Herewith are some simple guidelines to help maintain your computer and keep it running smoothly. This article discusses the tools available in Windows 7, Vista, and XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to efficiently maintain your computer and safeguard your privacy online.
1. Disk Cleanup Tool
The Disk Cleanup tool helps you free up space on your hard disk by identifying files that you can safely delete, and then enables you to choose whether you want to delete some or all of the identified files. This improves the performance of your computer.
Disk Cleanup removes the following:
- temporary Internet files
- downloaded program files (such as Microsoft ActiveX controls and Java applets)
- contents of Recycle Bin
- Windows temporary files such as error reports
- optional Windows components that you don’t use
- installed programs that you no longer use
- unused restore points and shadow copies from System Restore
Note: Temporary Internet files usually take the most amount of space because the web browser caches each page you visit for faster access later.
2. Disk Defragmenter
When a disk is fragmented the overall performance of your system suffers. When files are fragmented, the computer slows down because it searches the hard disk whenever the file is opened to put it back together in one piece. The response time can be significantly longer.
Disk Defragmenter solves this problem. This Windows utility, consolidates fragmented files and folders so that they occupies a single space on the computer hard disk resulting to faster reading and writing to the disk.
Disk Defragmenter must be run at regular intervals. To have optimal result, use the monthly option. But there are times that this utility should be run when:
- a large number of files is added
- free disk space totals 15 percent or less
- new programs or a new version of Windows are installed
3. Error Checking Utility
Another way of optimizing the performance of your computer, is to check the integrity of the files stored on your hard disk by running the Error Checking utility.
With the constant read and write access to the hard drive, it develops bad sectors that slows down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing (such as file saving) difficult, or even impossible. The Error Checking utility scans the hard drive for bad sectors, and scans for file system errors to verify if files or folders are misplaced.
This utility must be run at least once a week to help prevent data loss especially to daily pc users.
How to Run the Error Checking utility:
1. Close all open files.
2. Click Start, and then click My Computer.
3. In the My Computer window, right-click the hard disk you want to search for bad sectors, and then click Properties.
4. In the Properties dialog box, click the Tools tab.
5. Click the Check Now button.
6. In the Check Disk dialog box (called Error-checking in Windows 7), select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box, and then click Start.
Check Disk Local Disk dialog box, with the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box selected.
7. If bad sectors are found, choose to fix them.
Note: Choose the “Automatically fix file system errors” check box if you think that your disk contains bad sectors.
4. Windows Defender
One of the problems encountered in using the internet today is Spyware. This is one source of identity theft, because Spyware collects personal information without letting you know and without asking for permission. By visiting different Web sites, or by entering usernames and passwords, spyware can put you and your confidential information at risk. Spyware also hampers your computer’s performance. Microsoft’s Windows Defender, which is included in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, and is available as a free download for Microsoft XP SP2, can be used to combat Spyware.
For Windows 7 or Windows Vista users, ReadyBoost is an available feature that speeds up your system. This is a new concept of adding memory to a system, by allowing the use of non-volatile flash memory—like a USB flash drive or a memory card—to improve performance without having to add additional memory.