How To Clean Up Your Computer Back To Its Original State (Without Reinstalling Windows)

cleanupthumb   How To Clean Up Your Computer Back To Its Original State (Without Reinstalling Windows)The easiest way to restore a Windows computer back to its factory defaults is to simply use the included recovery program to reinstall or recover Windows. This works well in many situations, and you can use this method to completely wipe your computer clean and start from new.

But what if you don’t want to wipe your computer clean? If this is the case, you’ll need to use a few specific utilities if you’d like to clean up your computer to return it to a near-new state. This method isn’t always quicker than reinstalling Windows, but it’s often preferable if you don’t want to worry about losing files or you don’t have a Windows install disc handy. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to finish the job.

Use Windows Backup and Restore

cleanup1   How To Clean Up Your Computer Back To Its Original State (Without Reinstalling Windows)

Recent versions of Windows, including Windows Vista and 7, include a Backup and Restore feature in the control panel. This feature lets you restore your computer to a previous state by using the Open System Restore option, which begins a simple process that basically rewinds your computer to an earlier state.

This is easy, but there is one critical issue ““ you actually need a restore point to restore from! It’s not uncommon for a computer to ship with one already configured, but if you or the manufacturer didn’t already do this, you’ll have to use the steps below.

Uninstall Unwanted Programs

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The gradual accumulation of software on a computer often results in reduced performance, and uninstalling the programs that did not come with your PC often improve performance ““ or at least free up some hard drive space. Starting with the uninstallation of unwanted programs is recommended.

Most programs can be uninstalled using the Programs and Features tool in the Windows control panel, but some may be stubborn and refuse to uninstall correctly. I suggest using Revo Uninstaller, or a similar program, to take care of programs that refuse to leave quietly.

Clean Up The Windows Registry

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Once you uninstall a program, it’s gone, right? Actually, that’s not always the case. Windows includes a database known as the registry that includes information about programs installed, and while uninstalling a program is theoretically meant to remove the program’s registry entries, that doesn’t always happen. A bloated registry can sometimes reduce performance, so it’s a good idea to try and make it like new.

There are a lot of registry cleaning tools, but Wise Registry Cleaner is the option that receives our top recommendation. Whatever tool you use, remember to create a Windows backup (remember the Backup and Restore feature) because there is always a very, very slight risk of registry damage, which can cripple your computer.

Disable Startup Programs

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Even after you have uninstalled unwanted programs, you may still have some issues with slow boot times if you have too many programs trying to run when your computer starts.

To disable some programs, go to the Windows Search bar and then type in “msconfig.” Navigate to the Startup tab and review the programs listed. These are the programs that load when your computer boots. You can disable specific programs by de-selecting their checkbox and then clicking OK.

If you find that you’ve disabled a program that is truly useful, you can always return to msconfig and enable the program again.

Restore Windows Defaults

Over time, you may make changes to a number of critical Windows features. It is difficult to cover every single feature in Windows that can be restored to default settings, but here are some that are commonly changed and easily restored. Note that the below instructions are for computers using Windows 7.

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Restore Browser Defaults

If you’re using Internet Explorer, you can use the Internet Options menu in the Windows Control Panel. There are Default buttons in the Security, Privacy, Programs and Advanced tabs. Google Chrome and Firefox have similar buttons in their respective Options menus.

Restore Firewall Defaults

The Windows Firewall options can be found in the Windows Control Panel. There is a Restore Firewall Defaults option on the left hand options menu. Note that you may not want to restore this to default if you’ve made specific changes to the firewall’s rules.

Folders

The Folders Options window can be accessed from the Windows Control Panel. The Restore Defaults option is in the lower right hand corner.

Libraries

Right-click on Libraries icon and then click Restore Default Libraries. You can find the Libraries icon in the left-hand frame of Windows Explorer.

Restore Your Media Player

Most media players have an option that will let you dismantle your current media library and rebuild it from scratch. This isn’t a bad idea if your media files have turned into a mess.

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Start Menu

The Start Menu can be returned to its default settings by right-clicking on Start (or the Start Icon), entering the Properties window, and then clicking the Customize button. The Use Default Settings button will appear at the bottom of the Customize Start Menu window.

