BOOT CAMP 425 (21/05/06)
Spring Clean and Upgrade part 2
that the outside and insides of your PC are looking spick and span (see last
weekís Boot Camp) itís time to tackle the nasty mess on your hard disc drive.
Hard drives are a lot like office filing cabinets. They start off tidy and
organised, with plenty of free space, but they fill up and quickly become
cluttered with unused and dislocated files until eventually you canít find what
you are looking for and the only solution is a thorough clear out.
you donít look after your PCís filing system in just a few months it can become
clogged with redundant files, disused downloads and bits of old programs, all
of which are wasting space and slowing your PC down. However, itís the
potential for these fragments to cause program conflicts and crashes become far
more likely as time goes by.
spring-cleaning is best tackled in stages and you should begin by taking an
inventory of whatís on your drive. Open Windows Explorer, right click on your
C: drive icon, select Properties and this will display a pie chart showing how
much free space remains. Make a note of it and later on weíll come back and see
just how much rubbish you have managed to remove. While you are at it you could
also jot down the time it takes for your PC to boot to a useable state; it will
be interesting to compare it with a reboot when you have finished the cleanup.
Properties pie chart only gives a relative indication of whatís on your drive
and you will get a much better idea of what you are dealing with by running a
disk viewer application like SpaceMonger or
Windirstat (both freeware), these will show up the programs and files that
are taking up the most disk space.
you start removing files you should take a few precautions. Firstly make sure
that all of your irreplaceable data is safely backed up and if you are using
Windows ME or XP set a new System Restore Point by going to Start > Programs
> Accessories > System Tools.
thatís done begin with Windows own built-in cleaning utility, which will get
rid of a lot of the detritus created by the operating system. Youíll find Disk
Cleanup in Programs > Accessories > System Tools. Start with a basic scan
and this will find and remove old Temporary files (see also this weekís Top
Tip), web downloads and the contents of the Recycle Bin. Itís perfectly safe
and nothing it deletes is going to harm your PC so you can tick everything and
it has finished go back to Disk Cleanup and select the More Options tab and
there you will find buttons that take you to the Add/Remove Programs utility in
Control Panel, for removing old programs that you no longer use, Windows
components and old System Restore Points. I would leave the Windows section
alone and only delete Restore Points (RPs) if your PC has been behaving
normally for a while. The most recent RP will be retained so you can go ahead
and click the OK button.
you are planning to remove a lot of old programs then it is better to do so one
at a time and reboot afterwards to make sure your PC is operating normally. Not
all programs show up in Add/Remove Programs, some have their own uninstaller,
which you should find in the programís folder. If you canít find one do not be
tempted to delete the program folder, this could have serious repercussions as
data files and Registry entries will not be removed.
uninstallers rarely do a complete job and the files they leave behind have a
nasty habit of causing trouble, sometimes months or even years afterwards. This
next step is optional because there is always a risk in tinkering with the
Registry but if your backups are up to date and you set an RP all should be
well. I suggest using a freeware utility called RegSeeker. It
has its own backup facility so in the unlikely event of anything going wrong
any changes can be undone. However, before you use it reboot the PC and set a
new RP. Afterwards open Windows Explorer and check your hard disc Properties
pie chart to see how much free space you have managed to reclaim.
you have finished your cleanup operations it is a good idea to let things be
for a day or two, to make sure everything is okay. When you are sure that your
PC is working normally carry out one more pass with Windows Disk Cleanup,
reboot and run the Defrag utility (Start > Programs > Accessories >
System Tools). Reboot again and with luck you should notice a small but
worthwhile improvement in boot up time.
NEXT WEEK - Spring Clean
and Upgrade part 3
Over time the files on a PC's hard disc drive become
disorganized - 'defragging' the drive restores order and speeds up reading and
A large, constantly changing collection of
Windows system files containing configuration information for both the PC and
programs stored on the hard disc
Temporary files, ending in '.tmp' are created by
Windows and other programs and normally deleted automatically though some will
remain if Windows crashes or is not shut down properly
Windows Disk Cleaner is
a simple and safe way to remove low-level junk files but for a more aggressive
approach try a freeware utility called HDCleaner. Not only will it delete the Temporary files
overlooked by the Windows cleaner it seeks out duplicate files, checks the
Registry and looks after your privacy by zapping cookies, history and recent
documents logs. It has a backup facility, in case something goes wrong or you
change your mind. For a complete archive of past Boot Camp top tips pop along
© R. Maybury 2006, 1005
Part