From the Kenosha News on 1-7-07

Start the new year with a cleaner computer

If you’ve made a new year’s resolution to be more organized this year, below are ways to clean and optimize your computer’s hard drive.

First, see if your hard drive is getting full. Computers work better and faster when their hard drives are less than 75% full. Double-click on “My Computer” (or click Start and drag up to My Computer) and then right-click on the C: drive and drag to Properties. You will see a pie chart showing your hard drive usage.

Second, identify and delete the files you no longer need. To find the oldest files in any version of Windows, open My Documents, then click on the View menu of that window and drag to Details. This will display the file size, date of last modification, and so on. Click the “Modified” heading to sort them by date; click again to sort in the opposite order. To find the largest files, click on the “Size” heading; click again to sort in the opposite order. You can delete a single file by clicking on it and then pressing the Delete button on the keyboard. Click Yes to confirm the deletion. You can select multiple files by “shift-clicking.” (Click on the first file in a range you want to delete, then hold down the Shift key and click on the bottom one.) You can select non-contiguous files by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking on various file names. Be very careful when deleting files, especially from the Windows directory or from directories you don’t recognize. You might be deleting crucial system files or files needed for your programs.

Third, use the Windows Search feature to identify files you no longer need. For example, you should be able to remove all your .tmp and .zip files with little or no consequence. Click Start and drag to Search. In the box, type *.tmp, check that the “Look in:” box says “Local Hard Drives (C:), and then click the Search button. Once the search is complete, click the Edit menu and drag to Select All. Press the Delete button on your keyboard. If asked “Are you sure?” click Yes.

Fourth, clean out your browser’s cache (temporary files). For Internet Explorer users, open IE, then click on the Tools menu and drag to Internet Options. In the section labeled Temporary Internet Files, click the Delete Files button.

Once you’re done with all of the above, right-click the Recycle Bin and click on Empty Recycle Bin.

Finally, when you are done deleting files, it’s useful to do a “defrag.” This puts all of your empty space in one contiguous location and rejoins files that have been split into several parts. This can speed up your computer each time you save a file. To open Disk Defragmenter, click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Disk Defragmenter. You can click the analyze button to see how fragmented your disk is. Click the Defragment button. This process can take over an hour, and you should not use your computer while defrag is running.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 1-7-07