An Uncluttered Hard Drive Equals A Happy PC!

Everyone knows you need free hard drive space to save files. But the need for free disk space goes far beyond saving a Word document or an MP3 file.

The hard drive is utilized by the computer for many things, most of which go on behind the scenes.

System Restore
If you have Windows Me or a newer version of Windows, your computer comes equipped with a function called “system restore.” System restore is a great tool.

If you install a program or a new device that causes your computer to go haywire, as long as you have a restore point from before that screwy device or application was installed, you can restore your computer to its earlier state.

Windows periodically sets restore points, and you can manually set them too, but these restore points take up lots of disk space – sometimes up to 5 or 10 percent of the hard drive.

If you have no free space, you can’t use system restore.

Page file
Your computer uses RAM (random access memory) to store programs that it is currently running, such as web browsers, games, and virus scanners.

Programs that are open, but are not currently in use are stored in what Windows calls the “page file” or “swap file.”

The page file is an area on the hard drive set aside to be used as “extra RAM,” so that the actual RAM is not overly taxed and your computer can run as efficiently as possible.

Windows initially sets aside a chunk of the hard drive to use as the page file, so unless you manually limit the size or disable the page file, any files you save on the hard drive will not impact the page file.

However, if you run a lot of programs simultaneously, it is advisable to increase your page file size, and without free hard drive space that won’t be possible.

Running the disk defragmenter

Windows comes with another useful tool, the Disk Defragmenter.

The defragmenter joins fragmented files and reorganizes the hard drive to make the best use of all available space (which helps your PC run faster).

You should run the defragmenter at least once a month, but you need free disk space in order to run it. (Ideally, at least 10 or 15 percent of your hard drive should be empty before running the defragmenter.)

Most anti-virus programs have an option to quarantine infected files.

The suspect files are set aside in a designated area of the hard drive so they won’t be able to further infect your computer, but if you need to get to the file, it’s still around.

Without free hard drive space, there is no room for quarantine. Therefore your anti-virus program may delete an important file it suspects as a virus and there will be no way of retrieving the file, or the anti-virus may not be able to do its job correctly and not do anything for that file because there is not enough space on your hard drive for it to move the file somewhere else.

Temp files
Your computer can pick up and store temporary files when you’re browsing webpages online and even when you’re working on files in programs, such as Microsoft Word.

Over time, these files will slow your computer’s performance down by decreasing disk space. You can use the Windows Disk Cleanup tool to rid your computer of these unneeded files and to help your PC run faster.

There are many more behind the scene activities that go on with your computer, having low hard drive space would limit its functionality and could cause serious system damages if not addressed properly.

It is best to have your computer optimized at least once every three months to get the best performance, and having it last longer.

Tips To Optimize Your Computer’s Performance

Has your computer significantly slowed down since you first bought it? Does it seem slower than ever? Is something wrong? These are questions and concerns of many users when it comes to their computer systems.

Almost every day I encounter clients who have these complaints, so I’ve put together a few pointers and best practices to keep your systems running in tip top shape!

All of these tips use system tools that are built right into your Windows operating system, whether you’re running Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, XP, Vista, or Windows 7.

They may vary in location, as well as the look and feel of the applications, but overall they all are designed to do the same things.

Clean Up Disk Errors
Every time you improperly shut down your computer, a program crashes, or a power outage happens, your computer creates errors on the hard disk.

Over time, these errors can cause the system to read and write data to the hard drive slower, hence slowing your entire system down. For this, Windows has built in what’s called a disk check.To run disk check simply:

1. Click START > My Computer
2.Choose the drive you want to run the check on, and RIGHT click it, and choose PROPERTIES.
3. In the PROPERTIES box, click the TOOLS tab. In the errorchecking section, press the CHECK NOW button.
4. Choose both automatically fix file system errors, and scan for and attempt to recover bad sectors, and proceed by clicking START.

Delete Temporary Files
Your computer picks up and stores temp files all the time, while you browse the web, work in programs such as Microsoft Word, and even when installing new programs.

Over a period of time, these temporary files can really bog your system down, so you have to be sure to clean them up on a regular basis.

For this, Windows has what’s called Disk Cleanup.

To run disk cleanup simply:
1.Go to START > My Computer
2.Choose the drive you want to run the cleanup on, and RIGHT click it, and choose PROPERTIES.
3.In the properties box, click DISK CLEANUP.

Disk cleanup will calculate how much space you can free up on your hard drive.

After it runs its scan, the disk cleanup dialogue box will show a list of files you can remove from your computer.

