Freeware Files: Turn your PC to Self-Cleaning Mode, and More!

TheMurph

Once a week, I feel like I'm either finding or running a large batch of programs in an effort to keep my computer as crap-free as possible. It's a never-ending battle. I defrag, I delete, I shuffle, I organize, I optimize, I scan... and still, what I end up downloading and installing over the next six days almost always leads me back to the good ol' "Sunday Purge," as I've come to call it.

And you? I venture that your habits are pretty similar to mine, as you're a Maximum PC reader with a thirst--nay, need--for speed. But we both don't have to waste a ton of time poring over our hard drives and giving them digital equivalent of a good flossing. There are tools, wonderful tools, that will automate this process--and automate it for free!

You're probably aware of quite a few of these applications, in fact. That's why I've cast my net over a wide swath of sites to find two little tidbits that you probably haven't heard of before. Check out the two awesome cleaning programs for yourself below, not to mention their three other freeware friends!

Belvedere

Created by our friends over at Lifehacker, this custom file-sweeping application is a great set-it-and-forget-it technique for de-cluttering your system's many leftover files. Here's how it works. Once you've launched the program, you assign folders for it to watch. You then brainstorm up some rules that you want to append to the files in said folders, guidelines that can encompass as wide a degree as, "If the extension is... then move it to" to "If the file is older than x days... delete it." The possibilities are quite vast. After that, you do nothing. Yep. Nothing. The program will watch over said folders and perform said maintenance actions without a need for any more input. True to its name, Belvedere is like having a butler for your digital mess.

Download it here !

USBDriveFresher

This one is, in a word, awesome. I realize that can be an overused phrase here at Maximum PC, so hear me out. Now that you've read about the customizable rules that you can apply to folder cleaning as a result of Belvedere, imagine having a similar functionality occur--automatically--to any USB-based device you attach to your system. That's USBDriveFresher. Although it's strictly designed for file deletion, this miniscule application runs in your system's background and automatically cleans unwanted files off any USB device. If you frequently switch between Apple and PC platforms, and can't stand the miscellaneous files that OSX dumps on your drive, this little utility is your key to a cleaner, er, key.

Download it here !

ManicTime

We're all busy. Now, suppose you're concerned about the amount of time you spend surfing the Internet versus conducting actual, paying work. Or, for that matter, perhaps your kind of work is the one where your boss wants to see an itemized list of what exactly you've been doing--for client billing, of course. Either way, ManiacTime is an excellent application for graphing out exactly what programs you use during any given day. Not only does the program record when your computer is idle or in use, but it allows you to assign labels to your exact patterns of use. Need to make an annotation for the 3 hours you spend surfing Slashdot? Try "research." Want to show your boss that you sweated bullets in PowerPoint to make that big presentation? Just look for your "working hard" label. Just finished an epic WoW raid? Try... uh. Try "brainstorming new customer engagement opportunities."

Download it here !

Process Hacker

Need more information for the various applications running in the background of your system? Tired of seeing the same-ol', same-ol' list of minor details in the default Windows Task Manager? You need Process Hacker. This open-source application gives you the same control over programs and services as Windows Task Manager. However, you not only get a wealth of information related to each running element, but Process Hacker also enables you to find hidden processes as well. While that might not sound very interesting for an average computer user who will never need this kind of direct access to an operating system's underbelly, it's a lifesaving technique to seek out and fix nasty rootkits or other untimely PC infections.

Download it here !

Immunet Protect

Using the power of a super-base of computers to detect, analyze, and report suspect virus activity is nothing new. And Immunet Protect is one more log in the antivirus fire, as this freeware application uses the power of cloud computing to provide PC protection. The interesting thing about the application is that it fully embraces the notion of cloud technology to deliver real-time, continual updates. You won't ever have to download a new batch of virus identifiers again--since you're in the cloud and seemingly connected to everyone else using Immunet Protect, you'll be ready to fight a new virus as soon as people worldwide automatically report it. It's too soon to tell how this program will fare against its free (and commercial) competition, but it's hard to say no to additional protection at a minimal cost.

Download it here !

David Murphy (@ Acererak) is a technology journalist and former Maximum PC editor. He writes weekly columns about the wide world of open-source as well as weekly roundups of awesome, freebie software. Befriend him on Twitter, especially if you have an awesome app or game you're dying to recommend!

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