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Hard Drive Spring Cleaning - Removing the Clutter From Your Hard Drive

A complete checklist to a whole personal computer cleansing, in order.

Steve Smith, host of your Technology Questions Answered, guides listeners through a checklist of maintenance instructions to spring clean your computer.

Episode #1-28 released on April 10, 2011

Every single year we hear about cleaning our homes, offices, and backyards. This year, we are going to give you a checklist of computer maintenance, in order. We start with the most basic tasks, and continue on to the most complex tasks. We also deliver on last week's promise of free software solutions to make this easier. We, of course, have to explain the usefulness of each tasks, so you better understand why you should be doing them.

Scandisk

Committing time to doing a scan disk may seem impossible to do but remember, it is important to know the current state of your hard drive, this software is included in all versions of Windows, and can be activated voluntarily by right clicking the mouse on the intended hard-drive icon, under my computer, then go to properties, then tools, then click error checking. It will commit to doing a scan disk at the next computer restart, or power on. This will also allow for any damaged files to be repaired, and some parts of the operating system to be repaired automatically.

If this is impossible, consider using Spin Rite 6.0, it is a paid program that does the same job, but it can detect problems with the hard drive before Scan Disk or the SMART Bios feature can.

Uninstallation of Unused Software

It is important to keep as much free space on your hard-drive, as possible. You need a minimum of 15% to do most tasks, and defragmentation requires at least 15%, as well. Not having this free space also hinders performance. You can uninstall any useless or unused program by going to the add/remove feature in the control panel.

If uninstallations are a problem, you can also use Revo Uninstaller. It can remove stubborn software installations. We've all come into contact with poorly compiled software, this helps most situations, and at the very least, remove the registry entries to allow for manual removal.

Cleansing of Caches and Temporary Files

This is possible with Windows to do, I prefer to use CCleaner, Glary Utilities and Advanced SystemCare. These all remove cookies, temporary internet files, empties the computer's trash bin, and removes all none essential cache files. I, personally, run CCleaner daily.

Virus and Spyware Scanning

A full scan of your hard drive for viruses and spyware is a must, at least, to verify that your computer hasn't caught anything. I personally use AVG Anti-Virus free edition 2011. It includes a spy ware, root-kit and link scanner. For a more thorough scanning of hidden spyware I use SpyBot Search and Destroy. If you do have viruses and spyware, I suggest rebuilding your computer to protect the privacy and regain back some computer performance probably being sucked away by unauthorized traffic.

Application of Updates to Hardware and Software

I have two things to say about updating software and drivers in computers. In the case of software, update at all costs. New versions usually come out with better performance, more features and enhanced security. Updating drivers sometimes brings out new features and resolves stability issues. If you hardware is working fine, and your games and software run perfectly, you may not need to update your drivers. You should, however, update your software, including your operating system, whenever there is an update. CNET's TechTracker, scans your computer for all installed software solutions, and notifies you of any updates that need to be done to your hardware.

Defragmentation of Hard-drive

Defragmentation, has always been a topic of should I, or not. Today, you should, if your using a conventional hard drive. After running scans, removing files, uninstalling unused software, etc... you will have more free space on your hard drive, this means that this is the perfect time to defragment, your hard drive. It will allow for better seek and read speeds, and give you a faster computer. It will also allow the reader heads to work more efficiently and with less physical stress.

My preferred solution for doing a defragmentation of a hard drive is Smart Defrag, now in a new version 2. This also allows you to shutdown your computer when it is finished, it can now defragment the system files before Windows loads, and it can run automatically keeping your hard drive in peak condition. This will allow you to load programs faster.

Creation of Recent Backups

Today, I will talk to you about making backups. I have two solutions for all of you, and are automatic and free of charge. You have the Windows Live Sync option that backups files to your Windows Live account, putting your important files into the cloud, and best of all, most of you probably already have a MSN or Hotmail account. Windows Vista and 7 allow for this occur straight after installation of the MSN Live software package, available through Windows Update.

The other solution, which also works in Windows XP, Vista and 7, is the iDrive. It currently offers more space than the Windows Live version, with a free 5gb starter option. Very easy to use, and backups are automatic, as well. This will ensure, at the very least, that you do not have any files lost by accidental deletion, theft or other unforeseen events like fires, floods, earthquakes, etc...

After you have completed this simple task list of computer maintenance you will see better performance and a faster startup. Please keep in mind, a computer that is well maintained, will continue to run smoothly.

Suggestions for faster loading

Turn off all none essential startup programs like MSN, Skype, scanning software (except the anti-virus), and any other program that does not need to be running at startup. Be aware some programs like Microsoft Office, and even OpenOffice, run software at startup to load faster, you can turn this off. Your only saving a few seconds of loading, and if you do not use the program everyday, this is also time well, wasted.

Next Week, we talk about dual booting your computer with Linux.

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Host : Steve Smith | Music : Steve Smith | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions