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Information Technology Help Desk

System Tune Up (for Windows VISTA computers) in 8 Easy Steps

Note: Some of the tasks below require that you be logged into your computer using a Windows administrator account. Before trying any of the steps below, close any programs in use and save any necessary work. After you have finished performing the steps, please reboot your computer. If you have any problems with these steps, or are unsure if you are following them correctly, skip the section that you are attempting to complete and do not make any changes. Please contact the IT Help Desk (568-3555) if you need any assistance. For more information see Troubleshooting and Self-Help.


  1. Use the Disk Cleanup utility
  2. Remove Unnecessary Startup Items
  3. Remove Unused Programs
  4. Scan for Viruses and Malware
  5. Clear Browser Cache
  6. Make Sure Your Hardware is Operating Correctly
  7. Run Disk Error Checking
  8. Run Disk Defragmenter


Step #1:   Use the Disk Cleanup utility

  • Double-click My Computer, right-click the hard disk on which you want to free space, which is typically your Local Disk (C:)
  • Click Properties, and then, on the General tab, click Disk Cleanup.



  • When prompted, choose which files to clean up - either "My files only" or "Files from all user on this computer".
  • If prompted, click Continue.
  • On the Disk Cleanup tab, click to select the check boxes of the files that you want to remove (be sure to put a check mark beside of all Temporary Files), click OK, click Delete Files, and then click OK.



Step #2:   Remove Unnecessary Startup Items

  • Right click on the Start button
  • Click Open All Users
  • Open the Programs folder
  • Open the Startup folder



  • Delete any items that you do not need running when Windows starts



Step #3:   Remove Unused Programs

Over time you may find that you have applications installed that you do not use or you have never used. Removing these applications will free resources on your computer. Remember, if you are unsure as to whether you need a program on your computer, do not remove it.
To remove unnecessary programs:

  • Click Start, Control Panel
  • In Classic View, double click Programs and Features
  • Scroll through this list and find any programs that you are sure you do not need (if in doubt leave it!)



  • To uninstall a program, select it from the list and then click Uninstall, Change, or Repair and follow the prompts. Note that each program may vary as to which of the three options will be available.



Step #4:   Scan for Viruses and Malware

For complete info see Self-Help

  • Open Symantec AntiVirus (double click the gold shield in the lower right corner of your desktop)
  • Make sure your Virus Definition File date is not more than several days old. If it is, click the Live Update button and follow the prompts to update your virus definitions.
  • In the left hand column, click the + sign beside of Scan and then click Full Scan
  • In the lower right corner of the dialog box, click Scan



For personally-owned computers used off-campus:

  • If you do not already have Symantec AntiVirus, you can download it from JMU
  • Open Symantec Antivirus and run Live Update
  • Download any updated program files or virus definitions available
  • Follow the above directions to scan your computer



Step #5:   Clear Browser Cache

For Internet Explorer

  • Click Start, Control Panel
  • Using Classic View, double click the Internet Options icon
  • Choose the General tab
  • Under the Browsing History section, click Delete
  • Click Delete All



  • When prompted check the box that says Also delete files and settings stored by add-ons
  • Click Yes
  • Click OK



Step #6:   Make Sure Your Hardware is Operating Correctly

  • Click Start and in the Start Search box type device. Double click Device Manager. Click Continue if prompted.



    Note: Device Manager will allow you to see the hardware that is currently installed on your system. When you open Device Manager you will see a listing of hardware categories. If one of your devices is not working properly, an error icon will appear next to the name of the device. If Device Manager cannot identify the device, it will label it an unknown device. In such cases, it may be necessary to update the drivers for a given device. To do this, double click the device, click the Driver tab, and then click Update Driver.






Step #7:   Run Disk Error Checking

Disk Error Checking has the ability to check the disk surface of the hard drive and fix damaged files. It is recommended that you use this utility when you do not need to use your computer for an extended period of time. Scanning will run more quickly and with less interruption if performed while in Safe Mode. However, Safe Mode it is not necessarily required.

To Enter Safe Mode:

  • Restart your computer
  • As soon as your computer begins starting back up, press the F8 key several times
  • Highlight Safe Mode from the options presented and press the Enter key
  • When prompted that Windows is running in Safe Mode, click Yes
  • Once Windows loads, you will notice the words "Safe Mode" displayed in the corners of your desktop
  • Note: To exit Safe Mode (once done with steps below), simply restart your computer

To perform Disk Error Checking

  • Double-click My Computer, and then right-click the hard disk drive that you want to check, typically the Local Disk (C:)
  • Click Properties, and then click the Tools tab
  • Under Error-checking, click Check Now and if prompted click Continue



  • When prompted, click to put check marks beside the Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors option boxes (Note: Uncheck these options for a quicker but less thorough scan)



  • Click Start





Step #8:   Run Disk Defragmenter

Disk Defragmenter moves files around the hard drive so that they can be accessed more quickly. It is recommended that you use this utility when you do not need to use your computer for an extended period of time. Defragmenting will run more quickly and with less interruption if performed while in Safe Mode. However, Safe Mode it is not necessarily required.

To Enter Safe Mode:

  • Restart your computer
  • As soon as your computer begins starting back up, press the F8 key several times
  • Highlight Safe Mode from the options presented and press the Enter key
  • When prompted that Windows is running in Safe Mode, click Yes
  • Once Windows loads, you will notice the words "Safe Mode" displayed in the corners of your desktop
  • Note: To exit Safe Mode (once done with steps below), simply restart your computer

To run Disk Defragmenter

  • Double click the My Computer icon on your desktop
  • Right-click the local disk volume that you want to defragment, typically Local Disk (C:)
  • Click Properties and then click the Tools tab
  • Click Defragment Now



  • Note that you also have the option to schedule regular defragmentations.





For more information see Troubleshooting and Self-Help.