After the constant demands of browsing, information processing and storage, even your computer needs a spa day. Whether you find that ads are tracking you everywhere you surf, your browser is taking a long time to load, or you’re simply seeing overall sluggish performance, it’s time to clean up the mess. Here are seven killer applications and extensions that will scrub and scour, bringing your computer back to life — and best of all, they’re free. (If you want to take the money you saved and send yourself to Canyon Ranch, that’s up to you.)
1. CCleaner. This is an application I use daily to clean out temp files and old registry entries that make my PC sluggish. On first cleaning, you may be surprised to see more than one gig of junk cleaned from our PC. It’s simple to use, and you can save your registry info in case your “spring cleaning” was a bit aggressive.
2. Pandora Recovery. Despite the best-laid plans of saving a file in the safest spot, there always seems to come a time when you accidentally delete an important file (or video, and so on). Don’t panic. Pandora Recovery brings those files back before they’re truly gone. Maybe “lifesaver” is a little strong, but it sure can be a file saver.
3. Firefox and Chrome. You may use Internet Explorer to surf the web, but consider having a couple of other browsers handy. Why? Different keys for different locks. You can match separate accounts (say, two different Gmail accounts) to separate browsers. It makes your life super easy, without having to worry about just one browser getting confused with which account to open.
4. Ad -blocking extensions. Since browsing the web is what many people do most of the time with a PC, it’s vital to make that experience better. In the Firefox or Chrome stores you can install the AdBlock extension and make your web pages faster — and free of the ad clutter.
Another gem is Ghostery, which stops those annoying tracking cookies and other nasty beacons from following you around the web and popping up ads based on your browsing history. Ghostery shows you those annoying gnats even as it blocks them on every web page. After installing Ghostery, you may be surprised at just how many trackers are following you around the web — but you won’t be bothered by them.
5. YTDDownloader. If you’re taking a long trip without Wi-Fi or cell access on your PC, then grab this app to download any video from YouTube and watch it later. Very cool — and easy to use.
6. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (MBAM). If you’ve ever been plagued by malware, then you know how difficult it can be to remove. MBAM helps prevent you from ever getting to that overwhelmed stage of having nasty malware running amok on your PC.
Another great tool we’ve used with success (when others didn’t work) was Windows Defender. To the gates!
7. Photo editing. If you want an easy way to crop, edit, and touch up a photo or image, then the application Paint.net can do that. This program is similar to the expensive Photoshop — but is free.
Now that you’re ready for your PC tune-up, one last note: If you download these apps, we suggest being very careful to install only the application, and not any added “toolbars” or “search engines,” etc.
Always look carefully at the tick boxes before clicking Next on any installation; make sure you know what the ticked box is for. In fact, we’re showing you the applications’ direct-download sites rather than any mega-download sites, since, unfortunately, mega-download sites now often bundle in unwanted extras that will try and reset your search, home page and other things. If you carefully pick up your apps one at a time, you won’t have that problem.
Do you have any free PC applications that you like?
Steve Harmon is co-founder and CEO of Taleee, the Consensus Engine, which measures consumer opinion from across the Web and social media.Tags: Business,Productivity,Software,Technology