Can commercial, third-party maintenance software outperform Windows’ built-in, free tools?
This is the conclusion of a two-part series that will help you determine which PC maintenance tools — free or paid — yield the best results on your specific system.
PC maintenance suites: Free versus paid
This two-part series came about because of an ongoing debate over PC scan-and-repair tools. We’ve all seen the ads for paid Windows-maintenance tools. They typically claim to correct slowdowns, improve system-startup times, prevent crashes, fix all sorts of hidden system errors, and more.
But do they really deliver as advertised? Do they do more than the free tools built into Windows? Over the years, numerous tech publications have attempted to answer those questions. But, as I noted in Part 1 of this series, all those reviews have had one major flaw: the test results on one or two systems can’t be applied generally to most Windows PCs. Windows configurations vary enormously, and what works (or doesn’t work) on one setup might not work (or work just fine) on another setup.
So the Windows Maintenance Challenge takes a different tack to answer the long-standing free-versus-paid question — it shows you how to test maintenance tools yourself and find what works best for your specific Windows configuration.
Part 1 of this series discussed how to build and check a thoroughly cleaned, baseline system using the free tools that come with Windows. Part 2 will tell you how to run commercial Windows-maintenance tools on the baseline system and find out whether they make any significant improvements over what you get for free.
As with Part 1, this article is designed to let you safely work along with me. You don’t have to test the same group of paid products discussed below — you can use the following steps to test whatever maintenance tools you wish. When you’re done, you’ll know which tool yields the best results for you.