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PC Maintenance

PC Maintenance Guide. Keep your PC Serviced for free! Ok your pc is beginning to slow down or you have the odd problem opening applications and maybe your PC stalls now and then and you have to reboot to make anything work. Sounds familiar? Join everyone else from IT Professionals to light home users the same happens. Run through some of these steps first they are just general maintenance and will not do any damage to your PC; Windows have installed these programs to help you keep your PC lively and running smoothly.

You can go out and buy these programs under different names and they will cost you loads but they will only do the same things. Microsoft has them there for you to use already.Run these programs and see the difference before you pay a PC expert to do the same thing for you but charge you. Many problems with a PC can just be down to maintenance very similar to keeping your car running smoothly they do need to be looked after and kept toped up with levels, Oil, Water and Air in the tryes.Would you go on a long journey without making sure the tyres on your car have the correct air pressure or that your window screen bottle had enough water in for the trip? Very often I do and always I get caught out mainly with the window screen washers. Much the same as making sure that Windows has installed all the updates for your Windows XP or Vista or that all your virus definitions are up to date.

Lets have ago at the basics for PC Maintenance. We are looking at just Microsoft operating systems here Windows 2000, XP or Vista (window 98 is no longer supported and updates are no longer available although many of the programs installed on the latter are also installed on Windows 98) these will be the same regardless of the platform. This will be the same whether for Laptops or Desktop PC's running Microsoft Windows Products. I have highlighted the key points if you want to just skim through. Below the high lighted parts there is a rough explanation.

• Always make sure that all the updates offered by Microsoft have been installed. Keep all software up to date for all the software installed on your PC. You buy the software you automatically buy the software updates so download them and install them . By Software this includes the base operating system Microsoft 2000, XP or Vista also to include Microsoft Office (any Version) Anti Virus and just general Programs that have been installed. When all these different parts of software have been installed they must all "Work as one" This is important because software by the very nature has slight clichés that can affect the systems over all stability. Believe it or not all these software Companies are working day and night to make sure that all the software works and works well.

• This is quite important and will reflect on all the other Maintenance points listed here. If any of the software installed on a PC and has Microsoft within its name and is a version that is Free or a copy then there are going to be problems. If the base operating System is XP to Vista and you have a copy installed then no matter what happens there will always be problems. They may not be that noticeable and what ever patches you install to cover up this there will always be problems. If you have a genuine version of Microsoft XP but not office then there will still be problems.

• Empty the Recycle Bin. This can hold many files and documents but is still part of the main Hard Drive the amount of files it can hold is equal to the size of the Hard drive this can be over 4 GB of space and it can be easy to forget that there are bits and pieces in there, this can affect the overall running of the PC as the hard drive begins to fill up. Not as important now as most PC's have already very large Hard disks but it still can slow down the performance.

• Uninstall Unused Programs. Over a period of time you will have loaded many programs from CD Disks and from the internet. You will most likely have many programs installed that are no longer used. All programs take up space on the hard disk so these could be removed. You need to go through all the installed programs and safely remove the ones that are no longer require. To do this go to Control Panel as the example below and use the Add/Remove programs icon.

• Disk CleanUP This feature is also included among the many programs Microsoft incorporated into the base operating system and all of the Microsoft operating systems had this built in from Windows 98 onwards. A disk cleanup should be preformed regularly. To access disk cleanup go to Start > Menu > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > then select Disk Cleanup from the drop down menu. You will be presented with a box like this: . Pic to come - This will be for Window XP and Windows 2000 and also Windows 98. Microsoft Vista is different and you can follow this here >>>> . Make sure you tick the Temporary Internet Files box. Every time you view a web page the page is stored in this folder. This will include saved information like passwords and address that auto fill so make sure you have a backup of this information before running this program. Just a note you should never use the auto complete for addresses or passwords on your PC online. Sometimes you will have an option for the Web Page to remember your personal settings including passwords and addresses, although this can save time when completing lengthy forms online I would always advise against it. When this information is saved it will be saved to you local PC on the hard drive. If you have this information including passwords and you are unfortunate to have a virus then this is the information could be high jacked from your PC and then used via online by a Hacker. Back to the task check the box to remove internet files and any other temp files. When you install a program then there are temporary files created and stored and these are not automatically removed after the program is installed so they are left. Cleaning out these files will increase the speed of browsing on the internet and opening programs.

• Defragging the Hard Disc the reason we need to defragment the hard disc is because when a program is stored on the hard drive the fragments of files can get split up. When you open a program then the PC has to look for all the bits to run and when they have been fragmented over the hard disc then this can slow things down. Say you had a filing system but all the files you put in there are not in any order, well defrag puts all the files where they should be making it easier to find so taking less time to find. To carry out a defragment, go to your Start Menu > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > and select Disk Defragment from the drop down menu. You will be presented with a box PIC now click the defragment button and leave the PC to run through the process, it will say if the defrag is needed. Defragment can take some time so be prepared to leave it running in most cases you will not be able to use the PC because it will be sorting out all the files and the system should just be left. It maybe better to disable any screen savers also as this could cause the defrag to stop.

• Empty The Prefetch Cache. The prefetch cache is something which is overlooked by most. Trying to improve the time it takes programs to load, the window system guesses which files will be required next, these are then loaded into a cache. This action is known as prefetching. Over a period of time the prefetch cache can become loaded with files which are no longer used. When this happens it can slow down windows on start up. Emptying this cache can help speed your PC on start up. To do this, click run in the start up menu and type Prefetch in the run box which appears, Click ok or just press return on the keyboard. The result is a window with numerous icons. Paste over the icons and delete. The cache is now ready to resume its work and will begin to refill with files and links as required. Doing this will improve the response of your PC.

• System Registry a quick note. The System Registry is the central system for holding all settings from programs to the main Operating System like "the brain". This is very complex and I would advice not making any alteration without the correct software.

Registry Mechanic

• One last thing that can make a big difference to how a PC runs and that is the memory. Add more memory and things will move a lot quicker. Windows 2000 should have 500mb of memory. Windows XP should have 1GB of memory and Windows Vista should have 2 GB of memory. If you like playing games then double the amount listed here.

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