Friday, April 6, 2012

PC Cleanup Utilities - Buyer Beware

One of the complaints we hear the most from new clients is how slow their computers are.  This is usually a multi-faceted problem that includes outdated hardware, a slow internet connection, an out of date operating system, and too many running programs.  As this is such a common complaint, a myriad of companies have started to advertise a service to “Clean Your PC.”  One of the most advertised products is from

The business model works like this.  They advertise a free diagnostic service, which is usually a piece of software you download and install.  You run the scan, which will always find thousands of errors, and then you find out you can remove all these errors and have a computer that runs like new for the low, low price of $_____.

Independent tests by software review companies have found that even if they run the diagnostic scan on a brand new machine that has a fresh copy of Windows installed with all updates run, the software will detect multiple issues.  Also the software usually comes with toolbars and free anti-virus scanners that will actually slow down your computer.  This is a double bonus for the company, as by bundling the software with a toolbar such as Bing, they make money for advertising the toolbar, and because your machine will run slower, you have more of an incentive to purchase the cleaning product.

The long and short of it is that all of these businesses are as close to a scam as you can get, without actually being illegal.  Windows is a very complicated operating system internally, so you can design anything that will find “errors” that it can “fix.”  But they will not give you more memory, or a faster processor, or a speedier internet connection, or remove a bunch of pre-installed programs that are actually slowing down your desktop experience.

There is good news however.  A piece of software we do recommend is CCleaner made by Piriform.  It can be downloaded from Piriform's Website.  Make sure to uncheck the box to install any toolbars during installation.  After it is installed it can be run by right clicking the Recycle Bin and choosing Run CCleaner.  This will wipe out any temp files, browsing history, and other various junk that does not need to be there.  Typically it won’t speed up your PC, but does about the same thing as the paid programs do.  And it’s FREE!

The quickest way to speed up your PC without updating the hardware is to go through your installed programs and uninstall anything you don’t use.  Or you can speak to one of our technicians for a consultation who can give you a proper recommendation to improve your overall computing experience.