Cleaning, regular maintenance, and updating are essential to a computers continued speedy performance A computers performance can be greatly improved with just a few steps This is something all computer users should do Remove unnecessary programs Click Start > Control Panel Click Add or Remove Programs Scroll through the list and examine each program. Click each program you no longer need, click the Change/Remove button, and then follow the prompts to uninstall it. You may have to restart your computer after removing a program. After your computer restarts, repeat the steps above to remove more programs. You may find a few Toolbars or a number of programs you have forgotten about or didn't know were there. If there are problems removing any programs from add/remove programs try the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility Remove unused files from your system Run CCleaner on each user account Download CCleaner Double click on the ccsetup.exe file to start the installation of the program. Select your language and click OK, then next. Read the license agreement and click I Agree. Click next to use the default install location. Under Install Options, choose all the default settings Click Install then finish to complete installation. Double click the CCleaner shortcut on the desktop to start the program. On the "Windows" tab, under "Internet Explorer," uncheck "Cookies" if you do not want them deleted. (If deleted, you will likely need to reenter your passwords at all sites where a cookie is used to recognize you when you visit). If you use either the Firefox or Mozilla browsers, the box to uncheck for "Cookies" is on the Applications tab, under Firefox/Mozilla. Click on the "Options" icon at the left side of the window, then click on "Advanced." deselect "Only delete files in Windows Temp folders older than 48 hours." Caution: It is not recommended that you use the "Registry" feature unless you are very familiar with the registry as it has been known to find legitimate items. Click on the "Cleaner" icon on the left side of the window, then click Run Cleaner to run the program. After CCleaner has completed its process, click Exit. Defragment the Hard Drive Over the course of regular PC use, your files get fragmented and spread out all over your hard drive. Reading and writing data on a heavily fragmented hard drive is slowed down because the time for the heads to move between fragments on the disk surface can be substantial. In addition to running Disk Defragmenter at regular intervals, monthly is optimal, there are other times you should run it too, such as when: You add a large number of files. Your free disk space totals 15 percent or less. You install new programs or a new version of Windows Microsofts built in Disk Defragment utility, does as good a job as any, but is known to be slow. Here are free alternatives that do the same job in a much quicker time. Auslogics Disk Defrag JkDefrag For defragmenting your pagefile and registry hives use PageDefrag You can compact and defrag just the registry with Auslogics Disk Defrag Vista and Internet Explorer 7 Why is my Internet connection so slow? Windows Vista - My Internet connection is slow Tuning IE7 for Better Performance How to optimize or reset Internet Explorer 7 The Phishing Filter could be causing your computer to respond very slowly as it evaluates Web page contents. Detect and repair disk errors This is best done from Safe Mode. Booting Into Safe Mode Vista Click Start, and then click Computer. Right-click the volume you want to check, and then click Properties. Click the Tools tab, and then click Check Now. Do one of the following: To run CHKDSK in read-only mode, clear all check boxes, and then click Start. To repair errors without scanning the volume for bad sectors, select the Automatically Fix File System Errors check box, and then click Start. To repair errors, locate bad sectors, and recover readable information, select both the Automatically Fix File System Errors and Scan For And Attempt Recovery Of Bad Sectors check boxes. Then click Start. Windows XP and 2000 - Click Start > Run > type CHKDSK and click OK. Windows 98 or Me - Click Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > ScanDisk. Manage autostart items A huge culprit of computers loading and running slow is what is running in the background CCleaner also has a startup manager. Open CCleaner click Tools then Startup You can delete any unneeded items from there. Be careful, there is no backup. Because the startup loads drivers and some programs you may need, be careful removing items you are unsure of. You can look up the program on Google and see what an item is for. Some things to look for. You will still be able to use these programs, you just have to launch them manually. QuickTime Task Musicmatch Jukebox iTunesHelper TkBellExe - RealPlayer Update ISUSScheduler or ISUSPM Startup - InstallShield Updater Service DVDLauncher - CyberLink PowerDVD Adobe Reader Speed Launcher Google Updater StartUp Tool is an easy to use start-up items editor, which allows you to identify, add, edit, remove or disable start-up items using an intuitive graphical user interface. MalwareBytes StartUpLite is a lightweight program that can disable or remove all known unnecessary startup entries from your computer and thus quicken the startup procedure of your system. Startup Delayer allows