It's becoming dark and cold outside which is in my opinion the best time for some serious PC winter cleaning. I'm optimizing my PC once every three months to make sure my computer runs stable and without any issues that may drag performance down.
This article will only look at the software and operating system and not on the hardware which can be optimized as well by looking for firmware and bios upgrades for example, or by cleaning system fans.
I always start by removing duplicate, temporary and unused files and applications first and optimize the hard drives at the end.
I use several applications to achieve all this, let us start with the first part of the PC Winter Cleaning:
Removing Duplicate, Temporary and Unused Files
1. I begin by looking through all the installed software programs on my computer and uninstall all those applications that I do not use anymore. This can be quite a lot and I use a software called MyUninstaller for this procedure. The main benefit of this program is that it can uninstall several installed applications at once and much faster than the Windows uninstaller. Programs that get removed are moved into the trashbin which we will clean later.
2. Now that we have removed the software that we do not want to use anymore we go on by compressing our Registry to remove any unused space in there. A smaller Registry loads faster during Windows startup. We use the software NTRegpOpt to optimize and compress the Registry.
3. I sometimes have large files on my hard drive that have been used previously but are not needed anymore. Creating a movie from footage that I took with my digital camcorder for instance creates temporary files which are not needed after burning the movie to DVD.
A software called Folder Size displays the size of every folder in Windows Explorer telling me exactly which folders use the most space on my hard drive. I take a look at those and get rid of files that I do not need anymore. I sometimes burn those files prior to deleting them to have a backup just in case.
4. It is now time to get rid of all those temporary files, leftovers from installations and caches that are not needed to run the system. I like to use Disk Cleaner or CCleaner for this purpose. It does not really make a difference which one you use, both get rid of Gigabytes of temporary files on my system usually. Just make sure you do not clean files that you are going to miss afterwards, one thing that I do not clean for instance are Internet cookies that save login information.
With the temporary files gone we have our hard drives right were we want them. Now we can begin defragmenting them to improve performance.
5. I sometimes use a Duplicate Cleaner to find file duplicates and remove them from my system as well.
6. Getting rid of startup program. Some applications like to place themselves in the startup folder of Windows during installation so that they are loaded during Windows startup. This slows down the startup procedure and wastes resources if you do not use the software every time.
I like to use Autoruns to check startup programs and deactivate them. Another great software that is probably better suited for beginners is called Starter.
Optimize Hard Drives
1. Before we begin defragmenting the hard drives we have to make sure that they do not contain any errors.
For that purpose we use Scan Disk to scan them thoroughly and defragment them afterwards. Scan Disk is a build in Windows tool that can be accessed by right-clicking the hard drive and selecting properties from the menu.
You find the Error-Checking function in the Tools tab.
2. I do not like to use the build in Windows defragmention tool because it is slow and has a Windows 98 like interface.
Let them defrag all of your hard drives to optimize performance.
3. Last but not least I use Page Defrag to defragment the pagefile.
Do you have additional tips that clean the system even further or different applications that do the job ? Let me know.
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