Windows only: One of our favourite PC cleansers CCleaner (which stands for "Crap Cleaner") saw an upgrade this week. Since the last time we mentioned CCleaner several new versions have come out; this week's added support for the Firefox 3 beta plus performance improvements and bug fixes. CCleaner scans your PC for unnecessary temporary and log files, cookies, memory dumps, and more and wipes them out at the press of the "Run Cleaner" button. You might be surprised at how much disk space it can recover—in fact, it managed to clear out 1.6GB of crap from my PC. See screenshot evidence after the jump.
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The best way to speed up your PC is to give it more available memory—but freeing up as much of the memory you already have is cheaper and easier than cracking open your case to install a new stick of RAM. It takes a lot of memory to get a modern Windows system up and ... well, not doing anything in particular, really. Between cryptic system processes, confusing "helper" applications, and background utilities, a whole lot of who-knows-what gobbles up memory and slows down your work. While a lot of programs claim to optimse memory use and pare down processes, Windows' built-in Task Manager can do the job just fine, given the right tools and know-how. Today you'll extend and empower Windows' Task Manager to speed up your system by cutting out unnecessary memory hogs.
Windows only: System optimiser and browser add-on pruner HijackThis remains a powerful tool for streamlining your Windows computer, but only if you can understand exactly what it's telling you is running. Free utility HijackReader does the leg work of checking with trusted web databases and providing Google search links to help you understand what's running on your system and whether you can safely get rid of it. It works by taking a HijackThis log file (by browsing or cut-and-paste) and analyzing its contents, then producing an HTML file with descriptions and relevant links to more information. Even if you don't quite grasp every process it reports on, seeing the "OK" next to something you're suspicious of can be a big relief. HijackReader is a free download for Windows systems only. HijackReader
Windows only: Free, open source application Firefox Preloader loads some components of Firefox into your computer's memory before you launch Firefox for the first time. The app is designed specifically for systems plagued by an excessively slow-loading Firefox, like Ryan from CyberNet. A lot of people already have complaints that Firefox is a RAM-hog, so if you're one of them Firefox Preloader probably isn't for you. On the other hand, if you don't mind giving up a few megabytes of RAM when Firefox isn't running to speed up it's launch, the free, Windows-only Firefox Preloader might be just what you're looking for. If you've got a slow-booting 'fox and you give it a try, let's hear how well it worked in the comments. Firefox Preloader
While Linux is pretty efficient with a computer's resources out of the box, there are still ways you can make it run leaner and meaner on your desktop. Using a little bit of know-how, a willingness to run a few terminal commands and a mind for efficiency, you can get every last bit of power from your Linux box, or get more life from an older system. Read on for a roundup of ways to slim down and speed up Linux that any level of user can implement.