Andy's Technotes Home

General PC Maintenance

Try these steps to fix many of those oddball/intermittent problems and make Windows system work better.

It is amazing how many glitches this takes care of,  so this should be done before any other extensive troubleshooting (except for missing data).
 

The minimal basics any end user can and should run on a regular basis

This was originally started based on a Win95 system but the concepts are readily transferable to other versions of Windows, which I test and tune these steps as I work with the different versions of Windows as I can get to them. So far this has been tested from Windows 95 up through Windows 10, & Windows Server 2012 R2 with great success. While Mac users don't need it as much, they can also benefit from similar treatment as written up on Lifehacker. An author I follow blogged his recommendation of Clean My Mac 2 along with a few comments on the free tools he uses. Another option might be the Joe On Tech guide:Speeding Up Your Mac
Linux users can also benefit from this write-up.
 

Other things to watch for

There are a few other things that can cause a system to slow down and be grumpy. Note that some parts may not have had attention for some time but should at least give you some ideas of what can be looked into.

- The primary hard-drive/storage running low on space. Generally most systems work best when they have more than 20% of their primary drive space free/empty and get progressively more persnickety as they run low on space.

- Check your RAM (memory vs storage) that it is what you bought. RAM or their slots can fail, wiggle loose, or even be stolen. Most systems tend to increase their need for memory as the operating system and applications expand due to patches. Adding new applications that include memory resident parts (speed loaders, auto updaters, etc..) also increases how much RAM is being used. The best way to see if you need more, is how much your hard-drive light blinks as you work. If it only blinks when you load an application or file, or when you save a file, you have sufficient RAM. If it is heavily blinking or on more than off all the time, even when no applications are open, then you certainly need more RAM. When you buy a new system, more RAM is generally better than less. Bargain systems are usually a bit low on RAM for the typical life span of a system.

- You can monitor some of your system resources on your Windows desktop with a tool called DeskTopInfo. MicroMart has a nice write up and walk through, though their link to the actual app is broken due incrementing version numbers. You can download Desktop Info directly from the author's site. For Linux, conky is the way to go.

 

The Fine Detail Steps for Techs to really clean a system

If any of you can figure out how to automate any of this, please share with the rest of us (especially Andy Konecny who is trying to sort this out but never has the free time to do so). So far CCleaner comes the closest and worth running even when running through all the steps below.


Steps you can take to reduce how fast your system gets fragmented.


  Notes: If ScanDisk and/or Defrag keep restarting, here are some things to look at to prevent them.

Additional:     Tools such as LitePC can also make a big difference in increasing performance of a system in addition to the above steps.
 

Some ISPs even occasionally have Spring Cleaning instructions that are worth reading, keeping a copy, and passing on the the typical end user.
 
 

Networking clients can also have significant impact on access, speed, security, & other oddities, so making sure you are running only what you need is important.
 

For advanced users:
If a system is acting odd or slow, it could be due to extra stuff running on your system, so knowing what is running is a good thing to figure out Ctl-Shft-Esc brings up the Windows Task Manager. Check under applications to make sure they all make sense and then look under Processes to learn lots. Basically check each item against the references below to make sure they should be there and then you can remove the ones that are of no or negative value to you. They will typically be started either from your Startup folder or via Regedit (for experienced techs only: My Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run )
http://camica.netfirms.com/services.htm
http://www.sysinfo.org/startupinfo.php

some common ones are listed at
http://www.liutilities.com/products/wintaskspro/processlibrary/

if a service you are running is not listed, Google for it and if that doesn't find you some details then it is very likely a fairly new virus, worm, or spyware and you system requires even more advanced work on it.

A nice tool that I've used on both XP and Win7 is Soluto. It is very helpful in identifying what programs are getting in the way of a fast boot, as well as slowing down IE or Firefox. So far it is better to use it to decide what to remove from your system as the delay start isn't helping much. Only problem now days is to find the Windows installation as that is hidden and I can't find it on their site anymore. I have my copy stashed here.


 

Last updated 2016-10-11 Copyright © 1996-2016 Andy Konecny andyweb @ konecnyconsulting.ca