50 tools to speed up your PC

Get Windows humming again, supercharge your browser, and clear out the crud with these (mostly) free downloads.

Internet and Network Tune-Up

Want to get more out of the Internet and your network? These tools will speed up downloads, help you find fast Wi-Fi, peer into your home network, and more.

Spiceworks IT Desktop

If you're like many people and have more than one PC connected to a network, you may be looking for a tool to help get the most out of your network. This free software scans your network, identifies every device on it, and displays detailed information about each. In addition, it lists all applications and operating systems, and sends you a variety of warnings, such as when antivirus definitions are out-of-date or new software is installed. Though this software is free, it displays ads. To get rid of the promos, you'll have to pay $20 per month.

Download Spiceworks IT Desktop | Price: Free

Xirrus Wi-Fi Monitor

Want to optimize your use of Wi-Fi hotspots? Give this free Vista gadget a try. It runs in the sidebar and displays information about your current Wi-Fi connection, as well as nearby hotspots. You'll be able to see how strong or weak your connection is compared with others, and find information such as your IP address, MAC address, and signal strength.

Download Xirrus Wi-Fi Monitor | Price: Free

Expired Cookies Cleaner

Your PC has dozens and dozens of cookies that Web sites use for things such as automatically logging you in or remembering how you've customized the way they work. Cookies typically have time-out dates, after which they won't work, but even then they stay on your PC, clogging it up. This free little utility finds expired cookies and deletes them. No fuss, no muss--they're gone.

Download Expired Cookies Cleaner | Price: Free

HackCleaner

This excellent freebie cleans many different types of Internet junk, including cookies, temporary files, and Browser Helper Objects. The program also includes a security feature that will block Browser Helper Objects from being installed on your PC.

Download HackCleaner | Price: Free

Download Accelerator Plus

People who live to download will want this free program, which optimizes every aspect of the downloading process. It splits individual downloads into pieces and downloads them all simultaneously from the fastest servers it can find. It's extremely easy to use and integrates with your browser, so when you initiate a file download, it automatically launches. You can also manually add downloads to the program.

The utility restarts interrupted downloads, and pauses and resumes downloads. Its history manager shows all the files you've ever downloaded, plus their size and where they downloaded on your hard disk. It has a lot more features, as well--and you can't beat the free price.

Download Download Accelerator Plus | Price: Free

FlashGet

Yet another excellent optimization tool for downloaders, FlashGet speeds up downloads and helps organize them while keeping you safe. The program searches for downloads via numerous protocols, including HTTP, FTP, and eMule. It's good for managing downloads, too, allowing you to delete files from within the program.

Download FlashGet | Price: Free

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Preston Gralla

PC World (US online)

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