Don't Waste Money on Computer Repair: 10 Educational Tips and Apps for a Clean PC

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You don't need an IT degree to repair computers. Most PC problems can be fixed in a matter of minutes with the help of free software. All you need to do is download the right apps, be ready to click your mouse, and watch as your computer's performance improves automatically.
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1. Install and Use Anti-Virus Software

Computer viruses and malware can slow down your computer and cause irreversible problems. The best way to protect your PC against viruses, worms, and Trojans is to install some type of anti-virus software. A good anti-virus program will prevent, detect, and remove viral infections from your PC before they become a serious problem. The key is to keep your program updated and use it frequently. PC's should be scanned for viruses at least once every week.

Free Anti-Virus Software

  • AVG - The free edition of AVG (used by more than 80 million people) provides protection against viruses, spyware, adware and Trojans.
  • Avast - The award-winning home edition of Avast protects against viruses, spyware, adware and dialers.
  • AntiVir - This PC Pro recommended program protects against viruses, spyware, Trojans, pop-ups and phishing sites.

2. Install and Use Anti-Spyware Software

Spyware disguises itself as a legitimate application and imbeds itself in your PC so that it can collect information about you. This parasite can bloat your PC's memory and modify critical components of the operating system. To prevent this or remove spyware that has already been installed, you need to perform regular scans with anti-spyware software. You should conduct at least one scan per week.

Free Anti-Spyware Software

  • Windows Defender - This free Microsoft software detects and removes spyware from your computer.
  • Spyware Terminator - This popular spyware program protects against spyware, adware, malware, parasiteware and other unwanted software.
  • Spybot S & D - Spybot Search and Destroy has long been considered the best privacy protection software available. It protects against spyware, keyloggers and other undesirables.

3. Enable Firewall Protection

If you don't have a firewall on your computer, unauthorized users can gain access through the Internet or a network. There is no telling what these intruders might do once inside. You can protect your privacy by installing and enabling firewall protection. You should have a firewall built right into Windows if that's the OS you use, but you can also get free firewall protection from Comodo, PC Tools, and other respected companies.

Free Firewall Protection

  • Comodo - The award-winning Comodo Internet Security suite provide firewall and anti-virus protection.
  • PC Tools Firewall Plus - This popular software offers free firewall protection for Windows.

4. Clean Your Registry

If there are problems in the registry, your computer will run slow, spit out error messages and crash every now and then. You can clean up these inevitable problems with a free registry cleaner. Doing this at least once every month is a good way to keep your computer in optimal condition.

Free Registry Cleaners

  • Registry Merchanic - This popular registry cleaner cleans, defrags and optimizes PCs.
  • Eusing - This free registry repair software cleans and repairs your registry.
  • CCleaner - Removes unused files from your system.

5. Take Charge of You PC's Startup

When you start your PC, there are probably dozens of applications that launch automatically. These apps often launch because they are a shortcut in the startup menu or because they were set up to do so during the install. The problem is that they use memory space unnecessarily and slow down your computer. You can find out what launches during startup and alter it manually or with a special app.

Free Startup Software

  • Disable Startup - This free software monitors the programs that startup with Windows so you can optimize configuration.
  • Startup Control Panel - This no-frills program makes it easy to find and configure programs that are starting up with your computer.

6. Remove Unwanted Programs

The more programs installed on your computer, the slower it will be. To prevent this, it is recommended that you remove all of your PC's unwanted, unneeded and unused programs. You can do this safely from the Add/Remove programs section of the control panel. You can also install free software that will remove all traces of the programs you don't want.

Free Uninstaller

  • Revo Uninstaller - This freeware uninstalls programs you don't want and removes any additional files left over.

7. Keep Your Operating System Updated

If you want peak performance from your computer, it is extremely important to keep your operating system updated. You can grab updates as they come out or set your computer up so that it updates automatically.

Where to Get OS Updates

8. Keep Your Software Updated

Although most of the software programs that run on your computer update automatically, there are probably some that do not. You can keep these applications running smoothly by looking for and installing updates on a regular basis.

Free Update Manager

  • FileHippo - Check for software updates regularly on this website.

9. Use System Restore

Making changes to your computer (installing, uninstalling, etc.) can make your system unstable. The best way to fix this problem is to restore your PC to a time when it was working correctly.

How to Use System Restore

10. Restore to Factory Settings

If all else fails, you can restore your computer to factory settings. You'll lose everything you have stored on your computer, but you should be able to restore the operating systems and other programs using the installation CDs that came with your computer. If you do not have the CDs, you may be able to restore from a partition in your computer.

How to Reset Your PC to Factory Settings

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Virginia College

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Brightwood College

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Penn Foster High School

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Excelsior College

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