How Not to Screw Up Your PC with Windows Optimization Tools

Those of us here at LockerGnome have all heard this story before. One of our relatives, friends, neighbors, associates, co-workers, or acquaintances tells us they saw an advertisement on TV — or maybe an advertisement on the Internet — claiming that [fill in the name of shyster company here] software will make their PC run faster, smoother, like new, better than new, super fast, or some other such nonsense. They then made the mistake of falling for the deal offered since it cost a mere [fill in the unbelievable pricing of your choice], only to find out that the software ended up causing more problems and that their PC was performing worse than before they installed the software. Some of these folks are once burned, twice shy, but others may be duped into buying yet another optimization type of software, hoping to cure the problem created by the first one. Unfortunately for them, they are just adding to a problem that may not have existed before they added these supposed premium tools. So what can we do to help these people?

  • We can tell them how stupid they are.
  • We can tell them that they wasted their money.
  • Or, we can send them this article and tell them they are not alone (highly recommended).

It is an unfortunate fact of life that we Windows users have been subjected to all types of scams — optimization software being just the tip of the iceberg. To sell their wares, some programmers and merchandisers have made some outlandish claims, including these:

  • This software will speed up your PC by 300% or [insert any other outrageous and thoroughly bogus percentage] more.
  • This software will solve five or [insert any other outrageous and thoroughly bogus number here] PC problems with a single click.
  • A ‘free trial’ of this software will scan your system, find a bunch of errors, report your PC is not running at its full potential, and for a certain amount of money, the software will remove all of these errors. The software may also promise that the skies will clear, the birds will sing, and man will know peace on Earth!
  • This software is backed up by testimonials from Harry C., Mary J., and so forth who proclaim the benefits and miracle fixes they have received while using it.

If these “subtle” marketing strategies don’t do the trick, there are more devious methods at hand that scam artist software peddlers can use to sucker in more unwary clientele. One is the ever-suspicious pop-up that displays as a phony alert that there’s something wrong with a system. A few years ago, my partner and I were running a very successful computer business. At the time, business was booming because unfortunate souls had downloaded software or email infected with viruses. To further add to their distress, some of them had attempted to fix their own systems with any number of the optimization scams or gimmicks that were currently out there. Others had installed the optimization tools in an attempt to speed up what they thought were slow PCs.

The problem with optimization software was driven home to us when a client brought in a brand new computer that was running Windows XP. The client wanted us to install some programs and to clean out the glut of unnecessary, pre-installed software that typically comes with new systems at the time of purchase. However, before we did anything to the PC, we installed an optimization program (a pay-to-fix trial version) that was popular at the time. I will never forget the look on my partner’s face when the report came back that we had over 500+ registry errors. Unfortunately, it also reported that this new system was not optimized for the Internet (which wasn’t even set up), and the system itself was running at only 58% of its full potential. To verify the report, we ran the program several more times, and each time the numbers changed!

This is not to say that all free programs will damage your system. One of the good programs out there is CCleaner (aka Crap Cleaner), which I have been using for longer than I can remember. As a matter of fact, I was using it when the program was still being distributed for free by its developer. Of course, this was prior to his selling the rights for the software to Piriform LTD. Thankfully, the purchasing software company has retained the free version for private use, and it state on its website:

CCleaner is our system optimization, privacy, and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system — allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO spyware or adware!

How Not to Screw Up Your PC with Windows Optimization Tools

The other of my favorite free programs that was introduced when Windows Vista first came out is Glary Utilities from Glarysoft LTD. It is a reliable program that does what it promises and cleans your system by removing the junk that can bog down any PC. On its website, Glarysoft LTD states:

Glary Utilities is a freeware with registry and disk cleaning, privacy protection, performance accelerator and amazing multifunctional tools. It can fix dogged registry errors, wipe off clutters, optimize internet speed, safeguard confidential files and maintain maximum performance.

How Not to Screw Up Your PC with Windows Optimization Tools

I am sure that some of my fellow Gnomies here at LockerGnome have their very own favorite optimization utilities that they use and trust. Share your experiences with us and let us know what you use and why.

Comments, as always, are welcome.

Article Written by

I have been writing for LockerGnome since relocating to Missouri seven years ago, where I continue to be a technology enthusiast who enjoys playing with the newest and latest gadgets.

  • Michael Stokes

    From what I know, Advanced System Care works well also, it’s quite similar to Glary Utilities. Between that and CCleaner, you’re all set for Cleaning/Optimization programs.

