how to reset performance of 3 year old pc..

a friend has a 3 year old pc.. never did any outstanding maintainance program.. did not do an image in the beginning.. only ran ccleaner once a month.. and running avast and MBAM when suspecting anything.. otherwise, machine is ok.. using for surfing/MSWord/email, video.. nothing out of the ordinary.. now planning to put a graphics intensive software, and already seeing some signs of slowing down..

so he was asking 'i just need all the files from my documents and downloads.. can we wipe off the HDD and do a fresh install and then put the graphics intensive software and then make an image and then copy all the GBs worth of files from my documents back.

it may be lot of work since he did not do a image.. also he has so many files that he needs to keep..

now he does not have any factory restore DVD for this Dell Win7 Home machine.

What would you suggest/recommend for this person? (would you reco be the same for a laptop as much a PC?)
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If as you say it is a DELL , and the PC has its original hard disk, DELL include a restore partition for this.
By just pressing a key on boot (during BIOS), you will be able to enter restore mode without any CD needed.
What is the exact model of this DELL ? I can try to find the key to hit.
I would advise making a copy of all his files by copying this to an external USB/Drive, Do a fresh install of Windows 7/8.1 using the retail media (if you don't have this you can probably get this from the web) as long as the machine meets the minimum requirements for the OS's i've specified then there should be no issue. Also then install something with low resource overhead for protection like AVG.

Then install the Graphics software. Once that's done create a System Restore point and then create a system image backup. You can further info on how to do this here
I would advise a fresh install of Windows with the latest drivers from Dell's website as I dislike their OEM images as they come bloated with Dell software which you don't need. I know this as we used to have Dell as a supplier and whenever we got any PC's or Laptops from them we would re-image them straight away to remove their Bloated un-needed software.
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You do not need a windows media. Everything is included in the restore partition.
And if you are going to run graphic intensive software, you might add a decent video card to handle this.    The ability to add a card is one of the drawbacks of a laptop.     You might find that simply adding a card might solve your performance issue.

If you do reinstall or just extensive maintenance, be sure to create the system image then.
25112Author Commented:
The machine is Inspiron 620.
laptop is lenovo.

The slowness comes from installing/.uninstalling progrmas, right? not because of lot of files in Downloads or MyDocuments folder?

>>I would advise a fresh install of Windows with the latest drivers from Dell's website as I dislike their OEM images

Does Dell allow that? I did not know we had a choice to avoid their unneeded softwares.

3)you might add a decent video card
this is only for more better display, right? (does not help with CPU or memory, right?)
Slow performance can be a series of things ranging from too many installed apps to hardware not being good enough to cope with the users requirements.

Yes we do that internally and its fine as we don't like the images Dell ship their units with. Also its useful for when we need to rebuild a machine due to a virus infection or just an OS upgrade from XP to Windows 7.
"also he has so many files that he needs to keep.."

For that you have backups! All disks fail sooner or later, not having backups would be his own fault. Your first course of action MUST be to get him to get a proper backup setup. External disks, a good backup utility etc. You will need more than one disks for a backup to be reliable, and rotate between them. If you want, you can use Windows 7 internal backup, but in my opinion 3rd party tools are generally better and easier to use. I'd recommend Paragon's free backup if this is for personal use. It works very well, and a USB dock where you can drop your standard backup disks into. Only after something like that is in place, and the user has grasped how to use that regularly, should you even look into the rest of the Question:

Another thing to be done before anything else, as there are no recovery DVD's, is to make them. There is a manufacturer utility installed which allows you to create a set of recovery DVD's. That's normally the first thing anyone should do when he buys a new PC, so he can restore it to factory defaults, should he have to replace the disk.

Once all that is done, go ahead and restore the system to factory defaults using the method mentioned already earlier, using the recovery partition. If there is any software installed that isn't needed, remove it. I also suggest to use Panda Free Antivirus, it is less resource hungry than Avast! is.

After that, once all windows updates have been applied, install the graphics software and check if the PC runs better. If it does, make another backup and install the rest, but only what is needed.
you can do a factory restore - AFTER having a backup :

if you don't want the Dell software  - you can uninstall it from add /remove programs in control panel
or simply buy a Windows 7 DVD; and install alll drivers from their site
put in your ID tag, and it will list the drivers for you
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.Commented:
If the Dell has a restore partition you can restore from it.

If it doesn't and the Dell has a Windows 7 serial number on it (readable, must be human readable) then he can download a DVD ISO from, burn it to DVD and reinstall Windows 7.  Be careful in selecting the proper version, make sure it corresponds to the details in the license sticker.
Turn on the laptop and press F8 several (many) times, that should let you access the restore from partition.
Of course don't forget to backup your documents / personnal programs before.
Good luck
I'd buy a new HDD install windows clean/brand new full performance
 then add this HDD to an external enclosure and basically plug it into the USB and use it like a slave.
All his stuff is there
External 2.5" HDD Case for SATA Drive
How to Turn your Laptop's old Hard Drive into a Portable External Drive after installing an SSD
Sata Hard Drive From Laptop Into USB External Enclosure Video on Youtube)

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