Windows PC Cleanup: Easy As 1,2,3

With everyday use, Microsoft Windows can generate a lot of temporary files, and your disk drive can shuffle around a lot of pieces of data. Over time, this can tend to gum up the works, and so cleaning things up can help speed up performance again. A lot has been written about this, but here I am going to offer a three-step method that should give you good results for free.

First, run a scan for viruses and malware. You can either run a full scan using your installed (and-up-to-date) virus scanner or (preferably) install MalwareBytes Antimalware Free and update it and run a full scan. MalwareBytes will scan and clean both virues and spyware. Reboot after the cleanup if prompted.

Second, install and run the free version of CCleaner (observe the installation choices to avoid installing extra programs you may not want or need). The default settings are moderately aggressive so you should not need to alter them. Allow the program to scan and clean your system. See short video guide here.

Optionally, you can also run the registry cleaner - make sure to allow the program to make a backup copy of the changes - if anything goes awry (it never has for me) you can double-click the the small .reg file to reverse any changes.

Third, run a disk defragmentation utility, particularly if the computer is more than a few months old. Essentially, this will reorganize files on the hard disk and can make things run a little quicker - particularly if used after you have run the cleanup described previously. You can use Windows built-in "defrag" utility or use a free utility like Defraggler (observe the installation choices to avoid installing extra programs you may not want or need). If you have more than one hard drive letter on your PC, then just run the defrag on your C: drive.

Note that Windows 7 runs the defragmentation process automatically (assuming your computer is left on), so it's less likely to be beneficial to run it manually. Also if you have a solid state drive, it's recommended that you do not manually defragment it. These newer types of storage devices use a different method of keeping files organized.

I'd do step 1 and 2 weekly, if you can be bothered, or at least monthly. If you have Windows XP, I'd run a defrag every few months, or at least twice a year.

If you have a second (or third) hard drive letter on your computer (a D: drive or an E: drive, etc. that is not a CD or DVD) then you might run a defrag every year on it. The C: drive (or "system" drive) usually benefits more from a defrag, as that is where Windows "lives". CD or DVD drives can't be defragmented.

Not too hard, and you will keep your Windows PC running better.

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