15 free downloads to pep up your old PC

Can't afford a new PC? These free tools for Windows will help breathe new life into your old machine.

Keep your PC running in tip-top shape by cleaning its Windows Registry with Eusing Free Registry Cleaner.

Keep your PC running in tip-top shape by cleaning its Windows Registry with Eusing Free Registry Cleaner.

Got an aging Windows laptop or desktop computer, but money's too tight to buy a new one? Fret not. There's plenty of life in your old PC. It may seem sluggish and on the point of expiring, and its hard disk may be nearly full to bursting, but there's plenty you can do to clean it up, speed it up and give it new life.

And here's the good news: You can do it all without spending a dime, with these 15 free downloads we've rounded up for you. They'll get you more hard disk space, give your PC an overall tuneup, monitor your hardware for potential problems and more.

Just give your PC this dose of virtual Geritol and it'll soon be as peppy as new. It'll last long enough until the good times roll again and you're in the mood to fork out for new hardware.

Do a quick-and-dirty system tuneup

An easy way to get your PC in better shape is by giving it a one-step system tuneup. The following two programs do everything from stopping unnecessary programs from running at start-up, to fixing Windows Registry problems, to cleaning up the hard disk and more.

Later in the story we'll offer plenty of downloads that each perform one or two system tuneup tasks in depth, but if you want the easiest path to a peppier PC, try one of the all-in-one programs below.

Advanced SystemCare Free

This excellent all-around system cleaner from IObit.com will help keep your PC humming. It takes an "everything plus the kitchen sink" approach, scanning your system for spyware, Registry problems, privacy dangers, and junk files that were once needed by your system but are no longer necessary. You can then tell the program to clean up everything it finds or pick and choose what you want it to fix.

Note that the software will install the Yahoo Toolbar by default, so if you don't want it installed, make sure to uncheck the box during installation.

Works with: Windows 2000/XP/Vista

Glary Utilities

Glarysoft's do-it-all utility offers plenty of ways to help make sure your old PC keeps running despite the ravages of time. To start, there's a good Registry cleaner, hard disk cleaner, and a shortcut fixer that will correct any shortcut error it finds on your desktop or Start menu. In addition, there's a nice start-up manager that shows every process or program that launches when you log into Windows, and provides details about each, including whether any might be dangerous.

There's more as well, including a lot of tools that won't necessarily extend the life of your PC, but will make it easier to use, or offer you useful features. For example, there's a file shredder, a duplicate file finder and a context menu manager for editing the right-click context menu that appears when you click a file. You'll also find encryption tools, ways to clean up your Internet traces and a lot more.

Works with: Windows 2000/XP/Vista

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