It's easy to forget. We may occasionally defrag or allow our virus checker to do its thing, but we need to be proactive regarding our computers. I'm guilty. I have allowed things to get so bad that I've had to reformat. I've changed my tune though, my anthem these days is "Maintenance". I'm not endorsing any programs, I'm not a computer expert, I just know that when I do certain things regularly my computer isn't attacked by virus or slowed to mud by adware, those pesky little bots that some bastards like throwing onto your system to track your browsing habits, follow your keystrokes, or redirect you to other sites. It's bad enough that our search engines try and direct us hither and non from time to time.
So...here are my top programs. They are all free. I use them all. I am not recommending any of them, but hey....again, I use them and I see results. In order of how they impress me:
1) Ccleaner---this one is a must for me. I can't believe all it does. It cleans everything and gives you two settings: easy (dummies) and advanced (less dumb).
2) Spybot-- A blessing. The newer version will sit in your tray like a watchdog and keep any nasties from making changes to your registry without your permission. Growwwlllll.
3)AVG- the free virus killer. To be honest, I have grown less in love with this program over the last few years. It seems more invasive these days and I suspect that it slows down the system. I actually allow spybot to guard things and only activate AVG when I do a full cleaning. In other words, unlike spybot, I won't let it sit in the tray and guard stuff.
4)Zonelab--a great firewall. I would even consider buying it and running it as a virus checker if I weren't so cheap.
5) Eusing Registry Cleaner---a nice program. Not sure I need it with Ccleaner, but again, easy to use and it runs smoothly.
These don't represent all the great stuff out there to keep your computer free and fast, I could have added lavaware's Adware, but these are a good start. If you have anything else you use that's wonderful and tested, let me know.