As we approach another new year, it’s a good time to tidy up your old PC to help it run faster and more safely, and start a maintenance routine (a good rule for a new PC too!). There are a few tools you can use for computers running Windows 7, Vista, or XP. For instance you can:
- Free up disk space by running Disk Cleanup,
- Speed up your access to data by running Disk Defragmenter,
- Check for and repair disk errors, and
- Scan for and delete spyware.
Disk Cleanup will help improve your computer’s performance by freeing up space on your hard disk. To run Disk Cleanup, click on Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, then Disk Cleanup. Disk Cleanup will calculate how much space you can free. It will show you potential files to delete and how much space they are taking. You can select which ones you wish to delete or keep. By clicking on the More Options tab, you can choose to uninstall programs you no longer use. Using Disk Cleanup weekly or monthly should help keep your computer from accumulating unwanted and unnecessary files.
Disk Defragmenter will help improve your computer’s performance by consolidating fragmented files on your computer’s hard disk. To run Disk Defragmenter, click on Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, then Disk Defragmenter. You can schedule Disk Defragmenter to run on a schedule, (monthly is usually sufficient) or use the option of running it immediately. The process can take a few hours to complete.
Error Checking is a utility that checks your hard disk for errors and can fix file system errors and bad disk sectors. Click on Computer (My Computer for XP), right click on the disk you want to check, then select Properties, Tools, Error Checking, Check Now. Leave the two options unchecked while you scan for errors. Hopefully you will receive a “successful scan, no errors” pop-up, and you are done. If errors are found you can select one or both fix/recovery options, which will take a bit of time to run. If you select “automatically fix file system errors” you cannot use the disk while the process runs. Note: You can also find Disk Defragmenter in the above Tools Menu.
Scan for and delete spyware by running an anti spyware/malware program such as Malware Bytes, Anti-Malware. There is a free version you can easily download from CNET (go to http://download.cnet.com). Look for Malware Bytes Anti-Malware in the Most Popular Downloads column. Spyware not only puts your privacy at risk, but also slows down your computer. Your antivirus software may also protect you from most spyware. If not, running Malware Bytes, Anti-Malware is a possible solution.