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The best tune-up utility, and what to look for

About tune-up utilities

Tune-up utilities are maintenance tools for your operating system that can remove junk files, defragment hard drives, make sure your programs are up to date, check for unneeded programs that are running in the background or starting up with Windows, and more. You can do most of these tasks yourself, but these tune-up utilities can save you time, as long as their settings aren't too aggressive -- otherwise, they may cause more problems than they solve.

  • Software Inspector interface

Tune-up utilities FAQs

  • Can a tune-up utility be unsafe to use?

    These sorts of tools may make changes that are difficult to reverse. For example, a tool that removes entries from the Windows Registry can make a program not start anymore, or even prevent Windows from booting. Other utilities may attempt to remove an unwanted program and end up breaking the software that it was bundled with during installation.

    If you just want to open up storage space, that can be done safely for free by using Windows' built-in cleanup tools.

  • Is it worth it to buy a tune-up utility?

    It depends on how much free time you have, and how prepared you are to recover if the utility breaks something. You should definitely be creating a full-system backup before experimenting with these tools, because of how much damage they're capable of doing. Regular backups are highly recommended in general, but especially before testing out a new clean-up utility.

    For the most part, clean-up tools don't perform magic tricks. You can clean out junk files on your own for free as we mentioned earlier, it just takes more time. If your free time is valuable, then the automated nature of a clean-up utility may be worth the expense.
Recommended clean-up utilities


CCleaner is great at automating a lot of file cleanup activities, though we'd dial back its aggressiveness toward tidying up your browser cache and the Windows registry. A browser cache is useful for quickly reloading previously visited Web pages. And since it's a cache, it will just get gradually refilled if you delete all of its contents, so space savings is pretty temporary. CCleaner is also good because it works with older versions of Windows all the way back to XP, and it's frequently updated.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector

Secunia Personal Software Inspector (SPSI) scans your whole system to see what apps and what operating system elements need updates. Then it can do all the updating for you. This is especially handy for Flash and Java, which need frequent updates to defend against a steady flow of security issues.

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Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at