Freeing-up the C Drive Without Removing any Programs!

Running on low space in C drive and having a hard time choosing between which apps to uninstall? Don’t bother, you do have other choices! Here are some alternate ways to free up your system drive. Go ahead, and give them a try!

Low Disk Space Warning

1) Deleting the old Restore Points:

Why is it okay?

All the operating systems after Windows 2000 have included certain recovery options in them. After every major Windows update or software install, a restore point is automatically created. After a couple of months of use, they get piled up and use up to 10% of your precious disk space. Half the people aren’t even aware of this fact!

Well, creating restore points is useful. It allows you to revert back the changes if things get messed up. Restoring works wonders if issues are created through unclean install. But let’s be practical here. Such cases are rare. So when the low disk space warning pops its head up, it’s wise to get rid of them and reclaim some free space. We’re gonna let a couple of recent restore points stay, just to be safe.

The How-to Part:

Let’s first delete all the old restore points and then change some settings to prevent them from hogging up your disk space.
Follow these steps:

  1. Open (My) Computer. Right click on the drive you want to free up.C: Properties
  2. Click on Properties option, and on Disk Cleanup.Disk Cleanup
  3. Check whichever you think is consuming unnecessary space of your drive. Now to remove old restore points, the procedure depends on the OS.
    1. In case of Windows XP,
      • Click on More Options tab.
      • Now click on the Clean up option under System restore. A confirmation dialogue will appear. Click on Yes.
    2. In case of Windows 7 or 8,
      • Click on Clean up system files. A new window will appear. Now click on More Options tab.more opt
      • Now click on the Clean up option under System restore. A confirmation dialogue will appear. Click on Delete.confirm

Permanent Fix

This will solve the problem for the time-being. But after another bunch of Windows updates, a new lot of restore points will be created and the free space will be gone. Let’s put an end to this process.

  • Right click on Computer. Select Properties.
  • Click on System Protection in the left panel.
  • Under the System Protection tab, highlight C drive first and then click on Configure.
  • Now you can disable System Protection, or change the space allotted for it by moving the slider.

Change allotted space

2) Disabling Hibernation

Why is it okay?

In case of Windows 7 or XP, hibernation saves a lot of time that goes in system startup. How does it do that? Well, it just stores the contents of your RAM on your hard disk before switching off, and retrieves them back on startup.  But enabling hibernation creates a file named hiberfil.sys in your C drive, consuming the space equal to your RAM.

So when you don’t have enough space in your hard drive, you can disable hibernation and get rid of this file. Most of the people aren’t aware of hibernate option and won’t even notice the difference. If you think it saves you time, you have to choose between hard disk space and startup speed.

(Windows 8 uses a combination of hibernate and classic shut down feature. It’s fast regardless. Read this for more info.)

How to go about this?

The way of disabling hibernate in Windows 7 or 8 is not as easy as it used to be in XP. Follow these exact steps to disable hibernation.

  1.  Press Windows Key + r. Type regedit  in the Run window and press enter.
  2. Expand to the path shown below and change the value of HibernateEnabled to zero.
    Hibernate will be disabled and you will free up some hard disk space.

You can enable it again whenever you want, by changing the registry value back to 1.

Disabling hibernate in Windows 7 or 8

Done!

This should have freed up your C drive by 2 to 10 GB. If you faced any problems or found it useful, please let me know…

Have a good day! 🙂

Installing Windows from a Pen Drive

Want to format your PC, but you don’t have a blank DVD handy? Save the pain of buying one, because this tutorial will show you how to install Windows easily using a removable USB drive. Read on!

Things you’ll need:

  1. A pen drive (at least 4 GB, backed up, because we will have to format it during the procedure)
  2. Windows ISO image (Can be downloaded from here)
  3. Windows 7 USB / DVD download tool (Click here to download. Works for Windows 8 DVD also.)

Procedure:

  1. After downloading both the files, install Windows 7 USB / DVD download tool.
  2. Launch it from Start Menu or Start Screen.
  3. Choose the downloaded ISO file when prompted.
    1
  4. When asked to choose the media type, select USB Device.
    2
  5. Plug-in the USB drive and select appropriate drive letter.
    3
  6. Click on Begin Copying. The process of burning the ISO on pen drive will start.
    4

Be patient. This may take around 15-25 mins depending upon the quality and size of the pen drive.

