How to make Windows XP last for the next seven years

Vista, schmista. Follow our tips for keeping your XP setup humming happily for a long, long time

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For even more thorough cleansing, try CCleaner, a free disk cleanup tool from Piriform Ltd. This utility can remove files that are otherwise difficult to get rid of, such as the backups of security patches that are created each time you run Microsoft Update. CCleaner can clean much more than Windows' built-in Disk Cleanup can, but it can also remove things such as browser cookies that you may not want to be removed. Use it carefully.

CCleaner
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The free CCleaner does a thorough disk-cleaning job. (Click for larger view.)

5. Defragment the disk.

With all unneeded files out of the way, now is the perfect time to defragment the drive. The built-in Windows defragmenter (Programs --> Accessories --> System Tools --> Disk Defragmenter) does a respectable job of bringing order back to the files. Choose Action --> Defragment from the menu to run it.

Disk Defragmenter
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Use Disk Defragmenter weekly.

(Click for larger view.)

On a severely fragmented drive, you may need to run the program several times to fully defrag the files. Be sure to close as many programs as possible during the defragmentation process, including e-mail and even virus scanners, because files that are in use cannot be defragmented.

By following these tips, you can keep your machine in tip-top shape and even get some of Vista's advantages while sticking with Windows XP for at least seven more years. Maybe by then there'll be a more compelling reason to give up XP than ho-hum Vista.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld, and the author of more than 35 books, including Windows Vista in a Nutshell. Dave Methvin is chief technology officer of PC Pitstop, a free site that automatically diagnoses and fixes common PC problems.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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