PC Maintenance

HOUSEKEEPING FOR YOUR PC  

"This section lists how you could change the settings that would make your PC run smoothly and be of optimum use to you "

 

How do you increase the performance of your existing system? This is possible if you change the settings on your PC. And it won’t cost you a penny either. When you buy a new PC, it is often loaded down with space hogging applications that you don’t need. These applications waste hard disk space and precious memory, so tell your vendor to load only the software that you need. 

             The following tips can help you system run better. Whether you have just purchased a new Pentium IV system or are still using a Pentium 166, your PC will thank you. But here are some commandments that you have to follow : 

#BACK UP YOUR DATA !  Don’t say, “Everyone says that”. Do it!

#Make note of  all changes you make and what the settings were before you messed with it. You may make changes to the BIOS. If problems arise, you may need to return to the previous settings. 

#Keep in mind the limits of your hardware. Do not go over board over performance. 

#Buy  an anti virus program and install it on your machine.

 

Windows 98/ME/XP, as well as Windows 95 OSR2 (just one of the version of windows) or the Plus Pak, gives you a handy tool called the task scheduler. You can find it under the Start Menu/Accessories/System Tools. With this, you can schedule important tasks such as Disk cleanup, Defrag, and with the proper software, virus scans. You can schedule these activities to take place while you are away from the computer, such as while you are at work  or away at night. This way, you are not faced with the long wait. With this took, you have no excuses for a cluttered drive. But make sure that the schedule is such that it starts when you don’t need the computer because a process like Defrag can take ages to complete. 

            Your data is very important. So important that you should back it up. You can set up a safe place to back up all of your data. This can set up include word documents, pictures, bookmarks, mailboxes, etc. You can create a directory on an empty hard drive partition to back up these files. Or you can use such tools as a ZIP drive, CD-RW drive etc. Many software titles include the option in the file menu to automatically backup or archive your important data into such locations but the best place to store the data is My Documents in windows. Just make a habit of storing all your files in one directory. This makes backup far easy as you have to just backup one directory. Also because of this file storing method, finding files become easy. 

            There is nothing more annoying than having your hard drive too full for that nice new application you just bought. You should know exactly what is on your machine. If you are looking through the directories or your start menu and find something that doesn’t look familiar, check it out. Run it and see what it is. If it is useless, then uninstall it. You can do this by using a program such as clean sweep or the basic Add/Remove Programs. On a lot of systems you may find stuff like useless sound card utilities, Windows accessories, etc. 

            You’d be surprised at the amount of software that runs on you machine that you don’t even know about. These programs are set up to start on boot-up without your knowledge. They eat up precious resources and CPU cycles. Some of these programs hide in the start Up folder of your start menu. Others hitch onto other applications. For example, when you install Microsoft Office, it installs Microsoft Fast Find utility. It loads on start up and indexes all of your documents when your PC isn’t busy. It slows down the PC quite a bit when it indexes, so this is an example of the kind of program that can be deleted. To find out what is running on your PC, hit Ctrl/Alt/Del. It will bring up a list of all that is running. Do you recognize everything? Those that you loaded yourself will probably be obvious, but menacing programs such as ‘Osa’ and ‘Navapw32’ make finding the useful  applications more difficult. Some of the easy ones can be removed by going to the Start Menu/Settings/Taskbar and Start Up. Hit the start menu tab and you can remove those programs you don’t want to load. 

            Installing an antivirus software  is absolutely essential. After you have installed antivirus, make sure the Auto-protect feature is enabled. With this in place, you don’t have to worry much, because the antivirus software now checks for all the files on the computer automatically. Only thing you have to worry about is to download an update patch every month from the manufacturer's Website, so that your antivirus package is capable of handling new viruses. Some of the big names in antivirus business are Symantec, Network Associates, makers of McAfee Virus Scan and F-Secure. 

