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Spring Cleaning Your Computer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bernie Vincent   
Sunday, 24 December 2006
Your PC is no different from your desk - it needs to be tidied-up occasionally!
 
Maintenance Wizard:
 
For PCs running Windows '98 and later, you can use the maintenance wizard which uses the Task Scheduler utility to run some of the system tools which perform checks on your system at pre-determined intervals.
 
To set this click on Start, then go to Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Maintenance Wizard. If you are running the wizard for the first time, the resulting dialogue boxes will take you through the process of configuring each of the three utility programs: Disk Defragmenter, ScanDisk and Disk Cleanup.
 
Alternatively, if Task Manager has already been configured, you may find an icon in the Task Bar on the bottom right of your screen. Double clicking on this icon will produce a list of the tasks and when they are scheduled to run. Clicking on each task will allow you to set a schedule for the task and any other relevant parameters. Thankfully, these tend to be self-explanatory!
 
Disk Defragmentation:
 
This sounds very technical, but it is not necessary to understand the technicalities - only that it relates to the storage of information on the computer’s disk.
 
Storage of data on a disk is not always consecutive, but often scattered in blocks across the surface of the disk. The operating system keeps track of the location of the various parts of a data file, and is then able to retrieve the data file when required. However, the more frequently that data is deleted, stored and retrieved, the more the data becomes fragmented, significantly reducing the retrieval performance of the disk.
 
To run the disk Defragmenter on its own in Windows 95/98 then from the Start menu, select Programs, Accessories, System Tools and Disk Defragmenter.
 
(Click on Show Details and Legend and you can watch the process - it’s probably as close as you will get to seeing a computer working.)
 
ScanDisk:
 
This scans the surface of the disk and repairs any defects. Like the previous utilities, ScanDisk is available as a system tool in Windows 95/98. From the Start menu, select Programs, Accessories, System Tools and ScanDisk.
 
Disk Clean-up:
 
This tool can be configured to automatically delete temporary and other categories of file for you. Just make your choices as you set it going from Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools and Disk Cleanup.
 
Directory or Folder Organisation:
 
The hard disk on a PC has its own "filing system" that is intended to mimic a filing cabinet. The divisions on the disk are called Folders and their purpose is to enable you to store system files, applications software and data files in logical groups, rather like a conventional paper filing system. Many people do not store their data files efficiently and as a result spend a lot of time searching for their files.
 
File Housekeeping:
 
Whilst organising your disk filing system, it is wise to delete unwanted, obsolete or duplicate (back-up) files.
 
Many applications, particularly word processors and spreadsheets, are configured to automatically create a back-up copy of a file each time it is edited. These files typically have a .BAK file extension, and can clog up your disk if you do not periodically delete them.
 
You can search for them in the folder for each application. In Windows 95/98 or NT from Windows Explorer select Tools, Find, Files or Folders and type *.BAK
 
Another area where unwanted files can build up is the Windows Temp directory. These files are used to "recover" data if the system crashes unexpectedly, and protects from loss of any "unsaved" data. They typically have a .TMP file extension so repeat the previous search with *.TMP before deleting the files found.
 
Normally, Windows deletes these files but for a number of reasons, they can remain in the Temp directory. They should be periodically deleted.
 
Re-cycle Bin:
 
Files that you delete from your PC's hard disk are not actually deleted, but placed in the Recycle Bin, which is just another folder. Should you delete files by mistake, they can be recovered from the Bin.
 
Note: this only applies to files deleted from the hard disk of your PC. Files deleted from floppy or other removable disks or folders on a network server do not go into the recycle bin.
 
In Windows Explorer (right click on Start, then Explorer), find and double-click on the Recycle Bin on the hard disk drive(s) – this will display a listing of the deleted files showing the original directories they were in.
 
Click on File then Empty Recycle Bin and OK to confirm the deletions.
 
Note: you can do the same by double clicking on the Recycle Icon on your desktop, clicking on File and then on Empty Recycle Bin and OK to confirm the deletions.
 
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