Thursday, 4 February 2010

A Clean Sweep




I am often asked what soft of things I do when “cleaning up a computer” with the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. I though I would jot down a few things for starters, and if I feel inspired, I may type out some more. There are other tweaks that can improve performance.



Most computers have some form of Antivirus installed, but it is still well to do a scan. Often a scan with a Malware tool such as Spybot, or Malwarebytes will show problems not caught by the AV.
If the computer does not have any sort of AV then one should be installed immediately. You can buy or try for free online at sites such as AVG and Avira.

It takes a lot less time to scan if temporary files are cleaned up first. In fact a lot of little nasties often lurk in this area. The easies way to do this is through a tool such as Ccleaner. It may also be worth running Microsoft’s free clean up scan. The other options in “Windows Live Onecare” may also prove useful.

I mentioned Avira above. They produce a “Rescue System” that can be burnt to a bootable CD. As the software runs independently of the operating system it is better able to remove the  “rootkit” type of virus.

If you used the tools above you should now have a virus and malware free computer. You should also have a tidier computer with less rubbish lying about. If you used the “Oncare” tool full scan you may have also have defragmented your hard drive. It may now be worth downloading and running a clever deframentation tool like Mydefrag.

One of the features of the Ccleaner program mentioned above is the ability to turn start-up programs on and off. These programs often feature in the “System Tray” or Notification Area. Removing non-essential ones can speed up log-in, and free up memory space. Programs in this area often accumulate with installations of new software. Another useful tool in Ccleaner is the Registry integrity tool. Running this or the one contained in the Onecare package may help to improve performance.

On a final note, try running the memory scanners at Crucial and Orca. If you have less than a gigabyte on your XP computer more memory could help. Some computers may struggle with just half of that.

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