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Some Computer Basics

Remember that if you just do not feel comforatable trying some of these things all on your own, I will be glad to assist you with my phone or Secure Remote Assistance services.


*Please look also to my six days/week series of How To articles published at Tech--for Everyone.

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A Cleaner and Faster PC by using using Windows Disk Cleanup Tool: (click this link to watch my video tutorial)

Under the dual categories of Performance and Maintenance comes a simple routine that will clean unused files from your system, increase your privacy (when done routinely), and help keep your machine lean and fit. It's called Windows Disk Cleanup Tool and you access it through your hard-drive's Properties dialogue by going to Start>>My Computer}Local Disk (C:)>Properties. The Properties window opens by default to the General tab, which has a pie chart of the free and used memory space. I recommend running this tool once a week, or more.

Down by the chart is the Disk Cleanup button. Click it and a small window will open telling you that Windows is "calculating" how much space it will save you. When that's finished, a larger window will open that contains check boxes for the types of files Disk Cleanup can clean for you and how much your memory savings will be. Note that some types are selected and others are not by default: it is perfectly safe to select more files for removal. I would refrain, however from selecting the bottom option (Index files) as Windows will simply automatically rebuild them the next time it launches--a pure-D waste of your machine's time. (If you're wondering why Microsoft would include it in the list of choices then, the answer is that sometimes index files get corrupted and need to be rebuilt. This is a simple method for removing the bad ones.)

Speed up your computer with the Defragmentation Tool:

Over the course of time, as you add and delete files and programs, your hard-drive will become fragmented and your system will function more slowly. Defragmentation is a result of the way in which a computer writes data onto the hard-drive, and it happens naturally and invisibly to you. Instead of writing data in a contiguous, easy to find "block", the data gets broken up and put into any open spaces that Windows finds: while this results in more efficient diskspace-usage, it also causes the system to have to "seek" all the different fragments of your file each time you open it--causing a over-all slowdown. This is particularly true if you add and remove programs frequently.

Each version of Windows since Windows 95 include the Disk Defragmentation tool, accessible in the same way: Start>>My Computer}C: Drive>Properties>Tools tab. Disk Defragmenter rearranges fragmented data so your hard disk can work more efficiently.

Begin by clicking the Defragment Now button. A new window will open which is the graphical representation of the file placement on your drive. Click on the Analyze button. The tool will now report whether or not you should run the defragmenter, and show you a colorful representation. If you do, click on Defragment.

You can, so Microsoft says, keep working and let the tool run in the background--but I don't recommend that. I recommend that you run it before going to bed as, depending on how fragmented your drive is and how long it's been since you last defragmented, the process can take several hours. I also recommend that a "typical" user run the tool once per month, and if you consider yourself a "power user" and frequently add and remove large files, that you run it more often--say, once a week.

An addenda about the built-in tool:  some of you may be aware that this tool isn't highly thought of in the techie world, and that there are several commercial defragmentation tools available--such as Diskeeper, and Norton's SpeedDisk. I have found that running this tool twice, back-to-back, produces just as good defragmentation as those others, and it's free!

Click here to read how to set defrag to run automatically.

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