Deeper Reasons For a Slower PC

We have already gone through various reasons which can be held responsible for a slow PC in the previous post revitalize your-computer. But there are some other reasons worth discussing that can cause your PC to crawl. They are the windows services- page file fragmentation, MFT fragmentation and indexing service.

Page file fragmentation: Paging involves the concept of virtual memory, i.e., when there is a shortage of system memory ( RAM), the computer pages certain processes on HDD reserved space called the virtual memory, and hence, the HDD is used as virtual RAM. By default, the page file is assigned on the OS drive. Since already the system is accessing the OS drive for running the windows, it makes sense in assigning the virtual memory on some other drive, where space is plenty and which isn’t used frequently. But over the time, if that drive is used, the page file can get fragmented. Page file fragmentation can lead to serious slowdowns, particularly when you use resource consuming applications. There are two simple ways to correct this issue.

  1. Download Pagedfrg tool from sysinternals.  This tool will defragment your paging file at startup during next reboot. Using Pagedfrg, you can also see how many fragments your page file is broken into. If its one, it’s intact. If it’s more, go for defrag.
  2. The other way is to simply delete the paging file and recreate it. This can be done in this way-

Right click on My computer > Go to properties > Click on Advanced tab > Click on settings button under performance section. In the new pop up window, click on advanced tab > Under virtual memory section click on change button. Now, click on drive where paging file is assigned and check the No paging file option. Click set button and click OK.  Now again go to change, and under a drive having plenty of space, select custom size and enter a size 1.5 times your RAM. This must recreate the paging file as a single unit.

Indexing service: Windows was created to be pretty organized. So much so that it will keep track if all your files and folders by indexing them, so that when you search for a file using the default search option, you can find it easily. But usually search is used rarely and the indexing service is running continuously in back ground which results in consumption of resources. This is can be avoided by disabling the indexing service and disabling the indexing of drives.

  1. Right click on a drive and go to properties, there uncheck the ‘Allow indexing service …’ option and apply.
  2. Go to run, type SERVICES.MSC and press enter. In the opened window, search for indexing service and disable it.

This frees up memory and a little HDD space as well.

MFT fragmentation: The Master File Table is the heart of NTFS file system. The MFT is a list of all files on the drive partition and their location on the drive. Very small files are actually saved directly to the MFT under their entry. In NTFS each file and file fragment contains a copy of its MFT entry so that if you have a crash you do not get lost file fragments since windows can just look at the file fragments and find where they belong. This explains why we don’t get any check disk recovered fragments while we use NTFS system.

Windows allot by default 12.5% of disk space reserved for MFT. This is to give space for MFT to grow. In actual practice I have never seen MFT grow more than 100 MB!  Hence I recommend it is enough if you keep it to default setting. Basically as we continue adding files, though MFT never crosses the assigned reserved space, still space reserved is allotted on some other drive when you use that drive saving large files ( remember all those movies you downloaded to your C drive using torrents?? ). Hence, now MFT is fragmented, which leads to degrade in system performance.

One way to fix it is to re-partition your hard drive, or at least format it to fix localized fragmentation, this way space is reassigned and make sure this time that you don’t fill it to the brim. The other way is to use disk keeper to defragment MFT at boot time.

Disk keeper is a real good application, which will take care of MFT fragmentation issues on its own, and check page file fragmentation as well. This way your file system stays healthy. A healthy file system is the base for a healthy PC !

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Clean the junk – free up the space

Many of us wonder where our ever scarce HDD space is being occupied … There have been cases when the physical sum of data on a drive mismatch with what is shown in drive properties. There must have been a few who were even given a low disk space warning for system drive. Though the visible data is easy to manage, just back it up if required and then delete from your HDD, but the issue is regarding what that is hidden to mankind …!!

In this post we will see how we can free up space on your system, particularly the system drives and learn about system services that eat up space.

Step1: The first simple task when you notice space being hogged in your system drive is to uninstall unnecessary programs. The regular add and remove programs wizard isn’t good since it leaves behind zombie files and registry entries belonging to the uninstalled application. This is where Revo Uninstaller comes into picture. Apart from running regular built in installer, Revo uninstaller also scans for and removes left over files and registry entries. Using Revo, remove all those programs that you don’t use.

