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PC maintenance – keeping your computer healthy

eRin PheiL

You do the dishes. You do the laundry. If you have a lawn, you mow it – on occasion. You sometimes think about making your bed.

Today, I’m here to tell you that your computer needs the same attention.

I’ll super simplify it for you: If you don’t occasionally tidy up your computer’s insides, a bunch of junk will start to collect, and your computer will become increasingly sluggish.

Lucky for you, tidying up your computer is easy. Plus, it takes far less effort than doing the dishes. Let’s walk through the two most basic tips on maintaining healthy computers. (Sorry Mac users, much of the following won’t apply to you.)

n Maintenance tip No. 1: Occasionally delete your

Temporary Internet Files.

Let me explain. There’s a bunch of space on your computer reserved by your Internet browser where copies of all the Web pages you visit, as well all the images on those pages, are kept.

This space is called the Internet Cache, aka Temporary Internet Files. If you don’t periodically delete these files, more and more files accumulate and take up space on your computer.

Depending on your computer and how many files have accumulated, your computer performance may be substantially affected. So let’s clean “em out, shall we? I mean, there’s a reason they’re not called “Permanent Internet Files.”

This is easy. If you’re using Internet Explorer to browse the Web, simply go to the “Tools” menu at the top of the screen, and then select “Internet Options.”

In the Temporary Internet Files section click the button labeled Delete Files, and then click OK. If it’s been a while since you cleaned these files out, don’t be surprised if it takes your computer a minute or two to finish the process.

If it seems frozen for a minute or so, don’t worry, it’s just working hard. This simple step clears your cache and removes the entire Temporary Internet files from their folder on your hard drive.

If you use Netscape to browse the Web and you want to review your cache options, select the “Edit” menu, then Preferences. Under Category, open “Advanced,” then select Cache.

n Maintenance tip No 2: Defrag. Has anyone every advised you to “defrag” your computer?

When files or programs are moved about or deleted from your computer, parts of files end up scattering all over your hard drive.

Defragging takes these “fragments” and arranges them tidily once again so that your computer doesn’t have to search all over, willy-nilly to find things. In short, your computer can run faster once it’s defragmented. Everything’s neatly organized and put back into place.

When you defrag, NO files, programs, etc., are removed. Things are simply rearranged. Depending on how messy your computer is, the actual defrag process can take quite a long time.

Lucky for you, beginning the process is as simple as clicking a few buttons. Follow these steps to begin defragging, then go out for a nice bike ride.

To defrag: Click on the Start Menu in the lower left-hand corner of your screen.

Then choose Programs, Accessories, System Tools, then Disk Defragmenter. Make sure your main drive is selected in the top pane of the window that opens up (usually it will be your “C” drive), then simply click the “Defragment” button in the lower pane.

Your hard drive will begin to defrag, and if you’re one of those types who enjoys watching paint dry, you’re in luck. You actually have the option of sitting there and watching your computer’s defrag progress.

I recommend running this utility at least once a month. You should also be aware that some computer experts feel that the defragmenter that comes bundled with your computer doesn’t do the best job.

That’s why a whole bunch of defragmenting utilities exists for purchase out there. If you’re feeling hardcore and would like to look into additional options, go over to google.com and search for “Raxco PerfectDisk,” “Defrag Commander,” or “Diskeeper.”

Following these two maintenance tips will help ensure faster, more reliable computer performance. Plus, they’re so easy, you really have no excuse to not do them on occasion.

Remember: If you take care of your computer, your computer will take care of you.

Based in Frisco, eRin pheiL is the primary creative force behind timeforcake (www.timeforcake.

com). She can be reached via

phone at (970) 668-0709 or

e-mail at info@timeforcake.com.


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