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5 Free PC Maintenance Programs Worth Downloading

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 24 comments
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Given how many programs you'll install and how many files you'll download,  your new PC won't stay in pristine shape for long — unless you put a little effort into maintaining it. Here are five free programs you'll want to check out to keep your PC running in top shape without breaking the bank. Keep in mind that most of these programs have more robust paid versions, but the free software and a little common sense online should keep you safe from just about any potential threat.

CCleaner

If you've had your computer for more than, say, a week, you know that junk files can pile up pretty rapidly. Keeping old and temporary Internet files on your computer doesn't just waste valuable hard drive space — it can also be a security risk. If you've downloaded harmful files or have sensitive information you no longer need kicking around in your Recycle Bin, you'll want to get rid of it right away, and few programs are more efficient than CCleaner. Originally called "Crap Cleaner," this software from British company Piriform performs a comprehensive scan of your temporary Internet files, browser history, cookies and other space wasters, then deletes them for good. This will keep your hard drive spacious and your history private.

Auslogics Disk Defrag

Newer computers generally don't benefit from defragmenting as older systems did, but it's still a good idea to run a defragmenter every once in a while (unless you have a solid state drive, in which case, don't bother). When you install, uninstall, download and delete files from your PC, each action leaves behind "fragments" of data on your hard drive. By defragmenting this data, you can free up space and make more efficient use of the space you have. Auslogics offers a free program, which can defragment and organize data, then give you a report afterward. It's nothing fancy, but it gets the job done for the right price. While Windows 7 has built-in defragmenting software, Auslogic's is a little faster and more robust, and it doesn't cost a thing.

MORE: 15 Ways to Speed Up Your Boot and Shutdown Times

ReVo Uninstaller

Uninstalling a program may seem as simple as clicking "Uninstall," but using the default Windows uninstaller will leave a lot of junk files behind in your registry and your Program Files folder. Enter ReVo Uninstaller, which goes one step further. In addition to running a program's built-in uninstaller, ReVo scans your registry, your folders and even the deep recesses of your startup configurations to delete every trace of a program from your PC. It saves space, keeps your hard drive tidy and can get rid of harmful software with extreme prejudice.

Recuva

Another entry from Piriform (which is Latin for "in the shape of a pear"), Recuva is what's colloquially known as an "undeleter." On a Windows PC, no file is ever truly gone until your computer utilizes the space for something else, so even wiping a file from the Recycle Bin is not the end. Suppose that a malware infection deletes some of your most important files. After you've repaired your system, you can run Recuva, which scans for deleted files and restores them to their rightful place. The program is incredibly simple, and also functions to recover date from rewriteable CDs, thumb drives and even smartphones (as long as they're plugged into your computer).

Eraser

The Recycle Bin is not what it's cracked up to be. Programs like CCleaner can empty it efficiently, but even then, deleted files are kicking around somewhere in your computer until some new piece of data overwrites them. If you need a file gone and want it to stay gone — like a piece of malicious software that's been quarantined by an antivirus program or a very sensitive document, for example — you'll need a program that shreds data. Enter Eraser: free software that bypasses the Recycle Bin and destroys files forever. There's not much to the program: Simply select the file you want out of your life, and Eraser will make sure it never sees the light of day again. Taking the nuclear option with your everyday files might sound paranoid, but in an age where everyone from cybercriminals to the U.S. government wants your data, a little paranoia can be healthy.

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  • -6 Hide
    drethon , August 26, 2013 12:19 PM
    I'm curious how Eraser differs from using DOS (other than having to know how to use DOS)...
  • -9 Hide
    drethon , August 26, 2013 12:22 PM
    I'm curious how Eraser differs from using DOS (other than having to know how to use DOS)...
  • -9 Hide
    drethon , August 26, 2013 12:25 PM
    I'm curious how Eraser differs from using DOS (other than having to know how to use DOS)...
  • Display all 24 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    drethon , August 26, 2013 12:26 PM
    Woah, all the website told me was there was an error, not that it was posting for me four times...
  • 1 Hide
    bloodroses , August 26, 2013 1:07 PM
    Very good list here. I use CCleaner and Revo on a regular basis. I used to use Auslogics disk defrag, but decided the built in windows one is good enough. I've only used Recurva a couple times in panic situations and never really kept important information on my computer to worry about needing eraser.


    To drethon,

    By deleting stuff in DOS, it is like deleting a file in windows and emptying the recycling bin. While the file may no longer be in the directory structure, it still may physically reside on the disk and possibly still be retrieved with programs like Recurva. What Eraser does is zero writes over that data multiple times after deletion, thus making sure that the data is gone for good.
  • 2 Hide
    zero2dash , August 26, 2013 1:19 PM
    Piriform Defragger > Auslogics Disk Defrag.

    Auslogics is now adware shilling it's pay version.
    Defraggler is freeware.
  • -4 Hide
    zero2dash , August 26, 2013 1:20 PM
    Piriform Defragger > Auslogics Disk Defrag.

