Learn which startup programs are safe to remove

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The longer you run your computer, the more clutter it accumulates. This takes the form of programs you no longer need, bloatware you never wanted in the first place, and/or adware you didn't intend to install.

The result: slow booting, slow operation, slow everything.

To improve the situation, you can uninstall unwanted, unneeded programs. And if you're a little more tech-savvy, you can venture into msconfig to prevent system-dragging software from running at startup.

Ah, but which programs are safe to uninstall and/or block? The last thing you want to do is remove some essential Windows element, which could do more harm than good.

Should I Remove It? is a free utility that helps you answer exactly that question. The program analyzes everything installed on your computer, then helps you determine what's safe to remove.

It does so by displaying both a rating for each program and a crowd-sourced removal percentage (i.e. how many "users and experts" elected to uninstall the selected app).

You can also click the What is it? button to access an online database with more detailed information about the program (what it's supposed to do, who published it, etc.), or click Uninstall to remove it.

This is a great little tool that can help take the guesswork out of deciding which programs you can safely banish from your PC. Best of all, although it's free, it installs no adware of its own.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.comSign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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