Lottery Post Journal

Cleaning out junk from an old computer

I sent a Lottery Post member some tips on cleaning out lots of "junk" installed on their computer over the course of a few years.  I thought it maybe useful advice for anyone in the same situation, so I'll post it here too.

It's amazing how much junk accumulates on a PC, especially from someone who downloads a lot of stuff.  After a while all that junk clogs up a PC, making it slower and slower.

I hope this can benefit someone in the same boat.

Cleaning out old junk from a PC

First off, if you really want to clean an old PC, format the hard disk and do a fresh install of Windows.  (Or format the hard disk and use the CDs that came with your computer to restore it to the way you got it.)

However, that's extreme, and requires you to back up all the files you want to keep.  So for the purposes of this discussion, we'll assume you're not going to do a clean install of Windows.

Start by uninstalling programs using the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs.  Don't delete programs/applications by deleting the folder in the Program Files folder, because that will leave tons of junk on there, such as registry entries and files the program stores elsewhere on your hard disk.

After you've deleted as much as you can (and you should really try to strip it bare), you can do a few more things:

  1. Run Windows Update to make sure you have downloaded and installed all the Microsoft updates and security patches. Keep running Windows Update until there are no more updates. (After installing a round of updates, run it again, even if all the options were checked. Sometimes there will be additional updates waiting.)
  2. Delete all temporary files using the Windows Disk Cleaner tool (comes with Windows). If it's a regular desktop computer, delete the hibernation file (if prompted) because it's only used if you put the computer to sleep (typically only laptops). Check most of the other options too, especially temporary files and log files. Be careful about stuff you have no idea about.
  3. Get a good registry cleaner tool. I recommend one called "Registry Clean Expert". You can get it from, but if you're going to go with my recommendation, be sure you find that exact name (there are many). I liked it so much I purchased the real thing (something like 30 bucks.) It is easy to use, and seems to have gotten rid of all the junk in the registry.  A bloated registry is a tremendous resource hog, and will greatly slow down your PC.
  4. After cleaning the registry, do a defrag of your hard disk, using the built-in Windows defrag software.  This re-organizes the way the files are stored on your hard disk to make them more efficient.  It does not free up additional space, but it should make it faster.  Let the defrag software run overnight.


  • Great advice, people can't believe I have a 5 year old dell latitude that is faster than the box they purchased a year ago. If everybody practiced what you posted above they would need "new" machines less often. You may also want to add good virus, adware, spyware software, remove stuff from the startup you don't need, and delete unnecessary browser bars etc.. Thanks again.

    By jarasan, at 9:09 PM

  • Ah yes, the famous browser toolbars. Everyone who has installed any kind of "freebee" browser toolbar should uninstall it. Almost all involve spyware of some sort. For example, those "smiley central" add-ons, which provide the bigger smiley faces. Really great, except now you have spyware installed on your computer. Is it really worth it?

    Same goes for weather toolbars, search toolbars, etc., etc. So much junk, so little time....

    By Todd, at 11:34 PM

  • The free version of Registry Clean Expert will fix ten errors. My 2-year-old Dell had over 250 problems after running RCE, so please, PLEASE believe me when I say it's the best thirty bucks you'll ever spend.
       Before running this utility, I had to launch Windows Solitaire just so I'd have something to do while I waited for a web page to load. I'd have to wait at least a half-hour after startup before I could actually use my computer. I'd click and click, I'd pound on the F-keys (I'm beginning to understand why they're called that now) and I'd swear like a sailor, but even that didn't help. I was forced to wait until my computer finished doing whatever the hell it was doing before I could make it do whatever it was I needed to do, such as visiting I'd look at the error message, which calmly informed me, "Windows Internet Explorer - Not Responding." I refuse to be given the finger by a machine I purchased with my own hard-earned money.
       I bought and installed the full version of Registry Clean Expert at around 3:00 this afternoon. I even spent the extra eleven bucks for the CD backup, and I'm really glad I did. Now, My computer starts right up, and I can use it within five minutes of hitting the switch! Web pages come up almost immediately, I can delete junk emails with amazing speed and my MS Office Word program launches in seconds (just yesterday, it took several minutes for Word to come up after clicking on the icon).
       I've tried other registry cleaners in the past, such as Norton, and I wasn't impressed because they always left me with a message saying that there were some harmful items that couldn't be removed. I decided to try this one based solely on Todd's recommendation (that way, if it didn't work it would be Todd's fault and not mine, see?). Seriously, Todd doesn't endorse products or services with which he doesn't have some personal experience, so I thought this might be just what I was looking for, and it was. This utility will clean ALL of the junk out of your registry. After running the program, RCE told me that it had identified 257 problems. I clicked on "Fix Problems" and, about three minutes later, I received a message saying that 257 problems had been fixed!
       At this point the program asked if I wanted to restart my computer. This is a task which I absolutely dread, because my TSR's don't shut down by themselves. I have to close them one by one as I get the error messages telling me "The program is not responding." More often than not, I'll end up having to shut the computer off manually, which causes more trouble when the machine is restarted. Anyway, I said, "Sure, go ahead and restart my computer, IF YOU CAN ..." The next thing I knew, I was reading a message I hadn't seen in over a year; "Windows is shutting down ..." Why, I could barely see the screen through my tears of joy, and I sobbed openly as I fell to my knees and genuflected before the renewed power of my resurrected processor. I threw open a window and shouted to the world, "I can use my computer again! I can use my computer again!" My neighbor yelled, "Congratulations!" just before he threw a rock at my head and suggested that I celebrate more quietly, but I could tell he was happy for me. I was so overcome with the Spirit of Christmas that I tossed a ducket to the boy below my window and told him to run and buy the biggest goose in town ...
       Okay, wait ... that last part might have come from a Dickens story, but the rest of it actually happened to me. I could go on and on about the benefits of Registry Clean Expert, but I won't. If your computer is sluggish like mine was, get this product. If you'd like to know more about the Spirit of Christmas, Tiny Tim or ... (dang! what's that guy's name?) oh, yeah; Bob Sagget, send me a PM and I'll fill you in.

