Welcome to my blog and my first article ever, today we will discuss some of the basic maintenance every home user should know in order to keep your computer running fast, we will only cover things that can slow down your system on the next article we will go over network security, computer vulnerabilities, how to prevent getting a virus and what to do in the event that you do get one, because honestly we are not perfect and we all make mistakes, that banner telling us You won an iPad sure looks tempting?
We all do it at home, at work, we clean the inside of our cars and wash those shining rims, but have you ever stopped and think who does the cleaning of your computer, and I don’t mean junk files, but literally cleaning the inside of the computer, all those dust bunnies accumulate inside over time could potentially slow down your cooling fan and thus raise the temperature of your system. In order to clean the inside of the computer you’ll need an air compressed can, or if you can’t get one at the moment a hair dryer would suffice for the moment but remember to run it in cold air at maximum speed. Before you open the computer, remember to unplug the power chord. There’s usually a screw or two holding the access panel of the tower,(keep in mind that if your computer is fairly new and if there’s a seal you might void the warranty), after taking the screws off, remove the panel, and inspect the inside for dirt, use the air can to remove dirt and dust.
Once the inside is cleaned, clean the monitor with screen cleaner wipes, and also blow the dust inside your keyboard and wipe off to finish the cleaning part.
If your internet browser is often becoming unresponsive chances are that your computer is full of junk files, or temporary files, a good tool to get rid of these junk files is Ccleaner a nice freeware with many good features that perhaps it needs it own article, for the most part it removes temporary files, browsing history, cookies, empty recycle bin and much more, remember to uncheck memory dump as this hold important information about blue screens. To run ccleaner just install, and launch, click the analyze button, and you will see a report on how much junk files you have on your system, then just click Run Cleaner and it will delete all junk files. Is a good habit to schedule ccleaner to run automatic at night, I have mine set to run everyday at midnight, but every other day, or even weekly should be fine as well.
More Junk Files (Downloads)
If you are a download junkie, download movies, music, programs, and what not, perhaps is time to clean you download folder and other folders that are taking massive space on your hard drive for this, before I upgraded my laptop from a tiny 160GB to a 1TB Hard drive I was always struggling with space, sometimes programs run temporary files folders and take lots of space. A great freeware and small utility to find out what’s taking a lot of space is called WinDirStat, it scans your hard drive, in a tree view, displaying information like file size, last time changed, from top to bottom, the folders at the top are the biggest in size, go through them and see if you can delete any unnecessary files. Here’s a screenshot of WinDirStat performing a scan on my C drive. After deleting all the files you think are junk, rescan and see how much free space you have now. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 10 to 15% of free space on your hard drive.
Clunkiness Internet Explorer
Another good way to slow down your browsing experience is by installing unnecessary toolbars, many times they install as part of a freeware where you clicked too fast that you forgot to opt out, or you thought it was a good idea to install a toolbar, many websites offer their own toolbars such as Google, yahoo, eBay, etc, but it comes down to one thing, you don’t need them, and they take too much space from your monitor. To delete a toolbar, go to tools, manage add-ons, and disable whatever toolbar you don’t need. Below is a screenshot of a massive toolbar collection on internet explorer.
Start Up Programs
I always recommend that you have a maximum of 10 to 15 start-up programs, including your security programs such as antivirus, firewall, and any other programs that are necessary. Many times malware and virus will put themselves in start-up so is always good to check it out, if it doesn’t have a publisher or if the name is a bunch of gibberish random letters it could be a potential threat so just google to make sure and if it is a malware then take to your local computer shop for removal. Ccleaner is a tool of choice to remove items from the startup list, or if you feel comfortable enough you can type msconfig in run and go to startup tab and uncheck programs like that, the less programs you have the faster the boot time, after removing the items remember to restart your computer.
Last but not least is to defragment your hard drive, in Windows XP this is a must, what happens in the background when your files are saved each piece of data (bytes) gets scattered throughout the hard drive. Over time a good amount of unused blocks stay in between used blocks which leads to slower loading times, this is where Defraggler comes in, a freeware that scans, and analyze your hard drive, and let you know if your systems is fragmented. You can also schedule to run monthly usually at night when everybody is sleep, remember to have the computer on standby or otherwise the schedule won’t run.
In our next article we will discuss malware prevention, how it can affect your system, and tips on what to do if you suspect a virus. I hope you enjoy the article and learned some quick tips to make your computer fast. Thanks for reading.