You don’t have to look too far to see advertisements for various system tools that claim to make your PC faster, more reliable or more secure. However, most of this so-called optimization software for Windows provides nothing more than a placebo effect at best. Worse still, some of it can safely be categorized as junk software riddled with adware, spyware and other malicious code. Following are five types of such tools that may have a negative effect on your computer:
Third-Party Disk Defragmented
As you install programs and create and move flies around your hard disk, the data eventually ends up being scattered all over the physical storage space rather than being arranged contiguously. In other words, a single large file, such as a movie, might be scattered across the hard disk in multiple parts. Due to the file being fragmented, the disk-reading mechanism has to work harder to find all of the data in order to open the file. A fragmented disk leads to longer loading times and slower startups
Fortunately, Windows provides a perfectly adequate defragmentation utility by itself. By default, the tool runs in the background, so there’s rarely any reason to run it manually and, for the most part, you can safely ignore it. You certainly don’t need a third-party disk defragmenter. Even more importantly, you should never attempt to defragment a solid state drive (SSD), since doing so will unnecessarily reduce its lifespan without having any effect on performance.
Computer Security Suites
Full computer security suites claim to make your computer practically invulnerable to just about every online security threat imaginable. They may even feature a third-party firewall to replace the one provided in Windows, as well as features like phishing filters, file-cleaning components and much more. Companies selling such software often use scare tactics to dupe users into purchasing something that they simply don’t need. Worse still, there’s also a lot of malicious software out there masquerading as antivirus programs.
For most home users, the security software included in Windows, namely Windows Defender, is perfectly adequate. Nonetheless, there’s no substitute for being careful when browsing the Web, particularly when downloading files. A full security suite will likely bog down your computer and constantly interrupt you with false positives. The same applies to firewalls, and the one included in Windows provides all of the features you need anyway.
One of the most important components of Windows is the system registry. This enormous database contains information on program and operating system settings driver and installation information and much more. You can take a look at it by pressing the Ctrl + Windows Key shortcut, typing ‘regedit’ into the Run box and pressing Enter. While it’s perfectly safe to browse through the registry, you should never make any modifications unless you know exactly what you’re doing.
Registry cleaners are among the most popular of all so-called PC optimization software, with companies claiming they will speed up your computer and solve a multitude of errors. All a registry cleaner actually does is scan the registry for invalid or outdated entries such as those left behind by programs that have been uninstalled, and remove them. In reality, this task is completely unnecessary, and it is likely to cause more problems than it solves. If indeed there is a problem with the system registry, characterized by things such as blue screen error messages or inexplicable crashes, you’ll be better off using System Restore.
The amount of system RAM you have inside your computer determines how many programs you can run at the same time without bogging down the operating system by forcing it to use virtual memory made from free space on your hard disk. However, today’s computers usually have at least 4 GB of memory, with some high-end machines having 16 GB or more. Windows is perfectly capable of managing your system memory, and newer versions of the operating system are even better at this essential task.
Memory optimizers do little more than close down a few programs and system services and the latter may even cause problems. Back in Windows 95 and earlier releases, when bad memory management was a common problem and computers only a fraction of the RAM they have today, a memory optimizer might have made some sense. However, using one today will likely have the opposite effect, instead slowing down your computer by removing important data from the RAM.
As video games become more realistic and screen resolutions get higher, the amount of processing power required to render them at a decent framerate is enormous. As such, any serious gamer wants to be able to squeeze out every last possible drop of performance from their hardware. It’s understandable, since good gaming hardware doesn’t exactly come cheap. However, while there are plenty of ways to improve optimization, you can and should skip the so-called game booster.
What you really need to run your favourite games at an acceptable framerate and graphical settings is the best hardware you can afford (particularly the graphics card) and up-to-date drivers. More advanced users who don’t mind taking the risks involved may also want to try overclocking their hardware to make it run faster than it was designed to. However, many game optimizers do little more than provide you with the same settings already included with your graphics drivers as well as a few superfluous features such as the ability to automatically close background programs.
Many novice computer users are tempted to install one or more of the above types of programs, and they often find themselves with problems they didn’t have before. Nonetheless, not all third-party system tools are bad, and some can come in useful in specific situations. For the most part, Windows handles itself just fine, and it provides a range of troubleshooting tools that solve the vast majority of problems. If, however, your hard disk or any other component is physically damaged or there is a serious incompatibility between components, there’s no such thing as a program that will miraculously solve your problem.