|"clean out my 'temp files', 'index.dat', 'history', picture log file"|
Data that is taking up drive space but is not running or in the registry does not slow down Windows performance , unless you don't have more than a reasonable minimum amount of free space left on the C partition. The only thing more data than less affects is how long it takes for programs that scan more data to complete, e.g. Defrag, full virus scans, searches.
Look at your hard drive activity led. You should not get a delay opening a file when that's not on.
If the hard drive activity led is on a lot after Windows has fully loaded, you probably have things that are running that are using too much cpu time. You don't necessarily have malware, and it usually isn't malware that is using the cpu time.
Some things tend to run after the first time you have started up Windows on a particular day, but not after that on the same day.
When your hard drive activity led is on a lot, press Alt-Ctrl-Del to pop up Task Manager and look at the Processes list to see what is using the cpu time. Expand the Task Manager window.
If you don't know what something is that is using a lot of cpu time, copy down the name of it and look it up on the web.
There is usually more than one instance of SVCHOST.EXE - if one of those is using a lot of cpu time, SVCHOST.EXE is a "slave" program that is used by other programs that are usually not in the Task Manager list. To find out which programs are using SVCHOST.EXE, you need to use a program such as Process Explorer, available on the Microsoft web site.
- Automatic Update (wu.....) set to default settings is sometimes downloading updates in the background. You can change the settings so it merely notifies you updates are available, and then you choose when to download them, when to load your computer by doing that.
- anti-malware software is often loading anti-malware info updates or program updates in the background, by default. Usually it does that just after the first time you boot the computer on a particular day, or after a specific time that's in the settings for the program. You could wait for that to complete, or change the settings in the program and have it check for updates when you want it to.
- anti-malware software is often set to run a FULL scan of your computer in the background by default once a day when you install it - it runs just after the first time you boot the computer on a particular day, or after a specific time that's in the settings for the program.
If you don't want to run a full scan every day, disable that scheduled scan.
I only run one when I notice something suspicious.
- some anti-malware software slows down Windows more than other anti-malware software. E.g. Norton products have a reputation of slowing your system more than others, e.g. AVG, Avast!.
- don't use the Windows Search (Windows Desktop Search) add-on for XP on a slower computer (less than 3ghz) . It uses an excessive amount of cpu time. It's supposed to build search indexes in the background when you're not actively doing something, but once it starts doing that it does not stop running when you resume actively using the computer. If you have installed it, you can uninstall it in Add Remove Programs.
- WMP 10 and 11 have a Media share feature. If that is enabled (it may be enabled by default ?) a process wmpnetwk.exe is using a lot of computer time. If you stop it from running in Task Manager, it restarts again in a short time.
"WMP FAQ (WMP 10 and 11)
How do I turn on Media sharing ?
1. Click the arrow below the Library tab, and then click Media Sharing.
2. In the Media Sharing dialog box, select the Share my media to check box."
I clicked on the box beside Share my Media to REMOVE the checkmark.