Clean up before yourself

One of the most disliked tasks a P.C. support person is asked to undertake is to “clean up” a system, which equates to cleaning up someone else’s mess or treasure.

From time to time this consultant is requested to clean up a computer. More often than not there is nothing wrong with the computer. The owner of the computer just wants things back the way they were before. Maybe they are after that new computer feeling. The “out of box experience”. That first few weeks when the computer loaded the word processor in a blink of the eye, when the hard disk didn’t whirl for 5 minutes before loading even the smallest of documents.

The problem with starting from a clean slate is that the user will have saved many files on the computer and will have loaded a fair deal of ad hoc software. More likely than not the files will be stored all over the hard disk rather than in an organised directory structure. The computer will have been customised to the way the user  likes it. A stranger to the system cannot come in and put things back where they should go. A stranger cannot tell trash from treasure.

If the computer were to be thoroughly cleaned, it would need to be fully backed up, then windows could be reinstalled along with the required software, followed by restoring of the data files. Done rigorously this task can take hours which can make it an expensive job for a consultant to undertake. It can also be next to impossible to get the same settings which the user had before the clean up. Then of course there is always the risk of the original software disks being missing or corrupt.

There are tasks that the user can perform themselves, which will keep the computer running smoothly. Tasks such as defrag, scandisk and of course backup. These small house keeping chores will keep a computer running smoothly.

It is possible for windows to get clogged up. Every piece of software which is loaded into the computer puts little pieces all over the hard disk as well as in the Windows system registry. The uninstall programs for this software don’t always remove every last bit from Windows. After loading and removing heaps of programs, Windows can become littered with lots of little bits of programs. There is a class of software available called “uninstallers” which attempt to remove unused pieces from Windows and from the hard disk though I cannot comment as to the competency of these uninstallers.

The safest trick is to take care what is installed on your computer. Don’t install every demo which comes on cover cds. Be very careful with shareware. Learn how to remove it once the software is no longer required. Learn about folders and sub folders. Store all of your documents under the one folder.

Never save any file into the Windows directory.