Revo has another option to clean junk files as well … Click on Tools option … Click Junk File cleaner … Click scan … After scan finishes, a list of junk data is displayed. Delete them … Often those are prefetch files and thumbs.db files. They sometimes even sum up to a few hundred MBs in course of time.

Step2: Seek substitutes for bulky programs, those which are light on resources and consume less space as well. I prefer these ones-

  1. CD burner XP: CD burner XP is all loaded burning solution for your digital media, which in contrast with Nero, occupies just a mere 7 MB space. Only little requirement is that you need any of the dot net frame work installed.
  2. Foxit reader: This PDF reader occupies just 5-6 MB of space, in contrast with Adobe Reader, which occupies at least 150 MB of space.
  3. Media player classic: The K lite Codec pack is a all loaded solution for playing all media formats, instead of keeping installed all sorts of players.
  4. AVG Internet security suit is also lite on resources and space as well, occupying 50 MB on HDD … It has protection that when combined with its ease on resources, makes it preferable over McAfee and Norton sorts.

Step3: Temporary files created during browsing and installing applications stay in your temp folder for a long period … If disk cleanup wizard is being ignored, they can keep on collecting and often eat out a good chunk of your HDD space. Install CCleaner, it is a really good tool to delete temporary files and clean junk from registry as well. It cleans browsing history as well. Run it aleast twice a week to keep your HDD free of junk.

Also empty your virus vault, delete application reports etc.

Note: EUsing free registry cleaner is a great application to clean your registry. You can use it in combination with CCleaner to keep your registry clean.

Step4: Windows services too eat up space on your HDD. System restore and space allocated to recycle bin are two major space eaters.

System restore is by default enabled on all drives and is allocated 12% of HDD space. This means for a 320 GB HDD, 38.4 GB is being reserved for system restore. And similarly, recycle bin is also given 10 % of your HDD space on a global pattern by default. If you seldom use recycle bin function, like many of us does, it is best to allocate it really less space to save it for other useful purposes. System restore too can be allocated lesser space. A recent most restore point is a point of interest; more space allocated just means more restore points, which occupy space even if you never use them.

The space can be claimed back easily. Right click on recycle bin and go to properties … There, on a global pattern space is allotted to each drive, just change it to what you think best suits you. If you never use recycle bin, assign it a really less value.

Similarly you may change the system  restore allocated space. Just right        click on your my computer icon,    select properties, click on the System  restore tab. There you may disable  system restore on non system drives  and set it to 1-2% on the system drive.

Step5: Hibernation service too, if  enabled on XP (By default active on  Vista) consumes a space  equal to your installed RAM on your  system drive. Weigh your options, do  you really need this service? If not,  you may disable it … In control panel, go to power options, in hibernation tab, and uncheck the enable hibernation option.

Step6: Virtual memory equal to 1.5 times your RAM is allotted on your system drive by default. This is to facilitate operations in case you run out of RAM … If you already have 2 GB plus RAM, then you can set it equal to your RAM size. That too it is recommended you shift the assigned space to non system drive to boost performance, and hence, also, free up space on the system drive.

Right click on My computer icon > click properties > Go to advanced tab > Under performance section, click settings > Select advanced tab > under virtual memory section, click change.

Disable it on system drive and allocate it to some other drive where space is plenty.

Warning: NEVER disable it fully or assign it really low. In case you have sufficient RAM, like 2 GB plus, only then set it equal to your RAM size. Else, for less than 1 GB RAM, you may better assign it recommended 1.5 GB of space.

Step7: Now for something that may be eating the maximum chunk of your space on the system drive, your documents. By default, your ‘My documents’ are being saved in the documents and settings folder in system drive. Every thing you save in My music, My pictures, My videos etc goes there. Many applications too save their files in your documents location, including download managers, torrent clients etc. The solution is to simply change the default location to non system drive where space is plenty. This also saves your data in case you were to format your system drive. Once default location is changed, all your data is automatically transferred and now on all your data in stored at the new location.

Simply right click on My documents link in start menu and select properties. In target folder location, select move and browse to the new location, a non system drive where space is plenty. Set it there.

