Christopher Lentz | July 25, 2018 08:00 AM
You are a small business owner and hear about all the breaches and malware that are such a rampant part of today's news cycle. You don't really have the budget for any full time IT support and even part time seems like a stretch. So you do a search with your search engine of choice to find some free computer cleaner software. After all, the advertisments say that they can make your computers faster, and you certainly couldn't afford the beafy PCs for you or your staff, so you install them on all your computers. Weeks go by and then one morning you walk into your office to find your employees going ballistic about some virus/malware alert on all of their machines. How could this happen? You installed software to prevent this, right? WRONG. Unfortunately, there are a lot of free software companies that over-promise and under-execute. Not to mention some unthinkables that might also be lerking in their software package. Let's dive in and see why freeware computer cleaners should be tossed in the garbage.
For most of the free PC cleaners out there, a certain price comes with installing them...but it isn't always a monetary one. After you install some of them, you may notice that your browsers home page has been changed, or that your search engine of choice is no longer being used and instead some search engine you have never heard of is at work, or even worse malware laced browser plug-ins have been installed and activated. All of these behaviors are indicative of what we would consider malware. Any unintentional installations, or worse installations that trick you into installing other worthless and less-than-secure software, are not ideal in a PC "cleaner". Though this aspect has been improving over the years there are still several bad apples in the bunch of these freeware applications.
Most PC cleaners, even the ones that cost money, are essentially just running standard applications that are built right into the Windows operating system. Things like disk defragmentation, clearing of temporary and old files, etc. All of these things already exist on your computer and you just need to know where they are and how to use them. You can run Disk Cleanup to clear out old temporary files by hitting the Windows key on your keyboard, typing in Disk Cleanup, and then hitting Enter. Then just pick the areas you want to clean and click Ok. You can also clean system files using this same Windows included tool. The same goes for defragmenting your non-SSD hard drives. Just hit the Windows key, type in Disk Defrag, and hit Enter.
It has long been a myth that the Windows Registry needs to be clean in order to speed up your PC. This is not true, in fact back in 2011 a test was run to determine the difference between the typical "PC Cleaner" tool and just the Windows default tools mentioned above. The "PC Cleaner" used a registry cleaner but didn't improve the PC performance any more than the default tools that didn't clean the registry. If you do want to use a registry cleaner, be cautious as you can seriously damage your system and leave it in a non-working state. We recommend CCleaner if you must do any registry cleanup but always be sure to backup your registry before running CCleaner in case something goes horribly wrong in the process.
Rely on the tools that Microsoft has built into Windows, clear your browser history and cache, and avoid working with your registry. These steps will do far better for your PC than any "free PC cleaner" out there. For better PC maintenance save up for quarterly PC maintenance with a trusted IT support company or if you can find the money in your budget, get truly proactive IT support with a Managed IT Services provider like Enforma IT.