you to setup how many seconds after Windows has started, to load each program. Alternate method to deal with Startup processes First you should uninstall any software that you do not use. Second if you have processes still trying to load at startup even though you have uninstalled them. You can simple use HijackThis (HJT) to easily remove the startup. That way you will not have to manually edit the registry. Third for software you do not want to uninstall but you don't want it to load at startup, look in the program for an option not to load when Windows starts and disable it this way. If you cannot find an option like that you have two possible actions: If you never want it to load at startup, use HJT to permanently remove the startup. If you sometimes want it to load at startup, use a program like Startup CPL to enable or disable as you see fit. Disable unnecessary Services to free System Resources Services are programs that run when the computer starts up and continue to run as they aid the operating system in functionality. There are many services that load and are not needed which take up memory space and CPU time. Disabling these services will free up system resources which will speed up your overall computer experience. It is recommend that you sort through the list and read the descriptions to decide if you need that service depending on what you want to do with your computer. Remember, you can always turn the service back on if you find that you need it in the future. Below is the procedure to turn off a service. Click the Start button. Select Run from the bottom of the right column. Type services.msc in the box and click OK. Once the services window has loaded you are ready to turn off unneeded services. Find this service you wish to disable in the list and select it with the mouse. Right click and select Properties. Once the properties windows has loaded locate the Start up type drop down box and select Disable. Then click OK and the next time the computer starts the service will not be loaded. Remember to only remove unessential services or you risk experiencing boot problems. Search Google for information on unknown services. Another good resource is Black Viper's Strange Services page. Check for damaged, altered or missing critical system files The System File Checker (SFC) searches for protected files that have been damaged, altered or are missing. It restores the correct version of the file from the cache folder. You must be logged on as an administrator or as a member of the Administrators group to run sfc. You may be asked to insert your XP Installation CD so have it available. Clean the dust out Always turn your computer off before you begin and unplug all power cords Heat is the biggest cause of component failure in computers. Dust clogs the vents behind your computer, which causes your CPU to overheat and cause faulty processor fans which can result in unexpected shutdowns, random restarts, booting problems, etc. Regular cleaning could save you costly maintenance fees down the road. Remove the cover touching as little as possible inside the computer and take a moist towel and wipe any dust from the interior of the cover. Blow compressed air around all of the components and along the bottom of the case, keeping the nozzle four inches away from the machine. Blow air into the power supply box and into the fan (from the back of the case). Blow air into the floppy disk and CD drives. Last, check that your connections are secure. Create a Restore Point When you are all done be sure to Create a new Restore Point to ensure you keep all the changes you just made You must be logged on to an administrator account. Go to Start All Programs Accessories System Tools System Restore Choose the radio button marked Create a Restore Point on the first screen then click Next. Give the new Restore Point a name, then click Create. The new Restore Point will be stamped with the current date and time. You may want to keep a log of this so you can find it easily should you need to use System Restore. Then use Disk Cleanup to remove all but newly created Restore Point. Go to Start > Run and type: Cleanmgr Click OK. Click the More Options tab. Click Clean Up in the System Restore section to remove all previous restore points except the newly created one. More suggestions and performance tips Restore Your Computer's Performance with Windows XP XP Performance Tweaks Performance Boost for XP How to fix the top 10 Internet Explorer issues Understanding, Identifying and Upgrading the RAM in your PC Add more RAM This is a quick solution that can have a dramatic affect on your system's speed and responsiveness. You can check how much RAM you have. Right click My Computer Choose Properties > General tab. If you have 512MB Pay attention to what software you install. Every computer needs Security software installed (Antivirus+Firewall) and they should start up with Windows and run in the background. If you have 512MB or less choose an Antivirus and Firewall that doesn't require that much memory and processing time. Don't install "heavy" Security Suites like Norton, Panda, McAfee, TrendMicro... PC Pitstop Is your PC acting sluggish? Do you have to reboot your computer because of errors and lockups? Stop by PC Pitstop for a free computer checkup and diagnostics that can help you detect and fix many common computer problems.