maintaining PCs from software point of view

in most places I have worked, and when supporting people on private basis people want to upgrade or replace their PC when they get performance issues but dont always understand the root of the problem with their system.

I find PCs tend to run slow because of software problems, and getting the sandtimer appear and the hard disk is being accessed for a long time to do something as simple as getting the start menu to appear.

Its fact that its often necessary to reinstall Windows on your PC every now and then as the systems get slow, clogged up and unstable.

You can use a defrag program, repair registry, clear browser settings and check for spyware and viruses, but expecting on special application to get the machine working like it was when it was new, is a bit like asking the chemist a drug to cure cancer.

Im experimenting with imaging my PCs like I do in my work. Installing Windows XP and service pack 2, then put on drivers (I dont put a live internet connection on yet) install antivirus and antispyware tools, a few favourite applications, MS office or Open Office, Adobe reader, etc. Then plug in network cable and put on all windows updates. I think take a snapshot of the hard disk in its current state as I have everything the way I have it, so it can be restored back to this point. Its worth considering that the work to install everything before this point can be around 3 ours worth of work.

The PC needs to be managed so all work can easily backed up, in terms of all documents, not forgetting mail, address book, internet favorites needs to be saved in such a way that they can be backed up so they can easily be re-added when the system needs to be reinstalled.

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