In last week’s spring-cleaning experiment, we cleared out more than 125 GBs of data junk on just a handful of PCs. Now, we’re taking our spring cleaning to the next level to show you just how we cleaned them – and the steps you can take to have that “just like new” feel in your computer.
In this post, we’ll show you how to tackle problems like:
• Long forgotten applications: Remember those old trial-versions, crapware, game demos and software that hasn’t been used in ages? They’re not just wasting space, they’re clogging up your PC.
• Data crud: Gigabytes of unused data junk, such as temporary files.
• Massive data files: Huge files hidden deep inside your PC that you either never knew were there or forgot a long time ago.
• Privacy-related data: Personal information buried within error reports or other temporary files.
• Unused Windows features: Windows Vista, 7 and 8 come with heaps of features that you may never need.
#1 – Clean Up Gigabytes of Data Junk – In Seconds!
The most critical step to cleaning out your PC is simply running TuneUp Utilities 2012′s extensive and thorough cleaning feature. In part one of this series, TuneUp Utilities detected and cleaned up 125 GBs of data as part of our experiment. The software can delete many log files, error reports, Windows Update backups, browser caches and much more. Here’s how:
Simply install TuneUp Utilities (click here for a 15-day trial) and go to “Gain disk space”. Click on “Delete unnecessary files” and clean up the files you don’t need anymore. After doing this on test bed with a brand new install of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, I still cleared out almost three GBs of junk. Unbelievable.
And here’s a special teaser for you: In the upcoming release of TuneUp Utilities (version 2013), we’ll expand noticeably on the cleaning feature. Both for Windows and for 3rd parties. Expect to find and eliminate even more data junk in the future…
#2 – Find Long-Forgotten Applications
I have to admit, every now and then I find programs on my PC that were used for a one-time only purpose, which I bet you have too. Instead of having these waste space, clear them out during your spring cleaning and decrease clutter. Unfortunately, Windows’ built-in installer is not especially effective at identifying which files are space-wasters. However, we’ve got something better:
1. Launch TuneUp Utilities 2012 and go to the “Optimize system” category.
2. This will display a list of all the programs on your PC. But Windows Control Panel can do that too, right? Well, here’s the big difference – this view is actually useful in evaluating unnecessary data hogs! Let’s start by filtering out programs that haven’t been used by taking a look at the “Last used” column:
Are there programs that haven’t been touched since 2010, 2009 or beyond? Wipe them! Next, hit the “Size” column to figure out which programs are taking up the most disk space. You’ll be surprised to see what’s there.
Are those big programs actually necessary? In many cases, such as Office 2010, the answer is probably yes, but you’ll also find unnecessary ones, like massive games that haven’t been played in a long time.
3. Last on our list are the applications with the most performance impact. For those, hit “Load” and see how much performance these programs eat away.
4. Alternatively, you can use the “Filter list” feature to sift through individual lists of large, recently installed or rarely used programs.
Most likely, this step alone will save you quite a bit of performance. A little hint here – if there’s a program with a huge performance impact that you absolutely need, why not use TuneUp Program Deactivator to turn off its load without impacting your workflow?
#3 – Clean Up Dead Shortcuts and Invalid History Entries
Media Player, Office, Nero, Windows….they all have their own list of “Recently used” files that may contain dead links, but trying to access these will result only in an error messages. The same applies for dead start menu and desktop shortcuts: if the application or file can’t be found, you’ll immediately face an error message.
Thankfully, TuneUp Shortcut Cleaner takes care of all invalid shortcuts and entries in the most popular programs such as Windows, Nero, Office, OpenOffice and more. Just scroll over to the “Optimize system” category and go to “Remove broken shortcuts”. Then, let TuneUp scan your PC and get rid of all invalid entries.
Of note, Automatic Maintenance (which runs automatically in the background) and TuneUp’s 1-Click-Maintenance feature both get rid of such shortcuts on a regular basis.
TuneUp Shortcut Cleaner removes all invalid entries safe and secure: where other cleaners delete the actual files or registry folders where these shortcuts are included (which leads to some lists not even working anymore), Shortcut Cleaner only deletes the entries and thus causes no problems whatsoever.
#4 – Let Your Browser Breathe Again: Get Rid of Unwanted Toolbars
A lot of toolbars are actually very useful, but some can annoyingly clutter the top section of a browser, cause crashes and generally slow things down.
To get rid of these toolbars, open the “Add-on” management tool of your browser. In Internet Explorer 9, for example, there’s a small tool icon in the upper right-hand corner. Go to “Manage add-ons” and the next window should show a handful of unnecessary add-ons. Turn these off immediately.
Confirm with “Disable”, and repeat this step for all the unnecessary tool bars. If you’re using Internet Explorer 8 or an earlier version, we recommend upgrading to Internet Explorer 9. Microsoft’s new browser handles add-ons much better and doesn’t activate each one by default. However, if you’re still plagued by annoying add-ons, try this Microsoft solution: “Fix Internet Explorer add-on problems when Internet Explorer hangs or freezes”. This is Microsoft’s round-about way of saying that it’s getting rid of the clutter, but doesn’t want to name any names.
#5 – Get Rid of Windows Features You’ll Never Use Anyway
Remember when Windows 95 or 98 let you choose which Windows Features to install or not? This choice is finally back in Windows Vista and Windows 7, however, it’s hidden deep within the Windows control panel. Here’s how to dig it up:
1. Click on the Start button, and go to “Control Panel”. Open up “Programs” and click on “Programs and features”. On the left hand side of the window click “Turn Windows features on or off”.
2. In the next window, you will have the ability to uninstall the following built-in programs, features and technology frameworks.
3. After you make your selections, hit “OK” and wait until Windows is done with the removal to restart your machine.
If you need any of the features you just uninstalled, you can re-install them by doing the same steps. All of the source files are inside the Windows folder. This means that there is no need to insert the Windows DVD.
If you want to spring-clean Windows Vista or 7, this is a nice step, as uninstalling features will result in less services being started, which in turn means a bit more performance. To be fair, it is not hugely substantial, but it will help overall. Stay tuned for next week’s post, in which we’ll give you five more easy steps for a successful spring cleaning!
8 Responses to “The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Guide 2012, Part Two: Five Easy Steps to a Faster PC”
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