Cleaning Windows XP For Dummies Cheat Sheet
Cleaning Windows XP can rid your computer of pesky problems and unused files. Cleaning utilities that are part of Windows XP introduce you to the tools and terms you need to free up space on your hard drive and make your programs run faster.
How to Free Up Hard Drive Space when Cleaning Windows XP
Cleaning a computer running Windows XP is often a matter of getting rid of files you don’t access any more — heck, you may not even know they exist! To free up some space on your hard drive, use the tips in the following table:
|What to Do||How to Do It|
|Empty the Recycle bin||Right-click the Recycle bin and choose Empty Recycle Bin.|
|Empty your Deleted Items and Junk Email folders||In your e-mail client, choose the folder and choose
File→Empty Folder. In some clients you can right-click the
folder and choose Empty Folder.
|Clear the temporary Internet files cache||In Internet Explorer, choose Tools→Internet
Options→General tab→Delete Files.
|Delete files ending in the extension .tmp||Use the Windows Search function (Start→Search) to locate
and delete the files.
|Delete or archive files ending in the extension .bak or
|Use the Windows Search function (Start→Search) to locate
How to Make Windows XP Programs Run Faster
Cleaning up a PC that runs Windows XP can make all your programs run faster, jump higher, and throw farther (okay, maybe only run faster). If your machine is acting sluggish, try the tips in the following table to get it back up to speed:
|What to Do||Why Do It?|
|Increase your RAM||Windows works best when you have plenty of RAM.|
|Transfer your pagefile to a faster hard drive||The pagefile is used by Windows to store virtual memory when
you don’t have enough physical RAM. Moving it to a faster
drive means Windows can access the data within it faster.
|Don’t access data over a network||Grabbing data from a network is inherently slower than grabbing
it from your local hard drive. If possible, transfer the data to
your local hard drive and access it from there.
|Place frequently accessed data on a faster hard drive||If you have multiple hard drives on your local system, place
your data on the one that has the fastest rotational speed.
|Defragment your hard drive||Fragmentation slows down programs, data access, and Windows
Built-in Windows XP Cleaning Utilities
Bet you didn’t know that Windows XP can clean itself. Well, actually, you have to do the heavy lifting as in running the programs, but at least the cleaning programs are there for you to run. The following table lists the five most helpful cleaning utilities:
|Utility||What It Does||How to Use It|
|Disk Cleanup||Allows you to identify and remove the most common forms of
clutter on your hard drive.
|Choose Start→All Programs→Accessories→System
|Msconfig||Modifies how your system starts.||Choose Start→Run, type msconfig, and click OK.|
|Check Disk||Checks for hard-drive errors and corrects simple ones.||Display the My Computer window, right-click a drive, and choose
Properties; on the Tools tab, click Check Now.
|Defragmenter||Analyzes disk drives for fragmentation and removes it as much
|Display the My Computer window, right-click a drive, and choose
Properties; on the Tools tab, click Defragment Now.
|Registry Editor||Allows you to examine the contents of the Registry, back it up,
and make changes if necessary. Use with extreme
|Choose Start→Run, type regedit, and click OK.|
Terms to Know when Cleaning Windows XP
You clean Windows XP in an effort to rid it of things that shouldn’t be on your computer and things you don’t need on your computer. The following list explains some of the things a cleaning tries to sweep off your PC and some of the tools you can use to clean things up:
|adware||A program that delivers advertising directly to your computer,
typically in the form of pop-ups.
|program inventory||A list of what programs should be installed on your
|archive||A data file kept for historical reasons.||RAM||An acronym for random access memory. RAM is used as the working
area for both programs and data being processed by the
|cache||A storage area used as a repository of temporary files. Caches
are typically implemented by programs because reading information
from a cache is much quicker than retrieving it from the primary
source. All Web browsers implement some sort of cache to make
browsing the Web faster.
|Registry||The central repository of all configuration information in a
Windows XP system.
|cookie||A small data file, stored on your system, designed to save
information about you and your preferences. This information is
used by Web sites to customize the information presented to you in
|spam||Unsolicited e-mail received from people or companies that you
have no prior relationship with, or from people or companies that
you previously severed your relationship with.
|firewall||Software or hardware designed to prohibit unauthorized access
to your system across a network.
|spyware||A program that reports information about you or your actions to
someone else, all without your knowledge.
|flash drive||A storage device implemented through the use of static RAM. The
memory is viewed as a disk drive by Windows, even though the device
has no moving parts. Flash drives are relatively small in size
(64MB to 512MB) but are extremely fast.
|temporary files||Data files created by programs for temporary use. Sometimes
temporary files aren’t deleted properly, and they end up
cluttering a system with unnecessary data.
|orphan data||Data files left behind by a program long-since removed from a
|Trojan horse||Effectively the same as a virus, but delivered to your system
as part of an otherwise acceptable software program.
|pop-up||A form of advertisement that results in small browser windows
“popping up” on your screen. Pop-ups can be displayed by
visiting Web pages that include code that displays them, or by the
installation of adware on your system.
|virus||A program designed to interrupt or change your computing
efforts, or designed to corrupt or destroy data. A virus always
includes ways to propagate and spread itself to others.