I agree with hamluis - and I do do this for a job (but surely don't make a living from it!
After being used for a while, Windows gets what's referred to as "bloat". It's the accumulation of different little things that were adjusted or added to Windows throughout the time it's been installed. While you can root around inside the file system and registry for days trying to weed this stuff out - you'll still be left with a system that doesn't perform as it did when it was "fresh". Couple this with a malware infection and you're in for days and days of fighting just to get a sluggish system back.
So, what's the solution? You don't want to reinstall because all of your critical programs will have to be reinstalled and then you'll have to adjust all of the settings again. Unfortunately you can't do anything about that now since the computer is already bloated. What you can do is prepare yourself for next time.
Here's the solution as I see it:
1) Backup your stuff (because a later step will wipe it all out). Backing up is easier than it was in the past - using an external drive and a boot CD you can save anything you want with a minimum of hassle.
2) Make a list of all the applications that you can't live without. Then gather up the installers, CD's, and all the license information that you've got.
3) Format your hard drive and reinstall Windows. Get all your protection updated, all of your Windows Updates, and then install all of your needed programs. Then change/add all of the settings that you need to change.
4) Then make an image of your hard drive. It'll include all of the updates and settings - so the next time you need it you can just use the image to set everything up. It's even possible to find programs that'll make a restore partition out of this image and will include an option to boot to the restore partition in case Windows doesn't work. The good part of this is that you can restore the image in around 20 minutes - so you'll be backup and running with that fresh copy of Windows in no time at all!
5) Remeber to backup your stuff. If you have to restore the image - it'll wipe your stuff out, so you'll need to have it backed up!!!
My browser caused a flood of traffic, sio my IP address was banned. Hope to fix it soon. Will get back to posting as soon as Im able. - John
(my website: http://www.carrona.org/
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