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Self-Help Tips: Clean Your Windows

If you prefer to handle the big Windows fixes yourself, you'll need the best troubleshooting resources you can find. Here are a few of our favorite sites (including forums), utilities, and books.

Web Sites

  • Computing.Net Support Forums: Simply post your questions at Computing.Net's forums, and knowledgeable helpers may provide the advice you seek.
  • Tech Support Guy: Everyone, including novices, should feel comfortable asking any question here.
  • Windows Secrets: Got a strange DLL error and want to know what the heck it means? Use the WinFind tips search box to look through a variety of expert sources for authoritative articles on Windows topics such as "hidden files."
  • WinTasks Process Library: Free reference covers many common Windows system files, as well as spyware.

Utilities

  • Process Explorer (free): Lists all running programs and DLLs.
  • Registry Mechanic 4 ($30): This application from PC Tools Software inspects the health of your PC's Windows Registry and helps you deal with troublesome or unnecessary entries that breed crashes and errors.
  • WinPatrol 8.1 (free): Close the door to spyware, adware, and other nasty invaders that may hijack your browser (or do worse than that). The paid version gives you additional information about the intrusive software it finds.
  • XPLite and 2000Lite 1.5 ($40): LitePC's utilities (including its $25 98lite Professional 4.7) enable you to decipher various mysteries of Windows, allow you to tweak the OS for performance, and help you save disk space.

Books

  • 50 Fast Windows XP Techniques by Keith Underdahl ($25, Wiley Publishing)
  • Special Edition Using Microsoft Windows XP (3rd Edition) by Robert Cowart and Brian Knittel ($45, Que Publishing)
  • Windows XP Pro: The Missing Manual (2nd Edition) by David Pogue, Craig Zacker, and L.J. Zacker ($30, O'Reilly & Associates)

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