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Help me keep my Windows 7 machine running lean, clean, and mean

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 19, 2010 1:27 AM PST

Help me keep my Windows 7 machine running lean, clean, and mean

A few years back, you published a terrific piece of
information on how to keep your Windows XP running lean,
clean, and mean. That discussion proved to be incredibly
helpful in keeping my computer in a healthy state all these
years and I'm grateful for all the advice from your members.

Well, today I have moved on to a new computer with Windows 7
and I would like revisit those good housekeeping practices.
If you can please provide me with a checklist with details of
the things necessary of keeping this new machine running
smoothly, I would really appreciate it. Thank you in advance!

--Submitted by Luis O. of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Here are some featured member answers to get you started, but please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question. And if you have any additional advice or personal experience to share, please feel free to join in and post them here.

Windows 7 - Error Free??? --Submitted by charleswsheets

Keeping your new Windows 7 PC running lean, clean and mean --Submitted by mddy

I have always found this site useful --Submitted by WintermuteX

Here are some tips from forum moderator John Wilkinson --Submitted by Lee

Link only, Optimize Windows 7 for better performance --Submitted by Lee

Thank you to all who contributed!

If you have any additional recommedations or tips for Luis, click on the reply link and submit it. Please be as detailed as possible in your answer. Thanks!
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I think this was the original article (link below)
by WintermuteX / February 19, 2010 9:37 AM PST
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Norton's Utilities
by mthtop1 / February 26, 2010 10:57 AM PST

Just use Norton's Utilities 2010.I have been using it since the DOS years and haven't stopped yet.I find that Norton's 2010 to be their best yet.It will clean your registry,defrag,disk clean and more.You won't be disappointed.I run the program once a week and my computer is as fast as the day I built it.

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by puma / February 26, 2010 11:13 AM PST
In reply to: Norton's Utilities

why are there so many forums on how to make windows perform better? why is windows so high maintenance? i'll stick with unix until windows becomes an industrial strength OS, but i won't wait for decades...

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Why waste my time with this irrelevant response?
by extricater / March 3, 2010 8:22 PM PST
In reply to: expensive(2)

I mean really dude. Why? What is the purpose? You are better? Stronger? Smarter?

People often use Windows because their workplace uses it, and UNIX is not used in very many office environments for word processing, contact management, or Facebooking. Due to this, many people have problems because windows supports a multitude of devices and performs a lot of GUI functions for the office dweeb, UNIX not so much. And these people are often focused on business, not computers. So their job is to facilitate selling, purchasing, product movement, etc. Not screwing around with command line functions.

In short, don't mess up a post with your lame *** observations. If you don't care, don't post.

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Upgrade Win7
by stangram / April 16, 2010 4:36 PM PDT
In reply to: expensive(2)

There is no problem upgrading to Windows 7....after much research and talking to a U.S. Tech for HP finally....they are very frustrated regarding DRIVER updates to hardware/software....they are lagging way behind....My HP desktop went perfectly, as well as my Mini-Netbook. The only problem I had was that my built-in Web Cam no longer works, and until the proper updated drivers come along, just have to wait. Run Windown Update every day, there are updates almost daily for Win 7.

S.Coppel - Sonora CA

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WIN 7 back to XP
by stangram / May 17, 2010 12:26 AM PDT
In reply to: Upgrade Win7

re my last post...keeping Win7 on my desktop, but decided to go backwards from Win7 to XP...that transition was easy...XP CD put everything back the way it was 'including' the built in WebCam, that wouldn't work after installed Win7....Good to have 'Outlook Express' back also, that Windows Live Mail is the pits to work with...Just have to remember to install VLC Media Player (Google it) in order for the exterior DVD/CD Rom to function...Special HP Tech advised me that software and driver updates for WIN7 from OEM's is going extremely


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Helping to keep a Windows 7 machine running clean....
by asciibinary / April 30, 2010 6:23 AM PDT
In reply to: Norton's Utilities

Besides Norton, there are other utilities like the TuneUp Utilities, System Mechanic, etc. They all have trials. So, in theory it would be possible to move between them - for months and maybe longer - and actually benefit from these great softwares (kind of) - for free. Until they ALL run out. But, by that time your Windblow$ will probably be far, far gone and ready for a fresh user profile; or even for a re-install..;) Happy

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Setting up for the long run
by purdy6240 / February 27, 2010 7:00 AM PST

