When you first bought your PC or laptop, it probably ran smoothly and without too many problems. However, over time it can easily get bogged down with various apps, files and the remains of installations, all of which can seriously impair performance.
The need to do something about all this excess clutter might be obvious if you're getting low storage warning, but it can have a big effect even if you have plenty of spare capacity.
Windows has some built-in tools to help you clear unused files and programs, but for the best results you'll want to download dedicated PC cleaner software. There are tons of options out there, but the seven we recommend are all relatively inexpensive while offering a comprehensive service.
Best clean up apps for PCs
- IObit Advanced SystemCare
- AVG TuneUp
- Norton Utilities Premium
- Ashampoo Windows Optimizer
- OneSafe PC Cleaner
- iOLO System Mechanic
IObit Advanced SystemCare
- Real-time system monitoring
- Spyware removal
- RAM optimisation in Pro version
Now on its twelfth version, Advanced SystemCare has long been a useful tool for optimising you PC’s performance. It comes in two varieties: Advanced SystemCare is free, while the Pro version adds deeper optimisation and registry maintenance tools, plus the ability to stop overeager apps from hogging your RAM. At the time of writing, a one-year subscription to Pro costs around £15 - it's billed in US Dollars at $19.99.
The free version features real-time monitoring, so you’ll know when something is causing problems, and the current usage rates of your RAM and CPU. Running a system scan identifies any slow-downs that might come from programs that boot at start up, spyware threats, as well as junk files and old registry entries. These can then be fixed by clicking a single button.
If you keep clear of unsavoury websites and generally practice safe-surfing, then the free tier is a very capable way to keep your PC ticking along nicely. Heavier users would do well to look at what Pro has to offer with its more powerful cleaning tools it can root out a lot more cruft that can bring down the speed of your device. These include automatic driver updates, malware scanners, disk optimisation, not to mention the internet booster that IObit claims can speed up browsing by up to 300 percent.
Bottom Line: An easy to use and powerful way to keep your PC in the best of health.
- Wide ranging tools
- Automatic driver updater
- Clean and easy to understand interface
Alongside its main role as a provider of security and anti-virus software, AVG has a range of apps for online privacy, driver updates, and optimising Windows. The latter is AVG TuneUp, which, like others in this roundup, has free and paid versions.
The free app is little more than a demo, allowing you to run a system scan that identifies broken registry items and shortcuts, system junk, tracking cookies, browser cache items, start-up programs and such. But to actually remove anything you’ll need to be on the Pro tier, which sets you back £34.99/US$49.99 per year.
This brings with it a hefty supply of features though, including remedies for all the issues listed above, plus automatic real-time monitoring, deep cleans for your hard drive, internet speed-up tools, and a universal driver update to ensure your programs all stay up to date.
This is accessed via a clean and easy to understand interface, with tick-boxes and drop-down menus there to show you exactly what you’re doing and even warn you against some actions if it could lead to accidentally deleting important items.
In addition to Windows and Mac versions, it's also available as an Android or iOS app. This means you can declutter your phone or tablet just as effectively.
Bottom Line: Not the most affordable at full price, but the current discounts make it a serious contender. Full of useful tools and with a simple interface.
- Simple menus
- Powerful tools
- Reasonably priced Pro version
Avast bought CCleaner's parent company Piriform back in 2017, but it's as impressive now as it's ever been. The wildly popular free version has been downloaded a reported 2.5 billion times, but there's also a
CCleaner has been around for a long time now, with Avast (the new owner, having bought Piriform in 2017) claiming over 2.5 billion downloads of its software. This isn't that surprising as CCleaner is an easy-to-use, powerful addition to any PC. Yes, it went through a rough patch, but it's safe to use these days.
Recent versions of CCleaner include an Easy Clean option, which searches for and removes tracking files and junk. These can be examined in more detail or you can just trust the software to clear up what it finds automatically.
Should you prefer to exercise more control over what gets removed, there is the Custom Clean option which is essentially the main interface that users have known for years. In here you can decide which applications are examined, the types of files you want to clean, as well as the specific parts of Windows that you feel need attention. There's also a dedicated Registry section for keeping the OS free from broken elements left behind by apps.
CCleaner provides software management tools, allowing you to quickly enable or disable browser plugins, change the apps that load at startup, and there's a disk analyser to show what files are taking up valuable space on your drive. All the options are well laid out, making the tasks straightforward and understandable.
Stepping up to the Pro tier adds a software updater, automatic removal of internet trackers, scheduled cleaning and disk-space management features. The latest version also adds a Health Check feature, which can analyse, tune and fix any issues across privacy, space, speed and security. All this is available for a very reasonable £19.95/US$24.95 per year.
