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It is sadly the case that many Windows computers become subject to progressive sluggishness, errors, or even critical failures as they are used.  This instructable provides a general guide for speeding up your Windows 7 computer in 6 easy tasks.

Step 1: Uninstalling Unwanted Programs

Removing unnecessary programs is one of the biggest steps towards improving your computer's performance.  These programs can be unused, unnecessary, or potentially damaging to your system performance.

1.  To remove programs, first open the Start Menu, and enter "Control Panel" into the search bar. (Image 1)

2.  Navigate to the control panel and click on "Uninstall a Program" and wait for the list to be populated. (Image 2)

3.  From this window, you can view all currently installed programs, and right click to remove them. (Image 3)

Note: Many people are unsure what is necessary when confronted by this list.  Never fear, there are some pointers to get you started.

Unused  Programs:  Check the "Last Accessed" date.  If you haven't used something in a number of months, consider removing it.
Proprietary Software:  Sometimes referred to as "BloatWare", this software comes preinstalled on many preassembled computers, this software can be identified easily by the presence of a manufacturer's name in the program name.  E.G.  HP Media center, Toshiba Eco Utility.
Toolbars:  Almost everyone has accidentally installed an annoying toolbar that firmly seats itself in their web browser of choice, irritating them to no end.  Should you have a toolbar installed, it's a good idea to give it the chop.
Google:  If in doubt, Google it!
Warning:   Be careful removing software.  Driver software and other crucial programs are included in this list.  Deleting them can be very bothersome to fix.  Please refer to previous pointer, Googling is a great way to check before removing something.

If you are ever in doubt, Computer Elite has a useful list of unnecessary programs that you can feel safe removing.  (http://computerelite.net/addremlist.htm)

Note:  When this step is complete, restart your computer.

Step 2: Removing Malicious Software

The danger posed by Malicious software is an unfortunate downside to using Windows 7.  Malicious software can include viruses, keyloggers, adware, spyware, or any number of nasties that have found their way in.  While some can be troublesome to remove, this guide will take care of the vast majority of unwanted software.  Whether you know you have malicious software or not, this step should still be undertaken as a precaution.

1.  First, download the free version of MalwareBytes (http://www.malwarebytes.org/), and install the program. 

2.  You may be prompted to update immediately afterwards, this is generally a good idea.  You may remove this program later if you choose to. (Image 1)

3.  Third, run the program and select "perform a full scan".  This may take some time. (Image 2)

4.  Last, when the scan is completed, sort through the results (be there any) and remove all correctly labeled malicious software. 

Note:  It is recommended to perform such a scan on a weekly basis to prevent data loss or online fraud due to malicious software.

Step 3: Removing Junk Files

So called "junk files" can include temporary program data, unused internet  or other cache files, improperly removed programs, and related material.  These should be cleaned on occasion, as some programs do not clean up after themselves very well.  While these files do little more than take up space in the majority of cases, this step has been included by way of thoroughness.

1.  First, download the free version of CCleaner (http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download), and install the program.  Should you choose to, you may uninstall it immediately after the next step.

2.  Second, start the program and click "analyze" (Image 1)

3.  Third, check through the list that appears in the right pane and select data you won't be missing.  Things like "Internet Explorer - Temporary Internet Files", when deleted, WILL remove saved passwords and internet history.  Deselect them before proceeding if this is something you will be needing.

Note:  CCleaner is an excellent program to have around.  You may want to click around the interface and make use of the other tools included, such as the drive wiper, or system restore functions.

Step 4: System Registry

Your system registry is, in a nutshell, exactly what it sounds like.  Think of it like a giant Rolodex for your computer to use in the background.  Every little detail, such as file extensions to file classes are stored and indexed in your registry for use by the system proper.  Sometimes, errors can appear due to the computer being improperly shut down, botched uninstallations, or other factors.  Errors are rare, but while you still have CCleaner installed, checking and correcting them is a snap.

1.  First, open up CCleaner (download link in previous step), and click Registry in the left panel.  (Image 1)

2.  From there, check all the boxes on the left hand pane and click "Scan for Issues". 

3.  Once this step is complete, fix any errors with the "Fix Selected Issues" button.  Easy as that. 

Note:  You may uninstall CCleaner at this point if you wish.

Step 5: Defragmenting

Fragmented files can slow down your hard drive's read speed.  Put simply, defragmenting puts related files physically next to each other on the hard drive's spinning platter, reducing the time needed jumping around to read from different portions of the disc.  Files are likely to become fragmented when installing or uninstalling programs, or making large file transfers.  Some programs, such as Steam, are notorious for fragmenting files. 

1.  Open the start menu and navigate: All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools ->Disc Defragmenter. (Image 1)

2.  Once the defragmenter window is open, select the drives you wish to defragment, and click "Defragment Disc". 

3.  This process may take some time, but when finished will likely reduce hard drive read times. 

Note: as a part of periodical maintenance, defragmentation should be performed weekly.

Step 6: System Files- Error Checking and Repair

Your system's system files can, on rare occasions, contain serious errors.  These errors can cause everything from small hiccups in system performance to full on "Blue Screen Of Death" (BSOD) events.  As such, it's a good idea to check and possibly fix your system files every once in a while.  While errors are rare, the test for problems is easy and will not use up many system resources, allowing you to use your computer as usual while the process is ongoing.

1.  First, open the start menu, and navigate: All Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt (right click, run as administrator)
It is very important that the command prompt is running with administrator permissions, otherwise the following command will not execute .

2.  Second, in the command prompt window, type "sfc /scannow" without the quotation marks and push Enter.  (Image 1)

3.  Lastly, wait while the system files are scanned for errors.  If any exist, the system will attempt to correct them.  In the vast majority of cases it will be successful in doing so.

Note:  Many people have great trepidation about using the windows command prompt, especially when a strange guide on the internet is telling them what to do.  To put your mind at ease, try typing "sfc /?" (without quotation marks) to bring up sfc command help.  From there you can see a thorough explanation of the command and even examples of what to do with it directly from Microsoft.  (Image 2)
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<p>try Krojam Cleaner</p>
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@bigwhitebear18: I considered that, but I figured people would be more likely to execute step one if they didn't have t o download anything <br> <br>I also considered the editing of startup items from run -&gt;msconfig but in the end decided that this instructable was long enough.
nice job. each step is explained thoroughly and easy to understand. Keep up the good work.
Step 1 can also be done using CCleaner, and while you have the program open you can trim your startup programs.

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