This article will help users to perform a complete computer cleanup, which will improve the overall performance of their computers. It’s not meant as a substitute for regular computer maintenance, performed by a professional computer technician.
Almost every computer user knows that, from time to time, your computer starts to run a little slower or you notice that you hard drive space is dwindling. So many people shrug this off and choose not to do anything about it. They think that it’s normal to have these kinds of computer problems and that there isn’t anything they can do about it. Your computer is trying to tell you something…it’s time for a cleaning. It’s time to clean up the junk and organize the files on your computer, just as you would clean and organize your office.
This step-by-step tutorial will put you on the path toward a cleaner, more efficient computer. You’ll learn how to perform a complete computer cleanup and you just may save yourself some money, in the future, by maintaining your computer, instead of just taking it to a repair technician when it breaks.
In this tutorial, we’ll only concern ourselves with Windows XP (I guess I’ll have to re-write this article for Vista), for a couple of reasons.
Microsoft has ended support for Windows 98, 98SE and Millennium.
If you still have one of those earlier operating systems, your computer is just too old to become “efficient” by today’s standards.
Follow these cleanup steps and you just may learn to love your computer, again.
Unused User Accounts If you have any User Accounts that are no longer active, logon as a computer administrator and remove them.
1.Click START, then CONTROL PANEL.
2.When the Control Panel opens, click USER ACCOUNTS.
3.Click CHANGE AN ACCOUNT.
4.Click on the name of the account you want to remove.
5.Click REMOVE THIS ACCOUNT.
6.When given the option to “delete files” or “keep files”, choose to delete them.
7.After removing all unused User Accounts, restart the computer. Windows Updates Make sure you have all of the latest Windows Updates installed by visiting update.microsoft.com and following the instructions on the website.
It’s critical that you keep your computer up-to-date. Microsoft releases new security updates all the time and it’s easier just to set your computer to automatically download and install these updates. Here’s how to do that:
1.Right-click on MY COMPUTER.
3.Click the AUTOMATIC UPDATES tab (reference the illustration, below).
4.Choose “Automatic (recommended)”.
5.Click APPLY and OK.
Remove Unused Programs This is pretty basic stuff. Most Windows users have already been through the steps of adding and removing programs, but we’ll list the steps for those who haven’t.
1.Click START, then CONTROL PANEL.
2.Double-click ADD OR REMOVE PROGRAMS.
3.When the window that opens has fully loaded, scroll through the list of programs and remove any that are unwanted or no longer used.
4.Just a piece of advice…any programs listed that mention anything about “bargain”, “cash”, “search”, “web” or “fun”, in the program name, should probably be removed.
Temporary File Cleanup Temporary files are one of the biggest wastes of hard drive space, hogs of computer resources and major causes of recurring spyware and virus infections. They need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Follow these steps to remove ALL temporary files from your computer:
1.Double-click MY COMPUTER.
2.Open the root drive (usually C:).
3.Open DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGS.
4.Click TOOLS, then FOLDER OPTIONS.
5.Click the VIEW tab (reference the illustration, below).
6.Under “Hidden files and folders”, click “SHOW HIDDEN FILES AND FOLDERS”.
7.Uncheck “HIDE EXTENSIONS FOR KNOWN FILE TYPES”.
8.Uncheck “HIDE PROTECTED OPERATING SYSTEM FILES (RECOMMENDED)”.
9.When the warning message pops up, click YES. 10.Click APPLY, then OK.
***It’s recommended that you change the file folder settings back to their default settings after you fully complete the computer cleanup.***
1.With the Documents And Settings folder opened, open a user account folder.
2.Open the LOCAL SETTINGS folder.
3.Open the TEMP folder.
4.Press CTRL+A to select all files.
5.Press SHIFT+DEL to permanently delete all selected files. *Note*: you may be unable to delete ALL of the files and folders because some of them may be “locked” by the operating system or another program. Select smaller groups of folders or files in order to remove as many as possible.
6.Navigate back to the LOCAL SETTINGS folder.
7.Open the TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES folder.
8.Repeat steps 4 and 5. See *Note*.
9.Repeat steps 1 through 8 for all user account folders.
10.Empty the RECYCLE BIN and restart the computer.
Virus And Spyware Scans If you don’t already have an antivirus program and two or three antispyware programs installed and updated on your computer, then you’re BEGGING for problems. I use Webroot Antivirus/Antispyware and Spybot Search & Destroy (free). If you’re relying solely on “free” programs for your computer security, you’re likely making a big mistake. I understand that you don’t want to pay for software. Nobody does. You just have to look at the value in investing a little bit of money toward preventing the problems that might arise from choosing the “cheaper route”. Ok…enough said on that subject.
The most efficient way for antivirus and antispyware products to complete their scans successfully is to run them while the computer is in Safe Mode. To restart Windows in Safe Mode, tap the F8 key about every half-second or so, at computer startup, once you see the manufacturer’s logo. You’ll then be brought to a screen where you will use the arrow keys to choose the boot mode. Use the arrow up or down key to choose SAFE MODE. Press enter and let Windows do it’s thing. When the computer has fully booted, complete FULL SYSTEM scans with your antivirus and antispyware programs. When they are completed, reboot the computer, normally.
Defragment The Hard drive(s) This is the final step in your major computer cleaning. This will insure that the files on the disk are organized in such a way that makes them more quickly accessible, causing less “wait time” and less wear and tear on your drive.
2.Navigate through ALL PROGRAMS to get to the ACCESSORIES folder.
3.Choose SYSTEM TOOLS.
4.Choose DISK DEFRAGMENTER.
5.Select the main disk (C:).
6.You shouldn’t need to “analyze” the drive. At this point, it’s better just to choose “DEFRAGMENT”.
7.Let the program run through the process and reboot the computer, normally, when completed.
That’s it! You should see a HUGE improvement in the performance of your computer.
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