Pro’s of this method:

  • Faster install. When DVD takes around 45 mins for install, it takes only 15 mins to install it from pen drive.
  • No DVD is wasted in the process. You can erase your pen drive and use it again.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Switch to Windows 8

It’s been more than 6 months since Microsoft released their new OS, Windows 8. Although criticized for the features it doesn’t have, there’s an addition of some good new features to it. Features that make Windows 8 worth switching to. Read on, and explore new possibilities you can have with the flat blue logo.

Trends! :)

1. Reduced Boot Time

When Windows 7 was finally launched, Microsoft told us to expect a reduced boot time of about 15 seconds. However, this was never the case with most of the users, including me. The average boot time for a decent hardware running Windows 7 was about 30 seconds to 1 min, and it could increase significantly over a year of use. To avoid waiting, people preferred keeping their PCs on sleep or hibernating it instead.

Fortunately for us, Windows 8 has overcome this problem pretty well. To expect the least, I’d say the boot times are reduced to half as compared to Windows 7. If you use the latest hardware or an SSD instead, the decrease is even more drastic.

Wonder how did it improve so much? Well, Windows 8 saves the system kernel into memory when it shuts down, and simply loads it back when it starts up, which is basically like using a partial hibernation instead of closing everything when it shuts down.

2. Keeping Things Simple

User interface is the biggest factor when a new OS is released. Introduction of Aero Effects made the hardware requirements rise quite sharply to deliver the performance it promised. That made people either upgrade their existing hardware significantly just to install Vista, or stick with good old XP. (Upgrading the hardware was one of the major reasons why people hated Vista. But that’s a different story…)

Windows 7 didn’t add much to it, but fixed some of the performance issues. Windows 8 on the other hand, actually tried & removed some of the unnecessary glossiness making it more resource friendly. As a consequence, every system running Windows 7 can run Windows 8, which makes the upgrade easy.

Added perks include faster performance with the same old hardware and longer battery life for laptops.

Comparison of Windows Hardware Requirements

3. Improved Security Tools

Unlike Windows 7 where the first notification you’ll get from Action Center is to “find a suitable antivirus service”, Windows 8 has Microsoft Security Essentials preloaded with the OS, named as Windows Defender. It comes with a firewall and provides moderately good protection against threats for free. Another update installs antimalware for added security.

Sometimes you may want to switch to a better, or paid antivirus service instead, it disables its protection to avoid conflicts with the other antivirus.

defender

4. Recovery Made Simpler

Windows 8 provides a very simple interface for tasks that required more efforts before. It gives you an option to refresh your Windows without affecting your personal files, in case a virus has left your system corrupt. If you want to install everything from the scratch, there’s an option to Remove Everything and Reinstall Windows.

Besides, it has also kept Windows 7 version of file recovery hidden under the name ‘Windows 7 file recovery’ to create system images. This can be a real life-saver for those with little or no experience in formatting a PC.

Screenshot (2)

5. Cloud Sync and Added Features

By signing into a free Microsoft Live Account, you can sync your Modern apps and settings over the cloud. It enables you to get them back on another PC running Windows 8, or your own PC after reinstalling or refreshing Windows. You also get the storage space for storing files on Microsoft SkyDrive with a Live account.

Screenshot (3)

It has also got a lot of small in-built features added apart from loads of Modern apps like Music, News, Weather, Calendar etc. Being a minimalist, I love this thing about Win 8 for it saves me the pain of installing additional software. Some of them include:

  • Built-in mount tool: Mount .iso images without having to install any additional software.
  • Built-in pdf reader: It doesn’t have all the features that Adobe or Foxit Reader offer, but it’s good to see Microsoft finally welcoming pdf instead of being pushy about it’s own xps format. 🙂
  • Windows Mail App: Synchronize all your mail directly with the desktop and get notifications as a new mail arrives. It saves me the trouble of opening gmail in browser every time to check mail.

Besides, Windows 8 makes better use of your multi-touch touchpad by adding more gestures like edge swipe to it.

Found this post informative? Have any suggestions to improve it? I’d love to hear from you.
🙂 Have a nice day!

Top 5 To-do’s for a Brand New Computer

It’s truly a joyful experience to unwrap your new laptop. But there are things to be done before you start using it. These steps will make sure your beloved computer gives you its maximum performance, something you’ve paid your hard-earned money for.
This article focuses more on minimalist approach – using basic OS functions as alternatives to additional third-party software. In English, not loading it with excessive software whenever you have a choice!

