Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Clean your PC

NOTE that yellow highlighted words are links to the programmes I use. There are other suitable programmes. The process described is mainly for XP systems. All the suggested downloads are Vista compatible.
  1. Before any major cleaning of your PC, adding a new programme or updating, it is wise to develop a habit of creating a new System Restore Point (SRP). This allows you to revert to an earlier SRP if anything goes wrong. To create a SRP go Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/System Restore, click Create a restore point and follow the instructions. If anything goes wrong, repeat the above procedure but instead click Restore my computer to an earlier time. With Vista enter system in the search box to find System Restore.
You should make yourself familiar with the process of downloading of files. A sequence for this process is here.
  1. Backup My Documents and any other folders or files containing information you wish to retain e.g. emails - in Outlook Express go to Tools/Options/Maintenance and click Store Folder. Copy that file to your backups. For your address book save the wab file found in C:\Program Files\Outlook Express. For your Favourites open Internet Explorer, click File/Import and Export and follow the wizard instructions to backup the Favourites file where you want.
  1. Ensure your protection programmes (antivirus, anti-spyware and software firewall) are in place and completely up-to-date. Note that if you have a wireless router it has an inbuilt hardware firewall. Don’t have any other firewall in such a case or you could face conflicts.
  1. Next clean out superfluous files. e.g. games, images and unused programmes (Start/Control Panel/Add or Remove Programs and select and remove unnecessary programmes).
  1. At this point run your (updated) antivirus, like the free Avast, and and antispyware such as the free SUPERAntiSpyware which checks for spyware and other malware on your system. NOTE thta the free version does not provide resident protection. For preventing spyware and other malware entering your system you should download the Microsoft Windows Defender. You need to have a valid Window operating system to use this application. The application is updated as part of Microsoft updates.
  1. Now use programmes that clean out other issues on your PC. The first of these is a disk check to ensure the integrity of your hard drive. This is done by clicking My Computer and then right clicking on your hard drive icon, usually C:/, and selecting Properties. Then click the Tools tab and the Error Checking button Check Now. Check both boxes in the dialogue screen that appears and click Start. At this stage you will be advised that the check will be done the next time the computer is restarted. Restart the machine at this stage. The disk check can take some time to complete when the machine is restarted.
  1. Doing a Disk Cleanup (Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Cleanup) is the next step. The box that appears will invite you to select a drive. Then press OK. An analysis of the selected drive will be carried out. The box that appears has a selection of boxes. Tick all these boxes and click OK and the process will proceed to clean your disk.
  1. The next step requires the use of a free programme like CCleaner. This is a system optimisation and privacy tool. It removes unused files from your system, including extraneous registry settings and files, allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Taking the tour on the site will give a good understanding of this programme.
  1. Defragmenting your hard drive is the final step in the process. This can be done by going to Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Defragmenter. This process puts files that have been scattered around the drive back in an order that makes them accessible more quickly. Sometimes the Windows Defragmenter above will ’hang’. While there are ways to get around this issue other efficient programmes for defragmenting are the free Iobit SmartDefrag and JKDefrag.
  1. Another useful free programme, Advanced System Care is an adjunct for confirming and checking the outcomes of many of the processes above.
  2. Windows Live OneCare safety scanner is a free service designed to help ensure the health of your PC to check for and remove viruses, get rid of junk on your hard disk and generally improve your PC's performance. The first time you run this online programme it may take several hours to run. The programme should be run every few weeks or when your PC gets sluggish.