Computer Care Instructions

Don't buy a new computer, tune-up the one you have. If you've got just a little time, you can make your computer work like the day it came out of the box!

Alright, how many of you actually regularly check you hard drive for garbage and junk that you can get rid of? Do you know where Microsoft put the system utilities for Windows? I'm going to try to explain where all of these "Accessories" are. What they do and what we're going to do with them. Some of these programs go back to before Window 1.1 and have been hanging around since the bad ol' days of DOS. I'm sure that you've realized that the computer just isn't running the way it used to. Well, there can be a few reason why thing just aren't click the way they used to. As we use the applications, cruise the web and write reports, letters and computer articles the word processor makes temporary files that it might forget to erase when the applications is shut down. Even if you think the files is going into "My Documents" along with everything else, that doesn't mean that it's going to be next to the rest of the contents of the folder on the hard drive. So, we've got to bring order out of chaos and get the computer back to some semblance of normal (whatever that was, is or might be).

The good news is that Microsoft included some System Tools with Windows. The bad news, you have to use them in a specific order or things just don't come out right. So, let's get things rolling by explaining what is going to happen and when. The first thing we have to do is take out the trash. Windows 95 users are going to have to use the "Find" to get each of the categories, select the files that are useless and send them to the recycle bin. Window 98 are going to have to use "Find" for back up files and Check Disk files, but they can use "Disk Cleanup to automatically search the drives for the various temporary files. Once we're done sending things down the rabbit hole, it is going to time to check the health of the hard drive to make sure that the File Allocation Table (FAT) is okay and the hard drive doesn't have any data errors on it. Scan Disk has been around since, well"¦ forever really. It hasn't been changed because it does what it does well and if it isn't broke Geeks don't fix it. When the contents of the hard disk have been checked and repaired, the Defragmentation is going to put things back where next to all their friends and relations on the hard drive.

So we're going to:

Use "Find" and "Disk Cleanup" to find the trash, garbage and junk. Once we find them we're going to send them into the recycle bin and into the bit bucket in the sky.



Scan Disk is going to look at the FAT. Then it's going to check the files on the drive to make sure that they match what they've told the file allocation table. This utility is going to ask all of the files, "who are you?" "How old are you?" "How big are you?" Scan Disk takes the answers and checks them against the FAT file. If they don't match, we're not saying whose lying, but it will fix the misreported files and make them match the information.

Disk Defragmenter is going play musical files and rearrange things so almost everything is back where it was when everything got started.

All right, let's get this started.

We're gong to look for

*.bak

*.chk

*.tmp

*.temp

by typing in the Wild Card * a period (dot in the computer world) and the letters I've given you, okay gang. Then Click the "Find Now" button, when you find them the lower pane will list them in the order that they were found. The majority of these files are useless to you in your day-to-day computer, so you can be ruthless with them. The first thing you have to do is select the files that you want to delete. I do this by pressing the "Control + A" keys at the same time to "Select All" (this is a Windows Global Command that works everywhere). Or you could click the Edit menu and then click "Select All". Either way, the same thing happens, all of the entries in the lower pane turn colors for you. Once that's all done you can't either punch the Delete key or you could go back to the Edit menu again and click delete. Then you get the multiple item delete dialog box that will ask you if you're sure that you want to send all these items to the recycle bin. You can either hit the Enter key or just click Yes and off they'll go to the recycle bin. When you get done finding the last of the junk files and have sent them to the recycle bin, empty it out and we'll be ready for the next two steps

Note:

Windows 98 has a Utility called Disk Cleanup under Accessories, System Tools. This will find Temporary Files, Temporary Internet Files, but no Back-up files (BAK) or Check disk (CHK) files. So, still look for those other Files. You Windows 95 and 98 First Edition people are going to have look for them.

Tuning-Up Things:

Now, we're going to press the "Start Button", then "Programs" the "Accessories", "˜System Tools and SCANDISK. The applet's controls will come up on the screen. This is a very simple box that just lets you specifiy which drive you want you scan and how you want to do it. Make sure that Thorough and Automatically Fix Error is checked and click the Start Button. ScanDisk is going to take anywhere from five to Twenty Minutes depending on your computer. So, this isn't something you're going to do in a when you're going off for a coffee break. And, we still have one step to go and it takes the longest. When scandisk is done it's going to put a report on the screen saying it fix things or found no errors. You'll click the Close button.

Okay guys, we're going back into System Tools again. This time we're going to start the Disk Defragmenter or Defrag for short.

Click OK for the Drive C, D, or All Drives; and you see that it starts displaying the amount of the task, not the disk, that it's finished thus far. First, it's going to read the file allocation table. Then it will make a quick check to see that everything is where the table said they were. Once everything is checked and the utility is convinced that all the ducks are in a row it's going to start chugging and moving things around. That's when the tick-off reads 10%. You can sit there and watch it tick-off until it reads 100%, but it's about as exciting as watching paint dry. Go to lunch, supper, or watch Prime Time, because this might take upwards of an hour or more to complete depending on how Fragmented your hard drive is and the speed of your processor and file system.

However, once everything is done, and the files are all back to where they're supposed to be and all together again your computer will run noticeably faster and better. And friends, when this takes the longest the first time out. Sort of schedule this about once a month. Or, if you're like me, every week, just to make sure that the files and drives are working the way they should.

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