All utilities below are free for personal use and contain no spyware.
- CCleaner – Clears recycling bin, temp files, temp internet files, registry, etc. Install, run periodically.
- Glary Utilities – Another cleaning and management tool: install and run periodically.
- WinDirStat – Ever run low on storage and wonder what was taking up so much room on your drive? WinDirStat is a small, open-source program that scans storage and visualizes your disk useage by folder and file, so you can find and delete large, unnecessary files.
- UltraDefrag – Open-source defragmenter, similar to the built-in Windows defragmenter, but better. Install, run twice per month or as needed: fragmentation occurs as files are written and deleted to your hard disk.
- First, disable Windows Firewall (see “Services” below)
- Use only one (1) software firewall
- ClamwinAV – A lightweight, open-source anti-virus program with daily updates.
- Spybot – Detects and removes spyware. Includes a constantly-active component (TeaTimer) that I don’t enable. Install, update, and run 2-3 times per month.
- Malwarebytes – Anti-malware, similar to Spybot. Install, run 2-3 times per month.
Services are programs that run in the background: some are necessary for Windows (or a specific application) to operate, but others simply waste resources and can be disabled (they’re never started) or set to manual (they don’t start at logon, but only later if they’re required by something.
You can access services by right-clicking “My Computer,” selecting “Manage,” then “Services and Applications,” then “Services.” For info on a specific service, try The Elder Geek. Consider the following changes:
- Error Reporting Service – Disable. Reports program errors to Microsoft.
- Help and Support – Disable. A bulky, integrated help system: you’re better off using Google to find help using Windows.
- Windows Firewall/Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) – Disable. You should only use this if 1) you don’t have any other firewall, or 2) you need to share one computer’s internet connection with another computer. Note that ICS involves routing and DHCP, and is different from simply plugging two computers into the same hub or router.