Thursday, 28 February 2013

How Do You Keep Your PC Clean?

Regular maintenance of your PC is really worth the effort. In the short term it helps prevent your computer from running slowly, and in the long term it helps to extend the life of your PC. Here’s a quick guide to the main tasks you can carry out that will keep your computer running smoothly.

Disk Cleanup

When your hard disc fills up your PC will run slower, so it’s important to clean it regularly. Fortunately there is a Windows program already installed in your PC that can do this for you.

Disk Cleanup searches your drive for cache files, temporary files and programs that are no longer needed. It can either identify them for you, leaving you to decide what to do with them, or automatically remove them for you. Here’s how to runs Disk Cleanup on:

It’s probably easier to set up Disk Cleanup to run as a scheduled task. To make your computer run as effectively as possible, it should run once a week. Here’s how to run a scheduled Disk Cleanup on:

Disk Defragmenter

When your computer stores large files it may break them into chunks to make it easier to find storage space, this is known as fragmentation. When you need to use the program, your PC remembers where the chunks are and reassembles them. However, if you have a number of fragmented programs then the reassembling process will take much longer, and this will slow down your computer.

Defragging your computer, or reassembling the files in order, will help increase the speed of programs. How often need to you defrag your computer will depend on how regularly you create and delete files and how much time you spend online.

Before defragging you should do all of the following, in this order:

  • Delete any unwanted files.
  • Run Disk Cleanup and ScanDisk.
  • Make a system back up.

The following links explain how to defrag different Windows operating systems:

Check your hard disk or drive for errors

Disk errors are another problem that may cause your PC to run slower than normal. Running programs like Chkdsk can check for these.

Once the disk checking program has started running you shouldn’t interrupt it, so you should only do this task when you don’t need to use your computer for anything else. You will need to be an Administrator to carry out this task. For further instructions see:

Uninstall old or unused programs

Programs you no longer use, like games, or preinstalled programs that you never use will be taking up space on your disc that you can utilise. Removing them will free up space for new data and programs.

Deleting the icon for a program on your desktop will not remove it from your computer. It simply removes the shortcut. To remove a program completely you need to go to the Start menu and uninstall from the All Programs list, or from Control Panel. Full instructions can be found on the Microsoft at home website.

Back up your system regularly

A system backup creates a copy of your computer system that is stored in a separate place to the original, like an external hard drive. Creating a copy means that if you accidentally delete files, or if your computer is attacked by a virus, you can reinstall your original system.

It’s always wise to back up your system regularly, especially if you create a lot of files, or hold personal items, such as pictures, on your computer. These two articles contain more information:

Running a virus scan

Viruses and malware are some of the biggest culprits if your PC is running particularly slowly. Regularly running virus scanning software will not only disable any software that is slowing down you computer, but will also help keep you safe online.

If you’re regularly online then you definitely need virus protection software. Without it your system can be easily hacked. It’s the equivalent of leaving your house unlocked while you go away on holiday! Find out about how you can install the best free antivirus.

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