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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 01-28-2015, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
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XanderTheGoober's Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, & Windows 8.1 tune-up guide


DISCLAIMER: This guide is written on the assumption that you have full administrative rights to the machine the tune up is being performed on.
I take no responsibility for any operating system changes or malfunctions that may happen from the use of this guide.
Also note that it is assumed that all hardware is operating as it should. If your hard drive is starting to go bad, performing these steps and writing new files to it could cause further damage and risk to losing files on the drive.

If you are uncomfortable in a particular step skip it and move onto the next step. Most of the steps listed in this guide should be suitable for entry level users but some steps such as Msconfig.exe, Task manager, and Command prompt may be more suitable for more knowledgeable users.
This guide was written to assist others in removing potentially malicious programs and potentially improving the speed of their computer.
This guide is also only 1 of many ways speed improvements can be achieved on your windows operating system. There are many tools and utilities to assist in these types of efforts and this guide is just how I personally make a windows operating system function better.
This guide was written using windows 7 but Vista, 8, and 8.1 should be supported following the same steps. Please tread carefully with some of the advanced steps.

Terminology:
Elevated command prompt: This is right clicking on the CMD icon and selecting “run as administrator”
Uninstall: This is opening the control panel and finding the option that says “uninstall a program”, if you are in category view, or “programs and features” if you are in icon view. *some programs in this guide may have specific instructions on how to remove properly (combofix).
False positive: An item that a scan reveals to be malicious that you know for a fact is legitimate

ON TO THE GUIDE!!
*Notes will be marked with the asterisks and italicized

  1. Remove Junkware / adware programs
    • Run msconfig.exe, click on the startup tab, disable un-needed programs. *A restart is not necessary at this time but you may do so when prompted. Screenshots (Click to show)
      *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
      Run msconfig from the start menu

      Select startup tab

      Uncheck items that you do not wish to have automatically start

      After items are unchecked click ok

      A restart is not necessary at this time but you may do so when prompted
    • Add/remove programs, run pc decrapifier if needed to assist PC decrapifier link> http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/pc-decrapifier/dl/217/ *PCDecrapifier may not list all programs that can be removed, please double check programs to be removed with the programs and features option in control panel. Screenshots (Click to show)
      *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
      Open programs and features from the control panel

      Remove unwanted programs *Be leery of unknown programs, google is your friend.

      Use PCDecrapifier to assist with removal of multiple programs if needed.

      Check the programs to be removed and click next, then all of the uninstalls will run much faster as opposed to waiting to do them one by one from programs and features.
    • Remove out dated versions of Java, Adobe flash, Adobe reader, etc.
    • Check browser versions & update Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox. *please use windows update to update internet explorer or be sure it is a microsoft website you are downloading from. There are copy cat internet explorer programs that can and will further infect your computer.
    • If you run into errors during the uninstall process that cause the program to remain on the machine, you can use Revo uninstaller to assist in the removal process. link>https://ninite.com/revo/ Screenshots (Click to show)
      *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
      Sometimes you have that pesky program that errors during uninstall. And it will never uninstall! It's still there!!


      Use Revo uninstall to help get rid of it! Select the program and click uninstall.

      Moderate uninstall mode should be sufficient for most types of errored uninstalls

      It will likely still error when removing with Revo uninstall

      Click through the error to the next page. Then select all of the remaining items and click delete. Then click next.

      Click select all on the leftover files and folders, then click delete.
  2. File Cleanup / freeing up space
    • Run CCleaner - http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/ccleaner/dl/189/
      • Run Cleaner option and Registry if desired. *If you want to keep your internet history be sure to find the check boxes for browsing history and un-check it. Screenshots (Click to show)
        *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
        Uncheck history and other items you think you may need, then click clean.

    • TFC (Temp File Cleaner) - http://www.geekstogo.com/forum/files/go/718a125f494d9c608c511263b6c7a0cd/tfc-temp-file-cleaner-by-oldtimer
      • Download and run TFC Screenshot (Click to show)
        Download and run TFC

        Let program run *this may take some time depending on amount of temp files. It will also close and reopen Explorer.exe

        click exit when finished
    • Disk cleanup
      • Open computer
      • Right click on drive C, click properties
      • Click Disk Cleanup
      • Click Cleanup System files
      • Check all the boxes and click ok
      • Restart your computer after the cleanup finishes Screenshots (Click to show)
        Open computer

        Right click on your C drive and click properties.

