PC Maintenance

Spyware and Adware

Did you know that some of the software that you download from the internet puts "spy" programs on your computer. Some are harmless but some install a variety of programs some can even allow others to access your computer.

Spybot - Search and Destroy This free software cleans off those unwanted programs. Click on download. When the next page loads, scroll to the bottom for the link. Make sure to read the instructions for use.

Ad-Aware - This is another free program to clean off spyware. We have found that each of these programs does a good job, but they each find different things. If you suspect you are infected with spyware, cleaning up your system with each of these programs would be a good idea.

Checking RAM

RAM (or Random Access Memory) is the memory your computer uses to run your programs and perform functions. It is only available when your computer is turned on. Items in RAM are gone when your computer is turned off (unless you have saved them.) It is usually measured in Mb (or megabytes), and can range from 32MB to more than 256MB. A low amount of RAM will result in your computer running slower, being unable to perform tasks quickly, and occasionally crashing. Conversely, a high amount of RAM will result in your computer running faster, being able to perform tasks more quickly, and being less likely to crash. To see how much RAM your computer has, do the following: Older versions of Windows: If your computer is running an older version of Windows, you will have a "My Computer" icon on the desktop in the upper left corner of the screen. Simply RIGHT-CLICK the "My Computer" icon. Newer versions of Windows: If your computer is running a newer version of Windows, you won't see a "My Computer" icon on the desktop. Instead, click "Start" and move your mouse over the "My Computer" icon. Then RIGHT-CLICK the "My Computer" icon.

How much RAM is enough?

1 to 2 Gig is optimal today for most users.

Checking Hard Drive Size

Your hard drive is where your computer stores programs and files. Items stored on your hard drive aren't gone when the computer is turned off (as are items in RAM). Hard drives are generally measured in GB (or gigabytes), and can range from less than 1GB to more than 80GB. A rule of thumb is to leave at least 1/4 of your hard drive empty. To see how large and how full your hard drive is, do the following: Older versions of Windows: If your computer is running an older version of Windows, you will have a "My Computer" icon on the desktop in the upper left corner of the screen. DOUBLE-CLICK the "My Computer" icon. Then RIGHT-CLICK the C: drive icon and select "Properties". Newer versions of Windows: If your computer is running a newer version of Windows, you won't see a "My Computer" icon on the desktop. Instead, click "Start" and move your mouse over and click (LEFT-CLICK) the "My Computer" icon. Then RIGHT-CLICK the C: drive icon and select "Properties".

Windows keyboard shortcuts

Notes:
The control or "Ctrl" key is the lower left key on the Windows keyboard.Mac users can use the "open Apple" key instead.
A plus sign between two keys means you press the two mentioned keys at the same time. The "Win" key looks like a flying Window and is available on Windows keyboards.

 

File functions   Editing
Rename File F2 Select All CTRL + A
Refresh F5 Copy CTRL + C
Delete without recycle Shift + Delete Cut CTRL + X
Close application F4 Paste CTRL + V
Close document CTRL + F4 Undo CTRL + Z
Minimizes all windows Win + M Save CTRL + S
Switch between apps Alt + Tab Print CTRL + P
  Spell check F7

 

Creating desktop shortcuts

This allows you to put a shortcut icon to a program, file, or folder on your computer desktop. You can then simply double-click the shortcut icon to open the program, file, or folder.

If you are using a newer version of Windows:

1. Click Start and move your mouse over All Programs

2. Drag your mouse to the right and hold it over the program or file for which you wish to create a desktop shortcut.

3. Right-click on that file and drag down to Send to and over to Desktop (Create Shortcut)

Disk Defragmenter (Windows XP Only)

When your computer saves files, it saves them in what are called "sectors". These sections are in segments of concentric circles. But, when you delete a file, your computer doesn't actually delete the complete file from the sector. Through normal use of your computer as you save and delete files, you end up with a patchwork of open holes where your computer can save files, rather than long, contiguous segments. Your hard drive becomes "fragmented." If you notice your computer is taking longer to save and retrieve files, it may be that it is in need of being defragmented.

To defragment your hard drive:

Newer versions of Windows (XP): Go to "Start", up to "Accessories", over to "System Tools", and over to "Disk Defragmenter". A dialogue box will pop. Click "Analyze". Your computer will determine whether or not you would benefit from defragmenting your hard drive. If it comes back suggesting that you would benefit, click "Defragment". This will likely take quite a few minutes. (During this time, you may want to turn your screensaver off, since this can sometimes interfere with the defragmenting process.)

Disk Cleanup (Windows XP Only)

Through normal use of your computer, unnecessary temporary files build up. They take up space on your hard drive which can lead to poor performance. You can safely and easily delete these files.

To clean up your hard drive:

Newer versions of Windows (XP): Go to "Start", up to "Accessories", over to "System Tools", and over to "Disk Cleanup". Your computer will take a few minutes to determine how much space you'll recover by cleaning up your disk. When the dialogue box pops up telling how much space disk cleanup will recover, click "Ok". Then, click "Yes" when it asks you if you're sure.

Scheduled Tasks (Windows XP)

You can set up your computer to automatically perform certain self-maintenance tasks at scheduled times when you don't anticipate needing to use your computer. For instance, you might schedule your computer to automatically perform Disk Cleanup or Disk Defragmentation at 2:00AM on the first Sunday of the month. (Note: You will need to leave your computer on for the scheduler to run. It won't automatically turn your computer on.)

To set up Scheduled Tasks:

Newer versions of Windows (XP): Go to "Start", up to "Accessories", over to "System Tools", and over to "Scheduled Tasks". Click "Add Task". This will launch a wizard. You may choose to have any or all of the available tasks run automatically and at times and on days that are convenient for you. A good rule of thumb is to have tasks performed once a month.