We show you how-to implement a bulletproof backup system to thwart future disasters, organise your folders and desktop to keep clutter at bay, cut performance-clogging security software to a bare minimum, and even make sure that if you ever need to reformat and restore again, the process will go a lot easier.
Install a better uninstaller
If there's a program you no longer use, uninstalling it makes sense, right? You'll free up disk space and help Windows run more smoothly. That's the theory, but in reality many uninstalled programs leave behind traces of themselves - configuration files here, Registry entries there, and so on. That's just the kind of gunk that makes Windows sluggish over time.
What you need is a better uninstaller, a program that will remove every last vestige of any application. Regular readers know of our fondness for Revo Uninstaller, but lately my tool of choice is IObit Advanced Uninstaller, which offers a few perks that Revo lacks. One of them is batch uninstalling: You can select multiple programs to be removed instead of having to hit them one at a time. That feature is a great timesaver during those spring-cleaning sessions when you want to clear out several months' worth of unwanted apps.
Plus, IObit's program is tiny (just 700KB) and portable, requiring no installation (meaning one fewer program gunking up your PC). And you can't beat the price: it's free.
Create a driver library
One of the biggest hassles in restoring a PC is tracking down the drivers for all your components and peripherals. Even if you restored from an image file as described on the previous page, you might end up with some drivers that are outdated. And trust me: driver discs always go missing just when you need them.
Get proactive and make driver backups a part of your regular backup regimen. The free utility Double Driver 4.1 accomplishes the task quickly and easily. It scans your PC, automatically detects and selects drivers that aren't part of the operating system, and then lets you back them up to a USB drive, a network folder, or another storage device.
Keep your PC booting quickly
It's an unofficial (but undisputed) law of nature that over time Windows boots more and more slowly. Blame software: every program you install seems to insist on loading a piece of itself when you boot the machine. It's like an onrush of traffic trying to merge onto an already crowded motorway.
Put freeware utility Soluto on the job as your traffic cop. (Yes, I see the irony in installing yet another program to wrangle your existing programs, but hear me out.) The tool analyses the software and services installed on your PC, and then gives you the option of eliminating them, delaying their startup, or leaving them alone. Even better, it offers recommendations, complete with statistics on what other users have done; it's like a crowd-sourced startup manager.
It works better than any other startup manager I've ever used, too. (It even eliminated a couple of weird pop-ups that had begun to appear on my system right after Windows booted.) If you're concerned about the fate of your fast-booting machine, Soluto is the solution.
See also: Speed up Windows by stripping it down