Cleaning Out Old Software

Is your PC running slowly?  Sometimes older software can stick around and still load when Windows starts up.  In this article we’ll discuss how to clean out any old programs you are no longer using.

Aside from malicious pest software or viruses, which often cause slowness on a PC, legitimate software can be removed from your Control Panel, found on the Start menu. In the Control Panel, open Add or Remove Programs to see a list of installed software. Scrolling down the list you will recognize some of the names, such as Microsoft Office. They key of course is to not remove programs you are using!

Accordingly ITS suggests limiting your uninstalling spree to programs you definitely recognize and no longer need. Generally we advise users to remove any sort of add-in "browser toolbar" for example, and you may find some programs such as Acrobat Reader have installed instant messaging programs that you do not need. You may want to look in the taskbar (down by the clock) to see what programs are currently running in the background. Windows XP users can click the left arrow ("<") to view hidden icons. Sometimes you can right click on an icon there and choose Exit to close the program without uninstalling it (though it will probably launch again when Windows is restarted).

If you rarely open Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files, you may not need the "Adobe Reader Speed Launch" program that is installed with Reader 7.0, and runs when your PC boots. Since you do not want to uninstall Acrobat Reader, in this case you should delete the icon from your Startup folder. To do so, click Start/All Programs/Startup, then right click the "Adobe Reader Speed Launch" icon and select Delete. While in the Startup folder, also note if any other programs are running at Startup and decide if they can be removed as well.

August 2006

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