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If you treat your computer right, it will stay fast and responsive for many years. But if you neglect proper maintenance, it will turn into a molasses machine that ends up being a source of frustration.

In the worst of cases, your computer will lose much of its lifespan 8 PC Maintenance Mistakes That Kill Your Hardware Lifespan 8 PC Maintenance Mistakes That Kill Your Hardware Lifespan PC maintenance isn't rocket science, but you could be making a handful of mistakes that are actually harming your hardware. Read More — and this is especially true for laptops, which are more susceptible than desktops.

So where do you begin? With the five apps below. They’re extremely effective at what they do, require close to zero effort on your part, and don’t cost a dime. The bang-for-buck is incredible, so if you aren’t using them already, you should install them right away.

1. Disk Space Analysis

No matter how tech-savvy you think you are, you have wasted disk space on your system. And if you’re the exact opposite of tech-savvy, then you’ll be surprised by how much of your disk space is actually being wasted. We’re talking gigabytes.

Go ahead and install WinDirStat.

windows-maintenance-tool-windirstat

Here’s the hard part about disk space management: the average Windows system has hundreds of thousands of files and folders. This makes it difficult to pinpoint where all of those disk-wasting files are located.

Cleaning out your Downloads folder is only the first and most obvious step. Your system is likely filled with all kinds of forgotten files that you no longer need, and these files are likely scattered around your system. Good luck hunting them down one by one!

If you value your time, you should just use WinDirStat instead. It scans your drive and turns it into a browsable hierarchy that makes it easy to see which folders are using up the most space on your drive. Afterwards, check out these tips for saving even more space on Windows.

2. File Cleaning and Optimization

As you use your computer, there are certain files that you’ll want to delete on a regular basis. This includes browser caches, temporary installer files, Windows thumbnails, system log files and crash dumps, etc. Doing this by hand is simply unfeasible.

Go ahead and install CCleaner.

windows-maintenance-tool-ccleaner

The file cleaner feature of CCleaner has two sections: one for Windows and one for third-party applications. Go through both and check (or uncheck) the kinds of files you want to clean, then click Run Cleaner. I just ran it and it freed up over 1 GB of disk space!

Note that CCleaner also has a registry cleaner feature, but registry cleaning has no measurable effect and should be avoided on modern systems.

Even though the Pro version isn’t necessary at all. You may want to consider upgrading, however, if you’re interested in deeper scanning, real-time system monitoring, scheduled cleanings, and automatic updates. Upgrading will cost you $25.

3. Complete App Uninstallation

Did you know that uninstalling an app in Windows usually leaves traces of that app still on your system? It’s rather annoying because those traces add up over time, resulting in wasted space and can even impact system performance.

Go ahead and install Geek Uninstaller.

windows-maintenance-tool-geek-uninstaller

Geek Uninstaller is simple: when you use it to uninstall an app, it will scan your system for any related files that may have been left behind and remove them. It’s fast and it’s portable, meaning you can stick it on a USB drive and run it on any computer as needed.

If Geek Uninstaller is a bit too simple for you, Revo Uninstaller is a great alternative. The free version is slightly more powerful with a couple of extra features that you won’t find in Geek, but it’s also a bit slower overall.

4. Malware Scanning and Removal

Malware has always been, and will always be, a huge problem for computer users. Best case, it slows your system down to a crawl. Worst case, your PC becomes controlled by a hacker, your data gets locked and held for ransom, or your identity gets stolen.

Go ahead and install Malwarebytes.

windows-maintenance-tool-malwarebytes

Malwarebytes is the absolute best anti-malware app that you can currently get for free. Its database of infections is updated every day so it can successfully detect and remove the latest viruses, worms, spyware, and more. The free version only does manual full scans, but that’s more than adequate.

The premium version adds real-time protection as well as support for anti-ransomware, anti-exploits, anti-phishing, anti-rootkits, and more for just $40 per year. Think of it like a preemptive vaccine, whereas the free version is more like a post-infection treatment.

5. In-Depth System Information

Do you know the exact specs for the CPU, GPU, RAM, storage, motherboard, and all the other parts in your computer? If so, will you remember them a month from now? Or even a year? I don’t know about you, but I tend to be very forgetful about those things.

Go ahead and install Speccy.

windows-maintenance-tool-speccy

Speccy will tell you all of the important bits that you need to know about your computer at a glance. Some of it can even get pretty in depth, such as the information panels for CPU, RAM, and storage. This app is particularly useful when you want to upgrade your computer’s performance Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most? Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most? If you need a faster computer but aren't sure which component would be most beneficial to upgrade, then here are the guidelines you should follow. Read More and want to compare what you have, against what’s available on the market.

If you don’t like Speccy for whatever reason, CPU-Z is a good alternative. It isn’t as in-depth or advanced as Speccy, but it reports most of the details you’d ever need and is therefore good enough 99 percent of the time.

Other Nifty Computer Maintenance Tips

I consider the five tools above to be essential installs regardless of what kind of computer you have or what kind of user you are. I also want to throw in two more apps even though they aren’t as maintenance-focused as the ones above:

  • CoreTemp so you can see your CPU temperature in the system tray, which can let you know when it’s overheating or overactive. (Use Macs Fan Control if you’re on Boot Camp.)
  • F.lux to change your screen into a warmer color at night, which can help fight eye fatigue as well as computer-induced insomnia.

