posts - 81, comments - 262, trackbacks - 0

Digital Spring Cleaning

It's a new year, a new spring semester, and my school, the University of Florida, gave us a nice present. They have obtained a site license for Windows 7 Ultimate and Office 2010 Professional Plus for the students and faculty. We can obtain each for just $15. Combined with our MSDNAA account for engineering students, this makes just about everything made by Microsoft free for the Engineering students.

The spur of new software and a clean start motivated me to put some time into some early spring cleaning on my primary computer, a desktop replacement laptop.

One of my first steps was to install Office 2010, which was met with a nice installation 1402 setup error regarding the registry entries for the installer. The solution for me was to simply over right the permissions of those keys from the Components level down. More explicitly, run regedit as an administrator. Find the key hklm\software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Installer\UserData\S-1-5-18\Components and right click Components, select permissions, advanced, the owner tab, and change the owner to Administrators and check the checkbox for replace on all sub containers. Click okay and the problem should be solved if it was the same problem I had. Note that this is a nice little trick for resurrecting rights to a set of files on disk as well. Well, trick may be over glorifying it…

With Office installed I did an upgrade anytime upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate. The process couldn't be any simpler, just click start and search for 'upgrade' and click any time upgrade. Enter your key and wait for fifteen minutes or so (and the reboot).

After the upgrade I had finished my changes to Windows, so I ran Windows update a few times after un-hiding hidden updates (I had a few hidden that failed previously due to Office 2007). Be sure to re-check for updates after installing updates, some updates don't show until their dependencies are installed.

Now for my 'superficial' security, I updated Microsoft Security Essentials and ran a Quick Scan. Neat, no viruses or spy-ware… As an aside, the best security for a computer is a smart user and conversely nothing more dangerous than a 'risky' user.

With Windows up-to-date and scanned I next chose to clean up the hard drive. One tool I find essential for this is TreeSize Free, which has a new version. First I updated the version, which was a nice improvement over the last, and started a full scan of my drive. Space for me is still at a premium because of the 130GB SSD; for me every GB matters.

  • The scan reminded me of some games I had installed and no longer played. The games Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 were huge on disk, so I removed them without issue through Steam.
  • It also pointed out that my Outlook files were excessively large and needed to be compacted. To do so, right click a mail folder in Outlook 2010 (the main folder for an account) select Data File Properties, and go to Advanced. Then choose Compact now. I did this for each of my accounts. Note that it takes a few minutes for a large account.
  • My Google application data was in excess of a Gig and needed to be cleared. I started Chrome, went to options, under the hood and clicked 'Clear browsing data…'
  • The same was true for Internet Explorer. I went to Internet Options and deleted my browsing History.
  • I manually emptied my 'Temp' folders. They can, by definition, be deleted at will (I killed the contents, not the folder).
  • I deleted the contents of my 'Downloads' folder, good for many Gigabytes.
  • Note that if you a running a Vista Service Pack you can save some space in WinSXS.
  • I deleted C:\Dell, where Dell loves to extract software.
  • Finally don't forget to empty the Recycling bin.

I then simply cleaned up my Desktop. There is something to be said of keeping things looking clean. It reminds me of a mechanic saying the best way to make a customer feel like their car is running better is to clean their windshield. My desktop is my windshield, and it is clean. I also cleaned the actual screen.

My next focus was on bringing software up to date. My favorite text editor, Notepad2, was a version behind and needed to be updated. Note that I replace Window's notepad with Notepad2 by replacing the file in the Window's directory. This is probably not the best practice, but it's worked great for me for years. Note to do so you have to take ownership of the original notepad file and add modify rights for yourself.

I also installed the newest versions of Pidgin, Adobe Reader (through help update), Sumatra PDF, Winamp, and Dropbox (yes, that's a referral link. It gives both you and me extra space).

I then checked Dell for new drivers for my laptop. I chose to let it check my service tag because it's simply easier than flipping the laptop. I also downloaded and installed new video drivers from NVIDIA. They added some 3D Vision links to my start menu… not too thrilled about that, but oh well.

Next I checked the Windows logs for any errors that have been occurring. This is perhaps the most important maintenance step imho. Right click computer in the start menu, select manage, and expand the Event Viewer under System Tools and then Windows Logs, Application. I looked through my events, filtering for Warnings, Critical and Errors. These results will vary heavily between computers so Google will be your friend. Try to search by unique things in the error, such as file names, error numbers and the like. Inspection of my logs pointed out that I had to do the following

After checking the logs I went back to removing bloat and uninstalled old Applications I no longer needed.

To increase login performance I ran msconfig and removed some applications from startup (Almost everything).

Along the same vein I then stopped unnecessary services by running services.msc. Note that the important thing is to change the startup type to manual on optional services. I made services by Apple 'Manual' for example (Bonjour being one of them). Starting iTunes will re-enable these services.

Note that I did not run Disk Defrag as I have a SSD, which in general should not be defragged.

Finally, I ran a Full Backup of my Machine.

A final reboot and the machine is running like new for the new year.







Print | posted on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 8:41 AM |

Powered by:
Powered By Subtext Powered By ASP.NET