Are computers useful or useless?

10 types of system tools and optimizers you won't need on Windows

Windows users see advertisements for all kinds of system tools and optimizers. Businesses can easily tell you that they absolutely must run these tools, but they don't need most of the junk on offer.

Using these system tools will only slow down your computer, waste your time and make your life more complicated. Simplify your life and skip these system tools - all you need is the bare minimum.

Registry cleaner

CONNECTED:Why using a registry cleaner won't speed up your PC or fix crashes

You don't need to clean up your registry. Okay, there are a few scenarios where a registry cleaner could theoretically fix a problem - but these are rare and far apart. Registry cleaner companies often promise that registry cleaners will speed up your PC and fix any crashes, but they don't. Running a registry cleaner once a week is likely to cause more problems than it fixes. The registry is huge, and deleting a few thousand tiny entries won't speed up your computer.

If you need to use a registry cleaner, use the registry cleaner built into CCleaner and skip any paid registry cleaners made by seedy companies.

PC cleaner

CONNECTED:PC cleaning apps are a scam: here's why (and how to speed up your PC)

PC cleaning utilities are also worthless category of software. Like registry cleaners, they are advertised on banners across the web - there are even daytime TV ads for expensive PC cleaning software.

We have explained why pc cleaning software programs are typically scams. Sure, you can free up space and possibly even speed up your PC by deleting temporary files. However, you can do this using the free CCleaner application or even the Disk Cleanup tool included with Windows. Skip the paid apps that are unlikely to work as well as the free alternatives.

Storage optimizer

CONNECTED:Why are memory optimizers and RAM boosters worse than useless?

Windows does not need any help with "optimizing" or "charging" your computer's memory. RAM optimizers may have made sense in the days of Windows 95, when Windows was poorly managed memory and computers had tiny amounts of memory, but they're worse than useless now. Using a memory optimizer actually slows down your PC by clearing useful cache files from your RAM. Modern operating systems are designed to use up your RAM - that speeds everything up.

We explained in detail why storage optimizers have not been helpful in the past. Let Windows take care of the memory itself. To free up memory, close some programs. Do not use a memory optimizer.

Driver cleaner

CONNECTED:Do you need to use driver cleanup when updating drivers?

There was a time when driver cleaners were useful in software, but they are no longer. No need to clean your drivers. So avoid the paid driver cleaners that promise they can fix all of your PC problems. You should even avoid the old free driver cleaners that haven't been updated in years because they are no longer useful.

While you're at it, you don't have to worry about installing updated drivers unless they come through Windows Update. It's not worth updating unless you have a problem that you know the new drivers will fix. The only exception are graphics drivers. If you are a PC gamer, keep these up to date for maximum performance.

Game accelerator

CONNECTED:Benchmarked: Does a Game Booster Improve the Performance of Your PC Game?

Your system doesn't need to be "optimized" to play games from a game booster program. Game Boosters promise to speed up your PC games by stopping background processes for you. However, we ran a benchmark and didn't see any real difference in real-world gaming performance.

Sure, if you're over BitTorrent or if you're using a heavy-duty application in the background while playing a PC game, the speed will slow down. However, you can fix this by pausing your downloads and quitting large programs before playing games. Skip the game booster.

Separate defragmentation program

CONNECTED:Do I really have to defragment my PC?

Windows has an integrated defragmentation tool, which is more than sufficient - and if necessary, your hard drives are automatically defragmented in the background. If you're the average Windows user, you don't even have to run a defragmenter manually - nor do you even think about installing a third-party defragmenter.

SSD optimizer

CONNECTED:Do I need to optimize my SSD with third-party software?

With the rise of solid-state drives that don't require defragmentation, defragmentation software companies have dived their toes into the waters of “SSD optimization”. The idea is that solid state drives require a program on your computer to optimize them so they can run at their top speed. However, there is no concrete evidence of this.

Your operating system and firmware run on The SSD itself optimizes the SSD itself. SSD optimization software running on your computer doesn't even have the low-level access to do much of what it says it is.

Third party uninstaller

CONNECTED:Should you use a third-party uninstaller?

Uninstalling Windows software is not perfect, and it is true that programs often leave useless files behind after you uninstall them. To avoid this, some users use third-party uninstallers to delete any files that a program may leave behind.

Third-party uninstallers can certainly help remove some additional useful files, but these are not worthwhile for most people. The few files left tend not to slow down anything or take up too much storage space. Unless you install and uninstall a large number of programs every day, you don't need a third-party uninstaller. Just uninstall the programs as you normally would and get on with your life.

Update checker

CONNECTED:Do you need to worry about updating your desktop programs?

Windows does not offer a standard checking method; for application updates, each program has to code its own update checker and manage this process itself. Some users try to tame this mess with the help of a third-party update checker that will notify you when updates are available for any of your installed programs.

There was a time when these utilities were more useful - for example, Adobe's Flash Player needed constant updates for security reasons, and there was a time when Flash didn't check for updates itself. Nowadays, every application that needs an update has its own built-in feature to check for updates. Windows, browser plug-ins, web browsers themselves, and graphics drivers - all of them check for updates and automatically install or prompt you to do so. If a program doesn't automatically check for updates - like your other hardware drivers - it probably doesn't need to be updated.

Don't worry about desktop application updates - install them when prompted, but let your software check for them on its own.

Outbound firewall

CONNECTED:Why you don't need an outbound firewall on your laptop or desktop PC

The desktop firewall industry was concerned when Microsoft added a powerful firewall to Windows along with Windows XP SP2. They quickly straightened themselves up again by focusing on features that Windows Firewall didn't. Third-party firewalls alert you to programs that are "calling home" and allow you to manage the programs on your computer that can access the Internet.

In reality, this feature is not very useful. Nowadays almost every program "calls" home - if only to check for updates, to synchronize your data or to access web content. Average Windows users shouldn't have to choose which applications can and cannot connect to the Internet. If you run a program on your computer but you don't trust it enough to give it access to the Internet, you probably shouldn't run that program in the first place.

Full security suite

CONNECTED:Why you don't need a full internet security suite

Antivirus software is useful, even if you are careful - the sheer number of zero-day vulnerabilities in browser plug-ins like Flash and even in browsers themselves make antivirus software a useful layer of protection, even for Windows users who run their software on the Keep up to date and never download applications from untrustworthy websites.

Full security suites are a different matter. They offer every additional feature you can think of: phishing filters, extensive firewalls with lots of buttons and dials, software for temporary file cleaning that sees every browser cookie on your computer as a threat, and much more. While you should be running an antivirus program, you don't need the large, expensive, and comprehensive suite of additional tools. If you need a tool, you can purchase it separately. For example, if you want to delete temporary files with a utility, just use the free CCleaner.

The worst part is that heavy security suites can slow down your computer with all of its features. They also distract you with post notifications to remind you that they are doing something. If they keep bothering you, you'll think they're doing something useful, and you'll pay for another subscription when your current one expires.

Not all third-party system tools are worthless. We're going to cover the few system tools you'll need in a moment. So stay tuned.

Of course, there are corner cases where many of these programs could be useful. You may want to use a third-party uninstaller to clean up a program that was improperly uninstalled and left a big mess. You may need to prevent an application from accessing the Internet on a locked server system. We're not focusing on the edge cases, however - we're looking at programs marketed for the average Windows user and telling you that no matter what the ads say, you don't have to keep them running all the time.