| By Susan Bradley |
Would you like to squeeze more life out of that older XP computer?
Here are some tips for removing unnecessary files and freeing up some space on your PC.
A cleanup starts with the PC’s hard drive
Between holiday season feasts and visits, use some of those spare moments to do a bit of end-of-year housekeeping on your Windows XP system — and your family members’ XP machines. It will give everyone a nice start to 2012.
In most cases, a PC’s hard drive is the component most in need of a sweeping. My favorite digital broom is one I’ve discussed before in Windows Secrets: JAM Software’s TreeSize Free (site), a free utility that scans hard drives and displays the worst drive-space hogs. (A professional version, starting at U.S. $53, provides more detailed drive-space analysis and management.)
But before you run TreeSize Free — or do any other system-related cleaning — back up your PC! I don’t mean to nag, but it’s tempting to just jump into the steps I give below. However, bad things can happen whenever you delete files from your machine. If you need a good XP backup app, I recommend Runtime Software’s free DriveImage XML (info/download page).
Removing those outdated system-patch files
When it comes to deleting unneeded files, I’m frequently asked whether all those $NtUninstall (and related) folders can be removed. Fred Langa discussed this briefly way back in a Sept. 21, 2006, LangaList Plus item. The short answer is yes, you can — but with caution. Delete the most recent of those folders, and you might not be able to roll back from problematic updates.
Assuming a stable PC, go into Windows’ Add or Remove Programs tool to clean up the list of old patches, then delete any leftover files and folders. Alternatively, a faster method is to download Doug Knox’s utility, XP Remove Hotfix Backups (site), which removes the files and cleans up the add/remove Registry entries. (See Figure 1.)