Like the other Windows titles, Microsoft has designed the OS to slow with time. Here are some of my optimizations
I use a SSD primary, leaving a small secondary partition on the SSD. Presently it is a 9 gig partition about 75 percent used.
The first thing I do is make a copy of the cmd.exe from the Windows/system32 directory to the empty partition then edit the environmental variable for comspec to point to the copy. Every window requires its own copy of the cmd.exe to run, meaning it is the first thing loaded when you open a new window. But Microsoft places the cmd.exe in one of the largest 3rd level directories in the largest second level directory making finding it a relatively lengthy task when the computer is new, and a horribly long task after you have grown those two directories by installing more software.
Second thing I do is turn off the automatic control of virtual memory in a advanced performance options and then take all the virtual memory and put it on the SSD setting it as managed by windows. This keeps the Virtual memory from getting fragmented all over the c: drive which it would. And defragmenting never defragments the virtual memory. The virtual memory will also work faster if all located on the SSD.
You can reduce the size of the SSD necessary if you add a fast SATA drive and install programs that you use only occasionally there, rather than on the SSD. I do however keep antivirus and browser software if nothing else installed on the ssd.

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I am not sure . . .
by WintermuteX / February 19, 2010 9:46 AM PST

if posting a web site is allowed but I have always found

to be a very useful site - hope that helps

Plus you can still run command line functions.



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You know WHO DAT!
by berkfan / February 27, 2010 7:27 AM PST
In reply to: I am not sure . . .

Thanks for the website. GEAUX, SAINTS! SUPERBOWL CHAMPS!

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Keeping Windows 7 Clean
by Silvertop / February 19, 2010 10:34 AM PST

Microsoft has improved on cleaning up junk while running their operating system. I also use third part software to ensure that win 7 is as clean as I can get it. Win Utilities,( is nice. It sweeps up after you, deleting junk files, dead shortcuts, and does a good job of cleaning the registry of bad entries. Wise Registry cleaner 4 does the rest of the clean up for me. If you defragment the hard drive once a week, run third party apps like I do, you will be good to go. The defragger that comes with windows does a good job and can be scheduled. Also don't forget to enable deletion of your history&cookies in your browser, that can add a lot of useless junk. All in all I would like to put in a plug for Windows 7 and state that it is the best operating system I have ever used over the past 20 years. I even took a chance and got the 64 bit version. No looking back. Windows 7 rocks.

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Windows 7 - Error Free???
by charleswsheets / February 19, 2010 11:22 AM PST

Hi Luis,

I've been in this game for nearly 29 years now, and I must say that this time I think Microsoft actually GOT IT RIGHT!!! Since the release for Windows 7 in October our computer shop hasn't had one single issue with a Windows 7 computer that was related to the operating system. That's good news.

To answer your question about how to keep your system running lean, clean, and mean is essentially going to be similar to Windows XP, with some exceptions.

With only 4 months out of the gate, there's very little track record to draw from regarding Windows 7 errors and what may cause them. But of course the things that applied with XP mostly hold true. Here are a few guidelines to follow:

1. You should always keep a back-up of your important information. See last week's article about this issue for some important points regarding this issue.

2. In today's computing environment it's a must to have a reliable anti-virus and anti-malware program in play at all times. These programs should update daily, and automatically.

3. When you install new programs, make certain that they're not installed to run every time your start your computer. If they do, you can still use MSCONFIG to turn them off. Of course, you still want your anti-virus and spyware/malware programs to start up and stay up.

3. I always recommend that users upgrade their RAM to as much as the System will recognize. This will maximize the computer's performance and speed.

4. Initially in Vista, and now in a much more efficient manner in Windows 7, the need for manual hard disk defragmentation has been eliminated. You can still schedule how often Windows 7 will perform this operation, but because of significant differences in the manner that Windows 7 uses between and during auto-defrag, the need for frequent defragmentation has been minimized. And with Solid State Drives, Windows 7 automatically detects them and does no defrag at all as this is harmful to and reduces the life of a SSD.

5. To the extent possible, minimize the number of utilities used for "Registry Clean-Up", "Disk Clean-Up", Turbo Optimization and other programs of this type. If you are experiencing a problem, that is the time to address which utility to use. There are a number of software vendors out there who take an "All in One" approach to maintaining your computer health and efficiency. If you feel like you need one, I personally like System Mechanic. It provides a complete check-up for your system and allows you to decide which ones you want to perform.

I hope you'll come back in a few months so we can address this question again after we've had some time to further run Windows 7 through the paces. No system is perfect, but I believe that this is the best system Microsoft has released since Windows 95.

Best of Luck

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Not So Right
by starman1695 / February 26, 2010 10:56 AM PST

If Microsoft got it right this time, why does my PC hiccup every few minutes? Admittedly, it's not as bad as it was when I first installed W7, but, since it NEVER was a problem before, it's quite annoying now.