Step8: After the above steps, this is time to launch an offence against junk manually. Many applications leave their installer backups, settings files, temp files behind when they were removed normally. Probably there may be plenty of them in your system drive. Go to folder options > view > check show hidden files and folder > uncheck hide extensions of known file types > uncheck hide operating system files … Apply. Now enter your system drive.

You can now see the system hidden files too. If you have not shifted page file or not disabled hibernation, you can now see a hibernation.sys file and pagefile.sys file. Also the system volume information and recycler folders are visible. So are some other files like ntldr, autoexecute.bat etc. DON’T delete them!!! They are required by your system.

Get into the ‘documents and settings’ folder and your user folder. There enter local settings > application data. There carefully check if there are any folders of applications that aren’t installed at present and delete them. Also browse the installed application folders and delete any installer backups. Move your way around, slowly you will learn what is important and what is junk.

This way you can free up space on your system drive. The best bet is to arrange your data in an organized manner, this makes it easy to manage it and take backup or delete what you don’t need. Happy shifting!

Revitalize your computer

It’s been a while that you have been using your PC, but things aren’t the way they were before. It takes ages for your PC to boot and applications take a hell lot of time to start. Your games are running slow and applications often get hung up. Often at this stage people take up the painful task of reinstalling windows, but how often can we tolerate the process and be patient enough to get format and then get windows in the way you like it? Isn’t there a way out of this vicious circle?

slow-computer

Wise men would rather get windows revitalized than reinstalled. To begin with, what is choking your windows?

Applications starting at startup- Usually when an application is installed, it makes an entry in registry to start itself at windows startup. Though most of the applications ask us a confirmation to make a startup entry, we rather ignore it in our quest to finish the installation, pressing next again and again! Such programs increases the boot time of windows, and while running in back ground, make your current applications run slow.

The usual cure people adopt is looking for a file in startup tab and deleting it, but not all applications work in that procedure. Some applications make entries in registry and need to be tackled in another way.

The windows utility MSCONFIG provides convenience of managing startup programs. Just go to RUN and type MSCONFIG and strike enter. Click on startup tab, a list of applications that start at windows boot up are listed. They include antivirus, messengers, maintenance utilities and many more applications most of which are those you never realised are running under back ground. Taking care, letting important applications like firewall, antivirus etc enabled to start at startup, un-tick those which you seldom use. This eases pressure on processor and competition for memory.

Unwanted services: Apart from applications starting at startup, some applications run their child services in background. They too, if not desired, tend to eat up the pace of your computer. Open the services tab in MSCONFIG. Upon clicking hide Microsoft services; a list of third party services is displayed. Leaving antivirus, unclick the rest of unwanted services. These include those of MS office, media players, blue tooth services etc. Though MSCONFIG can be used to manage services, it doesn’t explain what job the service does, creating dilemma regarding what to do with the service.

For a more detailed review, the tool SERVICES.MSC can be used. Run it using the RUN command. It provides an explanation regarding what a service does, so that we can take a proper decision to mess around safely.

Eye candy and performance settings: Though not as gorgeous as Vista, XP still tries to please you with sliding or fading menus, shadows under pointers, showing windows contents while dragging, animating windows when minimizing and other stuff like that. But this eye candy costs you in terms of system performance. Sheer performance can be obtained if we switch to the 98 kind of view, but let’s not fall to that extent for performance. I have observed a few settings and noticed that upon implementing, there isn’t much difference in terms of eye candy, though performance increases dramatically.

Go to My computer icon, right click on it and enter in its properties. Go to advanced tab and click on performance settings. A window pops up showing visual effects settings. Choose custom settings and scroll down till the last of list. Tick on the last three options and un-tick the rest of them. Apply and press ok. You will observe that there isn’t much noticeable change done to visual effects, though your performance will increase.

Go under the advanced tab in the pop up window and click on change virtual memory. Virtual memory is that space allocated on hard drive that is used as RAM when there is a shortage of physical memory. Though hard drive doesn’t have data transfer speeds comparable to RAM, but while using RAM hogging applications like 3D modeling and games, it does benefit performance when you smartly use virtual memory.

