While many free tools for Windows can deliver what they say, not all of them live up to the hype. The following utilities and applications can provide your PC with quicker speed, efficiency, performance, security, and, all without hidden malware or intrusive ads that slow down your PC’s performance.
While you can do much of what these free apps do yourself with the implements in Windows’ toolbox, it can be a gruelling task. Most of these tools also have premium versions with more features, so that if you like what the free versions do you can upgrade to the premium.
PC Optimisation: Iolo System Mechanic
It’s spring-cleaning time with this PC optimization program that makes your PC faster by cleaning out the junk.
- One-click clean-up
- Detailed analysis
- Has scan type choices
- Some features premium-only
Available for Windows, the Iolo System Mechanic removes junk files, including apps, blocks, bloatware, and auto-run settings you’re no longer using, cleaning out your RAM while wiping various logs, caches, and browser histories. Not only does the program free system resources, but it also protects your privacy by eliminating your browsing activity.
Its optimization toolkit for desktops really makes a difference. There’s been a significant speed improvement whenever the computer boots up. Its free version is excellent, but if you’re using it regularly you might consider buying one of the premium versions. It gives you a definite boost in performance.
RAR Extractor: BreeZip
For those needing to unzip or zip archives on a regular basis, BreeZip allows you to easily un-archive and extract RAR, ZIP, 7-Zip, TAR, Gzip and other archived files, as well as archive them.
- Opens most common formats
- Easy-to-use interface
- Supports multiple file formats
- Encrypts files using password
- Need BreeZip to extract encrypted files
The most popular download of its type on the Windows Store, BreeZip’s interface is identical to File Explorer, which makes it really easy to use. It allows you to open, browse, and extract archived files, supporting many more formats than most of the other free unzipping tools.
It also helps you create archives easily, just like File Explorer, as well as password-protect them. However, it’s easier to use and quicker than any of the tools you get on Windows.
Game PC Optimiser: Razer Cortex
This one’s for gamers who want to wring extra performance from their PCs.
- Frees up RAM for games
- Provides FPS stats
- Frequently updated
- Contains some unnecessary extras
For anyone who games online and who’s frustrated with their system lagging Razer Cortex can help. It’s a free PC optimization application that suspends any unnecessary processes, clearing out memory and defragging your system so you can get the best gamer performance.
It’s available for Windows 7, 8 and 10. While Razer Cortex won’t make a great deal of difference, you’ll notice smoother visuals, if not the hoped-for lightning speed improvements. One great thing is that it automates the process of turning off all those background programs you don’t need once it’s time for gaming.
This venerable freeware browser – this is version 48 – can’t be beat when it comes to features. Firefox is fast and secure, and the Rolls Royce of free web browsers.
- Good standards support.
- Solid security and privacy features.
- Social network integration.
- Independence from data-mining vendors, with solid privacy features and security.
- Doesn’t integrate Flash support.
With its attractive design and ad-free reading mode, it’s still a breath of fresh air when compared to other browsers. Though it does relegate Flash content to an on-demand status, which can be irritating, it’s a bold move for any browser that works with Windows.
Along with new improvements like its 64-bit edition, process separation, and boosted download protection, Firefox continues to be the most customisable and private Web browser. Its unique tracking protection while in private mode, built-in video chat functions, and social-sharing tool make it unmatched. Not to mention its quickness and frugal use of RAM.
As far as web applications are concerned, Gmail is still a work in progress, but its power is still pretty impressive.
- Undo send option
- Access via Yahoo or Outlook
- Use other accounts with Gmail interface
- Send or request money through Google Pay Send
- Many, many options
- All the different options can be confusing
- Too many little-used options
I’ll admit it, Gmail is still a personal favourite of mine, and I keep checking the account I made nearly two decades ago. It’s not perfect, and there have been times I’ve got frustrated with trying to use some of its functions, but with Gmail you get a lot for nothing.
Like any app, you can create a shortcut for it on Windows, and its add-ons and extensions go well beyond its original parameters. But even though you may not need everything Gmail has on offer, its main interface is easy to use, and if you want to start using one of its lesser-used functions, you don’t have to go about changing settings or installing something extra. Even mastering a few of these settings will save you time.