Exposing ‘speed up your computer’ ads

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The number one complaint that we hear in the computer service business is, “my computer is running too slow.” If you have a computer that is older than six months, the likelihood that it runs as fast as the day you got it is nearly zero.

The reasons for this common performance degradation vary, but in general it’s a combination of what you have installed and where you have been on the Internet.

Most of what you often see advertised to help with the problem claim to be Registry Cleaners because the registry controls every aspect of how a Windows-based computer runs.  Think of the Windows registry like the registry in a hotel; it’s supposed to keep track of who’s in which room, for how long, etc.  If things get mixed up in the hotel’s registry, the hotel doesn’t run very smoothly and the same goes for your computer.

The unfortunate actuality of registry cleaners is that they often cause more damage to an already fragile situation and none do the job perfectly.  We decided to test a handful of the websites that claim they can speed up your computer over the Internet to evaluate what they actually are doing.

To really test the honesty of these sites, we decided to take a brand new machine that only had Windows installed and have it evaluated.   Because this was a custom computer, we knew that it did not have any of the usual trial products on it from commercially sold computers, making registry pristine.

Once installed, the scanner reported an astonishing thing: we had 223 issues with the Registry.  Of course, we knew that this was erroneous, so we declined their offer to help for $40, and used their uninstaller to remove the program.

Just for good measure, we decided to manually inspect the registry to see if they had in fact properly removed themselves. Alas, we found that this particular registry cleaner couldn’t even uninstall itself cleanly.  It was the same story for the other three websites we tested: all found problems that didn’t exist, and all didn’t uninstall properly.

The reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to a slow computer. There are lots of great tools that can help clean up your computer; the problem is that it takes a knowledgeable eye to know which tool to use when.

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