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You have a computer/laptop. It’s been sitting for awhile. How best to put it back in fighting form?
Well, there’s a bunch of ways but here’s a simple list.
- Make a bootable back up of the hard drive
- Get an external hard drive (usually USB), that is larger than the drive you want to copy
- Get a drive clone/backup tool. One of the better tools for this is Macrium Reflect. It has a nicely featured free edition which should cover the essentials and a bit more.
- Install the tool, and then plugin the drive. The drive may take awhile to appear the first time.
- Use the tool to make the back up (I recommend a ‘clone’ for these one off back ups). If you are feeling a little unsure Macrium has a rather nice user guide.
- When the backup is done, safely remove the drive, unplug from the computer and set aside in a safe place.
- Get Ccleaner from Piriform
- The free version will do 99.9% of what you want
- Install and click “Run Cleaner” (BUT read the next like before you click)
- By default this will clear your web browsing history and cache, so you may need to log back into your favorite sites after the clean
- Watch the cruft fly away.
These steps are the most basic way of clearing up a Windows computer. Some like to go a step further to check the actual health of the drive with tools like SpinRite, but that’s not a necessary step, as it will take the computer out of commission for a long time.
If you want to keep the clone backup “current” make a point of plugging it back in every week or so and running the backup software again.