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The hiccup.
by purdy6240 / February 27, 2010 6:36 AM PST
In reply to: Not So Right

Need more information like make, model, etc. I've had one of my computer running Windows 7 since before the release and have never had a hiccup. I'm not saying it looks as designed in all cases, like network resources may not be automatically installed. But for a new OS this is very stable.

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Hicups ???
by stangram / April 16, 2010 4:45 PM PDT
In reply to: The hiccup.

It isn't your operating system if you still have some problems with probably have to completely reformat your hard drive to get rid of whatever 'hicups' are....Win 7 runs great on my desktop and my HP Mini-Netbook (which would have the most challenges) Works great on both. HP and I'm sure other manufacturers are having frustrating problems getting update DRIVERs for some software/hardware. But again, your problem doesn't sound like you can blame it on an operating system...sumpins' wrong somewhere else...

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Not the OS
by starman1695 / May 1, 2010 4:32 AM PDT
In reply to: Hicups ???

I think you're right, it's not Windows 7 (though that certainly contributed to it). I also have W7 on my laptop and it runs just as smoothly as expected. I'm in the process of trying to download new drivers, but as you mentioned, it isn't easy.

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re: Not So Right
by someolboy / February 27, 2010 10:37 PM PST
In reply to: Not So Right

"when I first installed W7"

Did you install W7 upgrade or W7 new install?

I remember W XP users complaining about similar problems, when they upgraded....

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Not So Right 2
by starman1695 / February 28, 2010 3:16 PM PST
In reply to: re: Not So Right

I upgraded from Vista (with which I never had a problem). It took several attempts before it finally loaded. Then the monitor started rolling (like a bad video tape). I called Microsoft, they suggested I download a driver for the monitor. That limited the number of times the screen rolled, but it still does it from time to time. My PC is an HP Pavilion IQ506 Desktop PC - Intel Core 2 Duo T5850, 4GB, 500GB, DVDRW, 9300M GS, Tuner, 802.11n, Vista Home Premium 64, 22". I had to delete the Touchsmart programming before W7 would load.

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by stangram / April 16, 2010 4:32 PM PDT
In reply to: Not So Right 2

To keep it short....after much research, going beyond the 'off shore' help from HP....referred to U.S. tech, who was quite honest about some of the things that no longer work on an upgrade to Win7....they are having a big time problem getting the OEM people who make some of the hardware for them to come up with current drivers for Win7...keep running Win Update and check your manufacturers website for driver updates....My inegrated WebCam no longer works, and we just have to wait until the OEM's catch up....Otherwise it Win 7 works fine, and it's on a mini-netbook...

S.Coppel - Sonora CA

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by stangram / April 16, 2010 4:51 PM PDT
In reply to: re: Not So Right

Unfortunately it's more difficult to upgrade from XP to WIN7, than VISTA to need to do a CLEAN install, which will require you to put your personal files, favorites, etc. on a thumb drive (or whatever). You will no longer have Outlook Express, and I don't recommend the new 'Windows Mail'...can use Outlook or some other independent.
Vista users have a 'transfer option' with the personal info, but when upgrading from XP, you need to save it and plug it back in.

Depending on your manufacturer, you may need updated drivers. Run Windows Update every day, but know that HP told me that the OEM's are way behind in providing them with Win7 drivers for some software/hardware. Desktop went well, Mini-Notebook same, except that the built-in webcam no longer functions....have to just wait until they come up with Win7 drivers for it....

s.coppel - Sonora

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Upgrade to Win 7 from XP
by stangram / April 16, 2010 4:54 PM PDT
In reply to: re: Not So Right


Update or new, either o.k...HP site has instructions on how to delete the previous operating system 'after' install, to save disk space...
BUT...need to do Clean Install !! Upgrading from XP vs. Vista does not have the option to transfer all your personal 'stuff' over....

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Getting it right....
by leighsydneychina / February 27, 2010 10:34 AM PST

My Acer Netbook has lots of problems with 7. I cannot even the the Task Manager to work. Everything keeps on freezing, especially the Task Manager, so I find it extremely annoying and frustrating. Do you have any experience with that?

By the way, I think you hit the nail on the head. This is the best since Windows 95. But it is still only an Vista upgrade, and it does show that MS has been foisting rubbish on its customers for 15 years.

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Upgrade to Notebooks (especially NETbooks)
by stangram / April 16, 2010 4:27 PM PDT
In reply to: Getting it right....

