Computer systems, like any other device, need maintenance. Computer maintenance is generally different from vehicles, appliances and others, mainly because you have to maintain not only the hardware but also the software that you use on your computer.
Software can get outdated, you might have cruft and then there are chores related to the operating system itself – registry, virus cleaning and the likes.
While you might have to shop around in the local market for hardware maintenance, for software PC maintenance we have some very good free utilities that you should check out.
1. Cleaning Tools
As is obvious from the name, these help you keep your system clean. What they clean your system of, depends on what you are using. There are registry cleaners, file system cleaners, secure file erasers and general purpose all in one solutions.
Most of these operate on the registry, optimizing it for performance. There are others which delete temporary files and dangling shortcuts. While the gain is not substantial, you might experience a snappier performance if you have not cleaned up your computer for a while.
As for the solutions available – CCleaner is well known in the field. It can clean browser tracks and cookies for almost all popular browsers out there, take care of unused icons, invalid shortcuts, DLLs and clean the MRU and recent document history as well.
Another popular choice is nCleaner. nCleaner offers similar functionality along with scan scheduling, a tweaks manager, services manager, a resource monitor and system advisor.
The Windows Control Panel provides functionality that lets you remove unwanted applications from your computer. It does a decent job for the occasional use that you might put it to. However, if you try out a number of software, or if you have experienced a stubborn software that refuses to uninstall, you should look into some of the 3rd party software managers and uninstallers.
Revo Uninstaller and IObit Uninstaller are the better ones out there. They offer features like letting you track the most storage hungry software or the ones you rarely use in addition to managing installed Windows updates. Such software usually features a force uninstall mode that lets you override settings or locked files that may be preventing an uninstaller from functioning.
3. Software Updater
Keeping software up to date is important. Not only for keeping up with the latest features but also for bug fixes and security updates. Many software these days have an update feature built in, web browsers being an excellent example. The software can talk to a server and let you know of important updates or newer versions.
For other software that do not have the feature built in or if you are more interested in a Linux-like centralized update mechanism, you can have a look at some of the previously covered software updaters. AppSnap, QWinApt or Techtracker should be a good place to start.
4. System Info Tools
While these do not help with maintenance in a direct way, these are certainly indispensable when you need to figure out what is going on with the computer. There are tools that let you view detailed information about your computer and then there are those which can let you monitor the performance of the computer and what is going on inside.
It is very difficult to offer a generalized solution for each and every problem your computer might run into. There can be network issues, security issues, slowdown due to cruft or under performing hardware, each asks for a different course of action.
That being said, there are certain issues that crop up frequently and are encountered by many users. Automated detection and fixes are available for many such problems.
Windows troubleshooting is a good place to start. In addition there are software like FixWin and Microsoft’s FixIt center that take care of such common problems for you. If you are still stuck, hop over to MakeUseOf Answers, and we will try to help you along!
If you know of any other good PC maintainance software that we might have missed, give us a heads up in the comments!