Network Productivity Group

... a computer consultancy



Technical tip #59, April 23, 2004: A PC "tune up"

We received a call from  a client the other day who asked us to come over and "tune up" his PC.

We had to think for a few moments to decide what a PC tune up might be but this is what we recommended (note: all these are for Windows 98.  They can all be done on 2000 and XP but the paths might be a bit different):

1.  Check your computer's "Performance" tab.  To do this right click "My Computer" - this guy:

And you will get this one:

Now left click "Properties" and you will get this dialogue box:

Now left click the "Performance" tab and you get:

"System Resources" should be at least 65% and more is better.  There are two approaches to getting to 65%: start up fewer things and adding memory.  While you are probably running lots of thing you don't even know about (Realplayer is a classic example), it is usually easier and not too expensive to add memory.

2. Run "Clean Up".  To do this double left click My Computer and you will see something like this:

Now right click your main drive (usually "C") and from the pop up menu, select "Properties" and you will see this:

Now left click "Disk Cleanup" and you will see this:

We usually deselect the "Recycle Bin" - we like to look in it first.  The others are okay.  Just click "OK".  You will then be asked if you really want to delete these files and the answer is yes.  All that junk goes away.  You should do this once a week or so.

3. "Defrag".  Unfortunately, with Windows 98, you will have to go to "Safe Mode" to run defrag successfully.  To do this "diddle" (press and release, press and release, etc., etc.) the F8 key while rebooting the machine.  If this does not work for you (see tech tip #50, "The USB gotcha") you can run "MSCONFIG" to set on the Startup Menu.  To do this go to START>>RUN:

And then type in "msconfig" in the Run box:

You will then get this:

Now select "Advanced" and you get:

Select "Enable Startup Menu", OK, Apply, OK and reboot and that will force on the menu that allows you to go to Safe Mode on booting.  To turn it off, just run msconfig again.

Now, to actually run defrag, there are several paths but the easiest is to double left click My Computer, right click the C drive icon, select "Properties" from the pop up menu and you get this:

Select the "Tools" tab and you get:

From here select "Defragment Now" and follow the instructions.  Note: you can stop and exit from defrag any time you want.  You should run it once a month or so.  Also note that with Windows XP not only don't you have to go to Safe Mode to run defrag but you can actually run it while using the machine!

4.  Run Windows Update.  This should appear somewhere
 on your list of programs that show on the START button as here:

You can set Update to automatically notify you of critical updates and then you need to run it only occasionally.  If you don't go for automatic notification you should run this twice a week a more.

5.  Check that your virus definitions are up to date.  If you have an automatic system you probably only need do this once a week or so to ensure it is working.  Also note that, with Norton, automatic Live Update only works for virus definitions.  You will only get software updates if you manually run Live Update.  We do this once a week or so.

6.  Run an on-line scan with a product different than the one you use.  If you use Norton, run a Trend Micro (PC-cillin) scan.  Go to and select the "Personal" tab, then "HouseCall" as in:

And follow the directions.

6.  Download and run "Spybot".  Go to and you will see this screen:

Click the "Looking for Spybot..." button.  The Spybot guy asks for a donation and I give him $10 every time I use it on a  different machine or client.  Don't be shocked if the first time you run it it finds thousands of suspect files.  We  recommend doing this once or month or so or if your machine slows suddenly, starts getting many pop ups or just generally gets weird.

That's it!  Not too bad, huh?


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