Points to be kept in mind while allocating space for virtual memory are-

  • Once allocated, the space for virtual memory on the hard drive is reserved exclusively for the purpose and can’t be used in data storing purposes.
  • As a rule of thumb, set minimum size to 1.5 times your RAM size and maximum size to 3 times the RAM size.
  • Don’t keep page file on the partition where windows is installed. Allocate it on one which isn’t used frequently and is free from faults. It better be an NTFS formatted partition.
  • Don’t allocate page file on two-three partitions on a same hard drive. Use a single partition.

It is to be noted that when system usage of page file exceeds the size of RAM, system experiences an performance degrade. The way to achieve good performance is to add more RAM to your system. It is also to be noted that keeping virtual memory zero will also spoil performance by loading the RAM too much.

Clean the clutter: Though using a registry and temp cleaner like CCleaner will remove the temporary files and the invalid entries in registry, it can’t remove the .thumb, .dmp etc files that are created by applications when they run. Usually they are deleted shortly after termination, but sometimes they are left behind if application hangs up or was terminated abruptly. Though small in size, hundreds of such files spread across your PC will certainly sum to a couple of hundred MBs. It’s really a waste of ever precious hard disk space. Adding to the woe are the applications hooked up with your PC which didn’t come with an uninstaller or have left entries in your PC that doesn’t allow you to install applications of same sort. Like often after uninstall of Nero, a newer version doesn’t get installed sighting presence of an older version as reason. Similarly, after uninstalling AVG, few entries are left behind on your PC that doesn’t allow installing any other antivirus, warning that another antivirus is still present on your PC. You are left with just two miserable options, either to opt for an alternate software (Though it’s adventurous to experiment), or format your system (boo boo!!). Of course you can charge on your registry and delete those notorious entries, but for a normal guy this saga isn’t going to be easier than finding cradle of life!

There is this third option that hits two balls with a single kick, checking those notorious entries in your registry and deleting junk as well. And the name is Revo uninstaller. This little freeware can be used to delete those notorious useless files on your hard disk and uninstall your applications the smart way by removing all related entries in registry, cleaning all the files created by that application and removing those applications as well which didn’t come with an inbuilt uninstaller. For a PC gone bad, it’s a must do to scan it for temporary files and check for struck up applications.

Note: Using any decent registry cleaner like CCleaner is recommended to remove invalid references in registry. Utilities like PC Booster also do a good job by checking performance and improving it on a single click.

Defragment the hard disk: Every time data is added to your PC, system doesn’t always keep a file as a unit at one place. Instead it keeps chunks of file at first place available on hard drive. The same thing applies when OS is being installed. Hence right from the time you install your OS, your hard disk keep on fragmenting with every application you install and every file you add. If you use these fragmented files, like playing a game whose files are fragmented or watching a movie which is fragmented, result is greatly degraded system performance. This problem is more severe for people who are switching applications frequently, do a lot of gaming or are adding and removing a lot of movies (or large files) on their hard drive.

The solution is simple and has always been on your PC, defragment your hard drive. The windows in built defragmenter will do a good job, though better tools are available. Go to start-programs-accessories-system tools-disk defragmenter. Analyse the partitions and check for level of defragmentation. Though it may say it’s not necessary to defragment, do it. Keep in mind to do NOTHING while you defragment, else you may end up slowing the process. Let other things make you busy since it may take its own time to defragment.

When compared to windows defragmenter, many other defragmenters do a better job. One such tool is piriform defragmenter, which is also a freeware. If money isn’t the issue, O&O defragmenter is a better solution. Defragmenting your PC every now or then after a heavy file transaction makes sure you seldom see bad days.

>> Also read this newer post on page file and MFT de-fragmentation. <<

Digging in hardware: Though many people have this notion that performance is a software issue, hardware does play an important role in performance degrade. Give this a thought- you use CPU exhaustive applications like file compressors, games and audio/video converters that heat up your computer (precisely your processor), due to which the CPU thermal control reduces the clock speed of your processor to cool it down, leading to reduction in performance. Processor overheating is also responsible for fan blowing noise in CPU. The culprit can be any of these two- dry heat sink compound paste or dust accumulation in processor fan. Open up your cabinet and clean the interiors, use finer brushes to clean dust from processor heat sink and fan. Also remove RAM and blow off dust from slots. Even then the sound persists, remove heat sink from top of processor and replace the heat sink paste. Use a standard heat sink compound for best performance.

