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Beginners Guides: Annual PC Checkup Checklist

Beginners Guides: Annual PC Checkup Checklist - PCSTATS
Abstract: A medical primer for your computer, from dust bunnies to defragging, keep your computer in good health by giving it a yearly checkup!
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Jun 29 2007   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Software solutions

To sum up, it's essential to give your system a thorough cleaning once a year or so, if you would like to avoid unnecessary repair bills. Keeping your computer in good working order is not difficult with a little care and attention.

Just remember, keep your cat away from the computer, like you would keep compressed air cans away from an open flame… And keep open flames away from your cat, since this would result in a smoking kitty, which as you could imagine from the above stories, is your computer's worst nightmare.

Windows needs a checkup too

As we're sure you've noticed, any version of Windows tends to accumulate "stuff" after a while, like a snowball rolled down a hill, except for the part about it picking up speed as it grows… Too much unnecessary baggage can slow your Windows installation to a crawl. The ultimate solution is, of course, to reinstall your operating system, but this entails a lot of extra work reinstalling your software and copying data, so what else can you do?

Well, there are several steps you can take towards refurbishing your Windows installation. Please note that this is not intended to be a comprehensive listing of software tweaks for Windows XP, but rather a list of procedures you can use to regain your PC's lost performance.

As mentioned, these tips are intended for users of Windows XP, but most will work on previous versions of Windows, though the specific instructions may be different.

Defragmenting the hard drive(s)

Defragmentation of a hard drive is the act of re-ordering the data on the drive so that each file can be read continuously from the disk. By default, Windows XP will attempt to store any files it needs to write to the hard drive in consecutive clusters (a cluster is the smallest unit of storage space available on a hard drive) on the drive, so that the file can then be read continuously.

A hard drive which has been frequently used over a long period of time will have developed many fragmented files, files which are scattered over different clusters on the surface of the disk. This can occur because of many factors, for example uninstall programs that leave files behind, system crashes while in the act of writing to the hard drive, regular deletion of files, etc.

A file becomes fragmented when the portion of consecutive clusters on the disk that Windows begins to write into is not large enough to hold the whole file. The remainder of the file then needs to be written to a different physical area of the disk.

This does not have any effect on the operating system's ability to access the files themselves, but it does slow down disk access times (and by extension, any application that depends on disk access) due to the extra time needed to reposition the read heads of the hard drive to access the rest of the fragmented file.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Annual PC Checkup Checklist
 Pg 2.  Cigarette Smoke and Computers
 Pg 3.  Cleaning and re-oiling fans.
 Pg 4.  Cleaning the inside of your PC
 Pg 5.  — Software solutions
 Pg 6.  Defragmenting the hard drive
 Pg 7.  Unnecessary startup programs
 Pg 8.  Disk cleanup utility

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