Frugal Tip: Top 4 Free PC Tools

Utilities and tools that promise to make your PC faster and virus free are a very big business.  You will see countless infomercials and popup ads trying to sell you some product to rid your machine of slowness and nasty viruses.  Unfortunately, most of these tools are not worth their cost, and are effectively somebody’s way of getting rich quick on the Internet.  The good news is that there high-quality free PC tools that can get you all the same benefits at a much better value.  The following are the tools I use to keep my computer, and the computers of my friends and family, running smoothly.  To make this list the tools need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be free
  • Be high-quality
  • Not have spyware, spam or other nonsense
  • Say what they do and do what they say
  • Be easy to use

Here are the Below Your Means Top 4 Free PC tools:


Anti-Virus:  Microsoft Security Essentials

Skill Level: Novice

If you are running a licensed Microsoft Windows PC, then Microsoft Security Essentials provides simple and solid virus protection.  Virus protection subscriptions are a cash cow for companies these days.  This is why you see so many virus products offered and also why companies will give away their software. They are willing to give it away this year, with the hope you will buy a subscription next year.  From Microsoft:

Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home or small business PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and is automatically updated to protect your PC with the latest technology. Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so that you are free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions or long computer wait times.
Microsoft Security Essentials screenshot

You can get a link to download it from Microsoft here.

Tip: You only need one virus scanner, if you are going to use Microsoft Security Essentials, uninstall any other virus scanners you have.


Anti-Spyware: Microsoft Windows Defender

Skill Level: Novice

Just like Microsoft Security Essentials, Microsoft Windows Defender is free if you have a genuine copy of Microsoft Windows.  This tool detects and removes a continuously updated list of known spyware applications.  From Microsoft:

Windows Defender is software that helps protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software by detecting and removing known spyware from your computer. Windows Defender features Real-Time Protection, a monitoring system that recommends actions against spyware when it’s detected, minimizes interruptions, and helps you stay productive.

Windows Defender screenshot

You can download it from Microsoft here.


System Cleaner: Piriform CCleaner

Skill Level: Novice to Intermediate

Piriform makes some of the cleanest and most straightforward PC utilities around.  Their products are well written and free.  Piriform CCleaner (originally this stood for “Crap Cleaner”) is one of the best PC tools out there, hands down.  This tool scans your machine and lets you remove unused files, temporary files, old cookies and browser history, log files and much, much more.  Note: this tool is free, however you can purchase Priority Support for $24.95.

CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. It protects your privacy online and makes your computer faster and more secure. Easy to use and a small, fast download.

Ccleaner screen shot

You can download it from Piriform here.

Tip: When you install Piriform tools, you may be asked if you want to install a toolbar for your web browser.  I typically recommend against this as these tool bars tend to slow browsing down.  Removing excessive tool bars is usually the single easiest thing I do to fix my family’s computers.

Disk Defragment: Piriform Defraggler

Skill level: Intermediate

Piriform Defraggler is a high performance disk optimization tool.  It is better the than the defragment tool built into Microsoft Windows because it supports more advanced features such as a full visual drive map and the ability to moving frequently used files to the front of the disk drive for faster access.  Note: this tool is free, however you can purchase Priority Support for $24.95.

Use Defraggler to defrag your entire hard drive, or individual files – unique in the industry. This compact and portable Windows application supports NTFS and FAT32 file systems.

Defraggler screenshot

You can download it from Piriform here.

Tip: If you have a Solid State Drive (SSD) then you should not use defragmentation tools.  These tools may decrease the life of your drive.

There are plenty of other great free PC tools out there, but please be careful with ones you choose.  Many tools that claim to be free are riddled with ad or spy ware.

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5 Responses to “Frugal Tip: Top 4 Free PC Tools”

  1. krantcents

    Thanks, I will look into ccleaner because I recently had to deal with a virus. Microsoft essentials removed it, but I am looking for an additional layer to protect myself.

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  3. Under_House_Arrest

    How do you feel Comodo’s free products stack up against these? I have been using the Comodo suite for about a year or so now. Hard to say if it is any better or worse, but it seems less intrusive than the free MacAfee suite I was using before.

  4. Evan

    I am a huge fan of FileHippo to finds these types of programs. I am not sure if it is in the same realm but I love OpenOffice for the majority of computers that don’t come with office

  5. Name

    Microsoft Security Essentials replaces the need for Windows Defender. No need to run both.