By following a few simple guidelines, you can maintain your computer
and keep it running smoothly. This article discusses how to use the
tools available in Windows 7, Vista, and XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to
more efficiently maintain your computer and safeguard your privacy when
1. Free up disk spaceThe Disk Cleanup tool helps you free
up space on your hard disk to improve the performance of your computer.
The tool identifies files that you can safely delete, and then enables
you to choose whether you want to delete some or all of the identified
Use Disk Cleanup to:
- Remove temporary Internet files.
- Remove downloaded program files (such as Microsoft ActiveX controls and Java applets).
- Empty the Recycle Bin.
- Remove Windows temporary files such as error reports.
- Remove optional Windows components that you don't use.
- Remove installed programs that you no longer use.
- Remove unused restore points and shadow copies from System Restore.
Typically, temporary Internet files take the most amount of space
because the browser caches each page you visit for faster access later.
2. Speed up access to dataDisk fragmentation slows the
overall performance of your system. When files are fragmented, the
computer must search the hard disk when the file is opened to piece it
back together. The response time can be significantly longer.
Defragmenter is a Windows utility that consolidates fragmented files
and folders on your computer's hard disk so that each occupies a single
space on the disk. With your files stored neatly end-to-end, without
fragmentation, reading and writing to the disk speeds up.When to run Disk Defragmenter
In addition to running Disk Defragmenter at regular intervals—monthly
is optimal—there are other times you should run it too, such as when:
- You add a large number of files.
- Your free disk space totals 15 percent or less.
- You install new programs or a new version of Windows.
3. Detect and repair disk errorsIn addition to running Disk
Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter to optimize the performance of your
computer, you can check the integrity of the files stored on your hard
disk by running the Error Checking utility.
As you use your hard
drive, it can develop bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk
performance and sometimes make data writing (such as file saving)
difficult, or even impossible. The Error Checking utility scans the
hard drive for bad sectors, and scans for file system errors to see
whether certain files or folders are misplaced.
If you use your computer daily, you should run this utility once a week to help prevent data loss.
Run the Error Checking utility:
- Close all open files.
- Click Start, and then click My Computer.
- In the My Computer window, right-click the hard disk you want to search for bad sectors, and then click Properties.
- In the Properties dialog box, click the Tools tab.
- Click the Check Now button.
- In the Check Disk dialog box (called Error-checking in Windows 7), select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box, and then click Start
- If bad sectors are found, choose to fix them.
Only select the "Automatically fix file system errors" check box if you think that your disk contains bad sectors.
4. Protect your computer against spywareSpyware
collects personal information without letting you know and without
asking for permission. From the Web sites you visit to usernames and
passwords, spyware can put you and your confidential information at
risk. In addition to privacy concerns, spyware can hamper your
computer's performance. To combat spyware, you might want to consider
using Microsoft Windows Defender, which is included in Windows 7
and Windows Vista
, and is available as a free download for Microsoft XP SP2
. Alternatively, there are other free anti-spyware software programs available.
5. Learn all about ReadyBoostIf you're using Windows 7 or
Windows Vista, you can use ReadyBoost to speed up your system. A new
concept in adding memory to a system, it allows you to use non-volatile
flash memory—like a USB flash drive or a memory card—to improve
performance without having to add additional memory.