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Windows Maintenance and Optimizing Tips

Back up Important Files

Back up important files to a USB drive. USB drives and a spare computer worked for me when Microsoft without warning changed Windows 7 so it no longer supports a LPT port, (old fashion printer port), which crashed my computer cost me days to troubleshoot and the another $150 to pay an expert to troubleshoot and another 3 days to reinstall the software needed to use all my saved data.

Keep Drivers Up to Date

The number one cause of the infamous blue screen of death in Windows NT and beyond are drivers that need to be updated.

The safest way to upgrade your hardware drivers is by using an update utility from company who made your hardware if there is one.

The hard part if you search for the manufacturer and driver page is to avoid accidentally installing a program that promises to check your computer for the correct drivers and then wants you to pay them to install it for you. Some companies like Intel have real software that really checks your computer and downloads and installs the most current driver. It's really hard to tell them apart.

The last driver released is usually the one you should be using. Hopefully, you saved the manuals or boxes that came with your computer cards and motherboards. You need these for identifying the correct component inside your computer to choose the right files to download. If not don't worry. Freeware programmers wrote some awesome programs to rescue you. The programs below work well as your hard drive. If your hard drive failed before you obtained a printout of what's inside-- start looking for those boxes.

Snappy Driver Installer free portable Windows 32 and 64 bit hardware driver installer utility. Download SDI Lite. Extract the files to whatever location you want run your utility from, and pin either the 32 bit or 64 bit exe file (depending what version of Windows you use,) to your start menu. To install/update existing drivers and your PC already connects to the Internet, you only need to download the indexes after you start the program.

Check-mark the options to Create a restore point and Reboot PC after installation boxes. Then check-mark the driver that needs to be updated. Click on Install. Updating hardware drivers has never been easier.

Update one driver at a time to ensure the last restore point will revive your PC if needed. SDI correctly identified a new version for a USB hub driver. This new driver was incompatible with the mouse driver, so I was glad I could revert back to my old driver via System Restore in Windows Safe Mode but keep all the other new current working drivers that I just finished updating.

Slimware Drivers Saves from the uncertainty of trying to figure which drivers our Sony Laptop needs as their site offers multiple possibilities since they assembled the same model with the same parts from multiple manufactures. Simplifies updating drivers for our Windows 7 tower. Can now say with certainty, "Yes all my drivers are updated." Only usable with an Internet connection installed. Does not identify drivers your system hasn't already identified. Simplifies keeping drivers updated only.

Undo & Temporarily Prevent Driver Updates Instructions on how to protect your up to date working drivers from Microsoft Update in Windows 10. Turning off "automatically updating your devices" in Advanced Windows Settings on Device Installation Settings on the Hardware tab works for Windows 7 too.

Identifying your System Hardware Freeware

CrystalCPUID Freeware program that reports motherboard, bios, cache, chipset and cpu info on your system. Runs from extracted zip file.

HWinFO 32 and 64 bit Windows system hardware diagnostic and monitor. Also has a portable version. Lots of good info on your PC hardware. Beware of their e-support- Driver updates had a bad WOT rating and BIOSAgentPlus says it's free but has a refund form in case the software is useless which makes me think BIOSAgentPlus costs money.

Speccy Fast, lightweight, advanced system information tool for your PC. Lists installed software versions, scheduled time for updates, what temperature the CPU is running at and more important: Is the temperature OK.

System Ninja is a cleaner that rids your system of unneeded junk. This freeware program includes a tab labeled PC Analysis that will display the info that's needed to document your current drivers.

Win Audit freeware program quickly identifies all hardware and software installed in your system. Shows details on installed software, license information, peripherals, memory usage, processor model, network settings, startup programs and more.

Software to install on your Emergency USB drive before your PC Crashes

Snappy Driver Installer free portable Windows 32 and 64 bit hardware driver installer utility. Download SDI Full. Extract the files to a USB drive. Will let find the right files to connect to the Internet while your still offline and find the right drivers for your system on a clean install.

Complete Internet Repair Tool to repair Internet connections and get you up and running. It can reset TCP/IP, repair Winsock, renew connections, flush DNS, flush ARP cache, repair Internet Explorer, clear update history, repair Windows update, repair HTTPS and reset proxy, and Firewall settings. Download page also features a free DVD Drive Repair tool.

Windows Repair All in One Every once in a while a program that you never should have installed on your computer changes your settings-- somehow.... Or some bit of malware picked up while surfing... Or your disk drive went corrupt without any help... Windows Repair All in One freeware program lets you reset your settings to Windows default.

Defrag the Hard Drive HDD Only

Disk fragmentation on older system XP and below leads to system slowdowns, PC crashes, slow startup and shutdown and sometimes system failures. Window 7 and up are recommending using the defrag that comes with the operating system if running of a hard drive as opposed to a SSL drive.

In Windows XP to start the defrag utility, click on the Start button, then move your mouse over Programs, then choose Accessories, then System Tools, then click on Disk Defragmenter. Highlight the drive you wish to defrag by clicking your left mouse button once on the drive. Click on the Analyze button, this will check the selected drive for fragmentation, the utility will then inform you if the drive needs defragmenting. If the drive needs defragmenting click the Defragment button. It sometimes takes hours depending on the size of the drive. In Windows 9x you must turn off your screensaver first.

Disk Defragmentation Utilities Reviews both free and commercial utilities.

Cleanup some more after installs, updates, and uninstalling

System Ninja removes junk and cleans temporary files that CCleaner misses.

Smatterings: Registry Cleaning Corrupt registries is a likely reason to reformat your hard drive. Regular housekeeping after upgrading versions and uninstalling software keeps this file lean and accurate.

Windows Registry System Tweaks Tools and Tips

Registry System Tweaks and Free Utilities for Windows Performance Registry tweaks to enhance Windows performance includes Internet connection tweaks, Firefox About:Config Tweaks, Vista optimizing, Win 7+ optimizing tips and Windows third party free system patches.

Braving the Registry Warning! Avoid editing your registry after exhaustion threatens to guide your hand into pressing the wrong keys. Instructions for backing up Windows Registry.

About:Config Tweaks and Free Utilities for Firefox Performance Firefox is needs to be tweaked to browse on the Internet. Sometimes you have to turn things off that the new builds turn off. But it also has more apps written for it to add functions and safety not found in other browsers.

Call It A Day For when you should have quit working on your computer hours ago. Things to try before reformatting your hard drive and tips on what to do if you must start over from scratch.

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