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Format Your Hard Drive

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There are a great number of pluses to being a technology journalist, but one of the downsides is the inevitable tech support that is requested by every friend, member of your family, friend of friends and friends of family members. This is frustrating for many reasons, but the number one irritation for me is when being asked to setup a new PC. This is because a) fixing actual supposed problems usually takes seconds, and b) it should be the job of manufacturers to ensure the computers they sell are properly setup in the first place and nothing could be further from the truth.

So here are my top five tips to get your shiny new bloatware/trialware/crapware loaded PC up to speed and it can be applied to older computers as well. Let's just hope my friends and family read it!
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1. Format Your Hard Drive
No, this isn't a joke. The fastest way to tune up an old or new computer is to format the hard drive, destroy all data and start again. An extensive guide to installing Windows 7 from scratch (do not upgrade) can be found here, but it remains an equally good idea to do this even if you are using Windows XP or Vista because sadly they all grind to a halt over time. If you already have personal data on your PC then Windows Easy Transfer will save and restore this in a snap. It is preinstalled on 7 and Vista, and Windows XP users can get it here.

Formatting may seem an extreme measure, but is it actually faster than trying to uninstall all the rubbish that comes stuffed on PCs these days (a Sony Vaio I recently examined had 32 pieces of Sony branded software installed - none of it necessary, an HP laptop had 26). Some companies are worse than others, but I have yet to find a PC which did not benefit from being formatted. Make a note of the drivers you need (Windows 7 in particular does a fine job or sorting this out automatically) and then start as you mean to go on: lean and clean.
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