Spring cleaning for your PC

by mcastellon on March 15, 2006

During the winter months it’s likely your computer has become sluggish and glitchy while you’ve been indoors browsing the Web and downloading annoying forwards from your friends. A PC that doesn’t receive routine maintenance, even in just a couple months, can experience a severe reduction in performance and reliability.

Much like how your house accumulates useless clutter and dirt over a period of time, so does your computer. That’s why it’s important to do a thorough overhaul every once in awhile – the same way you might clean out the closets, refrigerator, and from under the couch. A deep clean for your PC will also give you a better outlook and a higher sense of Chi, just like cleaning out the garage.

So let’s get started.

The first thing you’ll want to do is run your Disk Cleanup utility, which is a program you already have in Windows XP. Disk Cleanup is a utility that’s a bit like hiring an inexpensive maid for your home just before guests arrive: it’s not enough to have by itself but it puts you in a good place to tackle other important larger tasks.

You’ll find Disk Cleanup under the Accessories -> System Tools folder in your Start Menu:

It’s safe to check all the options in this window. If you’re in doubt, however, leave the item unchecked and click OK.

Disk Cleanup can run kind of slow, especially if your computer is bogged down with a lot of junk. But be patient and let the cleanup run its course. The more junk files you have the longer it’s going to take this application to do its job. Running Disk Cleanup will make a good starting point for us to conduct a few other crucial tasks.

Next, let’s go ahead and defrag that hard drive. Running Disk Defragmenter, which is also on your computer if you’re using Windows, is one of the most important things you can do to have a clean and healthy hard drive. It works kind of like an interior decorator by putting important and useful things in key area and making your basic overall computing experience will go way up. So let’s run it:

You’ll find Disk Defragmenter right next to wear you found Disk Cleanup – in your Accessories -> System Tools foler in your start menu. Go there now and click on the link. You should have this window open now:


Go ahead and click Defragment and let the utility run its course. It might take some time, especially if it’s been awhile since you’ve done this. Even longer if you’ve never done this. It’s not unusual for a heavily fragmented hard drive to take a few hours to defrag, but your computer will love you for it.

After you’ve defragged, let’s go to the next step, which is to scan your computer for virus, and to protect it from future attacks:

I’m a big fan of AVG Antivirus. It’s free, it’s reliable, and it’s better than a lot of the high dollar antivirus utilities you could buy. Go ahead and download it and follow the program’s installation and scan instructions. From now on, it’s important you keep AVG Antivirus up to date. Doing so will keep you nice and clean and will prevent the heartache of having a hard drive become unusable due to a virus attack.

We’re almost done. Let’s do one more thing that’s crucial to a healthy computer:

Let’s sweep your hard drive of all the little bits of data and junk files your computer accumulates when you use the internet. The best piece of software you can use for this is Lavasoft Ad-Aware. Again, it’s free and reliable. Go ahead and download it, update it, and let it scan. It’s likely safe to delete everything it recommends. Again, if you’re in doubt about a element that this utility finds, un-select it and don’t let Ad-Aware delete it.

You’re best bet is to let these procedures and utilities do their job as often as possible. Each one dramatically reduces your chances of having a really bad, preventable computer problem. Oh, yeah. And make backups of your data as often as possible.
michael castellon
mike castellon

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