Speedy PC, the EASY way!!

Hi friends!

Since this is the first time I am addressing you guys, I should admit that I am certainly not an all knowing GEEK, but sure can be of little help to guys who are new to PCs and are interested in making them work better……..also I may be of good help to guys who have been using PCs just for work or play and now want to get down to some serious experimenting….

I am going to start from sharing with you a couple of good tricks that I have leaned over the time. You have just finished formatting and reinstalling OS on your PC, now you got something like a plain paper to personalize according to your needs and taste… A customized Windows always gives an insight of YOU as a person J

a. The first boot: Soon after installing OS, you restart your PC. There are a couple of important things that must be taken care of during this restart. First you need to get into your system BIOS setup. This can be accessed by pressing DEL key during booting; this takes you to a DOS interface that is the heart of your PC’s operating mechanism.

1. If your PC doesn’t have a floppy drive, then disable “boot up floppy seek”. Since we normally don’t boot from CD/DVD drive, lest installing OS, we can save boot up time from changing the boot device priority. Change this and select your hard drive as the first device.

2. In “advanced” tab, confirm that your hard drive and optical drive are working in DMA mode. Enabling DMA mode improves performance by reducing load on processor during data transfers.

3. If your chipset has shared on-board graphics, you can control how much of RAM is dedicated to your on-board GPU. Since this amount of memory is reserved for the sole purpose of graphics, your OS and applications can’t use it even when system is memory starving. Thus, it is wise to reduce this dedicated memory in case you have less physical memory installed and may be increased if you have good amount of it.

4. You can customize your PCs response when you press the power button. It is by default set to turn off, you can change it to hibernate. Hibernating takes less time than turning off and system starts up faster when waking up.( But this shouldn’t be made a habit since Windows performs some crucial steps like scandisks and applications performs maintenance tasks during normal startup.)

Smart tip: Boot up time can be reduced by removing any boot screens that you may be using; they do more damage than they appeal to your eyes. Crease to use themes, since loading the new icon libraries take time. You can use vista if you like but don’t go for transformation packs. On a PC with moderate physical memory, these things can take your PC for a snail-ride.

b. Drivers: The first and the foremost thing are the drivers of your hardware…Every device comes with a set of compatible device drivers that act as an interface between the OS and the hardware. You may put a question that it’s obvious to install drivers first… But not just drivers, I strongly recommend going for updating your drivers. Hardware manufactures keep working on device drivers and come up with bug-free and better working versions that can greatly improve your overall performance….

Q. But I got latest hardware which came with the best drivers I suppose?

J I should appreciate your choice for latest hardware, but it is the drivers of the latest devices that are more frequently updated, fixing the bugs that may have crept in the first released versions.

Q. Bugs ….?

J Yes….Giving a practical example, I had a problem installing 64-bit windows XP on my desktop that was fixed when I updated my drivers, which came with 64 bit support. There are instances when though have some workable on-board graphics on your motherboard, compatible games doesn’t run…most of the audio and video problems and blue screen errors of your PC arise due to bugs in drivers.

Q. Update, from where?

J From the home website of your hardware manufacturer…Like Intel, Gigabyte, MSI etc provide drivers for VGA chipset present on board and also audio drivers are mostly of realtek… Just confirm who have made your hardware, demand drivers from them!!

Search in Google by writing the name of your device’s manufacturers name and the hardware name and model number, something sort of- “drivers for Sis 661fx mirage chipset”. And no need to visit third parties, since manufacturers provide drivers for FREE. Take drivers for your chipset, audio card, graphic card, modem and some other hardware which you may possess.

Q. How do I learn who is my hardware manufacturer?

J Use freeware utilities available, like CPU-Z for beginners…more details regarding your hardware can be found by using utilities like PC Wizard…

Q. I got a branded PC and my brand company’s site isn’t showing any update for my hardware?

J Well, most of the time, there are driver updates available. I have a personal experience of Compaq home site not showing any driver updates available, but when I visited home site of my motherboard manufacturer, I did find updates. This thing has repeated quite a couple of times…

Q. OK, I found the drivers online, how do I update them?

J Download the package, usually mid sized, of around 50mb. Sometimes they come compressed, usually .ZIP, which is windows XPs mainframe compression format, and wont pose a problem extracting. But sometimes they come compressed as .RAR, .TAR etc. Use a shareware client like WinRAR to extract them. Run the installer.