    Auslogics is now adware shilling it's pay version.
    Defraggler is freeware.
  • -2 Hide
    soccerplayer88 , August 26, 2013 2:57 PM
    Heh, nearly all of those made my list of software I use on a regular basis for work.

    With the exception of Eraser (I use Darik's Boot and Nuke) and Auslogics Disk Defrag (I also prefer Piriforms Defraggler).

    Recuva has worked wonders in the past (even on formatted drives) and recovered information my client has lost. CCleaner is also a handy tool since you can dictate what gets removed and what stays.

    You guys should check out Hiren's Boot CD sometime. My most precious piece of software I still keep on a disk, plus loads of other features to get you out of a tight spot when your OS starts acting up.
  • 2 Hide
    soo-nah-mee , August 26, 2013 2:59 PM
    I wish this was a slideshow.
  • 0 Hide
    dalethepcman , August 26, 2013 3:10 PM
    I personally would have MBAM on the list as well, and while auslogic partition master is great, I would recommend against any type of de-fragmenting program for non-techie users. The last thing you want to do to an SSD is defrag it, and if a user doesn't know whats int heir machine they could easily kill their drive in a few months by scheduling nightly defrags.
  • 3 Hide
    Soda-88 , August 26, 2013 3:16 PM
    Quote:
    When you install, uninstall, download and delete files from your PC, each action leaves behind "fragments" of data on your hard drive. By defragmenting this data, you can free up space and make more efficient use of the space you have.

    Uh, no? Fragmentation refers to big files filling up the smaller holes left behind by deleted files. Defragmenting will never free up space, it just rearranges the fragmented files into consistent sequences.
  • 0 Hide
    sincreator , August 26, 2013 6:41 PM
    I used to use CCleaner all the time, until I realized it was causing windows files to get corrupted. I used to have Windows updates fail to download/install constantly and didn't know what caused the issue in the first place. It somehow stopped hyperlinks from working by doing something to windows file associations as well. I had to go to the control panel and assign all the individual preferences for opening programs for windows again... I also had the program delete the MOM.exe file as well, which is needed for AMD drivers to install and the CCC to work properly. This would cause major headaches. I haven't had one issue with windows since I stopped using that garbage, and I used to have to format and reinstall every 3 or 4 months because of it. I know for sure that it was CCleaner, because I could run a system restore to a date before I ran it and everything would be fine again, UNTIL right after I would run CCleaner again. I've been on this install for almost 2 years now with no issues at all since I stopped using CCleaner. I will never recommend or install CCleaner again. I actually recommend against using it...
  • -3 Hide
    sincreator , August 26, 2013 6:46 PM
    I used to use CCleaner all the time, until I realized it was causing windows files to get corrupted. I used to have Windows updates fail to download/install constantly and didn't know what caused the issue in the first place. It somehow stopped hyperlinks from working by doing something to windows file associations as well. I had to go to the control panel and assign all the individual preferences for opening programs for windows again... I also had the program delete the MOM.exe file as well, which is needed for AMD drivers to install and the CCC to work properly. This would cause major headaches. I haven't had one issue with windows since I stopped using that garbage, and I used to have to format and reinstall every 3 or 4 months because of it. I know for sure that it was CCleaner, because I could run a system restore to a date before I ran it and everything would be fine again, UNTIL right after I would run CCleaner again. I've been on this install for almost 2 years now with no issues at all since I stopped using CCleaner. I will never recommend or install CCleaner again. I actually recommend against using it...
  • -4 Hide
    cmartin011 , August 26, 2013 7:16 PM
    Never used any of these programs. My basic repair kit windows platform includes glary registry repair, malwarebytes , spybot search and destroy file shredder. AVG for antivirus zone alarm for firewall. Anyone need more than that for basic computer use I give then ubuntu or xubuntu. Any questions?
  • 0 Hide
    fkr , August 26, 2013 7:47 PM
    http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/top-freeware-picks-category-editors.htm#best-free-rootkit-scanner

    this is the best site for free software.

    everything you could ever need is here and they have been around for a long time
  • 0 Hide
    otacon72 , August 26, 2013 9:21 PM
    @cmartin011 Yeah .1% of PCs run ubuntu.
  • -1 Hide
    softplacetoland , August 27, 2013 1:41 AM
    @otacon72

    Wow, that must be olne hell of a great argument. I guess you should call Mark Twain stupid for his opinion about what to do when you think like majority.
  • -2 Hide
    softplacetoland , August 27, 2013 1:49 AM
    @otacon72

    Wow, that must be olne hell of a great argument. I guess you should call Mark Twain stupid for his opinion about what to do when you think like majority.
  • 1 Hide
    maqsabre , August 27, 2013 8:36 AM
    ccleaner does the job well
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 27, 2013 5:16 PM
    What about Glary? Does the same functions as CCleaner and more
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