        Click Disk Cleanup.
        =
        You should see the status bar appear.

        After the status bar disappears you should see the cleanup window, click clean up system files.

        The status bar will appear again.

        When the cleanup window appears again you will notice more options are visible such as windows update cleanup and service pack backup files. Click ok to clean. Restart the computer after the status bar disappears.
    • Remove remaining temp files *file location ending in \ indicate that the folder before the \ remains untouched but any files within that folder get deleted. Ccleaner, TFC, & disk cleanup should get most if not all of the below files, never hurts to double check the directories. If you are in a little bit of a hurry you can skip the step of manually checking the file directories.
      • C:\windows\temp\
      • C:\Users\(username)\AppData\Local\temp\
      • C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download\
      • C:\Users\(username)\AppData\Local\Google\ Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache\ *If multiple profiles exists on the google chrome browser the cache file will be in one of the listed profile folders, for example C:\Users\(username)\AppData\Local\Google\ Chrome\User Data\Profile 1\cache\ Screenshots (Click to show)
        *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.



      • (this one is tricky, please be careful) C:\Users\(username)\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Internet Temporary Files\
        * explorer.exe process cannot be running in order for this folder to be completely removed if you are cleaning it on the user you are currently logged on to. If you are not comfortable using the command prompt please see the spolier at the end of the command line steps. If the command is not run properly, important system files could accidentally be deleted rendering your computer useless.
        • Open task manager by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL
        • Open an elevated command prompt
        • In the task manager window, processes tab, end the explorer.exe process. Keep task manager open
        • In the elevated command prompt window navigate to the temporary internet file folder by typing in the following command: cd c:\users\(username)\appdata\local\microsoft\windows\tempor~1 *you are now in the temp file location
        • Continue removal of the temporary internet file folder by issuing the following command: rmdir . /s /q
        • After the command completes start explorer.exe from task manager. File>run>explorer.exe Screenshots (Click to show)
          *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
          Open an elevated command prompt. Open task manager, then kill the explorer.exe process. Change directory as shown.

          issue the command: rmdir . /s /q

          After the command completes start explorer.exe from task manager. File>run>explorer.exe
        • Alternative removal of Temporary Internet Files (Click to show)
          If you have another administrator user on the machine you can log into it and then go to the path of the user you are cleaning up to remove the temporary internet files, for example if the user is user1 that you are cleaning up, and user 2 is also an admin, log into user 2. Open windows explorer and browse to C:\Users\user1\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Internet Temporary Files\ and delete everything in this folder. User 1 should NOT be logged in for this alternative deletion.
  3. Run ADW Cleaner - http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/adwcleaner/dl/125/
    *on heavily infected machines, running Rkill before running your malware scans is advised to stop any malicious processes. http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/rkill/dl/10/
    • Uncheck false positives if any exist
    • Clean items
    • Reboot when prompted Screenshots (Click to show)
      *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
      Open ADW and click scan

      After scan is complete click cleaning

      Reboot computer when prompted
  4. Run Malwarebytes anti-malware full scan - https://ninite.com/malwarebytes/
    • Uncheck false positives if any exist
    • Remove infections and PUPs
    • Reboot when prompted Screenshots (Click to show)
      *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
      Threat scan should be sufficient for most computers. Select custom scan and select drive C if computer is suspected to be heavily infected
  5. Run Combofix (windows 8 & 8.1 users please skip this step) - http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/combofix/dl/12/
    Combofix notes:
    *network connectivity is lost during combofix scan
    *combofix does not run on windows 8 / 8.1
    *combofix works best if antivirus or other scanners are disabled during the scanning process.
    *combofix does not give you the option to not delete an item, if it is found to be malicious it will be removed without prompting you.
    • Disable any antivirus scanners before the combofix scan
    • Please check the combofix logs and make sure it did not remove any program you may have needed.
    Screenshots (Click to show)
    *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
    Open combofix and agree to the disclaimer

    dont forget to disable your antivirus program

    let combofix run, it will restart the computer automatically if it finds anything infectious.

