| By Scott Spanbauer |
Over months or years of normal use, Windows accumulates thousands of orphaned files, useless settings, and other detritus that can noticeably slow down your applications.
These performance-enhancing utilities remove this digital refuse to help your system run at its top speed.
Make your PC run like new … almost
Perhaps this has happened to you: after years of installing and uninstalling applications, opening e-mail attachments, and putting my broadband connection to the test downloading gigabytes of rich Web content, I found one day that my computer had lost its sparkle.
Opening Web pages took forever. Applications launched with the leisureliness of a teenager who must catch the early bus to high school. My bleeding-edge PC had been reduced to a burbling sludge. If only I could return to those days of minty-fresh, new-computer performance.
Installing yet another application in order to speed things up may seem counterintuitive. I’m not a big fan of nonessential utilities, but I found that all three of the performance enhancers I tested — Business Logic’s U.S. $30 WinCleaner One Click Professional Clean, Piriform’s free CCleaner, and PC Pitstop’s $30 Optimize — are worthwhile.
After using these programs to blow the cobwebs out of my system, its startups perked up a bit and my everyday computing seemed snappier. All three work with both Vista and XP. They clear out junk files that accumulate in temp folders and caches, unwanted applications and services that launch automatically at startup, and unnecessary Registry entries that point to files, folders, and other objects that no longer exist on the PC.