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.

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Free Registry Defrag

Your Registry, just like your hard disk, can become fragmented over time when you install and uninstall programs, change system settings and manually edit your Registry. When you uninstall programs or make changes that delete or alter Registry keys, the Registry's size doesn't shrink because it keeps the space for the keys. So over time, the Registry tends to grow, which can potentially slow down your PC.

This program can potentially make your PC run faster by doing a full Registry defragmentation. It first tells you how fragmented your Registry is and how much more quickly your PC can access your Registry if you defragment it. When you do a defrag, the program restarts your PC. It also creates a Restore Point, so that you can restore your Registry if you run into problems.

Free Registry Defrag

Free Registry Defrag

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By the way, not everyone believes that shrinking the size of the Registry will make a significant performance difference, but it can't hurt to try.

Works with: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/2003/Vista

Download Free Registry Defrag

Editor's note: We originally recommended Auslogics Registry Defrag in this space. However, as we were going to press, the product became shareware instead of freeware, so we have changed our recommendation to Free Registry Defrag.

Clean up your hard disk

As your PC ages, it gets more bloated, full of applications and data you don't really need. This can slow down your PC, and may force you to buy a new hard disk. But with the following free programs, you won't have to do either.

PC Decrapifier

One big cause of software bloat is the trialware, annoying free software, and "craplets" that computer makers put on new PCs, or that you might have inadvertently installed during your Internet travels. Not only does it clog your hard disk, but the software may run in the background without your knowing it, slowing down your PC.

PC Decrapifier

PC Decrapifier

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This little program solves the problem neatly. It gets rid of dozens of the most common kinds of junk that PC makers put on your PC, including AOL, Dell URL Assistant, WildTangent Games and trial copies of many common pieces of software. For a full list, go to pcdecrapifier.com/apps.

In addition to removing programs from the list, it will also show you all of the programs on your PC, and ask if you want to remove any.

When you run the program, it asks whether you want to create a Restore Point. It's a good idea to do this before having PC Decrapifier delete programs from your PC, in case you want to revert your system to its previous state. Note, though, that the program's FAQ page says that the Restore Point won't reinstall any software that the program removed; you'll have to do that yourself manually.

Keep in mind that if you've got a very old PC, this software may not work with it. It works only with Windows XP and Vista, not older versions of Windows.

Works with: Windows XP/Vista

Download PC Decrapifier

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