Another important thing you should be doing on a regular basis is scanning your system for malware, viruses, etc. There are a number of good (and free) AntiVirus programs available, so even if you don’t pay for Norton’s or McAfee you can still protect yourself from viruses. However, even with the paid versions of these programs you can still pick-up Adware and Spyware or what we call Malware. These unwanted “pests” usually come bundled with free games, screensavers and other ad-supported software. Removing the source program usually leaves the unwanted malware programs behind, so even after you get rid of the free game or screensaver you are still plagued with pop-ups and ads.
The best way to get rid of these unwanted programs is to uninstall each one, then run a Malware scanning utility to get rid of the remnants. You can just run a Malware scan of your system and let it remove what it finds, but these utilities generally delete the files without removing the program properly. This means there will be pieces of the unwanted software left in the registry, in your startup folders, etc. Over time, this can slow down your computer and cause odd behaviour or even system crashes.
To get into your list of installed programs, there is a quick way to do it. Just press the Windows key on your keyboard (looks like a flag), then press the ‘R’ key while holding down that Windows key (acts like a Shift key). This will open the Run dialog box. You then clear whatever might be there already by pressing Backspace and enter the following: appwiz.cpl