Before I installed Win7 on my Netbook, I went to HP tech support (off shore department) because I wanted to be sure that, especially on a mini-netbook, that Win7 would support it....there was no warnings about not doing it and they sent multiple pages of 'how to' to me. Also checked Win7 step-by-step on the HP site...although Win 7 is working great on the Netbook, I lost my WebCam Drivers....Off shore couln't help,said that they didnt recommend upgrade to Win 7 on Laptops, including Mini...180 degrees from all the info I researched. so I had them refer me to product group in U.S.

The tech that got back to me was very honest in saying that they are going through a lot of frustration with hardware/software providers to come up with current Win7 DRIVERS. So many of us will just have to wait.

Suggest run Windows Update often, they are constantly updating Win7....If looking for specific drivers, just keep in touch with your manufacturers website....that's just the way it is.

In connection with Win7....really do not recommend Windows Mail, which replaced Outlook will probably be happier with using Outlook 2003 or 2007. Lot of bugs!

Stan Coppel - Sonora CA

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Windows 7 lean and clean
by BarneyBill / February 19, 2010 1:24 PM PST

Use cccleaner to get rid of temp files, and then use its registry cleaner, and then use a good defragmentation software. Don't download a lot of 'free' software. Always use a good virus protector.

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Just install these and forget!

I am running windows vista and am having no problems. I have 5 computers (2 for me (LT & DT), 1 each for my wife and 2 kids). All are running vista. I have the following programs running on them. For the internet security I have kaspersky internet security ( For the defragmenter I have diskeeper ( For clearing trash and registry inconsistances I run iolo system mechanic ( Just for an added boost I run spybot search and destroy once a month. From all that I have not had to reinstall anything over a year. I just turn on my computer and do my work and then leave it alone. Hope this helps.

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windows 7 maintenance
by Macsbeach98 / February 19, 2010 5:35 PM PST

Windows 7 as with windows Vista are a lot beter than XP at keeping themselves running in good shape. I have been running Vista for a long time now and have had no trouble with it at all and I have never had to do any maintenance on it at all other than what it does itself, it auto defrags and does its own maintenance and Win 7 is the same. Where as XP I used to have to do maintenance every month or so.

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How I have dealt with problems with Windows 7
by merri09 / February 19, 2010 7:05 PM PST

I bought 2 new computers both with Windows 7 and had problems with it crashing all the time and not being compatable with my accounting software, QuickBooks, and other programs. I read on line that a registry cleaner could help so purchased Registry Booster which I now run every day and sometimes twice a day, on all my computers and I have to say it's been really successful. The computers have stopped crashing and even QB is now running quite smoothly. I was ready to reinstall Windows XP at the beginning as it was so frustrating. I am not normally a fan of registry cleaners but this one has won me over.

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Hello - Me Again
by WintermuteX / February 19, 2010 7:24 PM PST

I need to clarify a few things
I have the following witout getting into too much detail

Toshiba Satellite Pro (Dual core 4 GB RAM)Running Windows 7
Dell Inspiron Running (2GB RAM) Vista
Acer Netbook Running (2GB RAM)XP
a PII MMX running XP (1GB RAM)(my server)

My configurations are pretthy consistent

my AntiVirus is AVG Pro
I Use Ad-Aware Pro for malware etc.
I use O&O for my defrag
Once a month I run MalwareBytes

In the past 3 years I have not had a machine crash on me or be infected.

One other things once you get updates from all of the above - disconneted your network connect enter safe mode and run them once clean re-boot reconnect your internet connection and all shoould be good. There are free versions of the above software but I prefer to pay the minimal fee just for the support.

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Please explain usefulness.
by JamesJoel / March 4, 2010 2:04 AM PST
In reply to: Hello - Me Again

One other thing, once you get updates from all of the above - disconnet your network-connect, enter safe mode and run them once, clean(?), re-boot, reconnect your internet connection and all shoould be good. (I've presumed to edit your comment to try to better understand. Please correct me if I've erred.)

Could you explain how this tests or improves the function of the updates? Thanks!

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Keeping Your new WIndows 7 PC running lean, clean and mean
by mddy / February 19, 2010 10:28 PM PST

Many users are switching to Windows 7 and are curious about how to keep their PC tuned for max performance. Here are a few tips that work well with Windows 7 for a lean, clean and mean running machine.

Shut down and restart PC daily
Use task scheduler to automate maintenance tasks weekly
Schedule a virus and spyware scan weekly
Run a cleaner program like CCleaner on weekly
Ensure Windows Updates is automated for max security
Install updates to software from Itunes, and internet broswers
Check your PC manufacturer site for software updates for Windows 7

These simple tips can turn a slow moving Windows 7 PC into a lean, clean and mean running machine.

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