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TECH TIP:  Computer Maintenance Basics – Improve the health of your computer!
Here are 5 basic computer maintenance tasks you should perform often.

(1)  Use ScanDisk at least once a month
Your hard drive may lose data because it contains errors in sectors or clusters.  This occurs when you don’t shut down your computer correctly or when you disturb it when it is writing information to the hard drive. You can easily fix errors, bad sectors, or lost clusters by running Scandisk.  This task will take a couple hours – so get a cup of coffee and read a good book!

In Windows 98, go to Programs, then Accessories, System Tools, and ScanDisk.  Click on Thorough – click Start

 In Windows 2000 and Windows XP, double-click on My Computer, then Right-Click on Local Disk (C), then click on Properties, then click on Tools.  In the Error-checking box, click Check Now.  Click on both boxes and click on Start.  You may get a message that “the disk check could not be performed…”   Just click on Yes and restart the computer and the disk check will begin after the restart.  (Note:  Always do a ScanDisk before you do the next task – Defrag your hard drive).
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(2)  Defragment your hard drive at least once a month.
Your files become fragmented after you saved and deleted lots files on your hard drive.  So your computer works harder, takes longer to startup and longer to open or close files.  Defrag easy to do and will tune your computer up.  Go to Start, then Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools, then Disk Defragmenter.  Click on Drive C and then click on Defragment (click OK in Windows 98).  That’s it – it’ll take a while to finish (depending on the size of your hard drive) – so keep the coffee pot on and keep reading your book!

Wait – STOP!  It’s a good idea to dump your temporary internet files before you do a defrag – there no sense to keeping these files active in a newly defragged hard drive.  So – before you defrag, open up Internet Explorer, click on the Tools menu, then click on Internet Options.  Click on Delete Files, and then click on the box next to Delete all offline content.  Now click OK – that’s it – proceed with the defrag!
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(3)  Update your virus software at least once a week.
You do have anti-virus software – don’t you?  If you haven’t purchased anti-virus software, consider Grisoft’s AVG  (http://www.grisoft.com/us/us_dwnl_free.php )  They have an excellent FREE antivirus software package.  (They hope you’ll like it so much that you will buy their retail version for 33 bucks).  Other retail software packages are Norton Antivirus (http://www.symantec.com/purchase/) and Macafee VirusScan (http://us.mcafee.com/ ).  So get anti-virus software and update the definitions at least once a week!  It takes just a minute or two to update your definitions each week.  You can also set you computer to automatically do an update each week.
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(4)  Run Windows Update at least once a month.
This is really easy!  Open up
Internet Explorer.  Click on the Tools menu and then click on Windows Update.  You will go to the Window Update webpage.  If a window labeled "Security Warning" appears, place a checkmark in the box next to the phrase "Always trust content from Microsoft Corporation" and click YES.
Click the link that says "
Scan for Updates".
Click the link that says "
Review and install updates".
Click the "
Install Now" button.
* You may get a warning that you can only install certain updates one at a time. In this case, proceed with update, and repeat the instructions until all critical updates have been installed.*
Click the "
Accept" button.
The updates will now be downloaded and installed. Once this process has completed, you will get a window that directs you to restart your computer.
Click OK to reboot.
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(5)  Make backups of your critical data at least once a month
Don’t take for granted that your computer will
run and run and run – and never crash to the extent that you will lose all your important data.  The chances are – it won’t – but don’t take the chance.

Develop a backup strategy.  Save all your data in the My Documents folder.  Then determine what hardware to use for backing up that folder:  CD Burner, Zip Disk, External Hard Drive, Floppy disk (that doesn’t store a lot of data), etc.  Then do it – and do it often.  If you have really important data, you may consider making 2 backups.

 

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