PC Cleaner Software
There's not much you can do about your computer becoming "cluttered". This clutter eventually leads to sluggish performance and possibly even errors when trying to perform everyday tasks. My favorite PC cleaner to date has been the free registry cleaner CCleaner. While it remains my favorite, it now has some serious competition.
Premium Booster is available for free if you happen to be reading this on the same day that I wrote it. Otherwise, you'll have to shell out $27 for a registered version. Like CCleaner, this program runs various registry checks and attempts to identify invalid entries. It can also defragment the registry which if nothing else will reduce its size. In addition, Premium Booster will also apply some system-wide optimizations if you so desire. And finally, the program will block certain, pre-identified, malicious ActiveX modules from being loaded by the registry. Not too bad a list of features.
[paragraph added Feb. 25, 2007]
The good folks at UniBlue gave me access to a registered version of the registry cleaning product called Registry Booster. This program is easy to use and seems to do a more thorough job than CCleaner with respect to the registry. In fact, after running CCleaner, Registry Booster still identified an additional 127 errors. At first I was concerned that it was being too aggressive, but my fears turned out to be unfounded. In addition, like the other products, this one prompts you to backup your registry before changes are made. The biggest annoyance is that each cleaning and defragmentation option requires a reboot.
The one area where CCleaner still wins hands-down is with application files i.e. beyond the registry. It's still the best at identifying junk files created by various applications whether they are located in shared, central folders or in application folders.
There are some complaints from others that the Premium Booster program trashed their Windows installations. That's always a risk with such clean-up programs. Fortunately, I've experienced no issues after running through the process 3 times. Of course, I keep a complete bit-level backup of my system so I was confident I could restore everything quite easily.
The real trick with such programs is determining if they have any positive and significant effect on system performance. Frankly, I can't say for sure. Hopefully I'll notice over the next few days as I perform my regular tasks. Still, it can't hurt to clean out registry and file junk now and again.