Cleaning up Without Reinstalling Windows
As time goes on a computer running Windows gradually runs slower and slower. No you're not imagining it, the information on the computer gradually gets more jumbled with unused and unneeded programs being loaded in background and the hard disk getting more and more fragmented and clogged with unneeded files and programs.
Some people recommend reinstalling your operating system and applications at regular intervals in order to resolve these problems and that is one way (although a rather drastic one) of cleaning out all of the unnecessary garbage that is clogging your system.
A less drastic alternative is to clean out as much as possible of this garbage without doing a complete reformat and reinstall. The following is a list of some suggested actions which, while they wont get your system as clean and fast running as a reinstall would, will at least take you a good part of the way there. Ensure that you are not running any application programs while carrying out these tasks to avoid conflicts.
- Check the contents of your StartUp folder by right clicking the start button, selecting explore then going into programs then startup. Delete any programs from here that you don't need to have running each and every time that you start Windows.
- If you're trying to stop a program from automatically running at startup and can not find it in the StartUp folder then it may be launching from one of the registry keys below. To remove it, use Regedit to delete the value associated with the program you want to remove.
It may also be loaded from the [Load] or [Run] sections of your WIN.INI file, found in the Windows or Winnt directory.
- Go to Lavasoft and download Ad-aware and other tools that will help remove any spyware programs that you accidentally installed when they were downloaded by stealth alongside programs that you intentionally downloaded from the internet.
- Using the add/remove programs option in control panel or the uninstall icon in the individual program folder (if there is one), uninstall all of the programs from your system that you don't use. If you keep the original install disk (or a backup of the compressed installation file that you downloaded from the internet) then you can always reinstall a program again later if you change your mind and decide that you do want to use it. Whatever you do, don't just delete the icons of programs you no longer require (or even the entire contents of their folder) as almost all programs store common routines elsewhere and place entries in the registry. Using the correct uninstall process will also clean up these entries.
- Use the Find Files or Folders option from the start menu to locate all *.tmp files. These are temporary files created by running applications (or install processes) that ought to have been cleaned up when the program completed but weren't. They can all be safely deleted.
- The contents of any tmp or temp folder are also temporary files and can also be safely deleted.
- Similarly, you might look for all *.bak, *.bk1, *.bk2 etc files. These are usually automatic backups taken of other files. If you check out what is in these files you will probably find that few of them are actually useful backups and that most can be safely deleted.
- Take a look at all of the fonts that you have loaded on your system. You probably only use a half dozen or so different fonts but have a lot more than these being loaded every time you start your system. You might consider deleting fonts that you know that you never use. This will free up more space on your system and make the startup process faster.
- Having deleted all unnecessary files from your drive, you should run scandisk and then defragment your drive to recover the space made available through the file deletions.
This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.