As a rule of thumb, installing and uninstalling software applications does slow down a Microsoft Windows system, because the system registry becomes more complex. However, some utility products carry a low system footprint, and I judge, offer specific value that cannot be obtained through the applications included with Microsoft Windows, thereby outweighing a minor reduction in system performance.
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- Data files must be backed up to a separate device (FileBack PC)
- Data files must be encrypted on a notebook PC and should be encrypted on a desktop PC (TrueCrypt)
- Microsoft Windows XP volumes (partitions) must be defragmenter (Diskeeper is more efficient than the crippled version included with Microsoft Windows XP, Disk Defragmenter)
Now, to throw salt on the wound, I also recommend Ad-aware and Spybot Search and Destroy, the combination of these two applications will remove most known boot net and advertising-related malware from a Microsoft Windows XP system.
If one would like a system that runs well and requires no maintenance, even after years of use, he or she should use a Linux distribution–I prefer Knoppix Linux; however, If one were to stay with Microsoft Windows XP (or Microsoft Windows Vista), he or she must assume the maintenance responsibilities that come with using an operating system that is designed to be almost all things to all people–and becomes perfect at nothing. ;-(
Installing and uninstalling applications will reduce the performance and stability of a Microsoft Windows XP system. I recommend choosing a balanced approach: only install necessary applications, including those that are designed solely to improve the system’s performance.