Audio drivers don’t pose a problem updating, some video drivers demand uninstallation of previous version before updating. It is better to boot in safe mode (press F8 during booting) and install them.

Smart tip: So, I ultimately convinced you to update your drivers. But this occasion comes once in a while; say once in a quarter of a year. But there are unfortunate times when you have to format and re-install your OS, and install the drivers one by one all over again. There is a smart way to avoid this delay. Once you are done installing your drivers today, download the software “Drivermax”, a freeware, and make a backup of all your drivers, in a single file. The other time you have to install drivers, show the location of this one file, and all your drivers are installed.

This software is also of good use when the drivers you use have become obsolete and updates aren’t available either. Re-installing OS in such a condition will make your hardware useless with no supporting drivers. In such cases the currently installed drivers on your PC can be backed up and can be restored after the formatting.

c. Installing applications the wise way: Having done with drivers, your OS is stable now and its time to install applications. The rule regarding installing applications is that install what suits you and what you need. Installing applications that aren’t suiting your configuration makes your system resources deplete and installing excess applications hogs up hard disc space and clutters the system registry with excess entries.

Antivirus: The first application I recommend installing is antivirus. No external media should be inserted nor is it advisable to go online till you have installed antivirus. The next step is to update its database. It absolutely doesn’t make any sense having an antivirus that is out of date. With new threats constantly being made, it is best practice to keep your antivirus database up to date.

Q. Which antivirus should I choose?

J That depends on whether you have internet or not, the configuration of your PC and your understanding of PCs. Some antivirus have a very customizable but complex interface, while some of them sport a user friendly look. While some has inbuilt link scanner which scans every site you visit and every file before you download it; others are simple desktop versions having only antivirus and anti spyware engines. There are those ones that eat up your CPU and RAM, and others are light on resources. Most importantly, some come with a price tag, while some provide a limited featured version for free. Scratch your head a little and choose the one that suits your needs and system configuration.

Q. Any suggestions?

J I have been using AVG internet security 8 for a while and found it to be OK. It’s light on resources (though resident shield scanning each file on access makes it a little annoying), and includes anti spyware, link scanner, firewall, e-mail scanner, web shield etc. Ever a free version is available which though sports lesser features, can be used with a little care.

NOD32, Kaspersky, Quick heal etc are also good picks and rest depends on your taste.

Q. Any No-No’s?

J Norton Internet security suite 08 and McAfee 2008 are fully equipped to take your PC for a snail-ride. With enormous CPU usage and a fat RAM consumption, they are leaders in slowing down your PCs. They slow down normal functioning; increases boot time and run a bunch of processes since startup. Beware!!

Q. I don’t have internet, how do I manage to keep my anti-virus up to date?

J Antivirus applications like AVG, Kaspersky etc have an option of updating data base from an update file, instead of totally depending on internet. Update packages can be downloaded from vendor sites for free and can be brought home and installed following simple steps as described on site. This keeps your protection up to date even in confinement to your PC.

Q. Any more tips?

J Follow these simple yet effective tips to keep your PC safe-

· Always scan the media before accessing its contents.

· Instead of auto running the device, click on explore, this avoids malicious code from being executed by mistake if it escapes anti virus data base.

· Beware of suspicious looking files. Always uncheck the “hide extensions for known file types” option in folder options.

[ Tools>Folder options>view>”Hide extensions for known file types”]

This lets you keep an eye on suspicious stuff like a folder with “.exe” extension, a media file with “.avi.exe” extension etc.

· Keep track of files that you have on your pen drive/hard disk. Any new file with a suspicious extension should be avoided to be innocently checked.

· In case you end up executing a suspicious code, check in task manager if you got a new process running. It can stopped temporarily from there. But the damage to registry can’t be easily undone.

· Always backup your data and registry and keep updating the backups from time to time. Bad times are also the most unexpected timesJ!

· Always try to recognize processes in task manager from time to time, especially when you install new applications. This helps you identify foreign processes running in case of a virus infection. Half the job is done when you identify the virus in processes.

