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Best PC Utility Program(s) for general user?

dsm42 asked
I'm looking for a PC utility program (or programs)  that will work in Windows XP and:
*Tell me what processes are running, what they're for, where they came from, and stop them or uninstall them as necessary (note I already have Anti-Virus, etc., and am mainly looking for misc. Windows processes and programs I installed and no longer use)

*Maintain the hard disk

*Maintain/optimize the registry and any other aspects of the system that needs it

*Be easy to download, install, and run and not take up minimal system resources (I'm willing to pay for this program as long as the price is worth it)

I saw some bad reviews of System Mechanic 7, and was also looking at PC Pitstop, but don't know how good that is.   Any suggestions??

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for optimizing and defragmenting use JKdefrag

For Best Task manager replacement - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx

And if willing to pay, a best registry tweaker - http://www.xprepairpro.com/

These are free one - www.wisecleaner.com/
                                - http://www.iobit.com/advancedwindowscareper.html

for looking at what processes are running and spyware get the free one from microsnot - windows defender  at: http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/about/overview.mspx


jv16 PowerTools

The new and improved jv16 PowerTools is an easy-to-use Windows optimization suite and registry cleaning toolkit containing 21 different tools which allow you to keep your computer running smoothly and error-free.

With this software you can...

    * Automatically clean your Windows registry from obsolete and unneeded data.
    * Automatically fix many kinds of registry errors, such as broken file references.
    * Easily uninstall leftover traces of software you have thought you have already uninstalled ages ago.
    * Detect and remove unneeded history data and MRU (most recently used) lists that can contain sensitive information about you.
    * Locate and delete unneeded files, including temp files and duplicate files.
    * And much, much more!



I've found this combination useful:

AutoRuns for Windows

This utility, which has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any startup monitor, shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and shows you the entries in the order Windows processes them. These programs include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys. You can configure Autoruns to show other locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and much more. Autoruns goes way beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows Me and XP.



CCleaner is a freeware system optimization and privacy tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! :)


First some advice: keep the programs running on your system to a bare minimum. That means don't have a bunch of different software running in the background to tie up your resources. I would NOT worry about having an application running to monitor the hard disk or the registry. I WOULD do some very basic things:

1. Make your disk into two partitions C Drive and D Drive and then move all your data to the D drive. If anything ever happens to corrupt your C Drive your Data on your D drive will still be safe. I cannot tell you how many times this has saved my butt.

2. Use some backup software or ghost your hard drive often enough for it not to matter too much.

3. Use a Dial Up Networking Monitor / Bandwidth Monitor. This will help you watch your bandwidth usage and will also be the best way to alert you to Spyware on your system that should not be there. If you are not using a web browser or any other Internet applications but you see your bandwidth spiking you will know something is wrong. Without a bandwidth monitor you will never know this is happening. I use DU Meter:


But there are a bunch of free ones out there like:


4. Even though there is a built in Firewall in XP my advice is to get rid of it and use NetLimiter Pro 2 instead. NetLimiter has the added ability of allowing you to see exactly which applications are using your bandwidth. This is a great utility to alert you of any Spyware on your system and to keep certain applications from "phoning home" every time you use them. They have a trial version you can download to try it out.

5. Personally, to find out what applications are running on my system I just use the Task Manager built into Windows XP. I have downloaded Windows Defender / Process Explorer but I have never found the need to install them. Maybe one day if you get attacked by Spyware you might need them, but they certainly don't need to be installed on your system unless that happens. You can just Google the names of these applications you find listed in Taks Manager and you will find ten sites which will tell you what each application does. Press Ctrl+Alt Del to access the Task Manager. You don't need anything else.

6. To customize which applications run within Windows use Msconfig - Click on Start + Run and type Msconfig.exe then hit enter and click on the StartUp tab. This will allow you to get rid of some applications that you never asked for in the first place. This basically shows you what Autoruns will show you and is already included in XP and you don't need anything else.

7. To customize which services run with Windows Click on Start + Run and type Services.msc then hit enter. I would run through the steps listed here to tweak your Services the way you want them to be tweaked:


8. To Defrag your hard drive run Start - Programs - Accessories - System Tools and then run Disk Defragmenter. Just do it manually say once every few months. You do NOT need to schedule something like this because that will just tie up more system resources. You don't need to install any other software (like JKDefrag).

9. With respect to a Registry Cleaner, I am just careful about what software I install on my system. I do NOT use a Registry Cleaner because those applications are 'automatic' and can really mess up some of the customer settings you might want to apply to your registry.

Since Windows already provides all these applications I would NOT bother installing anything extra.

10. Do NOT use Internet Explorer. This is probably the BEST recommendation that anybody can make to keep Spyware off your system. Install and use alternate browsers on your system. My suggestion is to use Firefox for your daily browsing, use Opera for high risk browsing (like porn sites) and use IE ONLY for online banking.

11. I have an Antivirus (Nod32 - the absolute lowest resource Antivirus software out there) but I do NOT have any extra AntiSpyware software running on my system. Install Lavasoft Ad-Aware and run it once a month or so to clean up your system. But if you don't use IE you really don't need to worry about Spyware.

Good luck.

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