Fix my computer

To clean up your computer

Computer turned into a "bit of a dog"?  Not going nearly as well as it did when you first got it?

There are a few things you can do to rectify this.

As you surf the internet, you get build up of excess software in your computer, from the internet (from surfing) - attachments from incoming emails, and from programs you've added that seemed like a good idea at the time... also things called cookies.... It's a bit like driving your car through Central Otago in summer .... (build up of dead insects etc, on the front)

In the good old days last century (the nineties) all dodgey software could be labelled a virus - something that would stuff up your computer and leave you having to reformat it, before you could do anything else... These days dodgey software has a variety of forms.

Viruses - rest assured there are still low-lifes out there that get a kick out of infamy - "how many people around the world can they piss off today?" etc.  Software designed to disable your computer.

Trojans - these sit in your computer innocuously like the trojan horse until a certain time is reached - at which they will then to proceed to wreak havoc, or worse, continue unnoticed yet secretly copying your details or files to the place that it came from.  The worst kind of Trojan, in my mind, would be a Key Logger.

Key Logger - this literally logs all the buttons you pushed on your keyboard, then sends this info back to where it came from for people to sift thru (there would be programs for this to search out key words/phrases like Visa Mastercard, expiry, etc).

Cookies - little packets of software that wangle their way into your computer from websites that you visit, they have varying degrees of activity, but their aim is to report back to base on your activities - frequency of visits to their site etc.  A favourite with advertising companies that monitor their distributed cookies' reports.

Nowadays they are all lumped under the classification of "Malware" - malicious software, then there's "Grayware" that they're not so sure what the depth of their depravity may in fact be.

Things to do (This is for XP users, other versions of windows may have some variations on these methods).

Depending on how jammed up your computer its hard to know where to start, with time you will get a feel for what works for your system as different users end up with a different heap of excess baggage on their computers.

You will be familiar with the doctor's "Take an aspirin and call me tomorrow" ..... with computers its: "Try restarting your computer and see how you get on".... Sometimes all it takes is an aspirin!....


Note: if your system is really clogged up, I suggest you first force it to switch off all unnecessary programs - see msconfig option below.

Stop Press!!

I have recently come across a one stop shop program called Advanced Windows Care - not supplied by Microsoft! But recommended on New Zealand's National Radio.

Its easy to use and best of all: free :-)

Get it, the personal edition, free here:



1) Virus, trojan and cookie check  

Free from Trend Micro is an online check.  First time is painfully slow - in fact what used to take about 10 minutes seems to take about an hour these days as the amount of world wide viruses has increased, so has the amount of software to combat them.  You can go to their site from here: You need to "click" 3 or 4 times before you can get up and leave it to scan.  Its a free service and as there is no one perfect antivirus etc, program its worthwhile doing occassionally - nothing wrong with getting a second opinion!



2) Disc Cleanup

This program removes unneccessary files and compresses older ones - leaving you more room to move in your computer.

Procedure: click on start, then without clickinghold your mouse over

All programs


System tools then click on

Disc Cleanup

You then get a choice of what to remove (or reduce) by clicking in the box beside each item (thus adding a tick) in the list of things to deal with.


3) "Defrag"

With time and addition of new programs and files to your computer, your hard drive (where you store new files etc) starts to get messy, the computer does not save in a tidy format and needs to be tidied up every now and then and thats what the defragmenting program does.  A lot of people find their computer a lot more responsive after defragging. 

You now have 2 choices, do it yourself as per the procedure below, or download this from much more user friendly than Microsoft's system

Procedure: click on start, then without clicking, hold your mouse over

All programs


System tools then click on

Disc Defragmenter (as per the picture above for disc cleanup)

You will then have the option to analyse or defragment. Click on Analyse and it will then check out your system and then tell you if you need to defrag or not.  Why the hell microsoft offer this as a base program yet don't get it to automatically analyse and then advise you is beyond me.  But then there's a lot wrong with microsoft -as what with umpteen million updates later, windows still not working properly, would tend to suggest!


4) msconfig

My favourite thing to do is to make my computer start up as quickly as possible.  Over time you will have downloaded and installed programs that seemed like a good idea at the time, but which you may hardly ever use.  The problem is that a lot of these programs like to start up when your computer starts up too.  So while you may just want to check to see if you have any emails, all these other things are going on in the background that are of no use to you.

To shut them up so you can get on with the job, you need to do the following:

click on Start

then Run

in the run box type in msconfig

hit enter

a 6 tab window will open up, on the far right (6th) tab is the words: start up, click on that

a list will appear of all the programs that start up everytime you turn on the computer.

To disable them simply click on disable all.



