Basic PC Maintenance
In this post I wanted to talk about 3 simple ways you can give your computer a quick little tune-up. These are just basic computer system maintenance steps that should be routine for everyone, so don’t expect to see a tremendous amount of improvement in your computer’s performance. If your computer is running really exceptionally slow, then you may want to scan it for viruses, or if it’s inherently slow then you may want to upgrade the amount of RAM memory in your system to boost the performance. The 3 basic tune-up / maintenance steps I’m referring to are:
All 3 of these tools are built-in Windows functions found on the “Properties” page of the hard drive.
Demonstration Video on How to Perform PC Maintenance
I made the following video to help demonstrate these 3 tools. You’ll learn where to find them so you can run them and how to use them.
The disk cleanup tool will allow you to reclaim some disk space by removing files that should no longer be needed, like temporary files, temporary internet files and emptying out the recycling bin. There are also some other files it can get rid of like removing all but the most current system restore point and error reporting log files. If your computer is running low on disk space, then that can surely cause it to slow down and start giving you error messages, especially problems with “Virtual Memory”. If, after you run the disk cleanup tool, you still don’t have at least 8 – 10% free space on your hard drive, you may want to consider some other options to free up disk space like uninstalling some programs you no longer need or use, or move some personal files to CD or DVD. Pictures, videos and music files are the first things that come to mind because as they gather up on your hard drive they typically start taking up a lot of space.
The disk check will check the file system on the hard drive for any problems and errors. You can think of the hard drive like a book that has a Table of Contents in the front and an Index in the back. What a disk check does is to make sure that if a file is listed in the contents or index, that it actually exists in the location that they point to. And if anything points to space that is no longer occupied by a file, then that space is reclaimed. It verifies that the index entries are all valid, and if it says a file is on page 25, then that file had better be there. This is sort of the layman’s explanation of it. It actually does a lot more and will make corrections to the file system as needed. This is important for the overall health and stability of the files on the drive. A basic disk check will complete in 3 stages. You can also perform a disk check that will examine the free space on the hard drive which is a 5 stage disk check and can take quite a bit longer, especially if you have a large hard drive, because it’s not only checking the used space on the drive, but also verifying the validity of the empty space, and if it locates a section on the hard drive that it feels data cannot be written to or read from reliably anymore, then it’ll mark it as bad so as not to use it anymore.
The disk defragmenter will rearrange the files on the disk so they are once again contiguous. When a program is using a file, the file will often times become fragmented, meaning part of the file is located in one location of the hard drive, and another part of the file is located on another location. This is due to the mechanics of how a drive reads and writes files and occurs at a very low level in the system, not anything due to the program’s fault. In essence it’s for the performance of the hard drive at the moment. But after time, when a file becomes overly fragmented, then the hard drive has to work excessively hard to read it. It starts reading the file at one section of the drive, then the drive heads have to move to another section to read more of it, then move again to another section to read even more of it, etc… All this “random” drive head movement slows down the whole read process compared to if the file was all together and it could start the drive heads in one section and just flow naturally to read the file without having to bounce around. Try reading a sentence in a book where one word is on this page, another word is on the next page, and then flip to the back to read the next word, and then go back to the original page to finish reading the rest of the sentence. How much longer would that take you compared to just reading the whole sentence in normal flow without having to shuffle around the pages? That’s the concept of disk defragmenting. And not only does it take all the parts of a file and put them back next to each other, but it can also take the most frequently used files and put them in the most optimal place for the drive to read them.
Although these PC maintenance programs are just some ordinary tools, it’s still a good idea to run them once in a while to help keep your computer running smoothly and efficiently. In my experience these tools will not usually make your computer run exceptionally faster unless your major problem was running out of disk space and you were able to clean it up some. The speed of the computer will be determined by not only these factors, but other factors too, like how good the processor (CPU) is, how much memory is installed, how many programs you have loading during start-up and how many applications you have running at one time. But keeping your file system in check, removing files that are no longer needed, and re-arranging the files on your hard drive is a good start in maintaining the health of your computer.