Can't afford a new PC? These free tools for Windows will help breathe new life into your old machine.
Clean up your hard disk
As your PC ages, it gets more bloated, full of applications and data you don't really need. This can slow down your PC, and may force you to buy a new hard disk. But with the following free programs, you won't have to do either.
One big cause of software bloat is the trialware, annoying free software, and ‘craplets' that computer makers put on new PCs, or that you might have inadvertently installed during your internet travels. Not only does it clog your hard disk, but the software may run in the background without your knowing it, slowing down your PC.
This little program solves the problem neatly. It gets rid of dozens of the most common kinds of junk that PC makers put on your PC. In addition to removing programs from the list, it will also show you all of the programs on your PC, and ask if you want to remove any.
When you run the program, it asks whether you want to create a Restore Point. It's a good idea to do this before having PC Decrapifier delete programs from your PC, in case you want to revert your system to its previous state. Note, though, that the program's FAQ page says that the Restore Point won't reinstall any software that the program removed; you'll have to do that yourself manually.
Works with: Windows XP/Vista
Piriform's CCleaner is another excellent tool for unclogging your PC. In fact, it's probably the best piece of software you can find - whether free or paid - to unclog your computer's arteries.
For a start, it gets rid of cache files and junk files left behind by many applications, including Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat Reader, QuickTime, Windows Media Player, and all the major browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Opera.
Close your browsers and tell it to scan your PC; it reports on what it will clean up, and then cleans up what you tell it to. Often, you'll be able to get rid of hundreds of megabytes of files you don't need. If you think you need a larger hard disk, first run this program - it may show you that just cleaning up your existing one is all you need.
CCleaner goes beyond cleaning your hard disk, though. It also has a Registry cleaner that kills unused entries and fixes bad ones; will show you what programs automatically run on start-up when you boot Windows; and will let you disable ones you don't need.
When you install the program, it also installs a Yahoo toolbar by default. If you don't want to have the toolbar installed, uncheck the box next to it before completing your installation.
Works with: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/Vista
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