An Ounce of Prevention

We have all heard the cliché “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is true when it comes to your computer as well as your health. You can avoid many computer problems, including slowdowns, crashes, and hardware failures, by performing regular system maintenance. The upkeep of your Windows environment and hardware components can be almost effortless, particularly when compared to the extreme time consumption and frustration involved with solving trouble not maintaining your system causes.

More importantly, adaptive equipment needs to be working on an efficient computer. Not having your computer adaptations available is worrisome and worse than taking the time for maintenance.

Temporary Files: If you’ve been a Windows user for any length of time, you know that this operating system doesn’t take very good care of itself. In fact, some of its directories can become clogged with useless files that bog down your system’s speed and even cause occasional crashes.

Temporary files and folders are not always temporary. Some files will hide on your hard drive without removing themselves. It is important to delete them on a regular basis as they may slow down your computer significantly. The easiest method for cleaning temporary information is by using Disk Cleanup Utility. To access this utility, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools then finally Disk Cleanup. This launches a small utility which allows you to select files to delete, including temporary files, temporary Internet files, downloaded program files, and more. Place a check mark beside each item that you would like deleted.

Cookies are Not Always a Sweet Dessert:

Many of the larger sites on the Web collect information about you. They do this for the best of commercial reasons. A cookie is a small file containing an identity code. Your computer accepts the cookie and stores it. Next time you visit the site, it’s retrieved and your identity is established. It’s a controversial practice because of the privacy implications, but it’s extremely common. Most of the major sites on the Internet, including search engines and portals, send cookies.

To delete cookies, open the program Internet Explorer. Next you must choose tools on the menu, followed by Internet options. There is a button on the dialog box called delete cookies. Simply click it and the cookies are deleted.

Take out the Trash: The Recycle Bin can also grow excessively full over time, which eats system resources. You can address this problem in one of two ways, depending on what type of user you are. If you’re diligent, simply empty your Recycle Bin daily and/or after you’ve deleted a significant number of files or folders. To empty your Recycle Bin, right-click the Recycle Bin icon on your Desktop and click Empty Recycle Bin. Realize, after you perform this task, the files are permanently deleted and you are unable to retrieve them. So, before doing this, BE SURE there is nothing in the Recycling Bin which you might need in the future.

Speeding up Your Hard Drive through Defragmentation: Files and folders stored on your hard drive typically appear well-organized within Windows Explorer, which might lead you to believe that your hard drive is similarly tidy. In reality, quite the opposite is often the case.

Although Windows attempts to store data in logical fashion, over time it scatters data throughout different sections of your hard drive. Known as fragmentation, this phenomenon can cause severe slowdowns in system performance because Windows must work harder to find various pieces of data. If you’ve ever heard your hard drive thrashing for long periods while Windows tries to perform a simple task, your hard drive probably needs you to defragment it.

Casual computer users should defragment their hard drives monthly, but if you use your computer daily, weekly defragmentation is a better idea. Because no programs (including your screen saver) should run while a utility defragments your drive(s), some users might want to set the process so it runs overnight.

Searching for Errors: Before defragging your hard drive, you should scan your drive to search for and correct any errors. To do this, click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and ScanDisk. Select the drive you’d like to scan, select the radio button next to Standard under Type Of Test, and click Start.

Check For Updates: To keep your computer in peak condition, it’s smart to check for Windows and virus definition updates on a monthly basis. To update Windows and other Microsoft products, click Windows Update from your Start menu (or visit http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com) and click Scan For Updates. Download and install any recommended updates for your system.

Most antivirus software also has automatic updating features, but if your software doesn’t, consult its manual or Help files to determine how to update your program. In addition, you can typically visit the software company’s website to download updated virus definitions.

Get Out The Elbow Grease: As witnessed, regular computer maintenance is simple and well worth the effort if you appreciate a fast, trouble-free system (and who doesn’t). Don’t wait until your system performance degrades before you implement routine maintenance tasks. Computers are intricate machines that need constant care, and if you don’t provide it, they’ll complain in several nasty ways.