Other must haves- Well, coming to installing applications, I guess speaking of installing MS office and Nero etc isn’t worth a mention. But the saga doesn’t end there. There are a couple of cool must have applications available that are nearly must haves. Listed under here are a few of them-

· CCleaner- This registry and temporary file cleaner cleans off clutter from your hard drive and what more, it has some more cool tools that can be used to monitor startup applications and manage installed applications. History of internet explorer, windows explorer and temporary files created by applications can be cleaned from your hard drive, sparing ever valuable space. The registry cleaner scans registry for possible invalid references arising from uninstalled applications and other clutter entries in registry, that can possibly cause a system slow down, and fixes the problems on its own. All this for free!!

· Defraglite- This disk defragmenter has been rated to be better than conventional windows defragmenter. When we store files on hard drive, they are stored in accordance with availability of free clusters rather than storing a file continuously in a row. When such files are accessed, they greatly degrade system performance. Hence, defragmentation becomes necessary. Active partitions where data is regularly added and removed, windows partition etc are the most vulnerable. Defragmenting your hard drive once in a couple of weeks is a good habit to keep your system healthy.

· TweakUI- This nasty little tool can be used to safely and efficiently tweak windows to suit your taste and needs. As a freeware, it has a couple of good tricks under its hat. Enthusiasts can rather go for Fresh UI, which have more options to be tweaked.

· Auto patcher- This free release contains all windows updates (functional and security related) and what more, you can update your windows without internet. It also has some other important applications like .Net 3.0, Java run time environment which are required by some applications to run. You can even tweak your windows interface to suit your taste.

· K lite codec– This codec pack includes a bunch of media codecs and a media player classic that can play almost all usual formats of media files including some rare ones too. A must have media player for all.

· Tune up utilities– This pack of utilities are a must have for enthusiasts. From customizing the look and themes of windows to maintenance of system on a single click, it is a one stop solution for most of system needs. Utilities includes a one click maintenance tool, data recovery tool, secure data erasing tool, registry editor, process monitor, a common error repair wizard etc and mush more. Pretty good thing that money can buy!

· Direct x update- Available on Microsoft’s site, the updates of direct x are a must have for a gamer. Updates are always available in a span of couple of months. Keep an eye and keep your system updated. But a good deal a of data to be downloadedL !

· WinRAR- This file compression client has become mainframe for windows file compression, leaving the actual .ZIP format behind. The .RAR format is so popular that most of compressed material is in .RAR format, which makes this application a must have. This application can also handle .ZIP, .TAR,7Z,ISO extension achieves, making it universal.

· Security kit: These tools are a must have to keep your system secure and deal against any virus infection-

o Unlocker- This tools adds an explorer extension that can be used to free a file from locking handles or when being used by another application. It also includes options to delete/ move/unlock the file.

o Process explorer- This is a windows task manager alternate that picks up tasks where task manager fails. Armed with a couple of good features, it provides a detailed report about each process being run and the location from where it is being run.

o Root kit revealer- Root kits are malicious codes that are hidden in DLL libraries of a software or application. These are harder to be found using anti viruses and this tool can be used to scan and remove root kits.

o Hijack this- This tool comes to your rescue when there is an explorer or computer hijack by spywares and you lose control of your PC. It scans and removes the spywares. A handy tool which is also easy to use.

o Killbox: Just point the file, this application can remove the locking handles and delete the file. A must have tool for virus busters. What more, it can even delete system files.

o Restoring registry defaults- Download this tool from downloads section. You can use it to restore defaults if your task manager, folder options and run gets disabled due to an infection. Most viruses try to hide from user by doing this.

· Learn about your PC– Tools like PC wizard, Z CPU or hardware monitor provide detailed report about your PC hardware and OS. This helps you develop an understanding of your PC which ultimately guides you to keep it in pink of healthJ!

Important: Having made windows the way you like it, it is always advisable to create a backup of the Windows drive with all programs and registry included. This can be easily done with Windows backup utility (can be found in system tools). The next time you install windows, the next step is to just restore the backup. And all your programs and drivers are restored, including the windows settings.

Fully armed and well trained, your PC is now ready for adventurous times!!!