Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WinXP - Operator System Maintenance Routine

You should be doing the following manually, on a regular bases, as a OS Maintenance Plan:
  • From the Command Prompt, run CHKDSK C: /F (will require reboot)

  • Defrag/Optimize your hard drives (suggest a better utility than Win Defrag in System Tools, see below)

  • Run Disk Cleanup in System Tools (do not select compressed files), or the better, run CCleaner (see below)

  • Use [Delete files] in Internet Options between runs of Disk Cleanup

  • Remove unnecessary backup files (see below, JAVA & Win Updates)

  • Run a good, safe, Registry Cleanup tool (see below)

JAVA: If you are using Sun's JAVA (and you should), when they install updates, they ADD them. They do not replace older versions of JAVA. These can take up much hard drive space.

You should only keep the latest version and use Add/Remove Programs to uninstall all older versions. Example, have JAVA 6 installed, remove JAVA 5.

Win Updates: When Windows installs updates, it makes backups of the changed files so you can uninstall them via Add/Remove Programs. These backup files also take up much hard drive space.

If an Update has been installed AND working without a problem, you will unlikely uninstall it. So the backup file is no longer needed. You need to remove the backup file, AND the entry in Add/Remove Programs, but leave the Update Logs so Win Updates always sees them as installed.

One safe way I recommend is using the Update Cleanup (shareware). See the screen shot on their page. Very easy and safe to use. Worth the cost. I use it at home and work. I just keep 6mths of updates.

Registry Cleanup:

USAGE: All Registry Cleaners are NOT meant to be used as a fix tool. They should NOT be used to fix an on-going problem. Registry Cleaners are preventative Registry cleanup tools. DO NOT RUN REGISTRY CLEANERS IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM THAT HAS NOT BEEN FIXED ALREADY.

If your Registry has errors in it, this can cause problems. There are tools/utilities that will scan your Registry and report errors, and remove them.

CAUTION - Some Microsoft MVPs do not like Registry Cleaners, but I've never had problems with the ones listed here.

One utility I have used is TweakNow RegCleaner. RegCleaner is free, and backs up changes. Highly suggest using the Registry Cleaner (NOT Quick) on sidebar.

Another is RegCure Pro, subscription (which I use at home). Do not use the download versions from other WEB sites because they are promoting RegCure as a fix tool.

TweakNow is very easy to use and clearly indicates Safe to delete, Unknown (use Deep Scan to resolve), and Unsafe to delete. Do not use ignore list in latest version.

Hard Drive Defrag/Optimizers: There are 2 good utilities I've used.

One advantage of Perfect Disk is that, with Smart Placement enabled, it uses the WinXP LAYOUT.INI (Prefetch file that lists all the software loaded during bootup) to move all those files to the head of your drive, in order. This results in slightly faster and smoother bootup.

CCleaner (freeware), excellent (and faster than Disk Cleanup) but do be careful what you delete especially in the Applications tab. Includes ability to manage startup items via Tools in sidebar. Works with XP, Vista, Win7, Win2003 Server.

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