    By jim695, at 10:55 PM

  • Hey Jim, that's really great! I'm glad you related that story, because it's a terrific example of how the registry can be the source for many problems on a PC. In my opinion, you can tell a good registry cleaner by the fact that it handles 64-bit Vista well. It requires a lot of knowledge and experience to do that. Also, the explanations they use in the software are very clear and concise, meaning that the authors understand the topic very well. I have used registry cleaners written by people with less clear explanations, and the software corrupted my registry.

    By Todd, at 8:46 AM

  • @jim695, it will fix 10 errors at a time. Keep running it and in 15 or 20 minutes you'll have them all fixed for free. But only for 15 days. ;-)

    By LuckyLilly, at 10:03 PM

  • Thanks for the heads up, LuckyLilly. I could have run the free version over and over again, but given the simplicity and the awesome efficiency of the ustility, I went ahead and bought the full version. Every day I scan the headlines of 27 newspapers from around the world, so my computer picks up a lot of adware and spyware (a lot of it seems to come from the U.K.). Norton won't or can't remove all of the offending strings, but Registry Clean Expert removed everything Norton identified and then some. I update my Norton software about once a month but, for some reason, it always leaves something behind.
       I should point out here that I have nothing to gain by recommending this product, and I know from past experience that Todd doesn't endorse products for money. If Todd doesn't think it's any good, he won't lend his name to its promotion, so I felt perfectly safe trying this out. The simple fact is, Registry Clean Expert WORKS as advertised, and that's why I'm impressed with it. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it transformed my computer back into a user-friendly machine. I'm not exactly an idiot when it comes to computers, but I don't know enough to go poking around in the Windows registry. Someone who doesn't know what he's doing might accidentally remove a command or statement which is integral to the function of Windows, and I'm sure it would cost me considerably more than thirty dollars to put things right again, and I would lose massive amounts of important data if I was forced to re-install Windows.
       RCE also includes a feature that allows you to erase your cybertracks. It's called "Privacy Eraser" and, despite the misnomer, it seems to work as well as the registry cleaner. I don't visit porn sights because I'm married and value my life, but I do read newspapers from the Middle East (since I no longer receive sit-reps from the Pentagon, I like to keep up with what's going on over there). I stay clear of Al-Jazeera because that trips all kinds of red flags with DHS. You can configure this option to remove your password log (or to leave it unchanged) or to leave cookies from certain web sites on your hard drive so you won't have to log in every time you visit.
       For what Registry Clean Expert does, it's worth three times what they charge for it, and I would have gladly paid $100 to obtain these results. Just the day before yesterday, using my computer was more of a chore than a daily task. Now, for the first time in months, I actually look forward to logging on every day. My computer now does what I want it to do when I want it done; I don't have to wait while the spyware that's buried deep in my registry makes its report to the firm collecting my data. I can sit down, click on my MS Word icon and I'm typing like mad in seconds. I can click on in my Favorites menu, and I'm reading your posts almost before you've finished writing them. My machine is FAST again; it's MY computer and, for the first time since I can remember, I have control of it; I don't have to stand in line waiting to use it, and ending that frustration was well worth the few dollars I paid for it.
       If you have similar problems with your computer, get the free version and try it out for a couple of weeks. The download takes about ten minutes over a phone modem, and the installation wizard makes lanching the program a breeze; it really couldn't be easier. You'll see a noticeable difference immediately after restart, as your computer will now quickly do what you tell it to do.
       I've been logged on for about three hours now, and I haven't seen that maddening "Not Responding" message, and I used to get it ALL THE TIME, over and over. Basically, my computer was telling me, "Screw off! Can't you see I'm busy doing something else?" I didn't like that very much, as I get enough of that attitude from my teenage daughter (if I thought it would help, I'd stuff that CD somewhere ...).

    By jim695, at 3:50 PM

  • If you are lazy you can get a drive cleaning utility from or maybe just buy Windows Washer to clean stuff off.

    By Think, at 10:07 PM

  • @Think: The problem with many of those all-purpose "Windows Washer" programs (or whatever they are called) is that they purposely do lots of different things, to make you feel that the software is valuable. The truth is, as Jim has exemplified, that there are a few key things that control the majority of performance problems. These things are called the "bottlenecks". The things I mentioned are very common problems of regular users' PCs, and when you fix them they have genuine performance benefits. Lots of other things "fixed" by "washer" type programs don't really have much of an impact.

    However, this is just my opinion I'm offering. I don't corner the market on advice, and everyone's situation is different. I'm just hoping that I can help a few people past some of the things that I've learned the hard way. (So they don't have to.)

    By Todd, at 10:16 PM

Post a Comment

<< Home