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.
This is an ideal program for the non-technical user as it logs all of the changes it makes to the system and allows you to roll them back later if they cause problems.
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4/ AVG PC Tuneup 2012
Price: £25 (1 PC, 1 year)
Web: AVG PC Tuneup 2012
AVG is better known for its antivirus products but if you have a single PC that needs a spring clean then its PC Tuneup tool is a worthwhile addition to your software library. It can clean up your hard drive and registry, defragment the disk and permanently wipe space.
There's also a tool to optimise your Internet settings for the best performance, a tracks eraser to help protect your privacy and a disk doctor tool to check the drive for errors.
The interface is simple and straightforward and allows you to scan the system and fix reported problems with easy access to the more advanced tools if you need them.
It's good at monitoring resource usage too so you can spot processes that slow your system down. You can run PC Tuneup as a standalone tool but if you have AVG Internet Security or Anti-Virus it integrates with their menu systems to provide easy access to the tuning features.
5/ Auslogics Disk Defrag Pro
Price: £18.77 (3 PCs 1 Year)
One of the main performance issues to afflict PCs is a slowing down of the system due to disk fragmentation. This is where the system splits up files to try to fill space left by deleted items. Being a mechanical component (fragmentation doesn't affect SSDs) the disk is the slowest part of your PCs system, and having to hunt around for file fragments to reassemble them slows things down further.
There is of course a defrag tool built into Windows but third-party alternatives usually do a better job and offer you more options. Disk Defrag Pro has a choice of algorithms so you can ensure you get the best defragmentation method for your PC. It can also clean up temporary files and check for disk errors before running the defrag.
There's a boot time option to ensure files which are normally locked by the system get processed, you can have the program run in the background and it will manage its resources so as not to impact on your work.
6/ Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 Suite
Price: £31.42 (1 PC)
Paragon Software's products cover just about every area of hard drive operation and maintenance and the latest Hard Disk Manager Suite brings together pretty much all of the drive tools you need in one handy package.
It can create and manage partitions, manage multi-boot systems, optimise space usage, plus backup and recover your data. It also includes tools to migrate data if you're upgrading to a larger hard drive or switching to a new computer – Paragon claim Windows 8 support is coming soon. Additionally you can create a bootable recovery disc to help you restore the system in the event of problems.
Whilst this isn't a general performance tool, keeping your hard drive in peak condition plays a big part in ensuring your PC runs smoothly. If you're upgrading or migrating it's a powerful aid to ensuring the process runs smoothly. And if you are moving to a new system there's also an option to securely wipe free space or an entire drive.