MakeUseOf posted an excellent six-step guide last week to cleaning your Windows XP system for the summer.

Heavily condensed (read the full article):

1. Unclutter
Remove excess software through >start >control panel >software.

2. Clean up
A great tool for this is CCleaner.

3. Clear & Compress
- Click [Windows] [R], the Run dialog box will open.
- Type “Cleanmgr.exe” (without brackets), another dialog box will pop up.
- Select the drive you wish to clean.
- Wait for the application to complete its calculations.
- Select files you wish to clear and actions you wish to take.
- Click >OK to confirm and let it do its job.

4. Control Autostart Programs
A free tool which allows you to control which programs run when you’re booting your system is Startup Control Panel

5. Defrag
- Go to >Start >Programs >Accessories >System Tools >Disk Defragmenter
- The defragmentation window will open.
- Click >Analyze to see whether a defrag is necessary.
- Choose the volume you wish to defrag and click >Defragment.

Finally: Speed Logoff
Microsoft provides a tool called User Profile Hive Cleanup Service which can speed up this process.

These steps may not be particularly novel to our more high-tech readers, but they are simple enough for the average Windows user to greatly benefit.

And be sure to rinse and repeat when school starts.