Taskbar

Right-click the Taskbar, then click on Properties. Strangely, there is no default button. The default settings are as follows; all options under Taskbar Appearance unchecked, Taskbar location set to Bottom, Taskbar buttons set to Always combine, hide labels.

Remove Old Devices And Printers

The Devices and Printers section of the Windows Control Panel is the place to go if you need to remove peripheral hardware that is no longer in use. This usually doesn’t have an impact on performance, but has other benefits ““ for example, removing several old printers can making printing more intuitive.

Conclusion

Following these steps should restore your computer to a near-new state. This is not as complete as reinstalling Windows, and this process is not recommended if you’re trying to restore your computer after a malware attack. If you’re simply trying to speed up your computer, reduce clutter, or wipe it clean for a new user, the steps above should prove sufficient.

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15 Comments -

0 votes

Winner

With all those steps, I’d rather re-install Windows.

0 votes

Aaron Couch

I think this is right on! I do things similar to this for many friends. Thanks for the tips.

0 votes

Mrcloseencounters

I would Highly recommend that you use “services.msc” and Not “msconfig” when dealing with your start up programs.

The ‘safest’ reg. cleaner (and I don’t believe that you need one) is CCleaners in my opinion.

Just sayin

0 votes

Mrcloseencounters

I would Highly recommend that you use “services.msc” and Not “msconfig” when dealing with your start up programs.

The ‘safest’ reg. cleaner (and I don’t believe that you need one) is CCleaners in my opinion.

Just sayin

0 votes

Jessie Osorio

I would say creating another user account and removing the original (backing up document and desktop files)remove unwanted programs, that worked for me.

0 votes

Jgkinser

What specifically are you intending to fix with your suggestion?
I am dealing with trying to restore Windows Media 10 that Gates removed without notice plus he installed Media Player 11 that I always rejected, causing a massive loss of music files?
jgkinser@sbcglobal.net

0 votes

Tonyasdreaming

Will this reinstall a driver that I am not even sure how it got deleted? My cd/dvd rom was deleted and of course my comp didn’t come with a restore hard disk and I have tried going to previous restore dates and it hasn’t helped. The HP site has a lot of downloads but I’m not sure which I need. Thanks for any help!

0 votes

Aibek

Nope, I don’t this this will restore the deleted driver unless the driver comes with bare bones Windows installation by default. If you’re looking for specific driver I suggest asking for it on MakeUseOf Answers, http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/.

I am sure someone will tell you where to download it. Just make sure to provide as much details as possible.

0 votes

Fotogusar

I use Acronis Backup & Recovery.
It is an easy and reliable solution giving you the system just as it was after installation.
All you need is to make a backup of your system disk (usually C:) when you are sure that everything is working OK.
And keep ALL your data on a different disk(s)/partition(s).
As Acronis has its independent linux based recovery tool accessible before windows start, you can restore the system even after the seriows windows crash or in case of severe virus attack.
As for my comp it takes about 20 minutes to get clean system with all the soft installed and working.

0 votes

Fotogusar

I use Acronis Backup & Recovery.
It is an easy and reliable solution giving you the system just as it was after installation.
All you need is to make a backup of your system disk (usually C:) when you are sure that everything is working OK.
And keep ALL your data on a different disk(s)/partition(s).
As Acronis has its independent linux based recovery tool accessible before windows start, you can restore the system even after the seriows windows crash or in case of severe virus attack.
As for my comp it takes about 20 minutes to get clean system with all the soft installed and working.

0 votes

Aibek

Nope, I don’t this this will restore the deleted driver unless the driver comes with bare bones Windows installation by default. If you’re looking for specific driver I suggest asking for it on MakeUseOf Answers, http://www.makeuseof.com/answe

I am sure someone will tell you where to download it. Just make sure to provide as much details as possible.

0 votes

Hacker

rombo mokka

0 votes

Jgkinser

What specifically are you intending to fix with your suggestion?
I am dealing with trying to restore Windows Media 10 that Gates removed without notice plus he installed Media Player 11 that I always rejected, causing a massive loss of music files?
jgkinser@sbcglobal.net

0 votes

Julie

Argh! So much. I’m still learning computers so I’ll be getting someone to do it for me. But atleast I’ll be able to appreciate what the computer repair guy doing and where my money is going.

0 votes

Accountants

That is a lot of work for our firm of accountants when you could just simply re-install windows.