Helpdesk Challenge: speeding up your computer for free
If you’re frustrated with a sluggish computer, there are a number of steps you can take to speed up performance, but sometimes free software like CCleaner from Piriform can manage all of these steps for you. We take a look at some of its features.
Piriform offers a range of PC optimisation software that’s usually free to download and straightforward to use. CCleaner is one of my favourites – it works as an all-in-one suite for speeding up the performance of your computer by removing unwanted files, programs and cookies, and improving start-up times.
It can even delete temporary internet files and online cookies for you, which can help speed up your web browsing and protect your online privacy.
Speeding up a computer is a hot topic for many of our readers, and we’ve amassed plenty of tips that can improve performance:
- Read our top 15 tips on speeding up your computer
- Read our guide on how to keep your PC running smoothly
CCleaner’s tools for speeding up your computer
CCleaner comes with four useful tools – some of these you will find are already embedded into your operating system, but in CCleaner are usefully grouped into a one-stop shop.
- Uninstall: This goes through your programs and finds any old programs you no longer use and uninstalls them from your system. You can also rename or save a text file of your installed programs.
- Startup: Gives a list of all the programs that start when you boot up your PC. You can significantly increase your boot speed by disabling unnecessary programs from this list. Be cautious if you are uncertain about whether you need certain programs, and look up information online if you want to know what functions some programs perform.
- System Restore: This manages all of your system restore points, which you can later use to recover your computer to an earlier stage (though CCleaner does not carry out this recovery itself).
- Drive Wiper: When you delete something, the file isn’t typically removed; the location or pointer to where the file is deleted, and the computer marks this space as free space so it can be written over by newer files. The Drive Wiper feature can protect against the risk of having your files recovered by permanently overwriting them.
CCleaner offers some useful options which allow you to personalise the way it runs on your system.
- Cookies: The default settings in CCleaner will remove all cookies, but here you may want to consider doing an ‘Intelligent Scan’ by right clicking on the ‘Cookies to delete’ box. This will mark a number of useful cookies as ones you would like to keep.
- Exclude: Use this feature to create safelists of files or folders that you don’t want CCleaner to touch.
Cleaning your computer’s registry
CCleaner also allows you to clean up your computer’s registry, which contains plenty of necessary files that Windows refers to, but also tends to accumulate unnecessary clutter all too easily.
This is part of the program I think can be a bit hit-or-miss, as it will only flag up a couple of hundred errors at most when cleaning the registry, and you must be careful in case it accidentally removes something important. On the plus side, before you clean your registry you will be automatically prompted to make a backup that you can recover to if needed.
A word of caution…
By deleting your temporary internet files with CCleanr there’s some risk of slowing down your browser, since some sites will load faster if images and files are already cached on your system. Although deleting this cache will increase your browsing privacy and create a little extra space on your hard drive, weigh up the pros and cons, and do what suits your needs.
Similarly, getting rid of your computer’s thumbnail cache can cause large folders of pictures to load slowly the next time you open them.
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