Windows 10 Helpers

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Windows 10 Helpers: a reader asks…

I have a 1-year-old Windows 10 computer that’s starting to work slower and slower. I’ve been considering using a utility like CCleaner to clean it up and wonder if there are other utilities you think are better?

Let me just stop you right there. Pretty much all the 3rd party utilities that purport to make your computer work better, faster, and clean up junk are a waste of time and money. Back in the days of Windows 7 and before, some utilities had a valid purpose for being, but no longer. Windows 10 is very stable and reliable.

The chances are that the reason your computer is working slower and slower is because you’ve done some things to it which cause that. You might have installed a large number of programs or apps that have background operations which run all the time. You may have tried to save too much on the purchase and bought an under-powered PC. You might have neglected to practice safe computing and allowed malware, spyware or computer viruses to infect your computer. Or you may simply not be practicing good ‘hygiene and housekeeping’ in your use of the computer.

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Most of the 3rd party utilities were created in the Windows 7 or earlier days, when Windows was much more likely to malfunction on its own and/or with the help of hackers, scammers, spammers and other nefarious netizens. Back in those days, Microsoft had nothing in the operating system to protect you against these threats, so a 3rd party protection program or utility was needed. When Microsoft released Windows 10, the software developers, realizing their raison d’etre was disappearing, either branched out and expanded their offering to cover a lot more than just computer protection, or they simply doubled down on their marketing efforts to try and keep existing customers and attract new customers.

The fact is that Windows 10 (with the built-in Windows Defender) is quite well-protected on its own. The only reasonable improvement could be had by adding Malwarebytes Anti-malware Premium, which works alongside Windows Defender to add another layer of protection. Users still need to practice safe computing and protect their digital lives (tips here) to remain safe. And the built-in (and automatic) utilities of Windows 10 negate the need for any so-called optimization tools like CCleaner.

My Top 10 short-list of things you should do to get and keep your Windows 10 computer humming along are:

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    1. keep the operating system updated, and keep all installed software programs updated (latest versions, latest updates).
    2. restart the computer anytime it seems to be having trouble, and at least once a week
    3. If you want added protection, buy and install Malwarebytes Anti-malware Premium ($40/year for 1 computer).
    4. uninstall any software you don’t need and use. Avoid installing software you don’t really need. Keep your computer lean and clean.
    5. add an early-warning system so you can see if your computer is temporarily working hard, so you can take a break. Background scans and optimization can really slow things down, but usually only last a few minutes.
    6. if your computer is under-powered, consider an upgrade (especially RAM). See my Nitty-Gritty PC Spec article
    7. avoid (e.g., disable) the problematic Sleep Mode and make other power adjustments to avoid errors. See my Windows 10 Power Options article.
    8. use strong and unique passwords for everything (and a password manager), and 2-factor authentication wherever available.
    9. be less trusting of everything you see and hear on the internet – there are tons of scams out there.
    10. find and use an expert you trust (ahem, perhaps me?) for advice when it comes to questions about your digital life, consumer technology, and your computer.

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A shameless plug about #10 above (but not a sales pitch), I’ve been giving advice to consumers for over 20 years now, and my Library is pretty well-stocked with tons of good advice, mostly answers to questions posed by my readers over the years. You can ask a question right here, and I’ll respond usually within a day or so. A picture is worth a thousand words, so feel free to upload or text me a screenshot or picture of whatever you’re asking about. The more details and information you can give me, the better answer I can give you back.

I answer all types of questions about consumer technology, not just computers. I try very hard to remain agnostic about the brands and models of equipment you use, and work to get what you have working as best as it can for you. I have over 30 thousand readers worldwide who regularly visit this site and either look up the answer to their issue, or ask me a question. If you want free advice, I’m happy to give it, but you might have to wait a few days for your answer. If time is critical to you, you can schedule a virtual service call, although this isn’t free.

To sum up, look at your computer to see what is causing the slowdown. Consider at least using Malwarebytes Free to check for and remove any malware from your system. Try out my suggested early-warning system. S’matter of fact, go back and re-read my top-10 list, follow my advice. And if you have any specific questions or concerns, feel free to ask me a question.

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