No matter how meticulous you are in limiting the number of free downloads you install on your PC or laptop, your computer will still get jam-packed with junk that restricts performance, clogs up your hard disk, and makes system crashes more likely.
Some of the useless programs came with your PC, but much of it has accumulated over time, as a result of installing and uninstalling programs, creating and saving files, and even simply surfing the web.
But things don't have to be that way: Downloadable software can clean up your PC and give it a new lease on life. We've put together 20 files that will do the job - your PC will thank you for it.
GENERAL CLEANING TOOLS
We'll start with some broader or wider-ranging utilities; there's some overlap in what they do, but half the fun is trying them out.
You buy a shiny, brand-new PC. You expect it to be clean, lean, and mean. Wrong! Buy any new PC, and you'll find it full of 'craplets' - software installed for no reason other than that the PC maker gets paid to put it there. These craplets slow down your PC startup and its general operation.
The free PC Decrapifier removes dozens of craplets automatically. Using this program is exceedingly simple. Just run it, and it does its removal work automatically. Don't expect it to completely clean your PC, because it removes only a specific set of craplets and trialware programs - namely, those that are specifically put on new PCs, such as QuickBooks Trial, Wild Tangent Games, Dell URL Assistant, and many others. For a full list, go to the developer's site. Note that when using this program, it's a good idea to tell it first to create a restore point just in case it removes something that you wanted to keep.
Dedaulus System Cleaner
If you're looking for a simple, easy way to do basic system cleaning - and don't want to pay a penny for it - then this is the program for you. It cleans temp files and internet traces, finds duplicate files, and fixes Registry errors. It'll do more as well, including showing you all programs that load on system startup, and deleting and uninstalling programs. Don't expect bells or whistles or a fancy interface. But for straight-ahead, simple system cleaning, this is a winner.
TuneUp Utilities 2007
This all-in-one program costs $40 (£20) but has just about every clean-up tool you could name. Looking to remove unneeded files from your hard disk? It'll do it. Clean up and optimise your Registry? It's in there as well. Perform an overall system optimisation? Yes, it does that also, and plenty more as well, including controlling which programs run on startup, and even undeleting files - or completely destroying files, if you want to protect your privacy.
This all-in-one system cleaner costs $50 (£25) but includes a slew of extra features. It'll find and remove junk files, duplicate files, and internet history; it also comes with a very nice cookie cleaner that shows you every cookie on your system, including each one's contents, and lets you delete the ones you no longer want. It has plenty of features beyond system cleaning, including a variety of Registry tools that claim to speed up internet access, and tools for a variety of other tasks such as customising Internet Explorer.
There's more, such as a screen capture program, a wallpaper randomiser, and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. By itself, it's not the best system cleaner, but for those who want the other tools as well, it's a good bet.
Follow the links below to find tools in the following categories: