If you search online for ways to speed up your computer, you will find tools like AVG TuneUp, Avast Cleanup, CCleaner, Comodo PC TuneUp, and Total Defense PC Tune-Up.
They don’t work any better than the tools you have built into Windows. They claim to “automatically scan, fix, and update your PC”. Dig a little deeper, and they say they will:
- Clean & defragment the registry
- Defragment your hard drive
- Clean temporary and “junk” files
- Free up RAM memory
- Update your drivers
These companies aren’t targeting young gamers or technically sophisticated users. They prey on people that don’t understand why their computer is slow and are willing to pay a little for a one-click fix. At best they don’t do anything more than the built-in Windows utilities. At worst, they are a scam. Some are even malicious. The photo tells you exactly who they consider their best customer.
Here’s the truth. Windows 10 is mostly self-maintaining and doesn’t need a lot of help. Disk defragmentation is handled in the background by a scheduled task that runs periodically without assistance. RAM memory is managed automatically, and tricks to “clean up” RAM don’t actually do anything. The system registry doesn’t need cleaning. If the registry is actually corrupted, the only real fix is to reinstall Windows from scratch.
Windows includes the tools you need for free. You don’t need to buy any software. You should use the built-in tools.
Windows updates are normally automatic, but it’s worth verifying that they are up-to-date. Temporary files can build up, and there is a built-in Windows utility you can use to clean them up.
To check the Windows Updates:
- Click Start
- Click Settings
- In the “Find a setting” box, type “check for updates”
You should verify that windows updates are running automatically. If all is well, you’ll see a message with a green check-mark that shows the last time the updates ran. If yours isn’t running automatically you will miss important security and driver updates. How to correct update issues is a topic I’ll address in a later article.
Disk Defragmentation normally runs automatically in the background. You can verify this by right-clicking on your C: drive and choosing Properties.
Next, click the Tools tab and then click the Optimize button.
On the Optimize Drives screen, check the items I’ve highlighted in red to verify that it’s scheduled to run and has run recently.
Disk Cleanup is built into Windows. You shouldn’t need to run this often. I last ran it on my main machine probably 12 months ago, and I’m a heavy user and very concerned with performance. If you hard drive is very full, you might need to run it more often. You can find the Disk Cleanup utility on the Start menu, in the Windows Administrative Tools group. One quick way to launch it is to tap and release the Windows key on your keyboard, then type “disk cleanup”. Click the icon to launch the tool.
Use the check-boxes to select what you want to delete, then click OK. You’ll be prompted to permanently delete those files. If you want to do a deeper cleaning, you can choose “Clean up system files”. This is safe and fully supported by Microsoft.
Please don’t purchase tuneup utilities. They aren’t any better than what you already have. In most cases they are much worse. The free ones are no good either. Use the tools Microsoft has supplied, or invest in hardware upgrades. Next week I’ll talk about some worthy upgrades that actually improve your computer’s speed and add some life to your PC. Look for those tips in the next edition of the Beyond Technology newsletter.