Maintaining your Windows PC


Some tips to maintain your windows PC.

Organize files and folders (to be done on Windows installation)
Files keep accumulating in a computer and it is a good idea to organize them in proper folders that are easy to access and bring information to your fingertips.

Windows XP usually stores most of your files inside the My Documents folder, which is located on the C drive. You should first relocate this folder to another drive such as D, so that your data remains intact even when you reinstall Windows. 

To do this, create a folder such as MyDocs in the D drive, right-click on My Documents, click on Properties, enter D:\MyDocs in the Target box and click OK. You will be asked whether you wish to move all the files to the new location, click Yes. 

You should then create folders such as Work, Shopping, Home, etc in My Documents to store files regarding these topics. Once you create this structure, move the relevant files to this new folder structure. Windows already has a good way of organizing files - there is My Pictures to store images, My Music to store music etc, but you can create additional folders inside these to categorize your pictures, music, so it becomes very easy to locate them. 

If you want to search faster, you can install Windows Desktop Search from
http://www.microsof products/ winfamily/ desktopsearch/ choose/windowsde sktopsearch. mspx. This tool indexes your files for faster retrieval. You can also use Google Desktop Search or Copernicus.

You should also relocate your default Outlook mail and address book store folder to the D drive (assuming that you use Outlook as your email client). Open the registry editor and go to the appropriate key according to the version of Outlook. If you're using Outlook 2003, locate registry key [HKEY_CURRENT_ USER\Software\ Microsoft\ Office\11. 0\Outlook] . If you're using Outlook XP, locate registry key [HKEY_CURRENT_ USER\Software\ Microsoft\ Office\10. 0\Outlook] . If you're using Outlook 2000, locate registry key [HKEY_CURRENT_ USER\Software\ Microsoft\ Office\9. 0\Outlook] . Create an expandable string value REG_EXPAND_SZ called "ForcePSTPath", and set it equal to the full path of the required personal folder directory such as D:\MyMail (you need to create this destination beforehand). Exit the registry and log out of Windows for the changes to take effect.
Delete or compress unnecessary files (may be done once a month)
You can do this using the Disk Cleanup tool. To launch it, click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup. Use this tool to cleanup each of your drives. Some temporary files are still left in the temporary folders. You can manually delete them by opening the folders %temp% and C:\Windows\Temp.

You can also delete temporary internet files as follows. In Internet Explorer, go to the "Tools" menu and down to "Internet Options". Under the "Temporary Internet files" section, click the "Delete Files" button. Check the box in front of "Delete all offline content" and click OK. If you use Opera, click Tools > Preferences, go to Advanced tab, click on History and click Empty now.

To minimize the space occupied by mails, follow these steps. In Outlook, click on Tool > Options > Mail Setup. Click on Data Files button, select Archive Folders from the list, click Settings, and click Compact Now. This will compress this particular folder. Do the same for all items in this list.

Defragment Your Computer (to be done once every month)
Files scatter all over the hard drive and therefore, accessing them becomes slower. This tends to increase over time as more and more programs are installed. The Disk Defragmenter bundled with Windows organizes files on your hard drive and helps it run better and faster. If you have a highly fragmented drive, this will make a huge difference in the performance of your PC.. Click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter. Select each of the drive and click Defragment.

Use BootVis to speed up your booting
One of the main causes of slow booting of XP is due to the method of loading drivers. Windows versions prior to XP, loaded drivers sequentially, while since XP, it has been done concurrently, causing a slowdown. This information is written in the file C:\WINDOWS\Prefetch \Layout.ini. While creating this file, XP does a partial defragmentation of the files listed in Layout.ini to make them available in one contiguous area of the hard drive, allowing to load them faster. 

