5 Steps to Spring Cleaning your Files

Last week I found a post on Crunch Gear, with a video guide on “Spring cleaning your PC“. He came to the realisation that his PC hadn’t been cleaned in a while, and sets about it with a can of compressed air for ten minutes.

Might have been useful taking this approach myself.

As good as it is to clean out all that collective dust (and I highly recommend that you do), that’s not what this article is for.

After the jump, I’ll show you how to clean up the files in your PC, using some very useful programs and tweaks to get rid of the junk that slows it down.

Step 1: Viruses

First off, you should run whatever anti-virus program you use to get rid of viruses, spyware and rootkits.

Most PCs sold nowadays are bundled with one you can use, so chances are you’ll have one of these at hand.

If you don’t have one, there are really good free alternatives available including AVG. FileHippo is great for finding free software like this.

For AVG:

  • Download, install and open
  • Go to “Computer scanner” tab
  • Click “Scan whole computer”

Step 2: Unused Files

Another great tool that I’ve used for years is CCleaner by Piriform.

There are a lot of files that can clog up your system pretty quickly like your Recycle Bin and pretty much everything that your web browsers use. CCleaner takes all of that and removes it.

I have everything ticked to be cleaned up apart from “Wipe Free Space”, which takes a while to run. Something you don’t need every time you use the program.

As for the rest, you should find out what they mean before you tick them to be deleted. The default settings should still free up loads of space if you’re unsure.

  • Download, install and open
  • Go to “Cleaner” tab
  • Tick every box apart from “Wipe Free Space”
  • (Optional) Click “Analyze” button to see how much space you’ll be freeing up
  • Click “Run Cleaner” button

Step 3: Cleaning the Registry

Programs (and Windows itself) aren’t too clever in cleaning up after themselves within the registry. It holds a lot of crap left behind from software uninstalls and file associations.

I’d go into how much I despise it but that’s for another day. For now we’ll just clean up the mess.

  • Open CCleaner (following on from last step)
  • Go to “Registry” tab
  • Click “Scan for Issues” button
  • Click “Fix Selected Issues…” button when it’s made up the list
  • Click “Fix All Selected Issues” button

Any dialogue boxes that come up will just be checking that you know what you’re doing. Of course you do, you’re the soldier with UAC switched off!

Step 4: Checking for Large Files

Another application I like to use for this sort of thing is SequoiaView. The site isn’t too friendly but you’re looking to download “SequoiaView version 1.3 XP” (works on Windows 7 and Vista).

Basically, this collects file size information from all of the files in your hard drive and displays them as squares inside the window – so I would give it a minute to load.

It groups them into folders and sets different colours for types, making it easier to visualise your file system on-screen.

  • Download, install and open
  • Select “C:\” from drop down menu
  • Click “Colorscheme on/off” button
  • Go to “View” > “Options…” > “Selection” and select “File and entire path”
  • Click “OK”

Step 5: Defrag

Something you’ll want to do every once in a while is a disk defragmentation (not as much as the rest of the list, it takes forever).

Windows has a built in program for this, but if you want a nice interface (or an interface at all) and a folder-specific option, Defraggler is the way to go. It’s another Piriform product.

I’ve heard there aren’t much speed differences if you’re defragmenting a full drive, and if this one isn’t going to be used as often then you might as well just use the default Windows application.

Windows Defrag:

  • Go to “Start” > “All Programs” > “Accessories” > “System Tools” > “Disk Defragmenter”
  • Select drive “C:\” and click “Defragment disk”

Defraggler:

  • Download, install and open
  • Go to “Defrag” > “Defrag” from button at bottom of window
  • If asked to empty Recycle Bin before you start, click “OK”

And there you have it, five simple steps to prepare your PC for another year of hard torture.

Enjoy your nice, clean, faster computer! :)


2 thoughts on “5 Steps to Spring Cleaning your Files

  1. Glad to see you recommending all the applications I currently use ;)

    But seriously good job, I was concidering writing something like this my self. I think you have done a better job than I would have done though.

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