Ten software solutions for maintaining a healthy PC
Over the last several weeks we’ve taken a look at programs that you should install on Windows 10, along with a number of tools that will keep the Windows platform safe. This time around, we’re taking a peek at programs that aim to keep the platforms in peak health. More specifically, the following “maintenance” programs are designed to provide better defragmentation of the hard drive, keep the crap out of your browser, and remove excess junk from your rig's storage.
Sure, Windows has built-in tools to handle these tasks, but the following programs promise to do a better job without breaking the operating system. They’re all also free to download and use, and lead the way for premium products that provide even more tools for an added price. In our opinion, you should be just fine using the free products, but if you have a little cash burning a hole in your wallet, by all means check out the premium perks.
We’ve mentioned CCleaner in software roundups before, a free tool from Piriform that promises a faster computer by cleaning up unused files and unnecessary settings that typically bog down the hard drive. The tool also promises privacy protection by deleting cookies and the search history in your browser, making you anonymous on the Web.
This is where users can uninstall programs, edit the startup, restore the system to a previous point, and so on.
This is the registry cleaner. Remember to back up your registry before you make any changes.
The company offers two premium versions of this tool: the $25 Professional version, which adds real-time monitoring, automatic updates, and premium technical support; and the Professional Plus version, which costs $40, and adds file recovery and disk defragmentation to the menu.
Clean Master for PC and Android
This is a simple tool for cleaning your machine, such as emptying the web cache and system cache. Clean Master also throws out the video and audio "junk," social software junk (Skype, Facebook, more), other software junk created by your favorite programs like Steam and Battle.net, registry junk, and online games junk. This simple application only has one job; all you have to do is click on the "Clean Now" button.
As the image shows, all the junk left behind by your favorite software can add up!
In addition to the Windows PC tool, there’s a version for Android that features an ignore list, a one-tap boost for killing “rogue” apps that are running in the background, automatic cache cleaning, an app manager, and antivirus.
Disk Defrag Free
Here’s a free defragmentation solution that promises better management than the default defrag tool offered in Windows. Developed by Auslogics, Disk Defrag Free boasts an “ultra-fast” defragmentation engine. The software also defrags in real time, checks for disk errors and makes repairs, and is capable of defragging a single file or folder.
As shown above, users can change the way the cluster map appears in the program.
Other features include a customizable disk map appearance, “special algorithms for VSS-enabled drives,” and consolidation of free space. The software even optimizes the file system as well, putting those files in the faster part of the disk.
Driver Booster 3 Free
Developed by IObit, the company says that Driver Booster 3 Free supports over 200,000 drivers and devices from more than 3,000 driver factory brands. This tool's main function is to help users find the correct driver for their GPU, audio chip, network chip, printer, mouse, and so on. These drivers can be found and installed with a simple click of the mouse, providing a better gaming or streaming experience.
This free software will show both your outdated and up-to-date software and drivers.
There’s also a Pro version of this tool set, which costs $23 and provides a long list of additional features such as an unlocked speed limit (the free version download is locked at a specific speed), the ability to download and install drivers while the system is idle, free technical support on demand, updates for outdated and rare drivers, and more.
Eraser is open-source and free to use under the GNU General Public License. According to the developer, this software completely removes sensitive data by overwriting it several times using “carefully selected patterns.”
Eraser's settings include the method used to erase data, the default drive, and more.
There’s not much more to tell about this tool; it's task-based and erases “files, folders, and their previously deleted counterparts.” Eraser works on Windows XP (SP3) to Windows 8, and Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012. Take note that this is not a tool for novice users.
Glary Utilities 5
Here’s another all-in-one tool for cleaning your PC. The suite includes one-click maintenance that keeps the tools up to date including a registry cleaner, a shortcuts fixer, spyware remover, temporary files cleaner, startup manager, and more. The suite also provides advanced tools such as registry repair, a duplicate file finder, an uninstall manager, a context menu manager, and an empty folders finder.
Shown above is the Optimize & Improve section featuring a startup manager, disk defrag, and more.
Glary Utilities will tell you when software needs to be updated.
Want the Pro version? It costs $28 for one year and features free technical support, live coverage running in the background, automatic cleaning, and automatic updates.
This tool is made by the same company that brought you CCleaner. In a nutshell, Recuva will recover files that were accidentally deleted in a Windows environment. Recovery can be made from most devices, including hard drives, SD cards, USB sticks, and so on… even damaged disks. The tool also has an “advanced” deep scan mode that will find undeleted files that are buried on a storage device, and a file erase tool that makes sure a deleted file is gone for good.
Recuva offers a simple mode, and an advanced mode for more experienced users.
There’s a professional version that costs $25, which includes the file recovery as well as virtual hard drive support, automatic updates, and “premium” technical support.
This suite by SlimWare Utilities uses what the company calls a crowd-sourced approach. According to SlimWare, the tool “uses aggregated-cloud feedback to recommend optimal settings for programs, start-ups and services.” Slim Cleaner is also based on “authoritative ranking,” meaning that user ratings are accurate and not fabricated.
SlimCleaner's Optimization panel, shown above, can help speed up the Windows startup process.
SlimCleaner relies on the community to determine whether your software is the real deal, not malware.
This tool includes a disk cleaner, an uninstaller, a software updater, an “intelligent” disk defrag tool, additional disk tools, and an SSD optimizer. There’s even a duplicate file finder, several Windows tools, and a scanner that seeks out programs that hijack a computer.
Spybot – Search & Destroy
We’ve mentioned Spybot in a few other lists, but we can’t help but list this software again, as it keeps your PC running optimally by getting rid of pesky malware and unwanted cookies (munch munch). The free tool scans and eliminates malware and rootkits, blocks malicious websites, and immunizes the system. Other features include startup tools and weekly updates.
Spybot offers many tools, including means to delete temporary files and delete tracking cookies.
The Home version costs $14 per year and includes live protection, anti-virus, multi-core processor support, and a few other tools. The Professional version, which costs $26 per year, features everything in the Home version and more, such as iPhone app scanning, system registry repair, and a secure shredder.
WinUtilities Free Edition
Here’s an all-in-one tool provided by YL Software. The free suite includes a registry cleaner that gets rid of bad registry entries, a registry optimizer that defrags and rebuilds the registry, and a disk cleaner and a defrag tool to help speed up your system. There’s also a memory optimizer, a Windows optimizer, file recovery, recycle bin shredding, and more.
WinUtilities privacy and security tools include a browser cleaner, a file shredder, and a way to undelete files.
Naturally, there’s a Pro edition that includes free technical support, one-click maintenance, and “enhanced” tools like a duplicate file finder, a file recovery utility, and more. A personal license costs $23 per year or $33 for a lifetime license. The company also provides family and corporate licenses.
That’s it for our list of maintenance tools. You’ve likely heard of a few listed here and hopefully have discovered a number of new, useful tools. The good news is that if you want to go with a premium version of any of these packages, the pricing isn’t totally insane. That said, this is by no means an exhaustive list of PC maintenance software, but we wanted to share some of our favorites. Is your favorite not covered in our list? Tell us about it in the comments.