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PC Healthcheck

We've all seen the symptoms: PCs that take forever to start up, hard disks that constantly complain about low disk space, hourglasses that never seem to disappear, and constant error messages and so on. These are all pretty good indications that your PC is in need of a good clean. In much the same way as your car needs an annual service to keep the oily bits working properly, your computer responds well to the occasional check over and tune-up.

There are two pieces of free software that do an excellent job of tidying up your Windows operating system

  • CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. It protects your privacy online and makes your computer faster and more secure. Easy to use and a small, fast download.

  • Auslogics Disk Defrag will speed up your computer by moving system files to the fastest part of the disk. It will also move data files from the MFT Reserved Zone to prevent MFT fragmentation

Manual PC Tune-Up - Windows XP

Summary:  Below is a list of tasks to be performed for a PC tune-up.  This list is not intended to be all inclusive, but rather a starting point for the PC tune-up.  The process takes awhile, but the performance increase is well worth the effort.
Assumptions:  The instructions below were written with the assumption that you are using Windows XP, and are comfortable in a Windows environment, and accessing the Internet. Some of the steps (the Trend Micro antivirus scan, PC Pitstop checks, and Windows updates) will take a very long time if you are using telephone dial-up connection; fast/broadband Internet access is recommended, but not necessary, for these steps.

Tip from PC-KING

Important Notes:  I recommended tuning up your PC at least annually. If you are unclear about any item, do not complete it. Contact PC-KING and book a PC Healthcheck.  This was written for Windows XP, but should work with other versions of Windows with few modifications.

Step-by-Step Instructions
A.  Configure your PC to the following recommended settings.

1.  Reduce the cache limit (temporary file storage) for Internet Explorer. Highly Recommended.

a.       Open Internet Explorer.
b.       Go to Tools | Internet Options.
c.       Click Settings under Temporary Internet files.
d.       Under Amount of disk space to use, enter 20.
e.       Click OK, and then OK to save the settings and close the options window.
f.       Close Internet Explorer.

2.  Clear temporary Internet Files Automatically.

a.      Open Internet Explorer.
b.       Go to Tools | Internet Options.
c.       Choose the Advanced tab.
d.       Almost all the way to the bottom under Security place a check beside the option “Empty Temporary Internet Files folder  when browser is closed”.
e.       Click OK, and then OK to save the settings and close the options window.
f.        Close Internet Explorer.

3.  Adjust power management settings.

a.       Right-click on the Windows Desktop and choose Properties.
b.       Go to the Screensaver tab and click the Power button at the bottom.
c.       Adjust settings to
      i)     Turn off monitor:  After 30 minutes
     ii)     System standby:  Never
    iii)     Turn off hard disks:  Never

B.  Remove all temporary and useless files.

1.   Perform a Disk Cleanup.

a.       Click My Computer, then right-click on the C: drive and choose Properties.
b.       Click the Disk Cleanup button on the General tab.
c.       When the preliminary scan is complete, check everything in the list except Compress old files.
d.       Click OK, then Yes to commence with the cleanup.

2.  Delete all files dated prior to the current date from the directories C:\Temp and C:\Windows\Temp, if they exist.

a.    Use My Computer or Windows Explorer to navigate to those folders.
b.    DO NOT delete the Temp folders themselves, just the files within the folders.

C.  Uninstall all unwanted programmes, unnecessary programmes, and programmes of questionable origin using Control Panel | Add or Remove Programmes.

1.      Click the Start button at the lower left of your screen.
2.      Choose Control Panel from the list.
3.      Click Add or Remove Programs.
4.      Remove programmes no longer needed.

Tip from PC-KING

a.       Only remove programmes you recognize and know that you can do without.
b.       If you want to know what a programme is, go to www.google.co.uk and search for it on the Web.
c.       Another good way to investigate is to go to www.google.co.uk and click the Groups link to search user newsgroups.


D.  Scan for and remove all malware (malware: programmes that cause pop-up ads, track your actions, and/or send information about you to companies).

