For experienced users
and those users who wish to become more experienced, I offer some self-help ideas here on this site for preventive maintenance, troubleshooting techniques and corrective measures to employ when Windows is misbehaving.
For more advanced users, there are instructions for modifying the Windows installation that can facilitate a more stable environment and alternative reliable backup and recovery.
The advanced techniques are geared toward separating Windows into manageable portions that become simpler to backup and restore using drive images, easier to customize and repair, resulting in increased stability, improved efficiency, and reduced vulnerability to data loss.
For the Windows XP instruction set, click on XP Unleashed in the menu on the left.
The tools I use are fairly simple, many are already included in Windows XP and Windows 7, and those that aren't are either free, shareware, or very low cost. They are also quite powerful, and should be used with care. I highly recommend a full system backup, preferrably a drive image, before you start modifying your system.
The same caution applies (full system backup) if you are having malware issues, and are attempting repairs. If somtheing goes awry, it's nice to be able to start over at the last place you had success. Also, if you're working on malware issues, it is a good idea to make a drive image at each stage of significant improvement, so that you don't have to start all over again if something goes south on you in the later stages.
My current PC is a DIY Midtower with Intel DH87RL MB, Core i5 4670 CPU, with fifteen partitions spread across two 1TB Seagate SSHD drives, a 2TB Seagate drive for drive images, running fully updated Windows 10 Pro in dual boot. It is carved up similarly as described in Set 7 Free in the Windows 7 section, but using Windows supported techniques for moving User folders and Program Files.