To leave your antivirus program running you can re-enable its programs, of which there may be up to 4 for Nortons (look also for "symantec") AVG has only one (or two) and thats easy to spot!

You will be prompted to restart for these changes to take effect, but you can leave it till shut down, it makes no difference. 

After playing like this with msconfig; on next start up, the computer will tell you that changes have been made, just tick on the box that says don't tell me again and then click OK (to make the changes permanent).

If you find something no longer working you can always go back and tick its box in msconfig, but its highly unlikely as these programs will start up anyway, if you click on their icons.  This being the whole point of course - that they start up only if, and when, you ask them and not just as a matter of course when you switch on your computer!


5) Registry Cleaning

This is a fabulous thing... I have no idea why a computer needs a registry, but there you are.  Go to and download Eusing registry cleaner, it will scan and more importantly fix (instantly) programming errors in your computer caused by your (or those other people's) previous shennagins. 

6) Add/remove programs

You can't usually just delete a program to get rid of it.  You actually need to uninstall it.

Go to Control Panel (either via "My Computer" or Start)

click on add/remove programs

a list will appear

tick the box of the program you want to remove

click on the add/remove button, and the program should then uninstall. (see picture below)


7) Getting rid of advertiser's spyware

A program that is very popular for cookie and trojan removal is called Ad-Aware and can be got free (you dont need to buy it) from ( Its pretty straightforward to use.  Once you have downloaded you can click on "run" to install it then or later you can then click on the file you downloaded (after having saved it to a folder - perhaps one you have called "downloads") clicking on this file you've downloaded will start the installation of that program.  Once installed you can then use it as often as you like.



8) Antivirus

Nortons   Once likened to "donning a lifejacket that doesnt work!  While still giving you a modicum of confidence, its actually pulling you down!"  I had it on my computer for a few years, tried an alternative called AVG, which is free, and it found two viruses straightaway that had been sitting in my computer for over two years!  The sad thing about Norton is that while its intentions are nice, its very presence will be more than half the reason why your computer is so slow - it basically takes over your computer and seems to compete for memory - or your computer's energy or ability.

AVG is free and can also be downloaded from at this page:

As they are always updating the file name is always changing, but its basic name is like the following: Version avg71free_405a782.exe

so just click on the avg~~free~~~.exe file and download it. (see picture below)


Once you have downloaded AVG then you can uninstall Nortons by clicking on


Control Panel

Add/Remove programs

A list will appear shortly of most of the programs in your computer, For Nortons there are 3 or 4 to remove. Anything with the name "symantec" and or "nortons", (look for little yellow icons) as part of it are fair game and can be removed from your computer.  One or two of them like to be removed in a certain order and they will let you know if its not the right one. 

hint: dont be surprised when Nortons Installer pops up (installation and un-installation often use the same sofware)

Once you have removed nortons you can then install AVG.  Its always a good idea to have a minimum of other programs open while you are making installations as they can slow down the whole process, however AVG is pretty easygoing on this.

AVG will update and scan every morning (default setting) if the computer is on.  You can change this by going into the scheduler and altering the times.  I always think an update is better to do before a scan but you can set it to work in any order at any time.  It also scans your incoming and outgoing emails by default which you can stop if you wish.  If you change from dial-up to broadband you may need to uninstall AVG and reinstall it, as it can affect email retrieval by trying to preempt the system and dial up even though the broadband has been installed, a minor flaw that may not even affect every user.


9) Your desktop

Its not just to look nice that a tidy desktop is important! A lot of people just "save to desktop" when downloading programs, which can lead to a lot of things lying around there after a while which also affects your computer's performance.

All your icons on your desktop should be "shortcuts" to where the item is saved deeper in your computer on C: drive (your main hard drive) or even better on D: or E: drive if you have them - things like large photo or music files etc which are not crucial to the running of your computer are best kept as far away as possible from the "work area" - C: drive

To shift from desktop to further into your computer is easy

for example you might have a 1.2 Megabyte photo of your cat saved to your desktop that you click on every now and then to look at.... what you can do is

right click on start

click on explore (opening windows explorer)

click on C: drive, go up to




name the new folder: eg: Cat pics

click on

Desktop (still in the left hand window of explorer)

click once (in the right hand window) on the icon of the cat photo, then click again on it but hold the mouse button down this time at the same time drag it over to the new cat pic folder and drop it on top.  The cat photo will now be in the cat pic folder.

Double click on the catpic folder

there should be your cat photo in there, right click over the cat photo, choose

send to..... desktop (create shortcut) and your cat photo icon will be back on the desktop, but as a shortcut, thus giving your computer more memory to cope with every thing else.

If you are still having problems, and you have restarted your computer, you may need to get someone to have a look at it.

Good luck!