If you’re reading this post before using your system for the first time, Congratulations! You’re damn lucky. I had to learn about this ritual the hard way. For the other not-so-damn-lucky people like me, if you think your computer has been performing much slower than the way it used to, it’s probably a good idea to make a fresh install of Windows. For that, follow this article.

Let’s begin!

Step 1: Juice-up!

juice-upAll laptops nowadays ship with a Li-ion battery. It takes a few charge-discharge cycles for it until the battery starts giving you its maximum performance. So the very first thing to be done in case of laptops right after you unwrap them is to fully charge the battery. You probably have got an instruction page with the battery telling you the same thing, but in the rush of joy we often read it after we have done updating our Facebook status.

Hold your horses, and let it charge fully. It will pay.

Step 2: De-crapify!

bloatwareGenerally, a system comes pre-loaded with a heavy lot of software apart from what is actually essential for it to run. The makers of these software pay the manufacturer to include them in your computer. Although they may appear harmless, they consume resources by running in the background while you don’t need them.
So, you better de-crapify your system.

Well, there is an easy way of doing this, and there’s a better way.

  • Easy one is to simply use Add/Remove Programs from Control Panel & get rid of these performance hogs. This is quicker – simply spot the bloatware and mercilessly uninstall it.
    However, some traces of these applications still remain in the corners of your PC. Also, identifying them is a tougher task than you’d imagine.
  • If you’re a perfectionist, prefer the better way — a clean, custom install of Windows. This takes more time and efforts, but it ensures you a great performance boost. Additionally, it will give you an option to make your own partitions before you store any data on it.

Read this article to learn how to make a custom install of Windows your system in a proper way.

Step 3: Find an Antivirus Program

Do it before downloading anything else on the system. (Alright, maybe after downloading Chrome or Firefox. But nothing else. 😛 )
Do not install any other software before you get its virus definitions up-to-date. This will make sure that a random virus doesn’t screw things up for you.

Step 4: Updating the Drivers

Manufacturers of software keep revising their product for performance & to remove any existing bugs and security loopholes. It’s always better to have an updated system to make sure it’s secured against threats and performing well.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Run Windows Update. Install all important updates.win_update
  • Keep checking the webpage of your laptop manufacturer for driver and BIOS updates.
    Updated drivers contain improved performance, several bug fixes, added features etc.

nvidia-driver-update

A Word of Caution: When updating BIOS, make sure you select your model properly. Do not download any driver or BIOS updates from a website other than official website of your device manufacturer.

Step 5: Disable Startup Programs & Services

This step will make your computer boot faster by disabling unnecessary programs that load whenever you boot your system.

  • It is very easy to do if you’re using Windows 8 — simply open task manager, click on ‘Startup’ tab, and disable the unnecessary programs that make your boot slower. You can also see their impact on boot time there.
  • If you are on Windows 7 or earlier versions:
    1. Press Windows key + r to open Run. Write msconfig and press enter.
    2. Deselect all unnecessary programs (like software update services etc.), which you don’t want to run in the background.

    (A simple rule of thumb: If you have doubt about any process, just leave it checked. Be extra careful while doing this, because some of these programs might be really essential. You don’t want to end up disabling antivirus or its touch-pad driver. Additionally, you can hide all Microsoft processes from the list, to be safe. )

Keep things simple. Don’t overload your computer with excessive software and utilities that you use occasionally. Problem? Drop a comment below!

Have a nice day! 🙂

Doing a Windows Installation that “Lasts”

Does your PC take forever to boot, and another eternity till it launches a desired app? Have you tried all those registry cleaning freewares, defragmented your disk till it smoked to no avail? That’s enough mercy. Now is the time to make a fresh install of Windows.

Remember those glorious days when your computer used to be all chipper & obedient when you bought it? Well, a fresh install of Windows might just take you there!

If you have prepared your mind for a fresh new install of Windows, print these instructions first. You won’t be able to view them here during the procedure.

Here are the steps you should follow:

1. Gathering the Resources.

I assume you are planning for Windows 7 or 8 here. Procedure is quite similar for Windows XP too.

Checklist:

  • Operating system DVD 
    (or even better, a simple pen drive of at least 4 GB capacity. Read this post for detailed info.)
  • External storage drive for backing up your stuff
  • Drivers and Utilities specific to your model
    (Important. In case you haven’t got one, download all the latest drivers specific to your model. You may want to backup them on external storage drive in case you’re going to format all the partitions.)

