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Computer Tune-Up

What is a computer tune-up?

A computer tune-up helps your Windows based computer run better, eliminate lockups, and error messages.  Many Windows problems can be attributed to running too many programs and background applications that load when your start Windows.  Some applications use a lot of Random Access Memory (RAM) and constantly access your Central processing Unit (CPU) causing your computer to run slow.  By tuning up your computer, you will make your computer to boot faster, run faster, and reduce the number of system generated error messages.


In summary, many if not the majority of common Windows problems and error messages can be solved by simply tuning up your PC. In any case you really have to follow the basic strategies here before you get down and troubleshoot a more serious problem or intermittent error message.


Who can do a computer tune-up?

You can do a computer tune-up yourself.  Before you proceed, I recommend learn about and minimize the number of unneeded applications.


If you are not comfortable doing a computer tune-up yourself, Nash Networks can do it for your.  The cost of a computer tune up from Nash Networks is $99.99.  In addition to a tune-up, Nash Networks will clean the internal computer components and conduct a security check to ensure you are protected from the latest virus, adware, and spyware.

Make sure your video drivers are up to date.  Go to the companies website for your computer manufacturer or the video card maker to check if newer video drivers are available.


If your computer is locking up without any error messages or if there are “ghosts” of open windows when you move them around, updating your video drivers may very well fix that problem.


Check the make, model, and drivers in Microsoft Windows XP by running “DXDIAG” from the Run Window.  Next click on the “Display” tab.  If Dxdiag does not show the information for your video card, you can check the Device Manager or you may have to open you computer and look for the manufacture and model number on the video card.  Some video cards are built onto the motherboard.


Once you have the information on your video card, you can now go to the manufactures website to check for updated drivers.



If you do not have anti-virus software running on your computer, check out our free software section and download anti-virus software now.  Running a “Full Scan” in your anti-virus programs ensures all files are checked, including zipped files.  If possible, it is best to run the “Full Scan” in “Safe Mode.”  Safe Mode starts your computer with minimal resources.  You will not be able to certain things such as surfing the internet.  Running your anti-virus program in Safe Mode allows for effective removal of most viruses.



Be sure to backup you computer before you make any changes.  Backup your Registry, system.ini, win.ini, autoexec.bat, and config.sys before you start tuning up your computer.  Be sure you know how to restore these files in the event your computer does not start up when you reboot.


From a DOS Prompt and from the C:\, type the below commands:

copy autoexec.bat *.bak

copy config.sys *.bak,

cd c:\windows

copy system.ini *.bak

copy win.ini *.bak


To make a manual backup of your Registry, while still in C:\Windows, type attrib -h -r -s system.dat and attrib -h -r -s user.dat and then type copy system.dat system.bac and copy user.dat user.bac. Now reset the attributes by typing attrib +h +r +s system.dat and attrib +h +r +s user.dat.



Some common places background applications initiate are:

autoexec.bat and config.sys in the root directory C:\

load= and run= in Win.ini in the C:\Windows folder

[386Enh] section of System.ini also in C:\Windows

[boot] section of System.ini, look for lines with an .exe and path at the bottom of the section.

Background apps that often cause problems include the “toys” that come with your video, sound, and/or modem card. Do a minimum install. Often you have to choose Custom to choose “drivers only”.

Background applications may also run from the following:
C:\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp

Registry keys:
Windows\CurrentVersion\Run, RunServices, or RunOnce

and HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\

Also, open up system.ini and check under the [boot] section. Look for a line that reads

If it doesn’t say shell=Explorer.exe change it to such.

To disable a line in autoexec.bat or config.sys use the edit command in DOS or sysedit in Start | Run and put a rem with a space after it in front of the line. To disable a line in win.ini or system.ini put a ;;; in front of the line.

To remove a key from the registry launch regedit, navigate to Run, RunServices, or RunOnce and right click on the key and choose delete.  Be sure to export the section fo the registry before you delete anything.  Improperly deleting something from your registry can prevent your computer from operating.

To TEMPORARILY DISABLE Background Processes from starting up in Windows98 there is a System Configuration Utility which is run by typing msconfig in the Start | Run line and hitting OK. Choose the StartUp tab and from there you can uncheck individual programs. {Startup Cop} and {StartUp Control Panel} are also startup managers that work in both Win 95 and 98.

HOWEVER, it’s always best to first try to disable any background app that you _do_ use by using its own configuration and/or preferences utility and untick lines that say “launch on startup”, “run in taskbar”, or similar jargon. Check out Add/Remove and UNINSTALL any program you are not using or need.

Many new high end sound and video cards add by default lots of drivers and background apps you may not use or even want. Check Add/Remove Programs and uninstall any special sound or video application you are not using. This may remove hundreds of registry entries and .dll files from running on bootup. Be sure you own the drivers disk or know how to get the programs back in the future if so required.

Unneeded network protocols and services very often add 20 to 60 seconds to bootup time as the software is trying to connect to a network that doesn’t exist or use a protocol that isn’t required by the host or guest. Use Control Panel | Networks to remove any protocol or service you don’t need.


