Keeping your PC healthy and clean

From time to time you might find your computer running real slow. At times, defragmenting your hard disk, updating programs and other things can help.

David Strom writes I have become Mr. Clean, helping my friends and neighbors rid themselves of spyware and other oddities running unintentionally on their systems. I guess everybody needs a hobby, and mine is reformatting hard drives and making a machine usable once again. I thought I would share the steps that I take to get a system back to a somewhat virginal state.
The signs that your PC is out of your control are simple: a new splash screen or application that can’t be removed by Window’s Add/Remove program routine, or if you try to remove this software and it keeps returning after a reboot. Or a sluggish boot time, or new toolbars that appear at the top or bottom of the screen or inside Internet Explorer. In a few cases, I couldn’t even bring up the Add/Remove dialog box, so far gone were these machines.
There are more talented people than I who can clean these machines up without having to revert to a major lobotomy, i.e., reformatting the drive completely. And others, such as my colleague Dave Piscitello, have done a tremendous amount of research on fighting spyware. His page of resources is here. For those of you that are curious what I do, read on.