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This is a great step-by-step guide to not only "cleaning up" your Windows programs, data, and more, but more importantly keeping your system clean.

Cleaning Windows XP for Dummies
Cleaning Windows XP for Dummies
by Allen Wyatt

This is a book I'd wish I'd written. Since Allen got to it first, I expect I'll be pointing people to it frequently.

One of the major reasons Windows becomes unstable over time is something I've heard referred to as "software rot". Do nothing but use your computer in normal ways, and over time, it will slow down, and possibly even become unstable. The system will "rot" out from underneath you.

Cleaning Windows XP for Dummies is a great step-by-step guide to not only "cleaning up" your Windows programs, data, processes, disks and more, but more importantly, keeping your system clean and preventing that rot from happening. It's as much about slightly altering how you use your computer to keep it clean, as much as it is about that initial remedial clean-up.

What do we mean by clean? The various topics in the book illustrate:

  • Examining what programs are installed on your machine, which you'll want to keep, and how to go about getting rid of the rest.
  • Choosing which features to enable or disable in the programs you do keep to maximize performance.
  • Finding files and data on your hard disk that can be deleted to recover free space, and doing so.
  • Managing email clutter, including SPAM.
  • Preventing viruses, spyware, pop-ups and understanding cookies.
  • Cleaning up your Windows desktop, start menu and more.
  • Determining what parts of Windows you need, and removing or disabling what you don't.
  • Keeping your system up to date.
  • Keeping your hardware in top form, and when it might be time to repair, reinstall, reformat or just dump it all and get a new machine.

Advanced topics include how Windows uses memory, getting a handle on Security, Windows Networking, the Windows Registry and more. The book closes with 4 "Top Ten" lists ranging from troubleshooting ideas to online resources.

The book is an easy read, and targeted at the novice or less experienced user. There are plenty of examples, as well as warnings along the way when you might venture into areas that require caution.

I've always been a little leery of the "for dummies" types of books. I've been concerned that they would take too simplistic an approach for the material to actually be useful in the long run. I'm happy to say that Cleaning Windows XP for Dummies is not only a useful how-to book for the average user interested in getting the most out of Windows XP, but will also serve as a handy reference for the life of your Windows XP installation.

Article C2417 - September 4, 2005 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

March 4, 2006 2:01 AM

Hi, I have a P4 with 2.8 Ghz processor, 512mb ram, 60 gig hard drive and a 128 nVidia 5200 graphics card. In some games i have to tune down the graphics so much because the game is jumpy. What can i do to prevent this/or to improve it? Thanks

April 2, 2007 3:32 AM

i was wondering why everytime in the morning or so i turn on the internet it is fast but during the afternoon it starts to slow down.

Is it my system or my broadband?

i have Pentium D 5.6Ghz 1G RAM Windows Media Center and i am with optus.

April 11, 2007 5:39 PM

first of all a 5200 gfx card sucks. if u want to not be jump i would reccomend u to have a 8800 gfx card and buy some ram.

July 2, 2007 7:50 PM

my computer go slow like i scan it all the time and it say i have no virus but its still slow

August 1, 2007 6:16 AM

because in morning only few people is using the internet thats why its so fast in the morning while in the afternoon its like a rush many people is using the internet like in the offices, shops and at home.

January 31, 2008 6:21 PM

My computer was all screwed up and no internet connection. Think it was virus, had corrupted files. After getting very frustrated, I believe I deleted the wrong files. Now tried to boot with windows disc and w/o and getting a no disc/system error message. How can I reinstall windows? Don't care if I lost all data.

wondering guy
March 7, 2008 8:44 AM

i have a p4 running at 2.4Ghz
and 1.256G of RAM and i have a 7600GS 256MB Graphics card.
i was wondering how could make my computer run faster. Also, i was wondering how i could Overclock my CPU to run at 3.0Ghz

May 11, 2008 2:04 PM

Do not over clock your CPU, you might as well melt it! to make any pc run even that little more faster, try making sure all software installed is up to date, eg. windows updates is ideal of your machine is running XP SP1 or SP2. remove pointless software which is never used eg. free games etc. this sounds like such a little job but can speed your computer up considerably.

Erick O
October 28, 2008 7:30 PM

Hi i was wondering ive 3 gb ram 2.5ghz my pc used to be fast but now it is so slow no viruses plz help!

June 2, 2010 11:35 AM

Phew I thought I would never find something that I could actually comprehend, your a life saver dummy is for sure!
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