ll need use a couple freeware tools.
Freeware tools (all virus-free):
The first tool we’re going to talk about is Cacheman, shareware software (if you have Windows 2000, google CachemanXP), which operates in the background while freeing up RAM and optimizing processes in the background. It eliminates that sluggish feeling your windows PC would otherwise get after a few days, and saves precious time that you would otherwise spent waiting for your system to reboot.
CCleaner, freeware software, is a mix of a really polished registry cleaner, and a bit of a ‘disk cleanup’ tool, that is more functional (Microsoft hasn’t changed disk cleanup for years). The registry cleaner will speed up your computer by removing references to files that no longer exist, and many other incorrect or outdated entries to your registry. Though many will tell you using registry cleaners is pointless and are extremely dangerous, I will disagree. CCleaner tells you to back up your registry before applying any changes, and it backs it up into a simple *.reg file, allowing you to simply double click that file and return to your previous state. I think it’s always a good idea to backup before you scan with CCleaner, in case something does go wrong. The disk cleanup tool will clean your Temp folders and your internet cache, speeding up your computer, and also clearing any personal data about web browsing in any amount of browsers you have installed, all at once. Overall, this tool is excellent.
The problem with antivirus tools these days is that they slow your system down a LOT, especially when scanning. Depending on what type of an user you are, antivirus may help you, or it may hinder you. If you are really smart about who you download and always run your programs in virtual machines or sandboxes (see my post on Sandboxie), then you may not need an antivirus, merely you may just need an anti-spyware tool that also scans for viruses and rootkits, like Malwarebytes.
Anyway, the average user should still use antivirus software, and these are our three top picks for freeware antivirus protection:
For Spyware/Malware protection, we have three more awesome freeware picks:
Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware – This tool is probably my favorite freeware anti-malware program. It is super-lightweight, not slowing down your system much, and scans your registry too for any virusy keys! It has helped me every time I have gotten a virus when all else failed (my experience with the vundo trojan). Try it out, it can’t hurt, and it doesn’t cost any critical system resources as it doesn’t automatically start scanning and it doesn’t automatically start up, just remember to scan once in a while.
Also try out Ad-Aware, and Spybot Search & Destroy for more spyware protection, but Malwarebytes’ is better, in my opinion!
Anyways, we hope that you enjoyed our guide on optimizing your PC with helpful tweaks and freeware/shareware tools!