Maintenance You’ll Want to Do
Update Windows: Don’t neglect Windows Update. Install updates when it gets them, and restart your computer if necessary. This will keep your computer safe and stable, and really takes no effort on your part.
Run Antivirus Software: In the current climate you’ll probably want some form of antivirus software running in the background. There’s no need to pay for antivirus, though—Microsoft Security Essentials is pretty good on its own or using Avast also has merits. Of course, the best defense against malware is safe browsing, so the more responsible you are, the better off your computer will be—antivirus or no antivirus.
Clean Temporary Files with CCleaner: Windows can leave a lot of clutter and temporary files lying around your hard drive, and it’s a good idea to clean these up once in awhile. CCleaner has been proven to be one of the best tools to use for this function. Just set it up to run automatically on a schedule, and you’ll keep your computer free of all the temporary clutter.
Uninstall Programs with Revo Uninstaller: Windows’ Add/Remove Programs dialog is okay, but Revo Uninstaller is even better. Not only does it remove every trace of an application from your computer, but it also helps you uninstall apps you can’t find, as well as manage your startup processes which will help you boot up faster and run smoother once you do.
Maintenance You Don’t Need to Do
Defragment Your Drive: One of the maintenance operations people always talk about is defragmenting your hard drive. Times have changed, however, and this isn’t actually necessary. Windows Vista and 7 automatically defragment your drive, so there’s no need to do it yourself. If you’re on XP, however, you’ll still want to defragment, and you can just set Disk Defragmenter to run on a schedule.
Clean Your Registry: The fact of the matter is that this probably won’t do much to help your computer. It won’t cause harm to your computer, but you’re very unlikely to get any kind of results.
Mess with Windows Prefetching: You may have seen a few articles on cleaning out Windows’ prefetching to speed up your computer, but it’s pretty much a myth. Not only will you not see any performance gains, but you could actually cause more problems instead of solving them. Just leave prefetching alone; Windows has it there for a reason.
Regularly Reinstall Windows: Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but as long as you’re responsible about what you install, there’s no reason you need to reinstall Windows every six months. Be careful about what you download, test new programs in a virtual machine, and run the maintenance tools we mentioned in section one, and you should be able to save yourself a few hours every month.
Also a mouse pad is not a coaster!