Computer Maintenance for the New Year

With a fresh start to the New Year, why not have a fresh start with your computer? Here are a couple of tips and tools to help keep your Windows computers running smoothly.

Flickr user: john_a_ward

12 Tips to Tune Your Windows XP Machines and Increase System Performance.

1. Scan for viruses
If possible run your own scan but make sure to run a Live Update first. Running the scan in Safe Mode with Networking is also a good idea. If you can’t, do a complete system scan for viruses using NOTE: Never run two Antivirus Applications at the same time.

2. Scan for spyware
Modern Antivirus app’s like Norton AV 2009 includes spyware protection but additional apps like Spybot, or Windows Defender might be helpful as well. Download and install Windows Defender, which is free anti-spyware software from Microsoft:

3. Change the background to a solid color
Start menu > Control Panel > Display. Click on the “Desktop” tab. Choose “None” and then choose a color from the drop-down menu on the right. Click “Ok”.

4. Turn off system indexing
Start menu > My Computer. Right click on your hard drive and choose “Properties” from the menu. Make sure that “Allow indexing service to index this disk for fast file searching” is NOT checked.

5. Reduce Recycle Bin space
Right-click on the Recycle Bin. Click on ‘Empty Recycle Bin.’ Right-click on the Recycle Bin. Move the slider to 3% of drive space.

6. Modify Display Features for Performance
Start menu > Control Panel > System. Click on the “Advanced” tab. Under “Performance,” click on “Settings.” Click on the “Adjust for Best Performance,” then click “Ok,” and click “Ok” again.

7. Clean your desktop
Move as many files as possible off of your desktop and into your “My Documents” folder. Leave ONLY the Recycle Bin, “My Computer” and links to network drives on your desktop.

8. Remove unwanted software
(a) Go to Start menu > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs. Review the list of installed software. Uninstall any software you do not regularly use.
(b) Download and install the PC Decrapifier: Run this program and remove any software you do not regularly use.

9. Update Microsoft Windows and Office applications
Go to (You may need to permit the Active X component to run in your browser.) Click on “Express” to find updates. Install all updates found. Reboot if recommended. Repeat this process until the site reports “no updates” are found.

10. Update other applications
Go to Click “Start Now.” The site will scan and find updates for many applications. Follow the recommendations to upgrade/update software where possible.

11. Disk cleanup
Download, install and run, “CCleaner” from website. This tool includes a very nice Registry Cleaner, Software Uninstall tool, and Start editor similar to the “msconfig” command only better.
An alternate method to cleanup would be to use: Start menu > All programs > Accessories > System tools > Disk Cleanup. The program may take several minutes to start. Make sure the following are NOT checked: “Office Setup Files,” “Compress Old Files,” and “Catalog files for the content indexer.” All other boxes may be checked. Click “Ok,” then click “Yes.”

12. Defragment your hard drive
Download and install Auslogics’ Disk Defrag program from Use this to defragment your hard drive. The program typically completes defragmenting your files much more quickly than Microsoft’s built-in defragmentation software. For VISTA, Auslogics Defrag (or other 3rd party disk defrag tool) is a must. The XP defrag tool is good but the Auslogics is faster.

Submitted by Mark Shaw, NPower Consulting Manager for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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4 Responses

  1. thanks for the information that helps me a lot.

  2. You’re welcome Joe!

  3. If everyone did this, I would not work haha

    Thanks for share, great list

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