This blog is my attempt to share information with faculty, introducing new apps, websites, or other snippets of information that may be of use to faculty. I am also using it to keep track of projects I'm working on that might be good to reference in the future.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Cleaning - Things to do to help cleanup your computer and hopefully speed it up

Now is a wonderful time to do some spring cleaning on your computer to help it's speed and life.

This is a bullet list of some items you can do that will help clean up your computer.

Before doing any type of work, you need to ensure that you backup your data.  This post talks about data backup and computer mirroring.  You also need to remember that with today's computers and hard drive speeds, you may not see any noticeable speed improvement.  The only way to GUARANTEE a faster computer, is to reinstall your operating system from the restore disks, so it works like it did the day you bought it.....but you need to reinstall programs and reload your data that you backed up.  These steps are meant as an easier way to hopefully get some improvement.

1) Go into Windows Explorer and on the local hard drive (C:), right click and choose properties.

You will then do the following:
 - Click Disk Cleanup.  This will remove temp files and deleted files and free up disk space.  This could take awhile, especially if you haven't done it in awhile.
- Next Click on the Tools tab, and choose Defragment Now.  Depending on the type of drive you have and if you have disk optimization software running your disk may not need to be defragmented.  Click on Analyze Now and it will tell you if it needs it or not.  If you do need it, it could take a couple hours to run.  If you have a SSD (Solid State Drive - not platter disk HDD), than defraging will not work for you....the disk controls how data is saved to disk to extend the device life, so trying to do a defrag does not help at all.
- Next (while still in the Tools tab) choose Check Now for Error Checking.  It should tell you it can not run till you reboot, go ahead and choose to do it when you next reboot.  When you will be leaving your computer for a couple hours, go ahead and reboot the computer and it will automatically start the disk checking.  This will check the reliability and condition of each sector, so the bigger your drive the longer it could take.  Even if you have a fast access hard drive it will still take awhile, as it must check every sector of the hard drive. 

2) Run a full virus scan.  This will take a couple hours, but it is something that you should do at least once a month.  While an anti-virus program will try to prevent an infection, none of them are 100% secure.  You can still get infected for a variety of reasons, so you should routinely check your whole hard drive (and not just do a quick scan).

3) Run a malware scanner.  Something like MalwareBytes Anti-Malware program will work.  Virus scanners will catch some of the more powerful or popular malware programs, but they do not catch them all, so you should have something that focuses on malware. This, like the virus scanner, could take a few hours.

4) Run Windows Update - this will update your system and internet explorer.   

5) Depending on what programs you use alot, you should run manual updates on the software you use most often, to eliminate security concerns.  If you do alot of internet browsing, you should check your browser for updates.  You should probaby also run a check on Adobe Flash, Shockware and Reader.   While on the topic of web browsing, stop using Internet Explorer and switch to either Firefox or Chrome.  Both are more secure and Chrome actually updates flash for you so it is more secure and that makes ones less thing you need to remember to update.  Flash is a way in for viruses if you visit the wrong web site, or a hacked site. 

6) Go thru your personal files and downloads folder and remove any file you no longer need.  If you want to keep a file, but are worried about available disk space, then copy off any unused files to an external hard drive.  You can still have quick access to them, while freeing up disk space.

7) If you are still using Microsoft Outlook you will want to run a compression of your data files to save disk space and speed up mail access.  

8)  If you have a desktop, turn it off, unplug the case, open it up and physically clean out the case.  If you use compressed air and a soft cloth, you can extend the life of your components as dust builds up heat in a computer, and heat is not something you want.

9)  Remove, or uninstall, any programs you no longer use.  It saves up disk space, and could help increase your speed.  You should also go into your browser and remove any tool bars you don't need or use.

These are all good things to do, but to really speed up a computer you can get a faster hard drive and more RAM.  If you can't spend more money, then doing a full install of your operating system will increase speed.    If you aren't comfortable with that (and even I cringe at doing that - it will take the whole weekend), then these steps should help you see a little speed improvement.

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