It’s a fact of life for most Windows users that as the weeks go by with a PC in regular use, things just start to accumulate, the OS becomes more bloated and everything just seems to take forever to run. Personally, I just format the whole thing and start again – but for most people I realize that might not be a practical solution. So what are some way to trim the fat, remove PC bloat, and have Windows running at top form again?
Note: A lot of these apps and methods highlighted do pretty serious things to your computer, so I hope it goes without saying that you should have a full bootable system backup before attempting any of them. You have been warned!
Remove Windows Features You Don’t Need
Windows is a massive operating system, with an array of features and processes that the majority of us simply don’t need. Luckily, Windows makes it relatively easy to turn features on and off.
Just go to Control Panel -> Programs -> Turn Windows Features On or Off.
Note that like most of the methods described today, this all needs to be done with elevated admin user privileges.
On mine, I chose to deactivate:
- Internet Explorer 9 (seriously, it’s a worthless browser)
- Games – this means Solitaire etc – not your own installed games
- Media Features – all of them. Windows Media Player has never been good; I don’t know anyone who actually uses Windows DVD Maker; and while Media Center is a fantastic PVR for the living room, it’s pretty useless otherwise.
- Tablet PC Components for obvious reasons
- Windows Gadget Platform, because I’ve never been a fan of desktop gadgets
- XPS Viewer and Services, because most users don’t need postscript printing services, and if you did you would know it.
Fantastic, that’s 80% of the features disabled right there! Hit Ok, and reboot!
Uninstall Old Apps
This might seem obvious, but uninstalling apps we no longer use is a sin that can pass even the best of us by sometimes. Head to Control Panel -> Uninstall a Program and see what useless apps are lurking within.
Soluto to fix your boot time
We’ve recommended Soluto and covered it in-depth before. The first time you run it, Soluto records everything that loads during your boot time, and categorizes it according to community feedback or apps that are known.
From there, you can choose to either delay the app until startup has finished, or remove it from boot up completely. The choices are explained clearly and it also helpfully shows what other users decided to with that particular item.
Finally, you can see how much time it saved you. Lovely, and absolutely essential install for very Windows user in my opinion.
Run IoBit Advanced System Care
As a last step, check out the previously reviewed Advanced System Care; and I should point out right now that many of our readers are fans of CCleaner, which has a similar but slightly more limited feature set.
Advanced System Care does a number of useful clean-up functions:
- Cleans the registry by removing dead and incorrect keys
- Removes junk files (temporary caches etc)
- Basic malware scanning (though I wouldn’t put my trust in this feature alone as a capable malware scanner)
It’s also incredibly easy to use for novice users with simple one-click fixes, which is why I recommend it over CCleaner.
Save Yourself The Hassle Next Time By Creating a Test Virtual Machine
Assuming you’ve done all the above steps and now have an efficient, spit-shined OS, the next step is to prevent it from getting into such a state in the first place. For this, I recommend creating a virtual machine for testing out software before putting it onto your main desktop. By using a virtual machine, you still get enough power to test and use fully functional versions of most applications (though graphics intensives games aren’t recommended), and the whole thing will be self-enclosed in a single VM image file. If you mess up, or accidentally install some malware – you can just load up a fresh one from your backup image.
How do you go about creating a virtual machine? Why, you use the free Virtual Box and our comprehensive free VirtualBox guide of course!
That’s all folks. Think I missed something, or have some tips of your own for de-bloating a Windows PC? Let us know in the comments – but no flame wars on which particular cleaner is the best please. Our Best of Windows Software page covers a variety of cleaner, uninstall and other system utilities – so do check that out and bookmark it too. If you ran through the process, I’d love to hear how much boot time and space you saved, so please let me know – be sure to use Soluto first though to measure the total boot time both before and after. Did you notice an overall increase in system performance too?
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