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Jon Galloway's Helpful Guide to De-Sludgifying Windows XP


I had reached the point, only a year and a half after acquiring my beloved ThinkPad T42, of wishing I could just start over with a clean install.  Slow running, weird error messages, annoying hangs, all the usual stuff.  I have always been pretty good about defragmenting my hard drives and that sort of thing, but what I really needed was a way to identify misbehaving processes, junk files, unused applications, redundant registry entries, etc., and then clean this stuff up without making things worse and/or plunging my machine into a coma.

Meanwhile, I had come to the conclusion that software recommendations from sites like CNet's Download.com and ZDNet were generally suspect given the need to suck up to software vendors who account for much of their ad revenue.  So I googled for better information and I seem to have found it in a helpful blog entry/Windows XP cleanup checklist posted by one Jon Galloway.

Galloway recommends a number of tools to help with the job, but so far I have only used two of them, one free and the other $5.  The first is CCleaner which handles general cleanup of temp files, internet cache, cookies, and even things like memory dumps and windows logs I never thought about.  Perhaps more importantly it seems to do a pretty good job cleaning up the windows registry (we'll see if I still think so after rebooting ).  Since registry cleanup seems to be a market heavily infested with slick-looking commercial tools of dubious reliability, the freeware CCleaner is a real gem.

The second recommended tool that I have used, and for which I even paid $5 for the "full" version, is Doug Knox's "XP Remove Hotfix Backup" program.  As the name implies, this tool purges all those Windows update and hotfix entries that build up in your Add/Remove Programs list over time.  Since updates that have been around for a week or two without incident are probably not going to suddenly start misbehaving, having the ability to remove them "just in case" is pointless, and takes up space.  And since there is no built-in way to remove these entries from the Add/Remove program list without ALSO removing the update itself, this little tool is great.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Other helpful resources:

* Basic guidelines to Restore Your Computer's Performance with Windows XP.
* AutoRuns startup monitor application which helps identify processes that run automatically on your machine so you can remove items you don't need or want.
* See all of the processes currently running on your computer in much greater detail with Security Task Manager.


1 - Matt, good point. I guess I'm like the proverbial frog in the pot as the water slowly rises to a boil, except that I finally decided to jump out. I'd love to have the ability to cleanly restore a good disk image, and maybe its not as hard as I think, but since my roster of installed software is pretty volatile, its challenging.

Also I don't have that much confidence that I'd preserve all my custom app settings since I think many applications still throw files in places outside "Documents and Settings" (Not just Notes!). Whatever I do going forward to prevent things from getting this bad, at least I now know I shouldn't let things get this bad, and there are options Emoticon.

2 - I'm surprised you can last as long as a year and a half. After about 3 months I notice Windows slowing down and starting to do dubious things. I keep a disk image of a clean install with all my software set up properly which i just replace over my live version every few months, just copy my Data directory back and everything is back to normal. Saves a lot of hassle with trying to track down the ghosts in the machine.


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