How to Clean Off PC Junk

By Techwalla Computers Editor

Junk can accumulate on a computer faster than you may realize and cleaning should be part of your routine maintenance. Cleaning the junk off the PC is simple, although it can be time consuming if you haven't done it before. This article assumes Windows XP is being used, but these steps can easily be modified for Windows 2000.

Step 1

Clean your temporary internet files. In Internet Explorer go to the "Tools" menu and choose "Internet Options." On the General Tab under "Browsing History" select "Delete." A new 'Delete Browsing History" box appears. Under "Temporary Internet Files," select "Delete Files." Under "Cookies," select "Delete Cookies." Delete "History" if you do not need to view old pages you have visited. Delete "Form Data" to clear any saved information you have used to fill out forms on the web. Alternately you can choose "Delete All" at the bottom of the page. This will give you the option to delete files and settings stored by add-ons.

Step 2

Delete temporary Internet files in Firefox by choosing "Tools," "Clear Private Data" and checking all the boxes you want cleared.

Step 3

Perform a Disk Cleanup. In Windows XP choose "Start," "All Programs," "Accessories," "System Tools" and then "Disk Cleanup." Disk Cleanup will review your disk to gather files for possible deletion and will then present you with options. Click on the files to see a description of the content, and place a check mark in each box you would like to delete.

Step 4

Defragment your disk. In Windpws XP again choose "Start," "All Programs," "Accessories," "System Tools" and then "Disk Defragment." The "Disk Defragmenter" box opens and you are presented with the options "Analyze" or "Defragment." Analyze your hard disk and Windows will suggest that you should or should not defragment at this time. If you choose to defragment, you should save all data in all running programs, close all running applications and then defragment. This is best done at night, or whenever the process will not be interrupted.

Step 5

You might want to consider uninstalling programs that you no longer use. To do this, review your programs list, write down programs that you no longer need, and then go to "Start," "Control Panel," and click on "Add/Remove Programs" to find these programs in the list.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use the task scheduler to set dates and times to perform these clean up tasks on a regular basis. Some security applications like Norton and McAfee will set these up for you.
  • Don't remove a program unless you are sure it is unneeded. Just because you don't recognize a program doesn't mean it isn't important--always double check.
  • Delete passwords only if you have them written down somewhere or are sure you remember them. Once you delete your passwords you will have to type them in by hand again whenever you sign into password protected pages.