Back in the days of Windows XP, when hardware was limited and computers were slow, PC maintenance may have made a difference. But these days, deleting unused and temporary files is unlikely to give you a noticeable speed boost. Many “PC Cleaning” utilities are scams meant to scare you into buying their product—and the free, less scammy ones are still unnecessary most of the time.
Furthermore, certain types of “maintenance” may actually be harmful. Registry cleaners provide almost no benefit, but if they delete a registry entry you actually need, they can actually cause problems. Similarly, these new “privacy” apps that claim to stop Windows 10 from “spying” on you can break certain features without you knowing why. The internet is full of people confused about why something stopped working, only to find that it’s the fault of one of these tools. You’re better off going through Windows 10’s settings, learning what they do, and tweaking them yourself.
If you want to clean up your hard drive, use Windows’ built-in Disk Cleanup utility and delete any movies, music, and other files you aren’t using.
Contrary to popular belief, “common sense,” while very valuable, should not be your only malware protection. Even legitimate sites can become infected with malware, passing those problems on to you, and browsing carefully won’t save you. You need to use antivirus on your computer.
Thankfully, Microsoft’s built-in Windows Defender feature has gotten quite good, after a few years of sub-par ratings. Just leave it on and let it do its job. If you want extra protection, though, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a bit more aggressive with its protection, and I’ve found that it catches a lot of stuff that Chrome and Windows Defender miss. The free version is good if you just want to run an occasional scan, but the paid version includes always-running anti-exploit features that block potentially harmful sites before they make it to your screen. When used in conjunction with a traditional antivirus like Windows Defender, you’ll be pretty well set on protection.