    You will be shown how to remove combofix in the finishing steps to the tune up.
  6. Checking your browser settings
    • Internet Explorer
      • In the browser click the gear icon in the top right for settings, click internet options, click the connections tab, then click on Lan Settings. Be sure the Use a Proxy server box is NOT checked, then click ok. *This setting can negatively effect ALL of the browsers installed on your machine.
      • While still in internet options click on the programs tab, click manage add-ons. Disable any unwanted add-ons. Set your search provider if desired, then click close.
      • In the advanced tab you can click the reset button and reset settings back to default. In some rare cases it is necessary to reset personal settings as well to fix some browser issues. Screenshots (Click to show)
        *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
        In the browser click the gear icon in the top right for settings, click internet options, click the connections tab, then click on Lan Settings.

        Be sure the Use a Proxy server box is NOT checked, then click ok.

        click on the programs tab, click manage add-ons.

        Disable any unwanted add-ons. Set your search provider if desired, then click close.

        In the advanced tab you can click the reset button and reset settings back to default. In some rare cases it is necessary to reset personal settings as well to fix some browser issues.
    • Google Chrome
      • Open google chrome settings by clicking the 3 horizontal bars in the top right corner of the browser window, then click settings.
      • click on the Extensions tab on the left, remove any unwanted extensions.
      • in the On startup settings group, click on the Set Pages next to Open a specific page or set of pages. Be sure there is no site added except the one you would want to start automatically, then click ok.
      • click on the settings option on the left, below extensions, then click on Manage search engines. Be sure to remove any unrecognized/untrusted search engines and set your preferred search as the default. Screenshots (Click to show)
        *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
        Open google chrome settings by clicking the 3 horizontal bars in the top right corner of the browser window

        click settings

        click on the Extensions tab on the left

        remove any unwanted extensions.

        in the On startup settings group, click on the Set Pages

        Be sure there is no site added except the one you would want to start automatically, then click ok.

        click on the settings option on the left, below extensions, then click on Manage search engines

        remove any unrecognized/untrusted search engines and set your preferred search as the default.
    • Network reset commands: these commands have occasionally fixed some browser issues after a machine has been cleaned up.
      • Open an elevated command prompt and issue the following commands:
        • netsh int ip reset
        • netsh int tcp reset
        • netsh winsock reset Screenshots (Click to show)
          *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
      • After all of the commands complete restart your computer.
  7. Updates *you may skip windows updates if desired
    • Install important and recommended windows updates Screenshots (Click to show)
      *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
      Open windows update from the control panel

      Install important and recommended windows updates
    • Install most up to date versions of Java, Adobe flash, Adobe reader, etc. if any were removed from step 1 *Java can be skipped on most consumer PCs unless there is a specific application that needs it, out dated versions of Java may be a security risk. Adobe reader may be replaced with Foxit reader if desired. foxit download link> https://ninite.com/foxit/
    • For any other programs you wish to install at this time be sure to check out ninite.com for your one stop shop for your common programs without any trial ware, adware, or toolbars.
  8. Disable hibernate *If you use hibernate actively you may skip this step
    • Open elevated command prompt
    • Enter the following command: powercfg –h off Screenshots (Click to show)
      *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
  9. Defrag hard drive *If your primary drive is an SSD please skip this step
    • Delete downloaded updates if windows updates have been run after temp file cleanup. *Downloaded windows update files can be found in the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download\ directory, also listed in step 2
    • Delete system restore points *Restore points were left in until this point in case something went wrong with one of the previous steps
      • Open control panel
      • Change the view to icons if it is in category view.
      • Click on System
      • At the top right of the system window click on System Protection. *Alternatively you could click on Advanced System Settings and then click on the System Protection tab. You are also able to click the advanced tab, and then click on settings button under the performance group for changing the page file size. Please only do this if you know what you're doing or are following a particular guide.
      • Close to the bottom of the window click on configure *if you have multiple partitions or hard drives on your computer be sure drive C: is selected.
      • Click on Delete *this will remove all system restore points. System restore points that are fragmented can cause the defragmentation time to increase significantly. Screenshots (Click to show)
        *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
        Open control panel, then click on system

        In the upper left corner click on System protection

        Click on configure

        Delete all restore points

    • Use windows utility for windows 7, 8, & 8.1 Screenshots (Click to show)
      *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
      Open computer, right click on your C drive, and click properties, then click on the tools tab. Click on defragment now.

