Spring Cleaning for Computers (CAD Manager's Toolbox)

7 Apr, 2009 By: Robert Green

Speed up your workflow by clearing out the clutter and getting those machines operating at peak performance.

It happens gradually over the period of a year or more, until one day you realize your computer is booting very slowly and its performance is sluggish. You then think to yourself, "Is there a way I can clean up this machine and restore its youthful vigor without reinstalling the operating system or spending a fortune?"

I recently went through this spring cleaning routine with my 32-bit XP and Vista machines, and would like to share my process with you in hopes that you'll experience the same good results I did. Just follow the simple steps below.

Step 1: Delete the garbage like BAK files, stuff you'll never ever need, etc.

Step 2: Backup files that you might need to DVDs or a portable backup drive to clear away disk space.

Step 3: If you store Outlook data files on your machine (as I do on my laptop), run a compact as shown below. To access the Compact command, right-click on Personal Folders in your Mail Folders list, select the Advanced button from the Outlook Today menu, and then select Compact at the bottom of the Personal Folders dialog. You might be amazed that you can sometimes regain hundreds of megabytes of space while defragmenting your data file and speeding up Outlook in the process.

Step 4: Uninstall any old programs (especially all those trial-version programs you've abandoned over the years) with extreme prejudice. You may need to reboot a few times, but this step sets the stage for what's next.

Step 5: Spend $29.95 and get a copy of RegistryBooster from UniBlue Systems and be prepared to run several rounds of cleaning operations followed by reboots to clear out all the application clutter. I've used this utility for three years without a single registry-related error on any of my machines (RegistryBooster does backup the registry, though, so it can be recovered easily should you experience anything weird).

Step 6: Enjoy the restored speed of your machines!

I performed my maintenance operations during lunch breaks and over evening hours to minimize the effect of reboots. All in all, much easier than reinstalling the operating system!