Every time you use your PC it's storing temporary files, caching web pages and generally cluttering up the machine. Add to that the fact that as files are added and removed information gets scattered across the hard disk, entries get left behind in the registry, items are added to menus and to the system start up. It should come as no surprise then that eventually the machine will begin to slow down as it struggles to keep track of all this information.
Fortunately you don't have to accept this tailing off in performance. There are plenty of software tools available that can help you clean up the machine and tweak your system settings to put a spring back in your system's step.
Whether you want a general clean up of the system or need to target a particular area such as the performance of your hard drive these are some of the very best programs for the job.
In no particular order here are the top ten system tuning tools - Note the tools below are for Windows 7 and earlier versions of Windows.
1/ SimWare Utilities SlimCleaner
SlimCleaner is a free tool that takes an innovative crowd-sourced approach to cleaning up your PC. It uses feedback from the user community to recommend the optimal settings for programs and services. You can clean up the system as well as uninstall unwanted software. It also lets you identify the data clogging up your drive and securely wipe sensitive information.
There's a useful hijack log that can help you remove unwanted browser add-ons and toolbars. In addition the program brings together standard Windows tools like Device Manager and Performance Monitor in one handy location.
You can run SlimCleaner from a USB drive making it a useful option if you want to scan several PCs as you don't need to have software installed on all of them. The community ratings for programs are shown on a colour-coded interface so you can see at a glance if a piece of software is good. Naturally you can add your own feedback to improve the ratings. Note that it adds a toolbar to your browser unless you opt out during installation.
2/ Piriform CCleaner Business Edition
Price: £29.95 (1 Year for 1 PC)
The Business edition of this popular consumer software – it's free to consumers and boasts 950 million downloads - offers the same powerful tuning tools with flexible pricing depending on whether you have one PC or several.
It cleans up cookies, history and temporary files from all popular web browsers as well as temporary files from other applications including MS Office. A registry cleaner is included too which will scan for and remove redundant entries, there's also an uninstaller to remove unwanted programs and a startup manager.
You get a drive wiper too which will overwrite free space to ensure that deleted files can't be recovered – useful if you're disposing of an old machine or transferring it to a different user.
For larger organisations there's a Network Edition available. This allows remote management so that you can optimise and manage all of your PCs from one central location.
3/ Uniblue SpeedUpMyPC 2013
Price: £19.95 (1 PC, 1 year)
If you want a simple and quick way of boosting the performance of a single PC then this package from Uniblue is well worth a look. It checks for invalid registry entries, scans for unused processes and services, looks for outdated drivers and offers a number of system tweaks to optimise the way the machine runs. It can also defrag the registry to close up gaps left by removed entries.
SpeedUpMyPC has a simple, clean interface with a graphical indication of your system's status and chunky, clearly labelled controls. It's compatible with both 32- and 64-bit systems of Windows and you can download a free version from the website to try it out, this will identify problems though there's a limit to the number of fixes you can apply.