Dr.KSM Prefers McAfee antivirus Software( http://www.mcafee.com  )

            You have a 40X CD-ROM drive but it behave like a floppy drive? Try doing this for optimal performance. Make sure your CDROM settings are set correctly. One of these is your CD-ROM cache. Go to the Performance tab under system Properties. Now hit the file System button under Advanced Setting and click the CD-ROM tab. Here you can adjust the cache size. Small caches are good for multimedia apps. Larger caches are good for database and CD-ROM access. For the best performance, leave it set at ‘Quad speed or higher’.

 

Freeing Disk space 

Hard disk space is never enough. If you buy a brand new drive that seems so large that you doubt it will ever fill up, give your hard disk one year, and you’ll be trying to find ways to save space.

Well, here are some tips to save space.

 

Run SCANDISK regularly, or another better program that does the same  thing because scandisk certainly isn’t the best. Regardless, scan your hard disk often as part of preventive maintenance. This operation and recovers lost space being  held by lost data. You’ll find this program in Start\Program\AccessoriesSsystem Tools.  

Defragment your drive at least once per month. You can use DEFRAG that comes with Windows, or any other better option. Over a period of time, files can get chopped up and spread all over the drive, causing your drive to have to look all over the place to operate. Thus, defragmenting the drive increases performance, while recovering lost space. You will find this program in Start\Program\Accessories\System Tools. 

Organize your files. This doesn’t help performance or space, but it sure helps your mental state. Give directories names that make sense when installing them. Store your data files in a directory all their own. Remember, Windows 95 supports long file names. Take advantage of this, so that it makes sense. 

Empty the recycling Bin. When you delete a file under Windows 95/98/ME/XP, it doesn’t really go away. It goes to the Recycling Bin. If you forget about this, you could have several megabytes of space wrapped up in files you thought were gone. 

Delete unused fonts. Go to control Panel, and click on fonts.  Delete useless fonts, as they take up lots of space and slow down the system. Don’t delete any with a red “A” next to them, as these are windows system fonts. 

Empty your ‘temp’ directory’ (c:\windows\temp) regularly. Close all applications before emptying the ‘temp’ directory. Many programs create temporary files to work with, before you save them. Sometimes, the program may ‘forget’ to delete these files on shutting down. This happens most frequently when the program or windows itself crashes.

 

System Disk Creation 

A good, valid system disk is invaluable in an emergency. Taking a few minutes to creates a good system disk will come a long way.  

            A system disk is a diskette with Windows system files and the necessary setup files. Its purpose is to boot your system in the even that the hard drive fails to do so. It is also used to setup a hard drive. 

            To create a good system disk, follow the steps listed below:

 

^Find a blank floppy diskette and stick it in Drive A:

^In Windows Explorer, right-click on A, then choose format.

^Click on full format, and check Copy System files.

^Click OK. It should start to format. Make sure the disk isn’t write-protected. If it is, windows will tell you.

^When done, you well probably have command.com, Drvspace.bin, Io.sys, and Msdos.sys on the disk. But you will need more to make the disk truly useful.

^Copy fdisk.exe, format.com, edit.com, Qbasic.exe, regedit.exe, Uninstall.exe, sys.com, scandisk.ini, chkdsk.com and attrib.exe to the diskette. Make sure both Edit.com and  Qbasic.exe are on the disk because Edit won’t work without Qbasic. Some of these files are not really necessary, but may be of help in certain situations. You may want to copy config.sys and  autoexec.bat over to the disk as well. All of these programs can be found in c:\windows\command. 

^If there are any other files you think should be there, by all means, copy those too-after all its your disk.

^Remove the diskette from the drive.

^Flip the write protect latch over to keep this disk from being corrupted.

^Test the disk by booting your system off it. 

            There is also another way of doing this. Go to control panel. Click on Add/Remove Program/Startup disk and click on create disk button. If you are using Windows 98 the CDROM drivers are included in the startup disk.  

           

Copyright © 2002 Dr. Subrahmanyam Karuturi