The 20 (Mostly Free) Downloads You Can't Do Without

You likely have plenty of software on your PC. But do you have the right software?

Any well-equipped system needs a basic software suite, a collection of tools that can keep your machine in working order and help it take care of everyday tasks--as well as some not-so-ordinary tasks. Since such software doesn't ship with your PC, for the most part, you'll have to accumulate it over time.

Which programs should you get? We've put together a suite of 20 must-have applications--the tools that will allow you to get the most out of your PC. We've included a wide variety of software, from security utilities to system cleaners to graphics tools. We've mixed some all-time favorites with some apps that you've probably never heard of. They all have one thing in common: You need them. Now. So read on and start downloading.

System Boosters

First, here's a look at software that can help your PC run in tip-top shape, including a Registry cleaner, a system optimizer, and more.

Glary Utilities

If you need to clean and optimize your machine, improve your privacy and security, or do other similar tasks, you'll want this program. It's free, it's simple to use, and it'll make your computer run much better.

Its cleanup and repair tools include a Registry cleaner, a disk cleaner, and a shortcut fixer that corrects shortcut errors on your Desktop or Start menu. Among its optimization tools are a startup manager and a very good context-menu manager for editing the menu that appears when you right-click a file.

You also get a file shredder, encryption tools, a utility for cleaning up your Internet traces...the list goes on. For anyone who wants to take control of their PC and doesn't want to pay even a penny, this is a great program to get.

Download Glary Utilities

CCleaner

Like it or not, your PC is full of junk. And no matter how hard you try to keep the junk off, it accumulates over time. This must-have does a great job of cleaning everything out. It clears your browser cache, temporary files folder, browser history, Windows log files, hot-fix uninstallers, and temporary files from third-party applications. The app offers a lot more, too, including a Registry cleaner and an uninstaller. Considering that it's free, it's hard to beat.

Download CCleaner

PC De-Crapifier

As good as CCleaner is, there's something it doesn't do: Track down "craplets" and kill them. Craplets are useless programs and trial versions that come installed on many new PCs, or that piggyback onto other downloads and install themselves on your computer. The result: a clogged hard disk, and a slower system.

That's where this free must-have comes in. It looks for dozens of craplets, finds them, and eliminates them.

The program's list of targets is long, and it includes the craplets most commonly preinstalled on PCs, such as QuickBooks Trial, Dell Search Assistant, Wild Tangent Games, a variety of Norton and Symantec trialware, and Yahoo Toolbar. Be sure to see the full list.

Download PC De-Crapifier

Belarc Advisor

This great free utility does a thorough analysis of your hardware and system setup and then creates a profile that shows you everything you have. The profile is a Web page living on your machine that you can save or print out--or better yet, both.

In the profile, you'll find all you could ever need to know about your PC: the processor type and speed, including the primary and secondary cache sizes; the size and type of hard drive, including the total space and free space; the names of all the Windows user accounts; your RAM setup, including the serial numbers of the RAM modules; and your motherboard manufacturer and serial number. And that's just a start. You can use all of this material for troubleshooting, for technical support, for planning upgrades, or for anything else that requires a system rundown.

Download Belarc Advisor

Glary Registry Repair

Use your PC long enough, and you'll have problems with your Registry. Invalid entries, software that doesn't clean up the Registry after it uninstalls, invalid paths and file associations, obsolete entries--the list of Registry problems can be endless, and they'll slow down your PC, cause system crashes, and generally muck up things.

You'll never be able to track down the problems yourself, so grab this freebie, which scans the Registry and fixes issues fast. You can choose which changes to accept and which to ignore. The program creates an Undo file, too, so you can revert to your previous version of the Registry if complications occur.

Download Glary Registry Repair

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