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Cleaning up your computer can make it run much better - faster and no pop-ups! BUT BE CAREFUL!! All of these actions have some risk of removing something you want, making the computer unstable, or worse. This is a guide for basic cleanup if you are having just moderate troubles. If you suspect your computer is in serious trouble (infected/hijacked), I recommend the cleanup guide at Broadband Reports. They also have a guide to keeping your computer free of spyware and hijacks here and a more general protection guide here. We also offer a fixed-fee spyware removal service.
Is your computer "clean" but still slow? If your computer is less than 3 years old, consider a complete format/reinstall that will have it running better than new and guaranteed spyware and virus free. More than 4 years old, consider a new computer. More than 5? Time for replacement.
Here is what I suggest:
Make backups! Before you start, be sure you have good backups of any data you need. You may also want to make sure you have the original install disks that came with your computer, as well as any software you have installed on the computer. In addition to the disks, you often need keys or serial numbers to reinstall the software. Go to "System Restore" and take a checkpoint. This will ensure system restore is enabled, and you have a current restore point. It is usually at start->programs->system tools->system restore. System restore may help you recover from system errors.
Check with your manufacturer. Go to the website
for the manufacturer of your computer. They often have driver and other
updates that are important - sometimes these are required before installing
Microsoft updates to keep the computer working properly.
Run windowsupdate. Install all critical updates. I usually install most of the recommended
careful about the driver updates - generally, if you don't need the driver
update to solve a problem, and your devices are working ok, leave well-enough
Update virus definitions and virus software. Download the latest virus
definitions, and run a full system scan. Fix or delete all viruses.
You may have to run the scan in Safe Mode to remove certain viruses. If
you use Norton AntiVirus, be sure to run LiveUpdate to get program updates as
well as virus definition updates.
Uninstall unneeded programs. Start->control
panel->add/remove programs. Uninstall programs you don't need. Many
"legitimate" spyware programs (I can't name them or they will sue me) allow you
to remove them with the uninstall process. This is the best way to remove
programs from your system.
Get rid of spyware.
Run a full system scan and get rid of anything it finds. Microsoft offers
Essentials. Download and install the program, retrieve
updates, then run a scan. Quarantine all spyware - this will allow you to
"undo" any removal.
Run msconfig. Start->run and type in msconfig.
Go to the startup tab, and disable everything you can. These are the
programs that run at startup, and often keep on running. If you disable
too much, some of your programs may not work properly, but you can always
Defrag. From "My Computer", right click
on the disk and select "properties". Go to the "tools" tab, and
first check the disk for errors and automatically fix errors (don't do a surface
scan), then defragment
Please make backups! We are
not responsible for data loss under any circumstances!!