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    Saturday, August 01, 2009

    5 Free PC Maintenance Tools…

    I constantly get people asking me what free software they can use to either speed their Windows PC up, protect them from hackers, or get rid of viruses. So I thought I'd compile a list of free software that I use and recommend to keep your computer virus free, and running in top condition.

    1) AVG Free Antivirus – This is an excellent antivirus application for the general PC user, those who are slightly more advanced will find that it sometimes reports false viruses but for the most part users will have no problems. It will auto-update to the latest definitions and can be set to scan either the whole computer, a certain hard drive, or even certain files. Scanning can be done on demand, or on a set schedule. It also supports web browsers such as Firefox as well as messenger, scanning all downloads automatically (once set up!) to ensure no nasties can get onto your computer.

    2) CCleanerStands for (quite literally) Crap Cleaner! It will clean the crap off your computer! Many people do not realise that as you browse the web, every image you see, every link you see, pretty much information about everything you see is stored on your hard drive. Not only can this cause privacy risks, but most of all, it slows your computer down! This program auto-updates and provides an easy to use scanner and cleaner that even novices will find easy to use. The program has a variety of options to choose from (the basics come preset) and more advanced users have the option to clean further files in their system.

    3) Comodo Firewall – Most people believe that their PC is protected if they install an antivirus program. My more advanced readers will know that this simply isn’t true! Whilst an antivirus program will protect you from any viruses in files you may download, it will not protect you from unauthorised access to your system. This is surprisingly easy if you have a WiFi network in your home! Install this simple, free, and surprisingly configurable firewall, and you will have some great protection against these kind of threats.

    4) Disk Defragmenter – Personally I use the built in disk defragmenter in Windows. Now i have heard this called everything under the sun, one particularly amusing description is “Windows disk defragmenter is about as useful as shoving a badger down your underpants!” Personally, I have found it to do the job and increase various system times, such as start-up and shut-down. If you are after something more than the built in windows tool, then Auslogics Disk Defrag is supposed to be the best free tool at the moment, but I have not used this tool!

    5) Wise Registry Cleaner – I was very reluctant to include a registry cleaner on this list, as the damage they can cause to your computer is sometimes irreparable. However, when used properly, they can really help to speed up your computer. Now we all know, uninstalling a program removes all files associated with that program, but sometimes (read: most of the time) it does not remove the registry entries associated with that program. Now think of the registry as a giant book, As humans, we would find it a lot easier to find information in a book, if that book didn’t contain pages and pages of completely useless and redundant information (This is essentially what is left over when registry entries are not removed). Wise registry cleaner will scan your entire registry and mark all problems with either ‘Safe to remove’ or ‘Unsafe to remove’. You should only remove those that are safe to do so, and when you have you will surely notice the difference.

    As a footnote, I will say that I am not responsible for any consequences that may be caused by using any of these tools, this post is for informational purposes only and all programs are purely my own recommendations. Users should take particular care when using any type of registry modification tools and a full system restore backup point is highly recommended before any registry entries are modified.