Maintaining Your Computer

As with any equipment, your computer needs proper maintenance to perform at its best. Knowing your way around your PC and conducting routine maintenance and repairs will keep it in good working order. Regular maintenance on your personal computer will prevent most problems occurring with program halting, fallout and errors.Know your system. At a minimum, you should know what kind of processor you have, how much random access memory (RAM) is installed and how big your hard drive is. If you're aware of these vital statistics, you'll be in a better position to troubleshoot problems when programs tap your machine's capabilities.



Tips Index

Using Your Maintenance Utility Programs

Clear Windows Cach Folder

Defragmenting your Disk Drive

Using Windows Registry Cleaner

Creating Emergency Boot Disks

Use your System's Built-in Utilities

Utilize Anti-Virus Programs

Perform Regular Backups

Using Good Work Habits

Clearing Up Your Hard Drive

Surfing the Internet

Perform Regular Maintenance

Helpful Desktop Shortcuts

Other Helpful Links


T O P

Maintenance Utility Programs

Your maintenance utility programs are supplied with your Windows Operating system, usually under the System Tools menu.

From lower windows taskbar:
1. Click on Start menu command button.
2. Click on Programs menu.
3. Click on Accessories menu.
4. Click on System tools menu.


T O P

Clean file cache folders

Certain areas of your program folder directories will become cluttered with files that are produced temporarily but are not deleted after system or program use.

First clear Internet Explorer browser cache folder
1. Run your web browser program.
2. Click on upper Tools menu.
3. Select the Internet Options... item from Tools drop-down menu.
4. Select General tab of Internet Options dialogue box.
5. Click on the Clear History command button.
6. Click on the Delete Files... command button.
7. Click on the Delete all offline content check box (for ticked symbol) of Delete Files dialogue box.
8. Click on the OK command button to delete them and close Delete Files dialogue box.
9. Click on the Settings... command button.
10. Click on the View Files... command button of Settings dialogue box.
11. Click on upper Edit menu of the Temporary Internet File dialogue box.
12. Select the Select All item from Edit drop-down menu.
13. Click on upper File menu of the Temporary Internet File dialogue box.
14. Select the Delete item from File drop-down menu.
15. Click on upper File menu of the Temporary Internet File dialogue box.
16. Select the Close item from File drop-down menu.
17. Click on the OK command button to close Settings dialogue box.
18. Click on the OK command button to close Internet Options dialogue box.
19. Click on upper File menu of Internet Explorer and select Close item from File drop-down menu to exit.
T O P

Clear the Windows cache folder

1. Close down all running programs. From lower windows taskbar:
2. Click on Start menu command button.
3. Click on Programs menu.
4. Click on Windows Explorer menu item.
5. Locate your C:\windows\temp folder directory.
6. Select and delete all files from c:\windows\temp folder directory.


T O P

Defragmenting your Disk Drive

Your computer hard drive will eventually accumulate fragmentised files, that is, file save fragments will no longer be arranged on your hard disk drive in a contiguous order. This can severely impair your program running performance, in particular to vast majority of software programs that rely upon stored datafiles or databases. It is therefore essential that you conduct a regular weekly periodic disk degragmentisation on a minimal basis.

First essential ScanDisk before degragmentation
Close down all running programs. From lower windows taskbar:
1. Click on Start menu command button.
2. Click on Programs menu.
3. Click on Accessories menu.
4. Click on System tools menu.
5. Click on the ScanDisk program item.
6. Click on the Standard radio button.
7. Click on the Automatically fix errors check box (for ticked symbol).
8. Click on the Start command button.
Wait until ScanDisk is fully completed it's task, and should it prompt you to repair any corrupt files it has found, to do so.

Second Disk Defragmenter
Warning: never run disk defragmenter without running ScanDisk beforehand.

1. Close down all running programs. From lower windows taskbar:
2. Click on Start menu command button.
3. Click on Programs menu.
4. Click on Accessories menu.
5. Click on System tools menu.
6. Click on the Disk Defragmenter program item.
7. Select your hard drive (usual C:) from the combo menu of the Select Drive dialogue box at start up.
8. Click on the OK command button to proceed.
9. Click on the Start command button, even though it purports it not necessary to defragmentise disk at present time.
Wait until Disk Defragmenter has fully completed it's task, and should it prompt you to repair any corrupt files it has found, to do so.

Monthly Surface ScanDisk
Close down all running programs. From lower windows taskbar:
1. Click on Start menu command button.
2. Click on Programs menu.
3. Click on Accessories menu.
4. Click on System tools menu.
5. Click on the ScanDisk program item.
6. Click on the Thorough radio button.
7. Click on the Automatically fix errors check box (for ticked symbol).
8. Click on the Start command button.

Wait until ScanDisk is fully completed it's task, and should it prompt you to repair and corrupt files it has found, to do so. This surface scan can take up to several hours, so make sure no one can tamper with your PC, and find something else to preoccupy yourself around the house, and check for any file repair prompts on every half or full hour.