  • Michael Stokes

    From what I know, Advanced System Care works well also, it’s quite similar to Glary Utilities. Between that and CCleaner, you’re all set for Cleaning/Optimization programs.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Mike. I have also heard good things about ASC. :-)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Mike. I have also heard good things about ASC. :-)

  • James65807

    I like smart defrag 2 and both of the above programs.

  • Kaidoan

    I use TuneUp Utilities myself.

  • TDSM Darkness

    most of these are good tools but sometimes you lose important info when you clean out your pc for some optimization, then you would have to re put those information/things back onto your pc through a backup source. I have done that its not pretty … more like annoying. like clearing out the TEMP folder in your HD, yes it has unwanted information and things but it also for some people might have a saved up work that can be used when it want to be brought back. how I know is because I have done it, I had some work in VB 2010, and 1 time I had been forced to delete my TEMP folder aka %TEMP% to clear out things that my pc would work, but i had lost my work that i was doing in VB 2010 because some parts of it where stored in TEMP folder; that was very VERY frustrating…..where I had to start all over from begining again, not a good sign.. right when there is a deadline coming up.

    CCleaner i hear is good through many of my friends who use it to clean out some pesky files that do not want to be removed like keyloggers…, I use KillBox to find the file and kill/delete on reboot from manually finding out where it is.

    Glary Utilities, never heard of it….

    This is my experience, I tend to listen to my pc and I would know how my pc is acting, if the pc starts to get slow I would generally get a feeling that what ever i have done in the past week is causing this and can “cure” it hopefully. Usually its the same with people and their cars, like how they keep their car shiny and clean, oil change, get a mechanic check up with the engine and other things, the cars tires and other things etc.  <= just like that I'm to my PC.

  • TDSM Darkness

    most of these are good tools but sometimes you lose important info when you clean out your pc for some optimization, then you would have to re put those information/things back onto your pc through a backup source. I have done that its not pretty … more like annoying. like clearing out the TEMP folder in your HD, yes it has unwanted information and things but it also for some people might have a saved up work that can be used when it want to be brought back. how I know is because I have done it, I had some work in VB 2010, and 1 time I had been forced to delete my TEMP folder aka %TEMP% to clear out things that my pc would work, but i had lost my work that i was doing in VB 2010 because some parts of it where stored in TEMP folder; that was very VERY frustrating…..where I had to start all over from begining again, not a good sign.. right when there is a deadline coming up.

    CCleaner i hear is good through many of my friends who use it to clean out some pesky files that do not want to be removed like keyloggers…, I use KillBox to find the file and kill/delete on reboot from manually finding out where it is.

    Glary Utilities, never heard of it….

    This is my experience, I tend to listen to my pc and I would know how my pc is acting, if the pc starts to get slow I would generally get a feeling that what ever i have done in the past week is causing this and can “cure” it hopefully. Usually its the same with people and their cars, like how they keep their car shiny and clean, oil change, get a mechanic check up with the engine and other things, the cars tires and other things etc.  <= just like that I'm to my PC.

  • Nageetan

    I am using the free version ccleaner on both my laptop and desktop.  Never had any problems with this propram..

  • Nick Dellorto

    CCleaner is my #1 favorite of them. In the past I’ve also used Defraggler by Piriform but I don’t use it very often. 

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  • Amarnath Wanchoo

    The only optimization tool that I use is Tuneup Utilities for the last 5 years. I think that it is about the best and has not given me a day’s trouble. And it is packed with utilities that do almost anything one wants for a PC.

  • Mizan Mahbub

    I have been using several tools over four or more years including Advanced system care, Tuneup Utilities, Norton’s utilities, CCleaner, Glary utilities and so on…. There are some problems with all of these softs; some times they do a bad fix and my PC gets worse. However, I am having CCleaner together with Advanced System Care now… CCleaner is very lite and I sometimes doubt, does it do the job well enough with it’s tiny size, because TU has a big size for doing the same kinds of jobs (I thought size of the software is a matter for doing most jobs), I have uninstalled TU now for some bad fixes. Now, I have a growing interest on CCleaner, because it’s tiny size does some great job efficiently in a short time….
    The problem is to get some extra works, I had used some extra softs… One is Protected Folder from IObit Team…. I have uninstalled it now,
    But I think this software left a context menu for all my drives and folders menus, This menu is in Chinese I think and it something like “在此打开资漂盲理器” and I am not getting rid of this menu… I have tried context menu handler tool in Advanced System Care, I failed to identify the entry for it….. It’s getting an habit living with these craps now-a-days…..

