Over time, with use, your computer will start slowing down and mis-behaving. It’s a given. There are a few programs that I use regularly to help maintain my computer. The first program, CCleaner (http://www.ccleaner.com/download), will scan your computer and allow you to get rid of all of the “junk” files that accumulate. CCleaner is a freeware PC optimization tool. It combines a system cleaner that removes unused and temporary files from your system and also a fully featured registry cleaner. You’ll need to run it in phases as the disk cleaner is separate from the registry cleaner. Also, the disk cleaner will clean out your browser history and cookies unless you uncheck the boxes. If it deletes your cookies, you’ll have to enter username and password when you go to websites that you’ve logged into in the past. The registry cleaner allows you to backup your registry before it fixes issues. Make sure you do so (it’s part of the process) just in case something happens, but I’ve never really had anything go wrong. I run this program every couple of weeks.
After running CCleaner, I’ll usually run a defrag program to clean up all of the empty space on the hard disk. The program I run for this is from Auslogic. You’ll find the download here – http://www.download.com/Auslogics-Disk-Defrag/3000-2094_4-10567503.html?part=dl-Auslogics&subj=dl&tag=button&cdlPid=10857004. By running this program, your hard disk will run smoother and will last longer. After it finishes running, it will tell you it can delete a large number of “junk” files and then prompt you to purchase a license. Don’t. You can do the same thing with CCleaner and Windows own Disk Cleaner.
If you have 1 GB or less of RAM memory, not hard disk space, I’d recommend adding an additional 1 to 2 GB. Memory is cheap and it will make a world of difference in how the programs run on your computer.
Make sure that your hard disk never gets more than 90% full. It’s easy to fill a hard drive with pictures, music and videos so keep an eye on the available space. If it gets too full, it will start to break down.
I also scan my hard drive with a program that searches for spyware. I actually use 2 programs; Spybot (http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/) and Adaware (http://www.lavasoft.com/single/trialpay.php). They’ll both find things the other misses so it’s good to run them both.
The other thing to look at is what programs are running in the background. Most of the time, they’ll add an icon to the taskbar on the bottom right by the clock. There are usually some programs that don’t need to be running all of the time. CCleaner can help out here as well. Under the “Tools” button, you can see what’s in your startup and delete the items you don’t need. If you’re not sure what an item is, you can run it through a search engine to find out if it’s necessary. All programs that are running in the background are using memory that can be better used running other programs.
If you have any questions about any of this, add a comment and I’ll answer back.