Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI)
You already know that to keep your system running well and for a long time, you need to keep it free from viruses, spyware and infections. So you're certainly running security software. But anti-malware software alone can't always keep your system running in tip-top shape. Sometimes the problem is that you're running an application without the latest security patches, and bad guys and bad software can sneak through the holes.
Secunia PSI shuts down those holes. It scans your PC for all the software you have installed, then checks to see if any applications are missing the latest patches. Whenever it finds any, it reports the results. It will also download and install the patches if you ask it to.
It doesn't stop after the initial scan -- it constantly runs in the background, checking when there are new patches available, then tells you when it's time to get them. In downloading the patches, it does more than just keep your PC secure: It also helps it run faster, because patched applications usually run faster than unpatched ones.
Works with: Windows 2000 SP4/XP SP2 or later/Vista
Clean Your Registry
Think of the Windows Registry as if it were your basement -- there are plenty of useful things down there that your house needs, such as plumbing, heaters and boilers, but there's probably plenty of useless junk as well.
In the case of your home, the junk is harmless. Not so with your PC. A junked-up Registry can slow down your system and cause conflicts and freeze-ups. The following free Registry utilities will clean it out and help your PC live longer.
Eusing Free Registry Cleaner
One of the main reasons your PC gets more sluggish with time is that the Registry gets clogged up with old entries left behind by badly behaving software, and with outright bad Registry entries. The problem: It's not humanly possible to find these bad entries and fix them.
This excellent free program does the job for you. Run it, and it looks through your Registry for many different kinds of problems, then shows you what it finds. Select the bad entries you want the program to fix, and it fixes them all.
Don't worry that the program will make a mistake and do damage -- it automatically backs up your Registry and lets you restore your old Registry entries if changing them causes problems.
Works with: Windows 9x/Me/NT/2000/XP/2003/Vista