Step 1 - De-clutterA hard drive becomes slower when you have more installed on it. The reason for this is that windows needs to search more of the drive to find it. Remove any programs through ADD/REMOVE PROGRAMS that you havent used in a long time.
There are also some really good (and free!) clean up utilities out there on the net. One that I use that really removes all the temporary junk of the hard drive is called CleanUp!. Just do a search on google for this and download it.
If you dont want to use that, you can use the disc cleanup manager in windows to remove the excess temp files.
Step 2 - Defrag Your DiscThis is one of the most important things you can do in windows. When you keep installing and uninstalling programs, it arranges them all over the place on your hard drive. Windows then has to search for this and this can take some time. When you run the defrag util in windows, it searches for all the files, and then puts them all in order making your disc a lot quicker. I tend to do mine about once a month.
Step 3 - Check for virusesGet yourself some decent anti virus software. People will tell you that the free ones work just as well. I've tried some and I say otherwise. I tend to use an all in one security system that contains a virus checker and firewall all in one. One really good one at the moment is McAfee Internet Security. This provides active protection against viruses and hackers, and you can also schedule a virus scan whenever you like. I would recommend that you do one every Friday night.
Step 4 - Bannish SpywareThis stuff is getting more and more popular. It can be downloaded automatically by visiting certain websites and can also be bundled with shareware software that you download.
There are two different types. Spyware and Adware. Adware sits on your PC and flashes up ads saying that you have spyware and click here to download some FREE protection. DONT. Its not free its just more adware junk. Spyware is the nasty one. Really serious cases can monitor your key strokes, reporting them back to a hacker who can then gain access to your personal details. Just think if you use internet banking and have spyware, someone could remove the money from your account.
Don't pannic though as there are ways to protect your pc. Make sure that you have a firewall installed as this will prevent hackers getting into your PC and it will warn you when a program is trying to call home. Also get some anti-spyware software installed. Microsoft have just launched windows defender which provides real time protection against spyware.
As with the virus scan, try and schedule a scan once a week. Following the above tips will keep your machine running nice and smoothly. Thanks for taking the time to read this article.