With all the different types of hardware, programs and millions of Viruses and bugs Windows needs a lot of maintenance. But with some common sense and a bit of effort every now and again, you can avoid majority of the pitfalls and have a reliable, fast experience with Windows. So follow our 10 step guide to maintaining Windows.

We would also recommend our “Protecting Against Viruses” section to help reduce the need for maintenance.

Step 1 – Update Windows Regularly.

Microsoft regularly provides updates for Windows and its other software, such as Microsoft Office, to fix stability issues, block security holes and add extra features.

These updates are mostly done automatically but you should check that they have been carried out. .

For Windows XP Users
In Internet Explorer select “Tools” then “Windows Update”.
This takes you to the Windows update website. Install any software that it asks of you and then you get the options for “Express” or “Custom” setup.
Express setup will give you the simplest solution to update every important update, whilst “Custom” you can choose which updates and add some recommended updates too.

For Windows 7 or Vista users
Go to Control Panel which should be in the start menu. Select “System and Security” followed by “Windows Update”. If you have any updates waiting for you it will have the option to “Install updates”. If it doesn’t, click on “Check for updates” then if necessary install any new important updates.

Step 2- Update your Anti-Virus and run scans.

Keep your Anti-Virus program updated and make sure that Scheduled weekly scanning is enabled and regularly check that scans have been run.

Don’t rely on the automatic updates. Open the Anti-Virus program, check when the last update was performed and if necessary check for updates manually. Make sure the program and the virus definitions are constantly updated.

Most antivirus programs have a scheduler that will schedule a regular scan of your computer. Make sure this is enabled, and check regularly to see if it has been run.

Also install and run scan using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free. Make sure it is fully updated before running a scan. Clean o

Step 3- Update all Software & Drivers

Try to keep all your software updated to fix stability and security issues.

So make sure you have the latest version of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or safari installed and that Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader are fully updated.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) is a utility that can check which programs you have on your computer that need updating.

Drivers can be a bit tricky and not as essential unless you are having problems. But go to the manufacturer of your computers website and there will be a section for downloads. Type in your computers model number and you should get a list of all the latest drivers for your computer which you can install.
I would avoid installing the BIOS updates unless you know what you are doing.

Step 4 – Uninstall Unnecessary programs

IF you have stopped using a program, uninstall it.

Even if you feel you have plenty of space on your hard drive, many programs still take up system resources without you even using the program and can slow down your computer. So go to “uninstall a program” in control panel, go through your installed programs list and remove ones you know you don’t need.

Programs you are not sure of, I would recommend finding out what they do before uninstalling as they could be important to the system.

Step 5- Stop startup programs

Only essential start up program is your Anti-virus or Internet Security program, yet when you load up your startup list, there could be over 20 programs.

This is for programs where we do not want to uninstall them because we still use them, but they don’t need to start with, and slow down, Windows.

Click on Start and type “MSCONFIG” (for windows XP, click on Run first)

System Configuration box should appear. Select the “Startup” tab at the top.

Go through the list and deselect any programs you are personally sure you do not need to start with windows. for example Skype or Adobe Reader.

If you are not sure, either first look it up online, or just simply re-enable it if you later find out you need it.

Step 6 – Clear all unnecessary Data

Internet Cache, temporary internet files, temporary program installation files, deleted files etc. Windows leaves a lot of junk around when you use the computer and a lot of the time this is where bad files hide, so it is good to delete them.

There are ways to do this manually but generally it is a bit long winded to go through all the options so we recommend CCleaner to do it all for us.

So download, install then run CCleaner.

On the left hand side select the “Cleaner” tab.
During its installation it would have run a scan for your cookies so it doesn’t delete important ones. If you want to have full control over this remove the tick next to Cookies for your internet browser. Also make sure the recycle bin does not have anything you need.

Now simply click on “Run Cleaner” at the bottom right hand side.

There is also a Registry cleaner included in CCleaner. Registry cleaning doesn’t really affect system performance too much, if at all, but it does clear old and unnecessary entries. So use the Registry cleaner occasionally.

Step 7 – Defragment Hard disk

Fragmentation of a disk is when files are divided into pieces scattered around the disk. Fragmentation occurs naturally when you use a disk frequently, creating, deleting, and modifying files. It can slow down the speed at which data s accessed because the disk drive must search through different parts of the disk to put together a single file.

Defragmenting reduces the amount of fragmentation, making the disk drive work more efficiently and access data quicker, making your system quicker.

Disk Defragment is included in Windows. Just open up and run once a month or every 3 months.

Do not run Disk Defragmentation software if you have a SSD (solid state drive) hard disk as they do not suffer from fragmentation and defragmenting it will just wear it down.

Step 8 – Remove Duplicates

Whilst duplicate files don’t affect system speed, they do take up space and also slow your work down if you need to access or edit the files.

Luckily there are plenty of programs that will do the search for you. One recommendation is Duplicate cleaner by Digital Volcano.

Very straightforward, just set which folder you want to scan and let it do the work. After the scan completes the scan you can delete or move any duplicates.

Step 9 – Do not install Unnecessary programs

In general you do not need and should not install registry cleaner programs, explorer toolbars, system optimisers, ram optimisers etc.

When installing Free programs, even ones we recommend you will get the option to install these additional programs. This is switched on by default, it is how they make their money, but it will generally have a negative effect on your computer, with few exceptions.

So do not just click next continuously when installing programs, and make sure to choose not to install these programs.

Step 10 – System Restore.

System Restore is a very useful feature in Windows where if there are changes which you feel are bad for windows, you can put Windows back in time to the way it was before without losing any actual files.

It will usually activate when you install a new program or driver, but it is a good habit to set a restore point yourself.

Option to create a system restore point is under Control Panel -> System and Security -> System -> System Protection.

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