Run Adware Removal Program

Adware is a program that finds and allows you to remove Spyware from your PC. Spyware often doesn’t load up in the standard areas but is often hidden in other parts of the registry. Keep in mind that some programs require the spyware components to run or the program will not work, KaZaa is a good example. Before you use a program such as Ad-Aware however, use Control Panel | Add/Remove to uninstall any instances of spyware you see there. In fact, you might want to first run a spyware detector just to see what it detects first, then use Add/Remove, then use the spyware detector to finish the job.


You can download Lavastsoft’s Adware for free.  Check out our free software links here.


Remove Unused Printers

It’s also a good idea to go to Control Panel | Printers and remove any printers you no longer use.



Boot to safe mode and remove all duplicate devices and hardware items in Device Manager. Double click on each device and than click on each dupe and select remove. Have your drivers CDs and/or floppies handy in case you need them afterwards.

Run Scandisk and Defrag in Safe Mode _only_ if you are having problems running them normally. These utilities are very important and should be run regularly.  Scandisk should be run at least once/month and Defrag at least twice/year.


If your system is always finding the same device over and over again, use Safe Mode to delete _all_ references to the device in Device Manager than when you reboot it will find the device and load the drivers automatically most of the time. If not, repeat the process but have your drivers disk handy.



The most important folder(s) to keep clean are C:\Windows\Temp and/or C:\Temp or C:\Tmp. Some computers also save .tmp files in C:\Dos. It’s OK to delete all *.tmp files in any of these folders. It’s OK to remove everything from C:\Windows\Temp even the temp directories.


Cache files are either kept in a subfolder in your browsers’ location, AOL subfolder, or in one of the C:\Windows\Temporary Internet Files folders. Netscape keeps cache files in the user folders in Program Files\Netscape\Users is a cache folder. All netscape.hst files should be located and deleted from time to time also.


AOL also keeps a file which if AOL is “sticking” or acting bad then that should be deleted as well as it keeps your history there. Warning, AOL may also keep other things in that file like your modem and dial up numbers so only delete it if AOL is running real bad so save you from setting those up again. You wont lose any personal stuff though.


Internet cache files may also be hiding in C:\Windows\Local Settings. Delete all cache files on a regular basis for best results.


Delete all *.chk files in the root directory. Empty your Recycle Bin. Clear out Recent Documents. Clear out the C:\Windows\Recent folder.

Window 98 comes with a somewhat limited cleaner called Disk Cleanup. You can find it in Accessories, System Tools.


Remember, once again, to also clean out the recycle bin. To keep files from going there press Shift when you hit Del if you are using Explorer.


Also, if you are having a sticky windows problem it can’t hurt to delete the swap file which is win386.swp but remember you have to do this from DOS. It’s located in the C:\Windows folder by default.



Disable your screen savers or set them to 1 hour. If you use power management set the time offs to 2 hours for your hard drive and monitor. Standby doesn’t work correctly on many desktops I suggest not to use it at all.


Also note that a screen saver or power management kicking in during a CD burn, file download, or software install can kill or corrupt that process as you are launching a program during that operation.



Disable FindFast. Disable any third party program that “claims to” keep your system from crashing. Disable any “Fix Windows Automatically” programs. Disable one anti-virus scanner if you have 2 running in the background. Disable any third party Windows Memory Management programs.


Many bootup and shutdown delays are caused by network services and protocols you don’t need. Look in Control Panel | Networks and remove the ones you don’t use.

MOST IMPORTANT: go to Control Panel | Add/Remove programs and uninstall any apps you are not using. Often, the latter while freeing up hard drive space will also remove hundreds of useless registry keys. Also use a program like {EasyCleaner} to remove Dead Keys.


Pay special attention to previous versions of AOL. Use Add/Remove programs to select AOL, then let it remove any previous versions. This often results in tremendous benefits to AOL users.



Take the cover off, get a can of compressed “air” and blow out all your fans and power supply. Make sure all the fans are working. There is usually one in back on the power supply, one on the CPU, and one in the lower front of your case.  Check for dust built up on the fins of the CPU heat sink. A quick blow out may not get it all. Do a careful inspection.


Check that all cables are in snug, especially power supply cables to the hard drive(s) and CDROM. If loose, try a different one or get a Y connector.


Remember to always destatic yourself by touching the metal case each and every time you touch any component. Reseat the cards and memory if you are having rebooting problems or random shutting down problems.



Make sure you that have at a minimum of 1.5xs the amount of RAM in your computer free on your C: drive at all times. If your computer has 1GB of RAM be sure you have at least 1.5GBs of hard drive space free.  Microsoft recommends at least 2GBs of free hard drive space for Windows NT/2000/XP/2003.  Go to Add/Remove Programs and uninstall any software you are not using. If space is still tight put the swap file on another hard drive or partition. Make sure there are less than 225 files [including folders] in your root directory C:.


An inadequate amount of RAM [Memory] causes slow performance due to heavy use of your swap file and very often contributes to system crashes and errors.

The minimum amount of RAM you should have for Windows 95 is 32 MB, 128 for Win98 and Me, 256 for NT, 512MB for2000, and XP.

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