If the HDD is healthy, then it is happy. If it is happy, it will perform better. Windows tools like defrag and cleanup, only work at a superficial level in my opion and don't give you the best performance ratings (what do u expect. Its Microsoft people) Here are some alternatives to using the windows tools. They work more thoroughly and at a faster rate than windows defrag and cleanup. For this I will create multiple posts, instead of one huge advice column.
Current Version: 3.00.1303
Features: Registry cleaner and provides a backup facility for the registry before cleaning it up, secure file deletion (3,7 or 35 passes), can remove temporary files from office, adobe systems, Imgburn, logemin files, windows media player, windows defender and from other applications that the regular windows cleanuup doesn't.
Best download source: Piriform.com
Best time to use: Use before turning off your machine off every day to remove files ready for the next boot.
My thoughts/experiences: I firstly wasn't too bothered for an alternative to the cleanup as it is sort of okay. I found this on a site when I was trying out a free disk defragmenter. It is really good. If set correctly, then your system will run as quickly as it can for its age. It deletes alot more information than windows cleanup does and also in a quicker time.
I used this on a staff computer at college. Now I first ran windows cleanup and it notified me that there were 18GB worth of temporary files, compressed old files and recyle bin stuff. Now I started it off and it took an hour to delete 1% of all that information so I got fed up with it and used CCleaner. Not only did it read the 18GB of system temporary files and other crap. but it provided a further list of temporary files from other programs. (full total after analysis was 20.6GB) Now all those files using secure file deletion method DOD 5220.22-M (3 passes) took 31 minutes to delete. Re-booted the system and they haven't had problems with a slow system since.
what windos can do for you. This is will be a good thread for newbies and home users (even businesses if they wish to) to get alot out of their hard drive. There will also be tips for securely erasing data too.