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A brand new and clean computer can feel powerful. With few applications and other items cluttering up your system, the machine performs at its full potential. But fast forward a few years, or even a few months after you’ve installed dozens of programs, and that same PC can now feel slow and sluggish. This is because many applications like to hog memory and system resources by starting up automatically, setting up helper apps and add-ons, and scheduling recurring tasks.

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A variety of third-party utilities aim to tame the impact that intrusive applications have on your PC. One such tool that’s been around for years is Piriform’s CCleaner. In CCleaner 6, the new feature Performance Optimizer scans for all inactive programs chewing up your PC’s resources and then puts them to sleep when you’re not using them. The tool wakes up any sleeping app only as you need it so that it’s fully functional.

Specifically, CCleaner’s Performance Optimizer hunts for different aspects of an application eating away at system resources. Some apps tap into Windows services to collect telemetry or share crash reports with the vendor. Many apps automatically launch in the background each time you load Windows. Other apps set up scheduled tasks that run at specific times. All these elements gnaw away at memory and other resources, even if you don’t need them, thus slowing down your PC.

How to use CCleaner 6’s Performance Optimizer to try to speed up your PC

Piriform provides two editions of CCleaner 6: A basic version for free and a Pro version for $29.95 per year. Only the Pro version of CCleaner 6 offers the Performance Optimizer, but you can download a free 14-day trial of the Pro flavor with all the features available.

Head to the Piriform CCleaner webpage and click the Free Trial button. After you download and install the program, activate the free trial. At the main window, click the icon for Performance Optimizer. Read the information on the screen and then click Continue (Figure A).

Figure A

The second screen explains how Performance Optimizer works. Click Continue.

At the third screen, run the tool by clicking the Scan For Programs button (Figure B).

Figure B

After the scan completes, CCleaner invites you to see a demonstration of Performance Optimizer before you activate it. Click the See Demo button (Figure C).

Figure C

Following the demo, CCleaner displays the names of all the applications detected in the Performance Optimizer scan with a grade indicating their impact on your PC’s performance. Scroll through the list to view all the candidates so you can determine which ones you want to put into sleep mode (Figure D).

Figure D

If you’re not sure what to do with a specific program, click its name to learn more about it. In some cases, Performance Optimizer will explain the pros and cons of putting the app into sleep mode. Click the Sleep button to optimize the program; otherwise, click Ignore to leave it alone (Figure E).

Figure E

Continue the process. At the list of apps, click the Sleep button next to any that you want to put into sleep mode. As you work through the apps, focus on the ones that have a high or medium impact on your PC’s performance.

Be careful with any apps that should be running all the time. For example, you may use Microsoft OneDrive to continually back up and synchronize files, in which case you would not put this app into sleep mode.

When you’re finished, click the tab for Sleeping Programs to see all the apps that have been optimized (Figure F).

Figure F

Now, it’s a matter of using your PC as you normally would and see if the performance has improved.

At the same time, be sure to work with the apps that you’ve put to sleep. If a certain app doesn’t run or function properly or effectively, return to the Sleeping Programs screen in Performance Optimizer and click the Wake Up button to disable sleep mode for that program (Figure G).

Figure G

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