For a long time, there have been programs advertised on the internet that promise to speed up your computer. They usually go by names like “PC Optimizer”, “Perfect Speed”, “Ultimate Optimizer” or other similar sounding names, and they want you to think that if you just buy this program, your computer will be SOOO much faster. Sorry, not true.
Here are 5 common things these junk programs offer to do:
- Clean the Registry. Ah, of course, the infamous Windows Registry. Most people don’t even know what the Registry is, but some program says it needs to be “cleaned” so it must need to be cleaned, right? No. Virtually every Windows computer has stray registry entries or other little inconsistencies, but the effect of this on your computer’s speed is trivial. You don’t need to clean your Registry.
- Update the drivers. “Drivers” isn’t really a descriptive name for what these things are. It really just means the software that lets your computer communicate with other devices such as your printer, your monitor, your mouse, etc. I’m a pretty firm believer in “if it’s working, leave it alone”. So if you get something that says “you need to update your drivers to speed up your computer!” I recommend just ignoring it. In fact, sometimes “updated” drivers actually do more harm than good.
- Clean out temp files. Another mostly useless task. “Temp” files are just what the name implies – temporary. When you view a web page, your computer might be storing all of the images on that page temporarily on your hard drive. That means if you go back to that same web page tomorrow, it will load more quickly because the images are being pulled from your hard drive instead of downloading from the internet again. But you could have hundreds or thousands of temp files on your computer, and getting rid of them won’t usually make any noticeable difference in speed. Not that it’s a bad thing to do; it just doesn’t do a lot.
- Clear your website history and search history. This is basically just a list of websites you’ve visited and searches you’ve done. This information takes up virtually no space on your drive, so deleting these things won’t free up any space. And sometimes it’s handy if you’re trying to think of something you saw on a website a few days ago, to go back in your browser history and find it. Of course, deleting your website and search history would keep other people on your computer from seeing it, which might be a reason. But it’s not going to improve your computer’s performance.
- Run a separate defrag program. If you’re running Windows 7 or later, your computer defrags itself on a regular basis. No need to have a third-party software installed to do this.
So when you see these junkware programs telling you to do all these things, just ignore them. If you do want to do these things anyway, you could do it yourself from within Windows.
Or, if you are dead-set on having software to do it for you, you can do it with CCleaner – which is free here. But be careful installing it, because it will try to put other stuff on your computer. And when you’re done with it, uninstall it or it will want to run in the background all the time. It will clean your registry, and remove temp files, and delete your history, but since none of that has any real effect, why bother?