A Complete Tune-Up for Your Ailing Computer — Free

You know the routine. That computer you bought two years ago was a speed demon and never encountered problems. Now, it’s slow as molasses and ties you up in bizarre, inexplicable routines for which you have no idea what the cause is. You need a tune-up, pal. In this post, I’ll round up some simple steps that Windows users can take and a bunch of free downloads you can get that will turn that computer back into a speed demon in less than an hour. I’ll follow up with a post for Mac users.

Clean Your Registry. Not only is it important to clean your registry, but it’s important to do so regularly. Your registry becomes a litterbox over time as you cycle through installed and uninstalled software, new and old drivers, and collect spyware and adware. Windows users can do a registry washing with Glary Utilities in about 10 minutes, typically. I ran this free suite on a friend’s PC the other day and it found and repaired 129 registry problems.


Scan for Malware. If you don’t run and regularly update anti-virus software, you absolutely should. Still, many busy people either don’t run it or don’t update it. Among the free programs that can eighty-six malware from your system, the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool is good. Also run PC Tools Anti-Virus.

Remove Temp Files, Optimize Your Drive. Glary Utilities also has good options for removing temporary files that slow performance and for optimizing your hard drive. If you really want to improve the speed of your hard drive, defragment your drive (Windows has a utility for doing this), but that takes a long time and this post is about fast solutions. The temporary file removal tool and quick scan option for cleaning up a hard drive in Glary Utilities are both fast, one-click options.

Boost Your Boot Time. You can radically improve the amount of time it takes for Windows to start up with free utilities that let you remove programs you don’t want to be loading at startup. The free one I like is called, well, StartUp.

Remove Spyware and Adware. My favorite free tool for jettisoning the adware that slows systems down is AdAware. It’s no accident that this program has over 265 million downloads at Download.com. It rocks, and you can even use it to scan your RAM and external drives. Among the free spyware removal tools, I like Spyware Terminator.

Update Your Drivers. You can do a free scan to see if your drivers aren’t outdated at Version Tracker, and let it help you upgrade. You can also get updated drivers for your graphics card at The Guru of 3D.

Use a Desktop Search Tool. There are several free desktop search tools that can save you tons of time trying to find e-mails and files. My favorite is Copernic Desktop Search. It lets you instantly retrieve e-mails, music files, photos, documents, spreadsheets and more. You can narrow down your searches to find anything in a few seconds.

Speed Up Your Downloads. You can radically improve the amount of time it takes to download programs and application updates with Download Accelerator. It’s also good at downloading multiple applications at once.

Finally, this post covered free tune-up options, but, especially if your computer is older, a RAM upgrade can make a huge performance difference. So there you have it—a free weekend project that will save you lots of headaches.

Do you have any good tips on how to tune-up a bogged-down computer?

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