There is a widespread scam in the software industry involving a product so pathetic, it would be funny if people were not wasting time and money on it. The product is PC Cleaners or Registry Cleaners; and disturbingly none of them seem to actually do anything, even though there might be as many of 50 the solutions on the market.
A personal computer (PC) Cleaner is a solution that is supposed to “improve” your machine’s performance by fixing problems, purging junk data, and scrubbing all the malware and unwanted functions away. Dozens of PC Cleaners have been on the market for decades and tests indicate that none of them seems to do anything.
When Marco Chiappetta and his team at PC World put a batch of popular PC Cleaners to the test back in 2013, they could not find any that seemed to work. Disturbingly, the results they got seem to be just as relevant today as four years ago.
Proof PC Cleaners do Not Work
Some of the gruesome highlights of their test included:
- “All of the other utilities worked well enough, but they didn’t have a meaningful impact on performance,” Chiappetta wrote.
- Three of the PC Cleaners they tested; SlimCleaner, CCleaner, and PC Booster, actually made system performance worse.
- Chiappetta thinks some of the PC Cleaners actually shut down useful solutions that were running on the computers.
- Only one of the cleaners they tested; CCleaner, actually purged junk files from the system. Unfortunately, CCleaner did not purge enough junk to make a meaningful difference.
- Another popular PC Cleaner Ashampoo WinOptimizer actually shut down Touch Keyboard and Handwriting Panel Service.
- The “free” PC Booster actually installed a popup ad for its full version when Chiappetta tested it.
Why You Don’t Need PC Cleaners
The worst thing about PC Cleaners is that you do not need them if you are using a recent version of Windows (Windows 7 or later). If you are using Windows XP the Zombie XP website can show you how to fix most problems.
No PC Cleaner is needed because Windows already does everything the PC Cleaners are supposed to you for you, for free. Outside programs only get added to Windows if you give them permission to do install.
The third-party add-ons which slow PC operation are usually added deliberately or unknowingly by the computer user. A great many of them are actually Malware installed through phishing scams, bots, and other hacker tricks. Most of them can be removed by simply installing a decent antivirus program and keeping it updated.
Microsoft Hates PC Cleaners or Does it?
Figuring out Microsoft’s policy on PC Cleaners or Registry Cleaners is difficult because the company does not seem to have one at least publicly. Instead, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) refuses to endorse such products but offers some alternatives.
There is a sort of Microsoft registry cleaner for versions of Windows; other than Eight and 8.1, available here. The product is called Microsoft Fix It and it sure sounds like a registry cleaner, there is also a list of fixes for other versions of Windows at that page.
Something to note is that Microsoft has never pushed PC Cleaners. Instead, the company usually offers solutions for specific performance issues. The fact that Microsoft itself is down on PC Cleaners and Registry Cleaners should teach average people to avoid such products. Therefore if you are using an up to date version of Windows you do not need a PC Cleaner.
Beware of Google
Always be skeptical of any article, video, or blog that recommends software or apps, especially those you have to pay for. Such pieces are usually examples of paid posting in which the website or blog owner receives money in exchange for running the article.
Paid posting is why you will find dozens of articles recommending PC Cleaners; and related products, whenever you run a search for “speed up” your computer at Google. Also be leery of reviews of solutions; even at major tech websites, because most of them make most of their money from advertisers such as software makers.
Something else to remember is that Google search rankings can be skewed by SEO and other techniques to raise a product’s rankings. Many of the articles that first come up when you run a Google search have been tailored to fool its search engine.
A related problem is that Google will take you to the article that receives the most visits, not the one with the best information. If the worst product receives the most hits, it will pop up first when you run a Google search.
How to Really Speed up your PC
Even though PC Cleaners are a scam there are a few ways you might be able to really speed up your personal computer.
If you are using an older version of Windows, such as Windows 7 or 8, consider updating to a new version. Windows 10 is available in Home and Pro versions from the Microsoft Store. You will have to pay for it but the extra money you will spend is worth.
You should consider updating because Microsoft actually fixes problems, and adds new solutions to versions. Those willing to spend $199.99 for Windows 10 Pro will receive Enterprise-grade Security and encryption with BitLocker, along with a better version of Windows.
Beyond that simply follow the basic rules of good computer use, use your security program and keep it updated. Take reasonable steps to keep Malware out, and install updates.
Finally, no software or app can magically restore a junky old computer. If your machine is really slow or having serious problems, consider buying a new computer. There are lots of great deals on new and used computers right now, and some very fast and powerful machines for sale at pretty reasonable prices.
So stop wasting your time with PC Cleaners and go computer shopping. Replacing defective hardware and outdated software are the best ways to speed up your operating system.