If you’re on Windows 10, note that there are some new maintenance routines to consider Windows 10 Maintenance: What Has Changed & What You Need to Consider Windows 10 Maintenance: What Has Changed & What You Need to Consider In Windows 10, Microsoft seriously overhauled maintenance features. Especially Windows Update is causing some headache. We provide you with an overview of new settings and show you which third party tools you still need. Read More that differ from previous versions of Windows. And no matter which version of Windows you’re on, you’ll want to avoid these common PC maintenance errors 10 Common PC Maintenance Errors That You Can Avoid 10 Common PC Maintenance Errors That You Can Avoid PCs still require maintenance, as much as we wish they were magic boxes that did all the work for us. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes when it comes to maintaining their PC. These mistakes could... Read More as best as you can.

How many of the above apps were you already using? Are there any other essential maintenance apps that you’d add to the list? Share them with us in the comments below!

Originally written by Varun Kashyap on 31 August, 2010.

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  1. warda
    June 18, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Are u still living in 2010?? why u need ccleaner when u have optipn by clicking left on the drive c: to clean all temporary files and more options? i dont second with any of these softwares. One more to go, dont install another anti-virus while using windows defender. it wont benefit you.

    • epiqpwnage
      June 18, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      ccleaner doesn't just clean temporary files on the partition. seems like you haven't used ccleaner and just want to appear smart.

      "by clicking left on the drive c: to clean all temporary files and more options" LOL, you are delusional.

      sounds like you haven't even used the software mentioned in the article. Lol
      antivirus software automatically disable windows defender when you install them.

  2. og monkey
    March 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    i have used Malwarebytes I recommend it to everyone. Even the free version is great

  3. Joesph Birch
    March 15, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    CCleaner & Revo. These are my 2 swear by's

  4. Mike S.
    January 10, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Please stop republishing articles from years ago with current dates and years-old comments. It is annoying as Hell and an excellent way to drive people away. if it is a good topic, re-write it with up-to-date information and a clean slate for comments.

    • Frank S.
      January 12, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Mike is right: Stop it!

      This information is more than 6 years old, bloody ages when talking about software!

      • Joel Lee
        January 12, 2017 at 3:20 pm

        Hi Frank, this article was rewritten and updated for 2017. Are you still seeing the old version?

        • muntzer
          January 30, 2017 at 7:35 am

          Hi Frank, this article was rewritten and updated fo

    • Joel Lee
      January 12, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      Hi Mike. This article was rewritten prior to republishing as evidenced by the new screenshots and text. If you're still seeing the old article, it may be a cache issue. Good point about the comments, though. We'll discuss how to approach that internally, thanks.

      • Mike S.
        January 12, 2017 at 3:53 pm

        Yes. Please look into the ancient comments when updating (I would remove them all). I would also make a note after the original publishing date notation that the article has been updated to reflect current information. Otherwise it just looks like an old article of potential interest got bumped to the front.

        Thanks,

    • Jeff
      March 15, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      There are 12 comments from 2010.
      They are not cached on my phone which is 1.5 yrs old.

  5. ngwee
    June 14, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    its helpful i can answer in faster way all my test papers!

  6. OldUser
    February 19, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Microsoft Security Essentials anti-virus software has worked great for years on all my windows computers. It's free, it's easy and it works!

    • Jouni "rautamiekka" Järvinen
      March 15, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      It's total bullshit, you just don't see it. Rule #1: -never- trust M$ with/for security !

  7. p90x
    November 15, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    CCleaner is a great tool, I have used it and it has really worked well for me

  8. Bandaash
    September 22, 2010 at 8:31 am

    what about tune-up util.

  9. Charles Sullivan
    September 6, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    F-Secure found Adware in Sumo: rkverify.exe; Gen:Adware.Heur.qq1@R8TEFdhi....
    F-Secure haven't let me down in 3 yrs, so I will have to pass on this piece of software.

    • Jouni "rautamiekka" Järvinen
      March 15, 2017 at 9:33 pm

      Haha ! F-Secure, if it was an American product and American products were known to be of specially high quality, F-Secure would be in court for treason for producing utter shit and claiming to be good. If someone of my level can't conf it to make something work when F-Secure caused it, it's total bullshit.

    • Jouni "rautamiekka" Järvinen
      March 15, 2017 at 9:37 pm

      Spybot to accompany Malwarebytes and we're good, but I don't think Malwarebytes would do what an Antivirus does.

  10. Asdjljqwe8
    September 1, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Spyware: Combofix, Spybot, SuperAntiSpyware-free

    great article!

  11. Asdjljqwe8
    September 1, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Spyware: Combofix, Spybot, SuperAntiSpyware-free

    great article!

  12. Oglandit
    September 1, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I think that Secunia PSI is another great tool:

    http://www.oglandit.com/sicure...

  13. Tony
    September 1, 2010 at 3:48 am

    Wise Registry Cleaner, Glary Utilities and Auslogics Disk Defrag are some great additions to this list.

  14. Ammon
    August 30, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Would love to see an equivalent article for Mac users!

  15. HPearce
    August 30, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    SUMO updater is IMHO one of the best software updaters available... it covers a lot of software with very few false positives compared to other software I have seen/used .

    FileHippo update checker does a good job but only seems to cover the most major software.

  16. HPearce
    August 30, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    SUMO updater is IMHO one of the best software updaters available... it covers a lot of software with very few false positives compared to other software I have seen/used .

    FileHippo update checker does a good job but only seems to cover the most major software.

    • Aibek
      August 30, 2010 at 6:23 pm

      second SUMO updater!

    • Charles Sullivan
      September 6, 2010 at 5:46 pm

      F-Secure found Adware in Sumo: rkverify.exe; Gen:Adware.Heur.qq1@R8TEFdhi....
      F-Secure haven't let me down in 3 yrs, so I will have to pass on this piece of software.