1.  Run Ad-Aware.

a.       Download the free version setup file from Ad-Aware SE Personal edition
i)        Install the programme- uncheck all additional components when installing.

ii)       Update the software to detect current threats.
1)Click the Check for updates now link.
2)Click Connect.
4)Click Finish when the update has been downloaded.
iii)     Scan and remove all findings.
1)Click Start, then Next.
2)After the scan is finished, click Next.
3)Right-click on the list of found objects and choose Select all objects.
4)Click Next, then OK when the software asks for confirmation.
5)Click the X in the upper right corner of the window to close the programme.

2.   Run Spybot S&D.

a.       Download the free version setup file from Spybot Search & Destroy
b.       Install the programme - uncheck all additional components when installing.

c.       If you see the Spybot S&D Wizard window, just click Next all the way through it and choose Start using the programme. We will not be using the wizard.
i)        Update the software to detect current threats.

1) Click Search for Updates.
2) Check/select any updates found click Download Updates.
3) Click Immunize and select Immunize (green cross) to apply protection
ii)       Scan and remove all findings.

1) Click Search & Destroy in the left window pane at the top.
2) Click Check for problems.
3) After the scan is complete, click Fix Selected Problems, then Yes to confirm.
4) Click OK when prompted.
5) Click the X in the upper right corner of the window to close the programme.

Tip from PC-KING

Please review  Windows Security – Protect Your PC for FREE  where you will find essential Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware and Firewall software all for FREE. Always run current antivirus software and update the virus definition files frequently.

E.     Scan for and remove all viruses.

1.  Using your own installed, up-to-date anti-virus software (instructions vary by vendor) run a full scan.

2.  Using the free Trend Micro online scan.

a.       Go to http://housecall.trendmicro.com/
b.       When the site window loads, click the Scan Now. It's Free!
c.       Select your location i.e. UK
d.       Click the red button to Start Free Scan Now.
e.       Install ActiveX component and follow configuration instructions.

F.  Update Windows with critical updates.

1.       Open an Internet Explorer browser window.

2.       Click the Tools button in the menu bar and select Windows Update.  If a security warning dialogue box opens, click OK.  You can also enter : www.windowsupdate.com
3.       Click Scan for Updates.
4.       Click Review and Install Updates.
5.       Click Install Now.
i)        If a dialogue box opens informing you that an update you have selected must be installed independently from other updates, click OK to install only that update.
ii)       Click Next through any dialog boxes that open during the installation, accepting all End User License Agreements and default settings. 
iii)     Reboot the computer if prompted.
6.       Repeat steps 1-5 until all available Critical Updates and Service Packs have been completely installed.  Note that some updates do not become available until other updates have been completely installed.
7.       NOTE: with the new version of Windows Update (Version 5) you only need to click on the “Express Install” link

G.  Run PC-Pitstop’s complete test.

1.       Navigate to www.pcpitstop.com.

2.       Test Anonymously.

 a.       From the main page, click the key graphic (probably in the upper left corner).
b.       Click the key graphic under New Members.
c.       Click Yes to accept the security certificate.
d.       Click Test Anonymously.
e.       Click Let’s Go!
f.       Click No Thanks to test PC Anywhere

3.       Perform all recommended fixes and heed all free suggestions.

H. Clean up the Windows Startup.

1.       Click the Start button, then All Programmes, then Startup.
2.       Right-click unwanted items and choose Delete.
3.       Things that are safe to delete include
          a.       Anything that says Microsoft Office.
          b.       WinZip
          c.       Real Player, Real Audio, etc.
          d.       Quicktime
4.       If you have a question about a startup item, look it up at www.google.co.uk before deleting it.

I.  Perform hard disk maintenance.

1.  Run CheckDisk.

a.       Click My Computer, then right-click on the C: drive and choose Properties.
b.       Click the Tools tab, and then click Check Now.
c.       Enable/check both options (Automatically fix and Scan for bad sectors), and click Start.
d.       If prompted that Checkdisk cannot currently run, answer Yes to run it at the next reboot, then reboot your computer and let it run. This process may take hours.

2.  Run Defragmenter.

a.       Click My Computer, then right-click on the C: drive and choose Properties.
b.       Click the Tools tab, and then click Defragment Now.
c.       Click Defragment.
d.       Wait for the process to complete. This process may take hours.

J.  Repeat step A. to remove any unnecessary files created during the tune-up process.

Tip from PC-KING

For your convenience you can download the instructions as a PDF file, for printing and reviewing offline, just click on  Download.

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Site Updated 17 Jan 2013 15:41


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