Friday, July 22, 2005

Learn to keep your PC in tip-top shape

How many of you actually take the time to take care of your PC?

I have had my run of problems with the computers that I own at home or work with either at school or at office. Often times it is a pain in the butt when something goes "boo-boo", trying to figure out what went wrong and then trying to fix it. From time to time, all versions of Windows do require some maintenance and this can be caused by a variety of reasons...

If your computer is an important part of your life, initially, you should take the time to give your PC a complete overhaul; eventually, PC maintenance procedures will become faster and less troublesome. Over the years, I've been taught either by a friend, relative or self-taught by research and here I want to share my "usual list" of tasks I carry-out (the explanation I admit I found it on the web, so I copied & pasted it under each task) whenever I perform maintenance on any of my Windows-based machines. Before doing any of these steps, make sure no other programs are running.

1. Check the general condition of your computer:

  • Check Hard Drive for Free Space - just to make sure you are not running out of storage space. Double Click on My Computer and hold your mouse pointer over the C drive Icon to display the size and free space on your disk. You want to have at least 20% Free Space. If you are running low, it might be time to perform some house cleaning by uninstalling some programs that you no longer use.

  • Check Ram - right click on My Computer and select Properties - Select the General tab and compare the reported amount of ram with what the computer should have installed.

  • Check Processes Running - with no programs running, while holding down the Ctrl and Alt keys, tap the Delete (DEL) key once. Select the PROCESSES tab - Write down the number of processes running for comparison purposes later. You can check this periodically to see if things have changed.

  • Check Status of Security Programs - you want to check the current status of all Antivirus and Internet Security related programs that you may have. Some viruses and spy ware are now targeting these programs and disabling them without your knowledge. Check to make sure they are up to date and have performed their scheduled scans. Most of these programs have a status window that may be displayed by Double Clicking on the program Icon in the lower right of your screen or on the program's icon on your desktop.

  • 2. Scan Disk for Errors

  • Double Click on MY COMPUTER - RIGHT CLICK on your C Drive - Select PROPERTIES - Select the TOOLS tab - Select CHECK NOW in the error-checking section. A small window will pop up; you want to check the box for "Automatically fix file system errors". - Click on Start - Another window will ask you if you want to perform this action the next time you start the computer - Click on YES. - Restart your computer now.

  • 3. Disk Clean Up

  • Click on START - ALL PROGRAMS - ACCESSORIES - SYSTEM TOOLS - DISK CLEANUP. Check off all boxes and run.

  • 4. Uninstall Junk Programs

  • Click on START - CONTROL PANEL - Double Click on ADD OR REMOVE PROGRAMS. You will be presented with a list of programs installed on your computer. Look down through the list for programs that you know you did not intentionally install. If you have no idea what something is, it is best to leave it for now. If you are concerned about any of the programs, you can perform a Google Search for the name to learn more about it before removing it. Watch closely for any programs that have the word SEARCH in the name such as Search Optimizer and Search Assistant. Many of these are Spyware and Adware related search tools that you may have not asked for. Click on the program that you don't want and select the CHANGE/REMOVE tab to uninstall. You may have to restart your computer after the uninstall process is finished.

  • 5. Update and Run Virus Scan

  • Even if your Antivirus Software indicates that it is up-to-date, you should manually check for updates. Many of these programs only update the virus definitions automatically and you must update manually to get the major program updates. After checking for updates, run a complete virus scan of your computer. This could take awhile depending on the amount of data you have on your computer.

  • 6. Clean Internet Explorer

  • You should cleanup Internet Explorer by deleting temporary files, History and cookies. Keep in mind that a complete cleaning may result in loosing some things like saved Passwords and Credit card number for some websites. From the main Internet Explorer window, Click on TOOLS - INTERNET OPTIONS - GENERAL TAB. Click on tabs for DELETE FILES, then DELETE COOKIES, Then Clear History. You may also want to reduce the number of days to keep pages in History depending on your needs.

  • 7. Scan for Spyware and Adware

  • Free programs on the internet are not always what they seem. Often the sting in the tail is, the behind the scenes, installing of Adware or Scumware as it's sometimes known. This usually consists of programs that run in the background and advertise various offerings which can be targeted to match your preferences. I would suggest downloading SpyBot Search & Destroy and Ad-Aware. You can download them from CNET. Simply search for SpyBot or Ad-Aware and download. Even though you may have just download and install these programs you will still need to update them to get the most recent definitions and updates. After making sure each of these programs has been updated, you can perform a scan with each of these programs. Remove whatever they find. Some problems may be difficult to remove and may require rebooting your computer and scanning several times in Safe Mode. In some cases it may be necessary to disconnect your computer from the internet before scanning.

  • 8. Defrag Disk

  • Over time the information stored on your hard drive may become fragmented, especially if you are running short on drive space or you are in the habit of installing and uninstalling programs or moving data around. If your drive is heavily fragmented, it may take longer for Windows to find the information it needs. Running the Disk Defragmenter will reorganize the data on your hard drive so that windows work more efficiently. To run Disk Defragmenter Click on START - ALL PROGRAMS - ACCESSORIES - SYSTEM TOOLS - and click on Disk Defragmenter - Select the C: drive and click on the DEFRAGMENT tab. If you have more than one hard drive you will need to do this for all drives. Note: To save time, you can Click on ANALYZE first just to check whether or not you really need to run the process. If you can spare the time go ahead and Defragment anyway. Again depending on the size this can take a long time. Keeping your drive defragmented can speed up your computer as well as reduce wear and tear on your hard drive.

  • 9. Update Windows

  • It is important to update Window itself. If you don't have Windows Update enabled then you can update Windows manually by going to www.microsoft.com and clicking on the Windows Update tab on the right side under Product Resources.

  • So, share with me on how do you keep your PC in tip-top condition?

    Happy TGIF!

    //m.u.s.i.c V.I.D.E.O

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