When you have all of these, move on to the next step.

2. Backing up Important Data

Copy all your useful stuff to the external storage device you’re gonna use for backup. You can move all of it to another partition, but better be safe than sorry. When all the data is backed up, safely remove the storage device.

Insert Windows DVD or plug in the bootable pen drive you prepared in previous step.

I’d recommend not to copy any executable (.exe) files, in case you’re suspecting a virus in your PC. In such cases, it’s better to format all the partitions to get rid of virus. Also, if you have any licensed software installed, you might have to re-activate it on newly installed OS. Now is the time to begin searching for keys.

Bid your old desktop a goodbye, and shut down your PC with tearful eyes. Or with an angry look. It won’t complain.

3. Booting Through the Installation Media

Now, we ditch Windows from your hard disk and boot through Windows Installation Media you’ve just inserted. There are two possibilities depending on your BIOS.

On switching it back on,

  • If a screen shows up to press any key to boot from DVD, go for it.
  • If no screen appears, you need to change the boot device order from BIOS menu. For most of the computers, BIOS menu appears after pressing ‘delete’, ‘F2’ or ‘F12’ key right after you power it on.

Once booted, next part is easier than you think.

BIOS Menu

Changing Boot Device Order (click to enlarge)

 

If you’ve installed games on your PC, you will totally nail this — read, think and click Next.

Installation Procedure, summarized

(Select Custom Install in case you want to change the layout of partitions in your system by merging them & creating new ones.)

4. Custom Install and Re-partitioning

If you think formatting C drive is enough for you, you may skip this step. If you want to re-partition your hard drive, or wipe all of them clean (which is recommended in case of a virus infection), go for Custom Install of Windows.

In case your system came with Windows pre-installed, I’ll recommend re-partitioning it with your preference. Around 100 GB space is more than sufficient for C drive, where you’ll install your OS.

Be careful with recovery partition while re-partitioning. some manufacturers provide a recovery partition to “factory-reset” your PC. Whether or not to remove it is completely your choice.
(I removed it on the very first day and never regretted it. Additionally, you can create your own recovery image once the computer is fully loaded with required software. More on that, later.)

So either format the existing partitions, or delete all of them and create new partitions.

When done, choose the first partition for installing Windows & move on!

install-windows-7-11-drive-options   format-c-from-windows-disc

5. Practicing Patience

The installation process begins. Windows will reboot several times during installation. Take this opportunity to improve your patience. With a pen drive, this will take around 15-30 mins & around 40-50 mins with a DVD.

Note: Remove the pen drive / DVD after it reboots for the first time during installation. You don’t want it to boot through installation media and start the procedure all over again. If it happens, simply reboot with installation media removed.

Your system will soon boot for the first time with newly installed OS. Create your account and password when prompted.

The Waiting Phase

6. Installing the Drivers

This is the most critical step towards making your PC retain its glorious performance for long time.

It is possible that the first look at your new desktop is not very pleasant. That’s because you haven’t installed any of the drivers yet. But if you have everything handy, this shouldn’t take long. There’s an order that needs to be followed while installing these drivers, to make sure no random blue screen appears later on. Read this article for more info.

The Divine Order of Driver Installation:

  1. Chipset Driver (Contains drivers for USB and system board components, restart required.)
  2. Storage Device Driver (If available, e.g., Intel Matrix Driver, Intel Rapid Storage Technology etc.)
  3. Audio Driver
  4. Video Driver (Intel Graphics Driver followed by discrete GPU driver, if available, restart required.)
  5. Network Interface / Ethernet Controller Driver
  6. Keyboard Hotkeys Driver (e.g., Dell Quickset)
  7. Wireless Network Adapter Driver
  8. Bluetooth Adapter Driver
  9. Touchpad, Track Stick, Mouse etc. (e.g. Synaptic Touchpad Manager)
  10. Other Devices (Wireless Display, WLAN, Touch Screen etc.)

7. Planning for the Future

By now, it’s nearly done. You can start using it, or you can spend an additional hour to ensure it stays fit for long.
(Trust me, that hour will pay.)

Optional Tasks:

  1. Install an antivirus and update it before installing any other software.
  2. Create a recovery image of the system drive. Store it on an external media. This image can be used to “Reset” your computer to this configuration. Read this article for more information.

That’s all. Now go ahead and install all your essential stuff.  In case of any suggestions or problems you’re facing with this procedure, please let me know.

Have a great day ahead! 🙂