Windows PC’s seem to develop plaque over time (Mac computers may also, I just don’t have experience with them). The visible result is your PC seems to run slower over time. That plaque is the result of the various programs the average user installs, knowingly or unknowingly while using the PC. Updates, website add-ins, etc. all add software to your PC.
By far the cleanest solution is to back up everything, erase your hard disk, reinstall Windows and the applications, and restore your data. But for many PC users, finding all the installation CD’s can be challenging enough to keep them from doing a real scrubbing.
There are a number of free tools to let you address some of the issues (e.g. registry bloat, hard drive fragmentation, etc.) that I’ve written about in the past.
Way back at the beginning of this series (in Tech Bit 15) I wrote about a commercial all in one software package called System Mechanic, then at version 7. Its advantage is it combines a number of separate functions into a single software package that simplifies tuning up your system without resorting to scrubbing it.
I’ve got System Mechanic 10.5 on my notebook computer. It has found 844 unused registry entries I didn’t need, a bunch of system clutter, optimized my hard disk and generally cleaned up my system.
Since benchmarks in the real world don’t really measure performance in normal usage, I didn’t run before and after benchmarks. What I can report is the system is perceptibly fast and I think a bit more stable (I haven’t seen a mysterious crash one of my applications had occasionally since I’ve done the System Mechanic cleaning of my system).
If I have any complaint, and this is true about more and more software, is that System Mechanic assumes during installation that you want it to run and keep cleaning up all the time. I find that frustrating if for no other reason that every program running takes a little bit of the computer’s RAM memory and processor time, effectively slowing down the computer a little. As an example Adobe has an program that runs all the time just to check for updates. While System Mechanic helps with disabling some of those “redundant” programs, it replaces them with itself.
But if you are not a computer geek, having a program like System Mechanic to help optimize your system is a good idea.