There’s nothing like the smell and performance of a brand new computer. It boots up fast and everything you do seems to fly. But given enough time, it gets bogged down with unnecessary junk from uninstalled software and websites.
If you’ve been around computers all your life (spelled Geek) you probably know what to do to get your system up and running again like it just got out of the factory. But if you’re one of the millions of computer users who think that a firewall is really a wall for fire prevention, you’re in trouble.
Why you’ll be in trouble
It’s all about scare tactics-marketing, that’s why. There’s a plethora of PC Cleaning utilities out in the software market today and most of the paid ones are aggressively marketed. Some of these paid cleaners are even from top security software vendors such as Avast, AVG and Norton. Just because a company makes security software, doesn’t mean they can do a good job in cleaning your PC.
If you choose to install a pc cleaner you downloaded as a trial version, prepare to be shocked, scared and disappointed. You’ll be shocked because it will probably find thousands of errors and issues on your system. It will then scare you with descriptions of said errors and consequences if you don’t fix it. Lastly, you’ll be disappointed because when you decide to “clean your system”, you’ll need to pay for the program first. Goodbye $39.99.
Free is better
If you really want to do some cleaning, Windows has it all built in and maintenance tasks such as disk defragmenting happens behind the scenes if your system really needs it. There are only two real pc cleaners worth mentioning, and both of them are free: CC Cleaner and SlimCleaner 4.0. These small and lightweight cleaners do the job better than any paid program.
A Real World Example
Here’s an example of a PC cleaner gone awry. Avast has pretty good free antivirus software and a robust security suite. The problem with Avast is they bombard you with ads, even if you have the paid version installed! It’s like in-app purchasing of sorts, where you can buy the company’s other software products.
One particular product, AvastGrimefighter, should be pulled out and run through software quality assurance again and again until they iron out all the bugs in the system.
The infamous bug in Grimefighter is unforgivable. After installing it in our test system and doing a successful test run, it hijacked the boot sequence on restart, pushing itself ahead of Windows 8.1. It claimed it was doing “maintenance” and got stuck in that state, looping into Grimefighter after every reboot. Italso disabled the mouse and keyboard, so booting up into BIOS wasn’t an option.
After getting in touch with their support people and getting nothing, we did an online search and found numerous cases like ours happening to a lot of people who installed the software. Some even had to go out and bring their computers to the service center. What a disaster of a program.
As we couldn’t even boot into BIOS, the situation looked grim. Luckily, our system had a physical recovery button on the side that allowed us to wipe the slate clean and reinstall Windows.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of these paid cleaners have their benefits if you know what you’re doing. But there’s a reason Microsoft doesn’t want you to touch the registry – you have a very real chance of messing things up. Plus, paid software such as Grimefighter clearly still has a lot of bugs that can mess up a perfectly working computer. Remember, you get a program to help you with your computer problems, not be the source of it.