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Tech Helproom

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Time to clean hard drive?


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My eight year old (at least) desktop has no become very painfully slow, browsing the web is painfully slow! I think its time to either reformat the Hard Drive and re-install everything or just buy a new PC.

Problem is, I hate the prospect of having to download and re-install all the software I have collected over the years.

Can I just copy 'My Programs' onto an external drive then copy them back to a reformatted drive on the old or new PC? (AVG, FTP, Bullzip etc etc)

I really am PC illiterate, I even have to be taken step by step on the phone to my ISP get the wireless connection working.

What do you suggest I do

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Forum Editor

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"What do you suggest I do"

After 8 years your current computer is telling you what to do - it's time to buy a new machine.

You can't transfer 'Mt programs' onto a new hard drive because each installation writes keys into the Windows registry, and the new machine will have no information about all that. You'll need to do fresh installations of anything you need.

Your new machine will be running Windows 7, or depending on when you buy it, Windows 8 may even be pre-installed. You'll probably find that there are newer versions of much of your software, specifically designed for those versions, but older versions may still run.

AVG and so on will be no problem, you can just download new versions to the new computer.

Make the move - you'll be amazed at the difference it will make.

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In my opinion you do not need to buy a new PC unless you want to play games or run other memory intensive software.

If all you want to do is surf the internet, email, word processing, watch video and music etc. an 8 year old PC if the O/S is reinstalled either from the discs or Factory Image will get you back to how it was when you bought it.

You will have to reinstall all the programs etc.which will take some time, but it will be worth it in the long run.

I suggest you make a list of what you want installed, install the new system files and then install the programs.

When you have got the PC as you want it make a backup of the system and program files to preferably a separate hard drive or alternatively a separate partition on your internal HD if there is room to partition it leaving room for any future software you may wish to install in the future.

The make regular system and software backups at suitable intervals to protect the PC in the event of a serious crash.

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Terry Brown

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If you decide to do the format and start again route, you will need to copy all your documeents, music etc to a seperate location, also make a copy of the registry.- If you use backup you will save all the old data that you do not want or need.

The reason for this is that over 8 years a lot of the programs will not have an active registration page and so when you re-install them the program will not work, as you cannot register the program; by saving the registry, your registeration files should be saved and can be reloaded to the re-formatted disk.


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Terry, thanks for that, but how do I do that? What does 'save the registry' mean?

I can save all my documents to an external drive, that's easy. And I can format and reinstall using the Windows discs. Does it ask me if I want to save the registry and other settings?

Sorry to have to ask but I am pretty PC illiterate at times.

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Forum Editor

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"Does it ask me if I want to save the registry and other settings?"

No, it doesn't. A new installation of Windows will create a new registry on the formatted disk, and you can then go ahead and install your software. The Windows installer will create new registry keys as the software is installed.

If you're going to take the route of cleaning up your existing machine forget about the existing Windows registry, I can think of no good reason why you would want to reinstall it on a newly formatted drive.

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wee eddie

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I think that your solution is rather extreme.

Download CCleaner and run almost everything. Use it's Uninstaller to remove any software that you no longer use/want.

Then use its Registry Cleaner to sort the crud out of that. The first Time I used its Registry Cleaner, I limited myself to removing the Top 10 Items and backed up to My Docs, re-booted and then did another 10, and so on. Now, I run it monthly and do whatever is suggested, but always use the Back-up function.

That may easily solve many of your Problems.

Also You can disable almost all the Auto Start-up items except your AV, which speeds things up a little.

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Fruit Bat /\0/\

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Slow PC? Some things to try to speed it up

My 7 yr old machine runs faster than the day I bought it. (of course it'll never run as fast a anew machine)

1. Software

a) Clear out all temporary files and folders -- use CCleaner http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download

b) Scan for malware spyware and viruses --Free Anti Spyware :- Malwarebytes http://www.malwarebytes.org/ Superantispyware http://www.superantispyware.com/download.html

Free Antivirus software MicroSoft Security Essentials http://www.microsoft.com/security/products/mse.aspx Avast http://www.avast.com/en-gb/free-antivirus-download

c) Clean the registry -- Use the tool in Crap Cleaner its very safe and also allows you to back up the registry first.

d) Pagefile (Virtual Memory) -- Right click MY Computer - select properties - Advanced tab - Performance - advanced tab - Virtual memory click change, you can put the page file on a different drive (if you have one), click custom size and set Initial size to one and a half times the amount of memory you have fitted i.e. 512MB memory = set to 768MB, set maximum to double your memory amount i.e. 512MB memory = 1024MB click ok. If your hard drive is full and there is not enough room for the pagefile this can slow down, freeze or even cause the PC to crash (restart).

e) Cut down on the programs that load at start up -- Start - Run type msconfig - start up tab- untick everything except for firewall, antivirus and antispyware

and the services that run in the background. http://www.blackviper.com/

2. Hardware

a) Hard drives /

i) IDE Channels: (Not required if you have SATA drives) Check the transfer rate, you need to have the transfer mode set to DMA not PIO. Right click My Computer - Properties - Hardware - Device Manager - Expand (click the + ) IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers right click Primary Channel - Advanced Settings Tab - If transfer Mode is PIO then follow the instructions at http://forum.digital-digest.com/showthread.php?t=61905 to change.

ii) Check for errors and defrag your hard drives -- My Computer - select drive - properties - tool tab - Error checking / Defragmentation.

ii) If you are using Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 it's a good idea to convert your system drive to the NTFS file system if you have not already. In addition to providing numerous security and data recovery improvements over FAT32 (the file system of choice for Windows 9x/ME and XP Home) it can also speed up your system slightly.

In fact, the only real reason for sticking with the FAT32 file system for any of your data is if you have more than one operating system on your PC and the other OS's can only see FAT32 partitions (as would be the case with Windows 98, for example, which is incapable of reading NTFS data).

To convert your drives to NTFS: Right click on 'my computer' and select 'manage' From the computer management window, expand storage and select 'disk management.' Using the 'file system' column of the upper pane of this window, you can easily check what file system each of your logical drives is using. Make a note of this information. Now open a command prompt window by going to 'start\run' and typing 'cmd' To convert a disk to NTFS, type 'convert (drive letter): /fs:ntfs' So for example, if you were going to convert your C: drive, you would type 'Convert c: /fs:ntfs' at the prompt.

b) Drivers Obtain the newest drivers for your hardware This may seem a bit obvious, but keeping your system's drivers up to date can give both your performance and stability a boost. Video card manufacturers release updates especially often, and these can often give "significant boosts" to gaming performance as video card in question is "optimized."

Don't neglect the other components of your system either. Your motherboard manufacturer may have released newer versions of its Input/output drivers for your board, and sound cards and other peripherals can also benefit from newer software.

c) Memory Your memory could be failing try memtest

Add more physical memory, this of course means opening the "box" and fitting a memory module, make sure you buy one that is suitable for your PC. Crucial http://www.crucial.com/uk/ will guide you through the process of selecting the correct memory. http://support.gateway.com/s/Manuals/Desktops/8509270.pdf for a guide to fitting memory.

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