Ads and articles highlighting the benefits of PC cleaning tools for Windows are everywhere. It’s frankly baffling how widespread these so-called “optimizers” or “speed boosters” are considering they don’t actually do anything close to what they claim. In the worst of cases, they may even harm your computer. Let’s look at five specific reasons to steer clear of PC cleaning tools on Windows.
1. Windows Has Built-in Optimization Features
Windows already comes pre-loaded with many PC housekeeping options. You can find tools such as Defragment and Optimize Drives, Disk Cleanup, Windows Memory Diagnostic, and more by searching for “Windows Tools” (in Windows 11) or “Administrative Tools” (in Windows 10) from your taskbar.
Tip: you can safely turn defragmentation off for your SSDs, as they don’t need it, and defragmenting them can actually shorten their lifespan. Get up to speed on how to defrag your Windows hard drive by following our guide.
PC cleaners often tend to overemphasize their disk maintenance functionalities, but in reality, these are redundant options already found in Windows.
2. Many Don’t Work at All
PC cleaners, or optimizers, usually don’t accomplish anything worthwhile. Benefits like “speeding up your computer” and “boosting performance” are used to entice users to install these third-party tools, but in reality, they simply highlight phantom “concerns” and prompt the user to “fix” the concerns to “speed up” their machine.
These “issues” – which have to do with things like temporary files, invalid registry entries, browser cookies, fragmented files, visited web pages, etc. – are harmless files and part of the regular workings of any computer. Removing or cleaning them doesn’t do anything at all, as they don’t even slow your system down.
Good to know: there are plenty of Windows processes that can be confused for their namesake malware. Check out a complete list of them.
3. They Can Hurt Performance
Perhaps the worst thing about so-called PC cleaning tools is that they can do more harm than good. Many such tools are bundled with additional software that users can easily overlook during installation. These unwanted programs can slow your system down by running in the background or bombarding you with browser ads and desktop pop-ups.
You can also damage your system by “fixing” registry issues, as these tools often do an incomplete job, creating newer problems in the process. What’s more, by overdoing tasks like deleting cookies, temporary files, etc., you can sometimes reduce performance, as your browser will take that much more time to load your frequently-visited websites.
4. Antivirus May Signal False Positives
Many PC cleaning tools include an antivirus component that is routinely pushed on users. When these antivirus tools are used to scan the system, thousands of files are falsely labeled as viruses. Removing these files can easily lead to breaking one or the other essential functions of your computer.
In addition, many of these tools often carry malware themselves. Downloading PC cleaners from unknown websites, email ads, or random pop-ups can lead to users unknowingly installing viruses onto their systems.
You don’t need any of that to protect your PC, as Windows Defender is one of the best antivirus tools. It’s free to use and already part of your Windows installation. Access it by searching for it in the taskbar, then clicking either “Windows Defender” or “Windows Security.”
Tip: if you still prefer to have a third-party antivirus on your PC, learn how you can permanently disable Windows Defender.
5. Some Are Scams
One of the biggest dangers of using PC cleaning tools is exposing yourself to scammers who rely on the trust of non-discerning users. Many of these tools are coupled with ransomware that can hijack your system and demand a fee to unlock your files.
Some of these tools have even been recognized by Microsoft as a virus. With the proliferation of PC cleaners and optimizers showing no signs of slowing down, it’s best to stay away from them altogether. On Windows, you already have all the tools you need to run regular maintenance tasks, like removing unnecessary programs, cleaning up junk files, defragmenting hard drives, and running antivirus scans.
If you’re interested in further strengthening your computer’s defenses against viruses, you can enable ransomware protection in Windows Defender.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I fix a slow computer?
Instead of falling into the trap of PC cleaning tools, you can use the following tips to speed up your slow computer:
- Upgrade from a hard drive to an SSD..
- Schedule your hard drives to defragment at least once a month
- In Task Manager, remove programs that you don’t need from Startup.
- Add more RAM.
- Scan your computer for viruses using Microsoft Defender.
Are all PC cleaners harmful?
Not all PC cleaning tools are actively looking to scam you or make money by pushing ads for additional software. But even those that aren’t are not adding much value to your computer’s performance. Instead of installing another program that barely improves system performance, use the built-in tools in Windows to maintain your system.
How often should I optimize my PC?
Typically, optimizing your drives once a month is enough. Other tasks, such as cleaning up files and running antivirus scan,s can be performed once a week as well, depending on your individual usage.
Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Tanveer Singh.
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