      Select the C drive and click Defragment disk
      *If you wish to use another utility other than the windows defrag utility you may download Puran Defrag or defraggler
  10. Final Steps
    • Uninstall Malwarebytes
    • Uninstall Ccleaner if desired
    • Uninstall defrag program if any were used from the defrag step
    • Uninstall Combofix *program will not appear in Programs and Features
      • Right click on the downloaded combofix file and create a shortcut from it.
      • Right click on the shortcut and click properties.
      • On the end of the “target” line type in /uninstall
        *target line should now look like this: C:\Users\(Username)\Downloads\ComboFix.exe /uninstall
      • Run the shortcut you have just modified, it will look almost identical to when the program was installed and run. You will get a warning about the antivirus scanner being active, you may close them. After closing the warnings you should get a dialog box informing you that Combofix has been uninstalled Screenshots (Click to show)
        *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
        Right click on the downloaded combofix file and create a shortcut from it.

        Right click on the shortcut and click properties

        On the end of the “target” line type in /uninstall

        Run the shortcut you have just modified

        It will look almost identical to when the program was installed and run

        You will get a warning about the antivirus scanner being active, you may close them. After closing the warnings you should get a dialog box informing you that Combofix has been uninstalled
    • Create new system restore point with date in label Screenshots (Click to show)
      *You can right click on pictures and open them in a new tab or window for a better view.
      Open the system protection settings as you did before the defrag, then click on create.

      Type a meaningful name for the restore point.
FINISHED!


I hope you found this guide helpful for restoring some functionality to your windows machine.

If you want to check out some further optimization guides check out some of these links.
Sean's Windows 7 Install & Optimization Guide for SSDs & HDDs
Sean's Windows 8 Install & Optimization Guide for SSDs & HDDs

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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 02-11-2015, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Updated step 4. Rkill download link added.

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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-19-2015, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Working on adding steps for checking browser settings/extensions as well as some networking reset commands.

EDIT: steps added into step 7

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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-25-2015, 12:35 PM
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Didn't even know you made a tune up guide. Pretty well done I'd say.

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Worth: $2577 ($704 with sales)Games owned: 153Games not played: 73 (48%)Hours on record: 265.2h
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-25-2015, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudbyday View Post

Didn't even know you made a tune up guide. Pretty well done I'd say.

Still making little improvements here and there. If I get some more traffic on it I may go through the trouble of adding screenshots.

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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-26-2015, 02:59 PM
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Wow, I just did step 2 and cleaned out 5gb of stuff I didn't even know was there!

Thanks!

I couldn't find any 'explorer.exe' though, so that step didn't work.
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-26-2015, 03:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AidanofVT View Post

Wow, I just did step 2 and cleaned out 5gb of stuff I didn't even know was there!

Thanks!

I couldn't find any 'explorer.exe' though, so that step didn't work.

You have to go to the processes tab in task manager to find it, you may have to show processes from all users to find it.

The alternative to running that command is to have another admin user on that machine logged in with no other users logged in and then delete within the file browser window for that user, for example if you are cleaning up user 1, and you have user 2 as another administrative account on that machine, completely log out of user 1, log into user 2 and browse to C:\Users\user1\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Internet Temporary Files\ and then delete all of it's contents. You may have to grant yourself administrative privileges for user 2 to access user 1's files when prompted to do so. Hope this helps.

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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-26-2015, 03:06 PM
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...nope. Not In background processes or windows processes either. Are you using Windows 7? Maybe it's different in Windows 8?
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-26-2015, 03:08 PM - Thread Starter
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...nope. Not In background processes or windows processes either. Are you using Windows 7? Maybe it's different in Windows 8?

it could be, task manager changed a bit in windows 8. see my edited response above ^

If you really want to clear more space disable the hibernate file in step 9 and remove the system restore points in step 10, then create a new restore point. How much space did you free up now?

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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 03-26-2015, 03:49 PM
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I fooled around a bit. If I go through Internet Explorer it says the files are right were you say they are (they're just a few bytes, so I'm not sure if these are what we're looking for). However, if I go through file explorer, I don't see them, no matter what account I go through. I poked around on the web; found a couple suggestions of other places to look (sys32 and sysWOW64), but no luck there either.
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