  • Heartofdestany

    I use and have been using IObit for 2 weeks, because my father obtained it from tech school and he is my go to person when it comes to my PC and so far it has done every thing it said it would and nothing it didn’t say it would, some of the benefits so far are that my computer is more stable than it has ever been in the past ( It having been built in 2006.) and it seems to run at a speed about equivalent to my budy’s 2011 machine.

  • http://www.youtube.com/whiterazor White Razor

    Scams and bogus crap like the mentioned are why ordinary people are pushed to Macs. Also, why we can’t have nice things. Then again, it’s probably for the best if they are pushed to Macs in order for them to have less to break… to some respect.

    I have used CCleaner for a while and always careful what I delete. A few times I have damaged some programs and had to restore. I usually avoid using this program now, because I don’t believe it’s really necessary. Other from that I use PerfectDisk. It’s pay to use, but it’s quite cheap (about 30 bucks). It’s a nice defrag program that apparently improves performance. I haven’t noticed a difference, but it uses shiny defrag graphs (that mysteriously disappeared in Windows Defrag in Windows 7), and we all know graphs mean it’s telling the truth.

    Yup.

  • Sérgio Carisio

    I’m using Ashampoo WinOptimizer and it’s been doing a good job. Although the list price is $49,00 you can easily find offers for less than $15,00.

  • Anonymous

    I use CCleaner, but there are a lot of people I know – and I have to fix their PC’s – that use other programs that are expensive ($50+) that say they are “optimizing” their PC, when they do nothing or mess around with things that should be left alone.

    Great article. I will definitely be sharing with some people. I guess when your computer gets slow you take the advice of the advertisements – FinallyCrap.com.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000140420271 Cristian Chitaru

    I was hoping for some timp and tricks to make your system do better, like services you may close, working with windows event viewer and very good programs like those you find in sysinternals package to find what processes and services eats resources. I am sorry for my bad english. I hope those are some ideas for you Chris. Anyway keep up the good job !

  • Anonymous

    I will never use CCleaner because nCleaner is much more thorough.
    Also the tweaking options are much better.
    As disabling anonymous guest access.
    Sending all your WMP and Internet use to Microsoft. And much more.
    For spyware malware and adware removal I prefer 3 programs which will work very good.
    Just delete them from startup.
    Spybot S&D from Safer networking.
    SuperAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes.
    As defragmentation programs I like ultradefrag and pagedfrg.
    Also don’t forget to go to your register through regedit and edit this keys:
    HKLMSystemCurrentControlSetControlSession ManagerMemory Management
    Change the value of DisablePagingExecutive from 0 to1
    Also change the value of LargeSystemCache from 0 to 1
    Then go to
    HKLMSystemCurrentControlSetControlPriorityControl
    Change Win32PrioritySeparation from 2 to 26
    Goto HKCUControl PanelDesktop and set the value of MenuShowDelay From 400 or 150 to 0
    Close regedit.
    Click the windows button+r type Cmd.
    Click return or Enter.
    Type: fsutil behavior set disablelastaccess 1
    And fsutil behavior set disable8dot3 1
    Type exit to quit the command line interface.
    Again click the windows button + r and type services.msc
    Disable the indexing service and Windows Search.
    Now you should have a much faster computer.
    But most of the windows users don’t listen to people who use apple at home.
    But I work on windows computers on a daily basis.
    But on my Mac I only need Onyx, and everything gets done.
    Also English is not my native language. So maybe you don’t have to listen to the doped up Dutch guy.

    • Reality

      When was the last time nCleaner was updated?  It was released in 2007.   I’m not touching that.

      • Anonymous

        It still beats the hell out of CCleaner.
        It removes much more unwanted crap then CCleaner.
        Also the tweaks section beats everything else now on the market.
        So I prefer perfect working software that’s old, over half-baked new software.
        Name something with a better tweaks section then nCleaner.

  • Chris Scarber

    whats kinda funny is an ad for “that software” poped up as one of the Google sponsored links at the end of your video

  • http://twitter.com/no_substitute Kim Nilsson

    Best way to optimise a Windows system is and will probably always be:
    1. Backup your personal data.
    2. Reinstall your choice of Windows.
    3. (Re)install ONLY the programs you will actually use in the future!
    4. Restore that of your personal data which you expect you will want to access in the future.

    Some people would argue that point 2 could instead be:
    2. Install any version of Linux that fits your fancy.