T O P

Windows Registry Cleaner

Often following successive software installation additions and un-install removals, the Windows registry become littered with errors. These could have a profound effect over your existing software programs and cause of program crashes through errors. You can download Microsoft RegClean free from the following link:

Click to Download Registry Cleaner

Choose the Save to Disk download option and after installing and adding this to your Program menu, run this utility program and when finished, always click on the Fix Errors button should this appear when finished. Ensure to get into regular habit of always running this RegClean utility program after you have installed new software and/or when you have un-installed to remove software, Making sure you first reboot your Windows Operating system beforehand.


T O P

Emergency Boot Disk

Make an emergency boot disk. Before you have problems with your computer, create a startup disk using your original operating system's CD. Save this disk in a safe place for the day which you hope will never come when your computer has problems booting up from the hard drive. If you're using Windows, you should also create a separate floppy disk with the config.sys file, which is the driver that enables your computer to read the system disk from the CD drive.


T O P

System Utilities

Use your system's built-in utilities. Your hard drive stores information by scattering it on the hard drive, and eventually this fragmentation slows down the computer. Run Disk Defragmenter (for Windows) or a similar application periodically to consolidate the data and keep your drive organized. Also, utilities like Disk First Aid for the Mac and ScanDisk for Windows can repair disk problems and make your machine more efficient.


T O P

Anti-Virus

Use antivirus software. Install an antivirus program, and set it to scan your system automatically at least twice a month. You should also run a scan every time you download a program or copy a file from a floppy.


T O P

Back-ups

Back up regularly. Make a habit of backing up all your important files at least once a month. You can back them up manually or with an automatic backup-and-restore program, which does the work for you. Don't delete programs manually. Whenever possible, use either your computer's uninstall utility or a separate uninstall program to remove software you no longer need.


T O P

Use good work habits

Shut down your machine properly, and respond to warnings and error messages promptly. You should also keep your machine as clean as possible by periodically opening its case to remove accumulated dust, cleaning your keyboard and removing dust from your mouse.


T O P

Clear up your Hard drive

There are six simple steps to clearing up your hard drive:

1. Uninstall unused programs.

Many times a new program will come along that looks fun to have or play with, but after a week or two you simply stop using it. These programs clutter up your drive and take up valuable space. You might be tempted to delete these programs from your drive, but doing so will cause problems. You must use the uninstall function of Windows for the program to be removed safely and completely.

2. Clean out temporary files.

When your computer is not shut down properly, it will pass information from memory into fragmented files. Also, while you are running programs, your computer will write information that it does not immediately need into temporary files. Installation files will also expand themselves into the temporary folder and will not always clean up after themselves. You can delete these temporary files safely by using the Disk Cleanup option in your System Tools.

3. Empty your internet cache.

As you surf the internet your computer stores web pages and images into a temporary internet cache so that it can quickly recall and access information when you move back and forth between pages. This backup information can quickly add up and eat hard drive space.

Whether you use Internet Explorer, Netscape, or one of the many other browsers available, emptying out your cache is quick and easy. Simply follow the instructions in the Help files located within those programs. You may also wish to set a specific maximum file size for your cache folder, so that it is not allowed to run rampant.

4. Empty your mail programs of clutter.

It's easy to browse through your email and leave old messages there, promising yourself you'll sort them out later. One or two messages don't take up much space, but hundreds certainly do. Take the time to sort through these old emails now and delete what is not important. Create folders and organize what is left. Make it a habit that when new emails come in, they are either filed immediately or thrown away. Set your email program to empty your deleted items folder each time you close your mail program.

5. Empty your recycle bin.

Once you've emptied your drive of cluttering, unecessary programs; empty your recycle bin to remove what has been placed there in the process.

6. Scandisk and Defrag.

When Windows installs programs, it will put the files it needs anywhere that it finds free space, and not directly after the last program installed. As a result, your hard drive has patches of empty space on it that are not big enough to fit a full program, and will result in a drive space error if you attempt to install something new. Scandisk your drive to check for lost file fragments and to fix any errors it finds, then Defrag to pack all of the program files together at the beginning of your drive. This will clear out those empty patches and move all of the free space you've just created to the end of your drive.


T O P

Surfing the Internet

Organize your surfing habits. Direct all of your downloads to the same folder, so that you can easily find them and delete them when necessary, or move them to zip disks for storage. Keep track of the programs that you install. For trial versions, note the date that they will expire on a calendar. This will remind you to uninstall the programs that you can no longer use rather than allowing them to clutter up your drive. Also, if you run into problems, keeping track of new downloaded and installed programs and the date they were installed can help you track down the cause of problems.


T O P

Keep it Regular

Now that you've got it clean, you should make every effort to keep it that way. By performing these quick and easy maintenance tips every week, you'll have a computer that is clutter-free and as responsive as it should be. Remember that the cleaner your hard drive is, the better your machine will respond!


T O P


Helpful Desktop Shortcuts for Windows 2000

For your convenience, I have created a simple HTML file you can use on your desktop that includes a variety of shortcuts to the computer maintenance files on your computer. Simply copy the below text to NotePad and save as PC_Shortcuts.html (or whatever name you wish). These shortcuts are specifically for Windows 2000 machines:



T O P

Other Links relating to Computer Help:

Microsoft Tips Microsoft Tutorials Computer Tips Browser Tips

Outlook Tips Application Tips Security Alerts Virus Information


T O P