Activities to perform a PC Healthcheck

Having been given a friends laptop with issues (booting very slowly, and throwing regular errors). It hadn’t been maintained for a longer time, so I went searching the Internet for some ideas for a PC healthcheck (having drafted a basic list myself), but found very little of any use at all. This entry aims to give you a view of what I ran, which hopefully may prove useful to others looking to do the same type of thing.

Items are in my recommended order.

  1. Virus scan
    Free virus scanner available from AVG: http://www.avg.com
  2. Windows Malicious Software Tool
    Can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/security/malwareremove/default.aspx
  3. Uninstall useless software, including browser toolbars
    It never ceases to amaze me what rubbish is installed on peoples machines. A regular visit to “Add/Remove Programs” in the Control Panel is vital to keep your machine clear of unwanted software which maybe stealing memory as well as disk space from you!
    Search the internet for any items not by a major brand, as you may find it to be less than honest (on my friends laptop, I found looks of “search optimisation” software, to improve her searching experience in theory. In practice, it was stealing information, and making money from her web searches by opening popups). Be particularly suspicious of browser toolbars, these slow browsers down and many are the cause of popups and data theft.
  4. Chkdsk/f
    Scans your hard drive for data and index corruptions and attempts to fix. Run “chkdsk/f” from Command Prompt. You’ll need to agree to restart your machine, and the scan will happen during the restart.
  5. sfc/scannow
    System File Checker – run “sfc/scannow” from Command Prompt. Given regular error messages, I ran this command to verify the integrity of the Windows System files (suspecting that some files were corrupt due to viruses found in step 1).
  6. Bootvis (optional)
    Available from: http://majorgeeks.com/download.php?det=664
    This Microsoft tool is no longer available from Microsoft as they claim Windows handles speeding up boot times itself in the background. I did however download it, as it is widely reported to still improve boottimes, plus is helpful in seeing what drivers are slowing the boot. In my case, AVG was actually the main slowdown ironically!
  7. Microsoft Update / patch key software and drivers
    For a machine to run efficiently, it needs the latest drivers, so I recommend visiting Microsoft Update (http://www.update.microsoft.com/) and downloading any updates, plus updating any other key software you have on your machine, particularly anything that loads on startup.
  8. Run a registry cleaner
    Over time your registry gets messy, with lots of orphaned entries (entries needed and added by software that you have since uninstalled). Eusing Free Registry Cleaner is the one free registry cleaner that I trust… important, as once again this is an area where a lot of dodgy software exists.Eusing Free Registry Cleaner is available from their website: http://www.eusing.com/free_registry_cleaner/registry_cleaner.htm and is of course free.
  9. Compact your registry
    Also available for free from Eusing is Eusing Free Registry Defrag, well worth downloading, as your registry can get bloated in size, slowing boot times.
    http://www.eusing.com/free_registry_defrag/registry_defrag.htm
  10. Disk Cleanup
    Emptying the recycle bin, internet cache, temporary files etc.. is a great thing to do once in a while. Running Disk Cleanup does most of this for you. If you use a browser other than IE, you’ll need to empty that cache separately.
    Tip: If you’re like me and avoid the “Compress Files” option for Disk Cleanup, you’ll find the start time of Disk Cleanup a wind-up, as it spends ages on the Compress Files option. To stop Disk Cleanup considering the Compress Files options, simply delete the entries in the “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\VolumeCaches” (you may want to keep a record of these in-case you want to re-enable this option in the future!). Disk cleanup will start a LOT quicker now!
  11. Disk Defragmentation
    I leave this until last as some of the activities above will cause fragmentation. Obviously you may want to run earlier too as defrag is a great way to improve the overall speed of your machine.

I hope that helped!

Any ideas for further items? If so, feel free to add a comment.

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