Various factors adversely affect this defragmentation process, such as a fragmented hard drive, improper defragmentation of the above files by the normal Defragmenter, etc, and therefore it is necessary to do this defragmentation manually using a utility from Microsoft known as BootVis, which is available at 
http://www.microsof performance/ fastboot/ BootVis.mspx. Extract this ZIP file to a folder after downloading. Run the BootVis.exe from this folder

The first step in tweaking or troubleshooting your boot process is to run a boot trace. Click File > New > Next Boot + Drivers Trace. The Trace Repetitions window will prompt you for the number of repetitions (reboots and traces) to run. Let us go with the defaults and click OK. 

BootVis will now provide you with a 10-second countdown before it reboots the system and performs the trace, therefore giving you time to cancel the reboot and close any running applications you might wish to save and close. If you want to reboot instantly, click Reboot Now or click Cancel to cancel the reboot
After XP reboots, BootVis restarts automatically and provides individual graphs for the system activity areas such as Boot Activity, CPU usage, Disk I/O, Disk utilization, etc. Armed with the indication of how well the boot process is going, it is now the time to optimize the system. Click Trace > Optimize System. 

Again BootVis will present you with a 10-second countdown before rebooting. When the system reboots, the BootVis window will appear indicating that BootVis is using information gained from the previous boot and the current boot to optimize the system

When the next window appears, BootVis actually starts placing the files specified in the Layout.ini file in the area of contiguous disk space created during the defragmentation process run prior to using BootVis. If you want, you can run another Boot trace to find how much your system gained because of this optimization.
Backup your files (to be done once a week/month depending on your requirements)
Backing up your data is a good practice, especially because you then have a spare copy of your important files, should your hard drive fail one fine day. Thankfully Windows XP comes with a free backup utility, which comes handy when you need to backup your data. Click on Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Backup. If it has not been installed, you can get it here http://www.microsof maintain/ backupsw. mspx.

The Backup or Restore Wizard appears. Click Next. Click Next on the Backup or Restore page. Click All information on this computer on the What to Back Up page, and then click Next. Click Choose a place to save your backup, and select your external hard disk drive on the Backup Type, Destination, and Name page and click Next. Click Finish on the Completing the Backup or Restore Wizard page. 

Windows Backup saves a copy of your files to your external hard disk drive. When your XP fails to start, you will be able to restore your files to the state they were in when you completed the backup. However, any new files you have created and any changes you have made to existing files since the backup occurred will not be saved unless you backup your files again. It is recommended that you backup your files every week.
Remove unnecessary programs
Every program installed on your computer takes up space, and some programs slow your computer down regardless of whether you use them or not. So if you have installed a program that you do not intend to use again, it is better to uninstall it. You can do this either using the Add/Remove Programs applet in the Control Panel or using the Uninstall icon in the program's folder in the Start Menu

Configure Power Management to save on electricity bills and prolong the life of your PC
Windows XP comes with excellent power management facilities that give you great control over the amount of time that your computer components should wait to enter a low power consumption mode. This can be done using the Power Options applet in the Control Panel, where you can choose from among various in-built power schemes. 

If you wish, you can specify your own power profile by choosing the amount of idle time, your monitor and hard drive should wait before turning off. You can also specify the amount of idle time to wait, before your computer can enter the Standby mode.

If you can spare disk space equal to the amount of installed RAM, on your host drive, you can enable the Hibernate feature in the Hibernate tab, go to the Advanced tab and select Hibernate option from the drop-down list below "When I press the power button on my computer", in the Power buttons section. Now when you press the power button, your computer will enter the Hibernate state (which is faster than normal shutdown), and you can turn off the mains power. 

When you restart your computer, it will be restored to the exact state at which you hibernated (and this is much faster than a normal XP startup). The advantage of this feature is that if you were working on a certain program, you can hibernate, even mid-way through it and when you power on the computer, you can continue from where you left off.

In addition to the above, you must install critical Windows Updates regularly to fix bugs as well as to update drivers and certain programs. You can use the Automatic Updates feature to do this. Make sure that this is turned On in the Control Panel. A good antivirus, firewall and anti-spyware is also a must along with regular updates (at least once a week or using the auto-update feature), as these will keep your computer safe while you are online. In addition to this, you should schedule these to run a thorough scan at least once a month just to be sure.


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