My profession as an IT (Information Technology) type has it's pro's and con's. The con is that I'm like the car mechanic always working on other folks computers outside of work and mine at home are in really bad shape. I have about 10 computer systems with various operating systems (O/S) from Windows, different flavors of Unix/Linux and even a SUN Microsystems Blade100 workstation. My main workstation for a number of years was running RedHat Linux until the hard drive crashed hard on me in Fall '05. I received a HP laptop for Christmas so I wasn't in much of a hurry to rebuild and haven't really done much with my network lately.
I have tried to perfect my knowledge of managing my Windows systems but it's all about time. I've found some nice freeware utilities that I will list later. I have also found a utility that is built-in to the Windows O/S. Let's discuss this a little.
Go to the "Start" button and select 'Run'. Now type msconfig and hit 'Enter' and popup window will appear. WARNING: This is not for the squeemish or those of you that don't know what your doing as you could severely cripple your PC!!! You'll see several tabs now, the ones you want to look at are 'Startup' and 'Services'.
Now I have found a couple of tools that are relatively easy to use. The first one is " Glary Utilities". This one will clean up the Windows registry, internet temp files, fix broken shortcuts, remove spy-ware, etc... It will speed up your PC noticeably.
The other tool is one I like but it can be somewhat of the a resource hog. It is Secunia PSI. This one will keep some of your install software up-to-date for you automatically.
Note: Take the time to read the help files in each of these and get familiar with what they do before you use them.
Microsoft Windows Defender (Free) – I haven't used this one at all to be honest with you. Click here for more info.
Lavasoft Ad-Aware (Free) – This one works really well and we used to use it at work for a number of years. Click here for more info.
Webroot Spy Sweeper (Not Free) – We use this one at work now. It can be a nuisance but it works. I don't recommend this one for the not so computer savvy.
Symantec and McAfee have their own version of Anti-malware/spyware utilities that you have to pay for but I let you do some of your own research about them.