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How to perform Windows 7 Maintenance & Optimization

Symptom

Your computer begins to exhibit slower than normal boot-up and performance speeds.

Cause

  1. Too many background applications and the lack of normal maintenance
  2. Virus/Malware infection – seek professional help to avoid losing data
  3. Data Corruption – seek professional help to avoid losing data
    (If you suspect Data Corruption and are willing to take the risk of fixing it yourself you can begin by preforming Step 4 in the Solution section first. This step will fix minor data corruption, but could aggravate major data corruption)

Purpose

This document was written to empower the user to perform normal maintenance and optimization thus addressing the first cause of slow boot-up and performance.

Minimum Hardware Recommendations

Many times the cause of slow performance is the lack of physical memory for the operating system and applications to load into. Also a conventional hard drive will dip in performance once it is more then 50% full. If your hard drive is over 90% full then you’re taking the risk of your computer failing to load to the desktop. Lastly if your processor is not at least an Intel core duo then you really should consider replacing your current system.

Processor:   Intel Core Processor (i3/i5/i7)
Memory:      8GB minimum / 16GB or greater recommended
Hard Drive:  Less than 50% full / More than 50% available (Solid State Drive (SSD) is extremely recommended)

Prerequisites

  1. Data backup – Although preforming maintenance is non-destructive it can be hard drive intensive and thus bring a failing drive to the failure point. Ensure that you have a recoverable backup of your data.
  2. No running applications – Close all running applications (including the apps you can close in your system tray) so that they do not interfere with maintenance tasks
  3. Administrator – You must sign into an account with administrative privileges

Solution

Step 1 – Application cleanup

  1. Inspect your System Tray and check each of the background applications that are running
    1. If you don’t use it often, but you still need it then try modifying the settings so that it does not load automatically
    2. If you don’t use it then write down its name to uninstall it
    3. If you don’t know what it does, then Google the name to understand its function

(Note: If you’re still unsure do not remove the application till you’ve check with an IT professional.  Quitting applications will only last until you reboot, then they will auto-load again.)

  1. Open your Control Panel and under Programs select Uninstall a program then examine each application
    1. Uninstall the system tray applications you no longer use
    2. Uninstall adware applications like browser plugins and weather bug
    3. Uninstall the standard applications that you no longer use
    4. If you’re unsure what an application does, then google the name to understand its function before deciding whether to uninstall it

(Note: The goal is to remove applications you don’t use and those that have duplicate functionality.  Don’t be a hoarder.)

Step 2 – System maintenance

  1. Open Control Panel, click on System and Security, under Action Center click on Troubleshoot common computer problems, under System and Security click on Run maintenance task
  2. In the System Maintenance window click the Advanced link and click on Run as administrator
  3. Click the Next button to begin
  4. Click the Close button when the task completes

Step 4 – File system check

  1. Click on the Start menu, click on All Programs, click on the Accessories folder then right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator from the contextual menu
  2. At the confirmation dialog box click on the Yes button
  3. At the command prompt type the following command:
    1. For standard/conventional hard drives
      chkdsk /B and press the Enter key
    2. For Solid State Drives
      chkdsk /F and press the Enter key
  1. When you are asked to schedule the file system check type Y and press the Enter key
  2. Close the Command Prompt window and from the Start menu reboot your computer

Step 5 – Action Center

  1. Open your Control Panel and under System and Security click on Review your computer’s status
  2. Check each item listed and resolve as appropriate

Step 6 – Defragmentation: Run once every 3 months (Conventional Drives Only – Not for SSDs)

  1. Click on the Start menu, click on All Programs, click on the Accessories folder then click on Disk Defragmenter
  2. Select your boot volume (usually labeled C:) and click on the Defragment disk button

Final Recommendations

  1. Do’s
    1. Backup your data (to a local backup and off-site or in the cloud)
    2. Install the latest Anti-Virus/Malware protection software and keep the definitions current
    3. Enable your Windows firewall
    4. Use disk encryption if you keep credit card or patient data
  2. Don’ts
    1. Allow sites to examine your drive
    2. Install free utilities when prompted by a website to correct a problem
    3. Install browser plugins when prompted by a website (instead go directly to the developer to download and install the plugin)