If you have just bought a new computer it probably has all sorts of unwanted third party software pre-installed (because it profits the manufacturer). For some reason, most people just live with it, sighing frequently and clicking “No Thanks” for the four thousandth time on stupid invitations to upgrade or purchase or enroll. This is a bit like buying a new car and finding the company has put little speakers everywhere to encourage you to only buy one kind of gas, or stop by Best Buy or only trust a certain make of car alarm.
Others with older computers may be living with a digital equivalent of hoarding. There can be programs and files that are unwanted, obsolete or even malicious. This situation can mean that system resources are being squandered for no reason. Fixing this CAN mean a livelier computer. Outside of having good virus check/anti-malware programs there are programs to help unburden your computer. Here are three good ones.
General Clean Up
One of the all time greats of general comp maintenance: CCleaner. A great little tool for general maintenance, cleaning up files you don’t need anymore, uninstalling unwanted programs and even cleaning the registry. Free version in link. Try this first.
Getting Rid of Unwanted Programs
To look into the question of: “What the HELL is that?” and “Should I keep it?” You might want to try –
Should I Remove It?
It will help you decide if a given program on your system is liked and respected by other users or mostly seen as a nuisance, or worse.
The Nuclear Option
In a separate category, for computers going either in or out the door…
There’s a nice little program to get rid of every bit of pre-installed software except the operating system (and core apps) : “DeCrap My Computer”. You wouldn’t use it for general windows maintenance/ cleanup, the good choices for that are just above but it’s also handy if you want to recycle your computer and you don’t want to leave all your software installed. Again, It ISN’T a good choice for general maintenance.
A useful “By Hand” technique
If you are recycling an old computer you may be concerned about what personal information is being left behind. For this example lets say MS Word documents and photographs. A technique you might try is to find your operating system’s search tool and making the choice to look everywhere (Computer, My Computer) do a search for .docx or .jpg. These are the file extensions for word docs and the most standard file type for photos. Don’t do them at the same time. The results will be a collection of every word doc or photo on your machine. Keep those search results open and you can either select all and delete or take some time to examine them.
I put this here in the context of getting rid of an old computer but even if you plan to keep it awhile you might be surprised at what turns up.