From the Kenosha News on 4-17-05

Spring Cleaning Your Computer

       With spring in the air, now is a good time to clean out some of the unnecessary files and clutter on your computer.  Below are some steps to help you.

      First, find out if your hard drive is getting full.  Computers work best when their hard drives are less than 75% full; a more congested hard drive will slow your computer down.  To check your drive space, 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.  If you have more than 25% free, you're in pretty good shape space-wise, but speed and space aren't the only reasons to clean.

      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.  Use the methods below rather than selecting the files to delete on your own.

      Step 1.  Clean your cache.  As you use the internet, your computer stores the files you've viewed in a place called "cache" (pronounced "cash".)  Deleting those files can even fix some web-viewing problems.  Here's how:  Open Internet Explorer.  Click on the Tools menu and drag to Internet Options.  In the section labeled Temporary Internet Files, click the Delete Files button.  I also recommend that you use the Delete Cookies button to clean out any "cookies" (files containing authentication and tracking info.)  However, if you do so, realize that you may need to login to internet sites the previously remembered your password automatically.  Also, some of your preferences for using those internet sites will be cleaned out.

      Step 2.  Clean out temporary files.  These aren't usually big, but you may have a lot of them, and there isn't usually any reason for them.  Find them using the Search option.  Click Start and go to Search and then click on All Files and Folders.  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.  If you get an error preventing you from deleting all of the files at once, delete the files in groups or select the largest ones to delete individually.  You can use the same method above to clean out all of the .zip files or all of the .bak files as well. 

      Step 3.  Uninstall any unneeded programs.  To do this, never delete the program files manually, but instead use the Add/Remove programs control panel.  Don't uninstall things if you don't know what they are, but you may have internet access software (AOL, Earthlink, etc.) that came installed on your computer but you don't use.

      Step 4.  Clean out spyware, as described in previous columns.

      Step 5.  If you have software like System Mechanic, clean your registry.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 4-17-05