The problem is, every time you download a free game or a trial program, you can also download unwanted applets and toolbars in the process.
Not only do these cyber-hitchhikers take up valuable space on your computer, they can also cause conflicts with other programs, slowing down or even crashing your system.
Below are some of the ways to both clean up and speed up your system:
The Brute Force Method
At least once every month or so, it is a good idea to take an inventory of the software on your system to decide how to lighten the load.
On Windows 7, this means either hitting the All Programs tab on the Start Menu or the Programs and Features option on Control Panel.
Start by scanning the listing of programs for unused or unwanted packages to uninstall. Don’t make the beginner’s mistake of merely erasing the icon from the desktop, as this will only delete the shortcut. When uninstalling, you may receive a warning stating that uninstalling the program may remove a file shared by another package. Always keep these files just to be on the safe side. They don’t take up much space anyway.
Another way to shore up some needed hard drive space is to click on My Computer and run down the list of programs, mousing over files to determine their size. If you are into video editing, these packages routinely create render files that can eat up large chunks of space. Once you are finished posting the videos, you should eliminate these files. Some video packages also create related media files when importing video that can gobble up enormous amounts of space. Locate and eliminate them.
The Techno-Landfill: Downloads and Temp Files
Another two items that eat up space are download and temp files. These are created whenever you install a program from the Internet or import an attachment.
By clicking on the Start Menu and the Documents Tab, you will find the Downloads folder. Click on this to see all the junk you have accumulated there. Once you have finished installing software, this is the place to remove the installer. If you have finished reading an attachment or have moved it to another folder, why keep the ghost of e-mails past locked away in the download folder? Give it the boot. You might be surprised at how much space this will free up.
The Temp Tab under My computer is another place to dig for buried treasure. You might be surprised at how many old video clips and long forgotten file folders are languishing in this techno-landfill. Time to take out the trash.
Don’t want to take the time and trouble to do all of the above yourself? No problem. By clicking on My Computer and right clicking on the C: drive, you can activate Disk Clean, which will automatically assess and purge unneeded files from your system. Don’t be surprised if the number of junk files it identifies is in the thousands.
There are also several free packages online that are designed to automate the cleanup process. One of them is Advance System Care, which is a package from IOBit that protects, repairs, cleans and optimizes your PC.
This free software not only frees up space and speeds up your system, but it also fixes your registry, scans and removes spyware, malware and adware. Best of all, you don’t need to be an IT professional to use it. Simply install and click on Scan Now and then Repair Now and ASC does the rest.
Since I started using it weekly, I have eliminated software conflicts and the appearance of the dreaded Blue Screen of Death.
Do Whatever It Takes
If you are tired of putting up with a computer that is slow or that crashes regularly, it’s time to identify and evict unwanted hitchhikers. Whether you purge your system manually or automate the process, it’s time to give freeloaders the boot.
Carl Weiss is president of Jacksonville-Video-Production.com and co-host of WorkingtheWebtoWin.com on Blog Talk Radio.