Thursday, July 27, 2006

Windows Maintenence

Guide to keep up your Windows PC

Prevention is better than cure. To keep up your Windows PC and to prevent it from problems like system failure and system slowdowns etc., follow some simple guidelines provided below; not necessarily every; and in that order. You will find an overall system performance improvement and you can prevent system slowdowns and eventual system failures.

Check Disk

Windows has couple of built in Utilities to check and repair its file system and disks for errors. Run these periodically to detect and repair Disk and File system errors. Utility Chkdsk is run through command prompt mode while Scandisk is run through either Command Prompt or through Windows GUI mode. Running Scandisk in Windows environment gives you more control over correcting file, folder, and disk errors. Utility sfc (System File Checker, not available for some earlier version of Windows) is used to check and correct your Windows system files. SMART (Self Monitoring And Reporting Tool) enabled Hard Disks show you the Disk’s health status in advance, and a dying Hard disk may give you good-bye gracefully without giving you big trouble. To run any of the three utility listed above, (note that some utility may not available according to your version of Windows) simply click on Start menu, click on Run and enter the command name as the name of utility described above, (chkdsk and scandisk both may need certain options such as partition or disk addresses) and click on OK. Thereafter, follow on screen instructions.

Delete temporary files and folder

Windows and Windows Applications such as MS Word and Internet Explorer are notorious in creating lot of temporary files. These files are essential for operation of Windows, and are properly handled and taken care of through Windows. However, when error occurs and if an application or Windows crashes, these files get disturbed and create trouble on your system. Therefore, it is a good idea to clean your Windows temporary folder and delete temporary Internet Explorer files regularly. While you have to clean Windows Temporary folder manually by deleting its contents through Windows Explorer or any file manager, Temporary Internet files should be deleted through Internet Options. You will find Internet Options in Control Panel, and Temporary Internet Files are managed through various options from its General tab. Similarly, if MS Office applications crash, it left temporary files having tidal “~” mark in the beginning of file names at default folder locations such as at My Documents. These files take too much time in loading application like MS Word. You have to delete them if you have no use of them or save them with a different name by removing the tidal sign. You can also use Disk Cleanup utility having selected all options from Hard Disk’s properties dialogue box.

Defragment when necessary

While it is matter of great debate whether running Disk Defragmenter actually benefits or provides extra wear and tear in your Hard Disk’s mechanisms, it is beyond doubt that it actually helps Windows and its application run faster. Keep tab on your Disks and if you find it fragmented beyond a certain limit, say more than 50%, then think to run disk defragmenter. In fact, the utility itself analyses the disk or partition in question and tell whether it needs to be de-fragmented or not.

Clean registry

If many applications and other stuff installed and uninstalled in Windows frequently, some of them may left traces of entries in system registry. These residual entries may make your Windows PC to crawl and may produce other errors as well. To clean and optimize Windows registry, some tools are of immense help. You can use freeware tool Clean System Directory (Download it from http://www.theabsolute.net/sware/files/clnsysdr.zip ) or shareware System Mechanic (Download it from ftp://ftp.iolohost.com/system_mechanic.exe) to clean your Windows registry. System Mechanic is a utility that not only cleans your Windows registry, it also provides you lot of other tools to fine-tune Windows.

Virus / Adware / Scumware

These culprits perform background activities and not only they harm your PC’s contents, they make your PC slow. You never know when and how your PC has been infected. Antivirus tool (you can use AVG Anti-Virus, the freeware tool for personnel use) with its latest updated signature file is PC’s essential requirement. Utility like AdAware can be effectively used for removing Adware and Scumware that steal your privacy and slowdown your PC.

Update, if not Upgrade

Periodical upgrade of software and hardware is essential part for a computer system. However, if upgrading looks big affair to you, then you can at least update your PC with installed software’s latest patches and updates. The drivers for installed hardware must also be updated. In general, Updates are released to remove known bugs, to tackle security issues, for better performance etc. and hence should not be ignored.

Dust buster

There is no piece of software application that can tackle with dust on your PC that get deposited during its use, and you ultimately need to use your hand broom. Dust particles in air are now Universal problem and unless your PC is kept in concealed, airtight environment, dust is going to deposit its every part inside out. Generally, its outer part gets cleaned periodically (they are irritant to eye), it’s internal part normally gets cleaned only during the time of repair / hardware upgrade etc., when its case is opened. Dust can pose major problem for your PC. Its layer acts as heat insulator and can heat up your PC’s parts that finally may lead to system failure. Further, dust may deposit in Processor, Processor-Fan, RAM-Modules, and Power-supply Fan. Dust may bring down the speed of fan or may stop it altogether in some cases. Due to these reasons, PC becomes hot which leads to errors like system freeze and hardware failure. Regular cleaning of dust through air blower / Vacuum cleaner should be an essential part of PC maintenance.

Screenshot descriptions:

  • Guide 01.jpg Use Scandisk, with its “Thorough” option selected, so it scan the Disk in question for Disk Surface Errors.
  • Guide 02.jpg Chkdsk – the disk error checking utility runs from command prompt with various options and check for errors. It also can report / repair errors.
  • Guide 03.jpg Sfc – the Windows System File Checker utility has various built in options to check and repair Windows System Files.
  • Guide 04.jpg System File Checker can find corrupt system files and replace them with good ones. You need to have Windows Installer CD in some case.
  • Guide 05.jpg Temporary Internet Files can be managed through Internet Options dialogues, which can be run either through Control Panel / Internet Options or through Internet Explorer’s Internet Options Menu.
  • Guide 06.jpg Unwanted, residual files from temporary folder (normally, it is %Windows/Temp folder unless you changed its default settings) should be regularly deleted.
  • Guide 07.jpg For deleting un-wanted files, run Disk Cleanup form disk’s properties dialogue box. Right click on disk icon in explorer window and select properties and then click on Disk Cleanup. There are some options and select all for better result.
  • Guide 08.jpg Disk Defragmenter analyses the disk in question and report whether it needs to be de-fragmented or not. You can Disk Defragmenter from Start menu / Programs / Accessories / System tools.
  • Guide 09.jpg Utilities like System Mechanic can analyze your Windows registry for broken links, invalid, corrupt, and orphaned entries and can safely delete / repair them.

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