By H. D. Knoble
In addition to backing up your personal files, you might consider the following ordered Windows XP Maintenance steps. This article assumes that the reader has experience using Windows XP. The procedures outlined here help maintain good Windows XP performance as well as help keep your system virus and spyware free. These procedures are for Windows XP only and none of them are known to cause problems if run in the order shown below.
1) Update your virus definition files and then use your Antivirus program to do a complete scan of the fixed disk(s).
2) Backup the Registry. Consider the free utility: http://home.t-online.de/home/lars.hederer/erunt ; or the commercial utility at: http://www.zoneutils.com/regheal/help/restoreafullregistrybackupinxp.htm . Also note that the Windows XP System Restore utility, if activated properly, will restore various Registry files.
3) Install, run and keep up-to-date an Anti-Spy Anti-Adware utility which prevents CPU and Internet cycle stealing and spying. A free program, Ad-aware, is available from: http://www.lavasoft.de/software/adaware/. After downloading and installing Ad-aware:
a) On the upper right hand part of the screen click the "Open Web Update" icon and do the Ad-Aware Signature File update. Do this periodically.
b) Click the "Scan Now" button and then click the bullet "Use Default Scanning Options". Then click Next-> to start a complete scan. This may take several minutes to scan your whole system.
c) When Ad-aware is done scanning click Next, making sure all adware entries are checked and then click Delete.
d) The most recent deleted items will still be put in a restorable quarantine; you can delete this quarantine after the next shutdown/restart.
4) Clean obsolete and invalid items from the
Registry. There are several commercial registry cleaners;
http://www.zoneutils.com/regheal/index.htm. A free Registry
cleaner may be downloaded at: EasyCleaner: http://www.toniarts.com/ecleane.htm;
read the companion FAQ at:
http://www.toniarts.com/faq.htm. We recommend the commercial
registry cleaner; if you use the free cleaner, be sure to make the "Skip List" be
the following string:
norton,help,control,_restore,ValDID, msmsgs. We recommend a
reboot (Shutdown/Restart) after cleaning the registry.
5) Compress the Registry and Page and Log Files. See the free utility: http://www.sysinternals.com/ntw2k/freeware/pagedefrag.shtml. The functions of this utility will happen on a subsequent reboot (Shutdown/Restart).
6) Clean up unneeded files. This may be done via the Windows
XP Fixed Disk Cleanup utility; click Start/All
Programs/Accessories/System Tools and choose
Disk Cleanup. Places to save the most space include Temporary Internet
files and temporary general files, and emptying the Recycle Bin. It is
not necessary to use other Disk Cleanup options like compressing unused files.
7) Defragment your Fixed Disks. Since this is typically not a
fast process, you may wish to temporarily disable your screen saver. To run
Disk Defragmenter Click Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools
and choose Disk Defragmenter. Then click the Defragment button.
A faster more thorough defragmenter, which unlike the built-in Disk Defragmenter, defrags critical system files, is "Diskeeper": http://www.execsoft.com/diskeeper/diskeeper.asp.
Also if Disk Defragmenter either does not respond or refuses to run, then run CHKDSK (Start/My Computer; right-click the fixed disk in question, choose Properties, and then click the Tools tab and finally the Check Now button; you will need to Shutdown/Restart; the CHKDSK will then be run during next Restart.)
The above steps, except CHKDSK, may be applied to Windows Me.
The steps: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7 can be applied to Windows 9x/NT/2000.
Step 2 is done by Windows 98 by default; to recover Windows 98 registry files, boot to MS-DOS prompt and issue the command: scanreg /restore to restore a previous copy of the registry.
We recommend the above maintenance be done at least monthly. We recommend that virus definition files be updated (for Symantec Antivirus this is "Live Update") at least weekly.