The list will include: Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, Microsoft Error Reporting Temp Files, Office Setup Files, Recycle Bin, and Thumbnails.

4.From here, go ahead and check all the boxes, and click OK.
5.Disk cleanup will now remove those selected files, and close when it has completed and you are done!

Organize Your Data
Over time, as we install new programs, save new files, documents, videos, pictures, music, etc. data can become what is known as fragmented.

Fragmented files are a huge cause of slow performance. For this, Windows built in the Disk Defragmenter.

Disk Defragmenter analyzes all your files, and organizes them nice neatly in the same locations, rather than randomly spread across your file system.

You should run this utility at least once a month at least to prevent files from becoming badly fragmented.

To run disk defragmenter you simply:
1.Click START > My Computer
2.Choose the drive you want to defrag, and RIGHT click it, and choose PROPERTIES.
3.In the properties box, click the TOOLS tab, and then in the defragmentation section, click DEFRAGMENT NOW.
4.In the disk defragmentation box, select the volume you want to scan, and click defragment. (Typically this would be your C: drive )

Follow these three easy tips, and your computer will stay running in tip top shape for as long as you have the system. Remember it is important to keep regular maintenance on your computers, just as you do on most all mechanical and/or electrical devices.

How To Stop The Number One Cause Of Computer Slow Downs And Crashes!

Wouldn’t it be nice if your computer still ran like it did back when you first bought it? Before you go and buy a new computer try this key maintenance step you can use to put life back into the computer you already have.

Imagine that you start up your PC just to find yourself staring at a blue screen with white writing, termed “the blue screen of death” by those of us who work a lot with Microsoft software. So, you power it down – and when it starts back up, the computer is even slower. Within a few minutes it locks up again.

This happened to a friend of mine. When she asked me what she could do, I asked her if she had ever defragmented her computer. She got that “deer in the headlights” look, so I knew she hadn’t. Defragmenting her PC, after three years of never doing so, took about 14 hours to complete.

One of the main reasons that computers slow down is poor maintenance practices like this. Unfortunately, when you buy a new computer you don’t usually get any instruction on how to maintain it. Poor or no maintenance allows your hard drive to become more and more fragmented which will slow it down over time.

To best explain hard drive fragmentation think of your hard drive as a file cabinet. In this cabinet there are folders with documents (files) in them.

When you need to work on something you open the folder containing the necessary file, pull out what you need and put the folder back. The files go on your desk so you can work on them.

Over time certain files don’t get put back, or they get put back in different places. When this happens on the hard drive it leads to fragmentation. Think of defragmenting as going through the files on your desk, and in the cabinet, and putting them back in order in the correct folders.

Just as staying this disorganized would lead to a significant loss in your own productivity, the same thing happens to your computer. Eventually it causes a crash because of how scattered all of the information gets.

Disk fragmentation can even shorten the lifespan of your computer because your hard drive works so hard that it wears out faster.

So the one step solution for this part of computer maintenance, run the defragmenting tool that comes with Windows at least once every couple of weeks.

Do this by clicking Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, click System Tools, then click Disk Defragmenter. Choose the disk you want to defragment and click the defragment button. You can also schedule this maintenance inside the Disk Defragmenter application, so you don’t have to remember to run it.

Take care of your hard disk maintenance and you will continue to enjoy the speed you experienced when you first made that investment!

Defragging Your Hard Drive Can Make Your PC Run Fast

Defragging your hard drive is one of the most overlooked PC maintenance tasks, yet one of the simplest ways to keep your PC running fast.

When your files are organized, your hard drive has to work less to retrieve data, which speeds up the computer.

In Windows XP, open My Computer and right-click the hard drive, then click Properties and look under the Tools tab.

You will select the hard drive you want to defragment and click Analyze to see the state of the drive. The computer will take a moment to test the hard disk, then show you a graphical representation of the drive. Mostly blue bands indicate a healthy state on contiguous files.

Scattered red bands indicate fragmented files. If you have a lot of these, Windows will prompt you to defrag and you should accept when ready.

You’ll want to schedule your defrag, since you won’t be able to use the PC while this utility is running. Consider doing this when you leave the office for the day – it could take a few hours to complete depending on drive size.

If defragmenter produces errors, consider running defrag from within Safe Mode, where most services are stopped and nothing is using the drive.

How often you defrag the hard drive depends on your usage. If you constantly add and remove large files, you will need to do this often. If you do general PC work like checking Emails, working on spreadsheets, etc you will only need to perform this task about every two months.