We could do without the CCleaner Browser that seemed to install itself without being asked, but it only took a few seconds to use CCleaner to remove it, so it's no big deal.
Bottom Line: A tried and tested cleaning app with plenty of useful features. The relatively inexpensive Pro version is a great way to ensure much of the work is done for you.
Norton Utilities Premium
- Automatic clean-up feature
- Preset profiles
- Permanent file shredder
Another company more renowned for its security credentials is Symantec, the creator of Norton Security Deluxe Antivirus and a range of other popular software. Amongst its stable of programs is the very useful Norton Utilities Premium, which features a full suite of tools to put the spring back in a PC’s steps.
An automated cleaning and repair setting monitors your usage, then applies various tidying and repair work when your PC is sitting idle. The upshot is if you go and make a cup of tea, your PC can do a little housekeeping while you’re away. Running a complete system spruce up via the 1-click Optimisation setting is nice and easy too.
Of course, there are the usual capabilities of removing broken program links, patching up the registry, a digital shredder for getting rid of old but potentially sensitive data files, and Norton even has preset profiles that can help eke out more performance from your machine.
The full package costs £39.99/US$39.99 per year, although this covers up to 10 different PCs.
Bottom Line: Strong performer that’s an excellent option, although it's on the more expensive side.
Ashampoo Windows Optimizer
- 1-click optimisation
- Energy manager
- Often available at a discount
WinOptimizer 18 is an easy product to recommend, as not only does it offer plenty of features, but they're accessible via a 1-click optimisation button that scurries off and checks how your PC performance can be improved.
The app de-clutters your hard drive, removes junk files, repairs program shortcuts, fixes Registry errors, and clears out your browsing history and cache. There’s also the option to securely delete sensitive data, or add password protection and encryption instead. A new edition to the suite is the Energy Manager that adjusts settings and resource requirements to make your battery life more efficient.
For those who want to dig deeper there’s detailed analysis of the operating system and modules that can help improve things like boot times and internet connection speeds.
At the time of writing, an excellent offer means WinOptimizer 18 is available with a one-off payment of just £13.50/US$15, down from its usual £44.99/US$49.99.
Bottom Line: A well respected and dependable collection of optimisation tools for your machine. Current discount means it offers excellent value for money.
OneSafe PC Cleaner
- Registry cleaner
- Program uninstaller
- Data recovery tool on Pro tier
OneSafe is another solid app that offers fixes for registry, system, and internet-related junk files, plus the usual tidying up of invalid shortcuts, startup programs, as well as scanning for anything malicious lurking on your PC.
The free download is similar to AVG TuneUP, in that it’s little more than a diagnostic program that can look for any problems on your system but can hardly fix anything. To enable the tools you’ll need to sign up to the subscription options which range from a single month (currently around £9/US$$10) to a full year (£2.50/US$3 per month).
There are a couple of services available for free, with the ability to manage the programs that automatically boot when you turn on your PC, and an uninstaller that removes not just a program but all the leftover files and registry items.
If you want more power still, then the Pro package adds duplicate files deletion, search and remove any emails or messages that could give away your bank details, a file shredder, alongside tools to recover deleted or damaged data. Unlocking the Pro tier costs an additional £9 / $10, which seems like money well spent.
Bottom Line: If you opt for the Pro level package then you’ll be getting plenty of power for your money.
iOLO System Mechanic
- Updated interface
- Quick and Deep scan options
- New Privacy Shield feature
IOLO has a number of optimisation products available for Windows PCs, including security apps, drive scrubbers, password managers, and System Mechanic. The latter is a great piece of software that provides a quick way to get your machine back in tip-top condition.
The interface now has a darker colour palette that is easy on the eyes. Controls are straightforward, with plenty of options to choose from. The program now offers Quick or Deep scans, the first of which restricts itself to the essentials, with the Deep option being more thorough.
System Mechanic employs something it calls LiveBoost technology, which aims to ensure that the CPU, RAM, and hard drive are not overused by aggressive programs. This can give PCs a decent performance improvement, especially if you have resource-hogging software.
Tools are available to monitor the physical attributes of your HD, and predict if a crash is on the horizon, while others search for any potential operating system issues that could become a problem.
The app also has an All-in-one PC Cleanup PowerTool that automatically removes anything cluttering up your browsers, chat programs, or hard drives, plus there's a new Privacy Shield feature that disables Windows data collecting services that can prove stubborn otherwise.
While it's relatively expensive at full price (US$49.95, approx. £37), the current offer means you can get a 1-year licence for US$14.98 (approx. £11).
Botton Line: System Mechanic is a comprehensive suite with many useful features. Now available at an excellent price.
Decluttered your PC but it's still running slowly? Check out how to speed up Windows for more suggestions.