Friday, September 12, 2008

PC running slowly? Clean it!

PC running slowly? Clean it!

Wed, Sep 10, 2008
The Straits Time, Digital Life

I HAVE had the fortune of staying with some very generous host families on my travels around Asia and Europe.

More often than not, when I tell them that I am a tech contributor, they will immediately ask for help with their computers, which are either running slow or clogged with viruses. I will then be shown to the family computer and all eyes will be on me to work my magic. It's a high-pressure situation but thankfully I've managed to come out on top each time.

Seriously though, the stuff that I do is no rocket science. No matter what state your PC is in, following the steps below will boost your PC performance. There's just one requirement - an Internet connection for downloading nifty freeware programs.

1. Tidy the startup

A major gripe is that computers take so long to start, you can have breakfast in that time. The crawl is because of needless programs which run automatically when your computer is turned on. To remove them, go to Start Menu, Run, and in the command prompt type 'msconfig'. Click the Startup tab which displays the list of programs (above) that run when your computer is turned on. Uncheck the ones that you don't need running at boot up. Then restart your computer. Programs like iTunes and Skype can go.

2. Clean up the crap

Over time, your computer accumulates gigabytes of gunk, especially if you surf the Web often. This slows down your system and reduces the free space available on the hard disk. CCleaner - short form for Crap Cleaner - streamlines the cleaning process in a few clicks.

Go to Download the latest version available. Run the program. In the left hand pane under the Windows tab, check the boxes of the files that you want to remove, such as the Temporary Internet Files and your Recent Documents history. If you are unsure what you want to clean, just leave it at the default settings.

Then click the Applications tab and do likewise. Once you are done, click the Run Cleaner button at the bottom right corner and let CCleaner do its magic. You'll be amazed at the amount of junk that lies hidden - some of the computers I've dealt with had over 2GB's worth from years of neglect.

3. Clean up your registry

Your PC also collects useless or erroneous entries in the computer registry over time. However, since the registry contains critical files for your computer to function, create a system restore point by going to the Start menu, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and click System Restore. Check the Create a Restore Point button and click Next; follow through the process to create a restore point.

Now, run the CCleaner program (above) and navigate to the Registry tab on the left hand pane.

Click the Scan for Issues button. A list of problematic registry entries will be generated. Once the scan is complete, click the Fix Selected Issues button. Click No when asked to create a backup of your registry, since you have already created a restore point and then click Fix All Selected Issues.

CCleaner will automatically fix all the problematic issues (usually by deleting them). Restart your computer once it is done. Should something go wrong and you wish to restore your registry, simply restore your computer to its original state using System Restore.

4. Remove viruses and spyware

Many old computers are stuck with expired versions of antivirus software. Download the latest AVG Free Internet Security Suite which incorporates an antivirus and antispyware scanner and remover.

Go to and download and install the program which will require you to reboot your system.

Run the program on startup and click the Computer scanner tab on the left hand pane, then click Scan Whole Computer. AVG will then weed out all viruses and spyware on the computer and you can choose to delete or quarantine them.

5. Uninstall unwanted programs

Bloatware are a burden on the system. You can remove them swiftly and completely with the free Revo Uninstaller program (right). The nifty software scans your system after you uninstall any program and removes any files that are left behind.

Go to, download and run the program. A list of all the programs will be displayed on the main window.

Click on a program you wish to remove from your computer, such as PC games which take up large amounts of space, and then click the Uninstall button on the taskbar. You will then be guided through the uninstallation process, followed by a scan of your computer and any files left behind will be removed.

This story was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life on 3 September 2008.

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