Following are some basic system maintenance steps that will help to keep your system running smoothly; in many cases they will actually cure some common performance related problems. You should undertake to carry out the steps in the order that I have listed them, so before you start, be sure to download HD Valet – a drive cleanup utility that removes temporary, unneeded and ‘junk’ files from your hard drive. It is highly configurable, and will aid you greatly in the clean up of your drive. For a nominal fee you can download it here.
Empty your internet cache.
For users of Internet Explorer:
- Close all instances of your browser.
- Open Control Panel and double click on Internet Options.
- In the General tab, in the section where it says Temporary Internet Files, press the button marked Delete Files.
- In the dialog box that pops up, place a check mark in the box Delete all offline content.
This removes all subfolders that are created in the Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5 folder.
For users of Netscape or Mozilla:
- From the menu bar, choose Edit / Preferences / Advanced / Cache.
- Press the Clear cache button.
- For Mozilla Firebird/Firefox:
- From the menu bar, choose Tools / Options / Privacy / Cache.
- Press the Clear button.
For Opera users:
- From the menu bar, choose File / Preferences / History and Cache.
- Press Empty Now.
Clean up unnecessary files from your hard drive with HDValet – which you should have downloaded and installed previously. Read about HD Valet here: Make Room On Your Hard Disk
“My Documents”: Make sure that you do not have too many files, folders and sub-folders in ‘My Documents’. Create new folders outside of ‘My Documents’ and move stuff to the new folders. The ‘My Documents’ folder is a special system folder, and there is a known issue in Windows, where too many files/folders within it can cause your system to become very sluggish.’My Documents’ is what’s known as a “Shell Object” – based on an “environment” concept. It is actually a special Shell Object, called a Shell Folder. Shell Folders are not real folders, but they do point to real folders on the hard drive – think of them as a special kind of shortcut. ‘My Documents’ is not the only kind of Shell Object – others can be created, too. The ‘Internet Explorer’ on the desktop is a Shell Object, though NOT a Shell Folder.The idea of Shell Folders is to have all user files available from a common location. The registry’s entry for the personal “environment” of ‘My Documents’ is not a true folder, as I have said, rather it is a “NameSpace” that can actually point anywhere (not just c:\my documents).
As far as Windows is concerned, ‘My Documents’ resides in the registry only; the physical location and contents has to be enumerated continually by the registry. With a large registry and many files and folders in the “physical” location of ‘My Documents’, it is very easy for Windows to become bogged down or sluggish, particularly under heavy load. Note that this does not mean that Windows WILL get bogged down, only that it can. There is NO magical number of files or folders that might result in a sluggish system. Some systems will run absolutely fine with many folders and many MBs in ‘My Documents’, while others will groan with relatively few. This information is aimed at those who may experience a slowdown, or general sluggishness in Windows, and Windows Explorer in particular. It is just one thing to keep in mind when troubleshooting a slow system.
Clean up your registry with one or both of the following freeware tools — be sure to read the help files.
Streamline your startups. Take some time to study the following web pages to determine what programs you have running at startup, what is necessary and what you can disable. To help you, Startup List will tell you what you have running at startup on your system. Wherever possible, use the preferences or options of the application involved to prevent it running at startup. This is important, because msconfig is designed as a diagnostics tool, and may not prevent items from running permanently. Where there is no option within the program, you can try using msconfig – which will work in many cases. To do this, press the Start button and choose ‘Run’. In the Run box type msconfig and press [Enter]. Choose the Startup tab and you will see a list of items. Be sure to only uncheck those items you are sure can be disabled, or have confirmed with the following lists.
For the adventurous, but particularly for troubleshooting purposes, following is a list of possible startup locations. Otherwise, you may skip directly to item 6.
WARNING: Editing the registry incorrectly can result in your operating system failing to function. Do this only if you are confident, and be sure to back up your registry first, or create a restore point, in case something should go wrong. What YOU do with this information is YOUR responsibility, and YOURS alone.
List of possible startup locations.
HKLM = HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
HKCU = HKEY_CURRENT_USERHKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce\
HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows (AppInit_DLLs)
HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon (Userinit)
HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon (Shell)
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows (Run)
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows (Load)
Browser Helper Objects
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\explorer\Browser Helper Objects\
Active Setup Stub Keys (These are disabled if there is a twin in HKCU)
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Active Setup\Installed Components\
ICQ Agent Autostart
STARTUP FOLDERS:Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
Documents and Settings\[user name]\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
Documents and Settings\Administrator\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
Documents and Settings\Default User\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
WinNT\Profiles\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
WinNT\Profiles\[user name]\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
WinNT\Profiles\Default User\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
Windows\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
WinME\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
TEMP Folder: Reboot and immediately empty your “Windows\Temp” folder – or “Documents and Settings\[username]\Local Settings\Temp” for Windows XP users. Note that emptying the Temp folder is quite safe, but only following a reboot. This is because applications and setup routines store working files in the temp folder, and setup routines in particular, often need to finish their cleanup process after a reboot. It also ensures that you don’t delete a temporary file that may be needed by an application that is currently running, with the possibility of loosing work.Here are some possible TEMP folder locations.
Your system may vary:
[Drive]:\Documents and Settings\[User Name]\Local Settings\Temp
[Drive]:\Documents and Settings\Default User\Local Settings\Temp
[Drive]:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Temp
[Drive]:\Documents and Settings\LocalService\Local Settings\Temp
[Drive]:\Documents and Settings\NetworkService\Local Settings\Temp
Windows Update temporary folder:
Empty your recycle bin. You’d be surprised how many people fail to empty their recycle bin regularly, and it can grow to many megabytes, or even gigabytes! If you have Norton Protected Recycle Bin installed, empty that, too. Right click on the recycle bin and you will see the options available to you.
Scandisk your hard drive.
Keep your system well maintained by following these few simple steps. You may be surprised at the difference a clean system can make.