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How to clean up your Windows PC

Undo the damage caused by everyday computing

However fast your PC when you first buy it, over time its performance will only deteriorate. We look at how to undo the damage done by everyday computing use and claw back valuable disk space and processor cycles.

Maintaining a clean system

Once you've cleaned out the crud, how do you keep your Windows system relatively clean? Here are several pointers.

If an application has an 'advanced' install option, use it. Go ahead and install to the default locations (if you want), but check what's being installed. Sometimes you'll have the option of telling the program not to run anything at system startup.

Always watch the installer dialog box. Many users merely click the Next button every time the application's installer prompts them to do so. But often the window will have checkboxes that install additional items, such as browser toolbars, quick startup utilities, or other junk.

If a window pops up in your browser asking you to install something, make sure you know what it is. It may just be a simple tool to help your browsing, or it may install something that runs at startup and saps your system resources. (Weatherbug, anyone?) In the worst-case scenario, it will install malware.

Use tools such as Soluto and Msconfig frequently to make sure useless junk isn't running at startup.

Clean your drive frequently, particularly temporary internet and temporary installation files.

It takes only a few minutes a week to keep your system relatively clean, and if you do that, you should be able to postpone the dreaded reformat and reinstall for a very long time.

See also: How to clean up a congested hard drive

  1. Undo the damage caused by everyday computing
  2. Windows entropy explained
  3. Diagnostic tools: tracking down the junk
  4. More cleanup options
  5. Useful third party choices
  6. Maintaining a clean system
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