All this advice ignores one basic problem: People buy computers off the shelf, take them home, and use the hell out of them without knowing anything
about how they work--until they're so thoroughly thrashed that only radical surgery can salvage them.
I put much of the blame on the manufacturers. Never mind the "restore" partitions, and all the unhelpful too-late BS about external backup drives. If
it weren't for the simple idiocy of putting everything--both applications and data storage--on a single large partition, it might be possible for
someone who knows what they're doing to help people over the internet. The simple expedient of using a small, reasonably-sized "operating" partition
and a much larger "data" partition could save a huge amount of heartache.
That's what I practice--and that's what I do for everyone whose computer I work on. And while I'm at it, once the "operating" partition is clean,
defragged, and virus-free, I make an image of the operating-system partition and put it aside.
Anyway, here's my advice:
1. Get an external backup drive. Get your sister's 15-year-old kid--or someone else who knows what they're doing--to come over and move a bunch of the
extraneous crap onto it, for safekeeping and to get enough of it out of the way to do some maintenance.
2. Partition the drive; keep only a large enough C: partition to hold all the applications, the "pagefile.sys," and "hiberfil.sys" (if you use
hibernation), plus a few gigs of backout room.
3. Separate out the data from the operating system. A great deal of that can be accomplished by simply moving "Documents" to the new, larger
partition. It's a simple operation. Here's one of many thousands of websites with instructions:
Move the "Documents" or "My Documents" folder
(Vista & XP)
4. Clean up the C: drive and defrag it. IMAGE THE DRIVE. Put one copy of the image on the new, larger partition (for convenience) and one copy on the
external drive (for safety).
It's a full day's work, but you'll never go begging on the internet for help again....
Edit that: You'll never go begging for help for this particular
edit on 6/30/2012 by Ex_CT2 because: (no reason given)