By now we've all seen the commercials for web sites that claim to make your PC fast again and speed up your Internet connection and upload/download speeds (I will not name the sites). When you go to the site, you are presented with a button for a free computer scan. If they find anything (which they will), they offer to remove it for you for a price. I have read plenty of reviews that state that the site apparently adds stuff to your Windows directory and then offer to sell you the software to remove the issues. This software may also be loaded with spyware and adware that will slow down your PC. There is one other thing, it is unnecessary.
I will cover the second part of their claim first since it's easier. These companies claim to speed up your Internet connection (upload and download speeds). This is utter BS. The only way to speed up a connection is to call your ISP and ask for more bandwidth and pay for it. There are accelerators out there, but all they do is lower image quality, remove some formatting and it gives the appearance of speeding you up. Other than that, no software can speed up an Internet connection.
Now to help your computer go faster. Most likely, you have all the tools you need to clean out your computer and improve its performance. Here's a list of stuff I have compiled that will help.
Disk Clean Up
This tool is already on your PC. It's a Windows tool that clears out your Internet cache, removes temporary files and set log files and compresses old files. This is tool is pretty effective.
Remove Unused Programs
If you have a ton of programs on your computer and don't use many of them, get rid of them. Uninstall them and free up disk space. The more disk space that is filled up, the slower the computer will run. If you haven't used a program in ages, why do you need it?
Spybot Search & Destroy
The biggest reason for a slow computer is spyware, adware and malware. These are things that run continuously and use up system resources. As the name states, Spybot S&D finds and removes malicious content. Spybot is absolutely free and is very effective. It can be downloaded from Safer-Networking.org.
This is another free program that removes malicious software from your computer. It scans your registry for bad stuff and cleans it out for you, free. The program can be downloaded here (direct download link). They do have a professional product that costs money, but for general scanning, the free product will work.
I've talked about this (literally) in my first Freebie Friday webcast. AVG is a free anti-virus program that finds and quarantines viruses. I use AVG on my computers because it does what I want it to do. It can be downloaded here (direct download link).
If after all of this your computer is still dragging badly, there is only one other solution to try. Do a Windows clean installation. Back up anything that you want to keep to a USB flash drive and format your hard drive (do not run the drive until later). Reinstall Windows and download all of the system updates, download these programs and install them, turn on Windows firewall and finally insert your backup drive and scan it for viruses, spyware, malware, etc. You never know when something will jump on for a ride (some worms are good at this).
Finally, the best advice I can give you, be careful where you go online and I will have another useful program to try when I figure it out fully. That will have to wait though, since I have to know what I'm doing first.
I hope this helps you out and keeps you from doing something completely stupid and malicious to your computer. There are no simple solutions that will solve all of your problems at one time, but there are solutions. Have a good day.