Housekeeping tasks in Vista - any advice re the best sequence etc?

  polymath 17:31 29 Jan 15
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I've been having problems with my Vista Home Premium SP2 laptop, and want to do some housekeeping tasks e.g. file checking. To cut a very long story short, the main problem has been frequent Windows Explorer crashes, making it difficult in turn to investigate the other problems.

After a week or so of battling this, on booting up today the laptop mysteriously seems to be working normally, with no Explorer crashes so far. While I've got it in this state, I'd like to do some housekeeping tasks.

I can't remember the right order to do them in, or in which mode (apart from a notion that safe mode is better than normal for low-level houseeeping tasks). Or whether to disconnect from the internet while doing them? And/or temporarily disable antivirus (and/or software updaters) I read somewhere that file checking should be done before defragmenting - is that correct?

It seemed a good idea to do (in no particular order, yet); Virus scan (thorough) System file check Disk check Windows updates (missed about 30 while laptop was away for a hardware repair). Any other outstanding software updates Defrag (unless Vista does it in the background?) Clear redundant software/remnants of (using CCleaner for anything that Add /remove programs and any built-in unistallers can't). Any other tasks I may have forgotten about (lengthy troubleshooting affects me that way!).

The first thing that sprang to mind re file checking was sfc /scannow, but I can't find anything about it in Windows Help or Search. Maybe that's re my last OS (98SE), and Checkdisk has superseded it?

I did try to run chkdisk /f yesterday, but got the message 'can't run because the volume is currently in use by another programme - do you want to start chkdsk with the next restart?' But choosing restart only got another chkdsk without the /f. (But maybe that was because of the Explorer crashes etc?) I read somewhere that Checkdisk can't be done while the OS is up (but if that's true, why doesn't the error message just say 'Get out of Windows'?)

Re Win. Explorer crashes, I gather Windows Updates is sometimes the cause. But as the culprit can either be an installed one or a missed one, I don't know how far that gets me!.

The RAM cards seem fine. The other day I noticed there was apparently only 1GB of memory instead of the original 2GB. One of the 2 cards hadn't been properly reseated, and once it was in properly the 2GB registered again and the laptop seemed to work a bit faster (though it didn't make any difference to the Explorer problem etc). Both cards are the original ones.

Any thoughts on all this would be most welcome (or perhaps just a link to a relevant article - I've searched but can't seem to find the right keywords).

  polymath 17:38 29 Jan 15

Sorry - hope you can understand paragraph 4 where some commas/new lines seem to have got lost. (Any way of editing? I can't find one).

  wee eddie 18:28 29 Jan 15

CCleaner 》Malwearbytes》then an Adware remover, I don't yet have a favourite. Defrag should be next on your list.

Speccie should get all your software up to date, but check Microsoft for Windows & Office updates.

If things are still crashing. Run Chkdsk, all the bits, which will not run until after a Reboot and can take several hours

  wee eddie 18:44 29 Jan 15

Have you thought about the possibility of overheating. Get the Dustbuster out

  polymath 15:58 30 Jan 15

Thank you, Jockle and wee eddie! Laptop started normally again today, so can now get started. (Sorry re late reply - internet went down).

I'll report back once all done, which may be some time (dodging thunderstorms here, and not sure if battery charge is enough for the longer processes). Think I'll start by opening CCleaner & refreshing my memory re what it can do (as you've probably gathered, it's some time since I did any of this stuff apart from updating Windows & other software!).

  polymath 16:37 30 Jan 15

Forgot to say thanks for the reminder re dust, wee eddie! (It can be easy to forget to try the simple things first). As it happens, I did open up the laptop recently (before its hardware repair), to see if there was anything obvious I could fix, including a dusty fan. There was very little dust, to my surprise (first time the laptop had been opened up in the 7 years since I bought it). But I did still dust at every stage of dismantling.

  wee eddie 17:04 30 Jan 15

I know that this is unlikely but, on the times that it crashes, could you be accidentally restricting the airflow

  wee eddie 17:06 30 Jan 15

I know that this is unlikely but, on the times that it crashes, could you be accidentally restricting the airflow

  polymath 20:25 31 Jan 15

Good thinking, wee eddie - thanks. I'm fairly mindful re computer airflow, but anything's possible at this stage! When it crashes again - I suppose it's always 'when' not 'if' with computers - I'll remember to check that.

Touch wood, the laptop hasn't crashed since Wednesday evening. No idea why it went back to normal overnight, but I saved a few lists/logs that might have clues.

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