* If you have more time available, do a program inventory and remove the programs you no longer need. You’d be amazed at how much clutter this can remove from your system. Then go back and clean up your data and archive your older information.

* Get rid of spyware and spam and get your Internet environment under control. If you do this, you find that using the Internet can again become productive, rather than frustrating.

* Closely examine what your computer loads without your knowledge. This is one of the key places many people overlook (even when suggesting ways to clean your computer), but Windows encounters instructions to automatically load different programs from a myriad of places (most on the Web). These programs can hog resources and slow down your system’s overall performance.

Of course, tracking down such unseen scoundrels can take a bit of time. When you have that time (and after you’ve done the other things in this list), jump in and try to figure out what’s going on. Windows provides some utilities that can help, such as the System Configuration Utility (msconfig).

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