Langa Letter: Year-End PC Tasks

A little simple maintenance now can help prevent many headaches next year, <B>Fred Langa</B> says.

Fred Langa, Contributor

December 16, 2004

3 Min Read

Once your hard drive is as organized, cleaned, and simplified as you can make it, reorder the files for fastest access, and to make most-efficient use of the disk space. This "defragmentation" of the system's files is best done on a regular basis, but at the very least should be done after a major cleanup, such as we've just discussed.

There are many Defrag tools available, including those from Norton, Golden Bow, and the like; but Windows' own Defrag does an acceptable job:

Defrag WinXP Defrag Win2K Defrag WinME Defrag Win98

And because Defrag is most effective when run regularly, XP users may wish to see "Make Windows XP Self-Maintaining" and "Solving Automatic Maintenance Problems"

Having come this far, wouldn't it be great if you could somehow preserve your PC's current lean, clean, fully-updated and defragged setup so that, should you ever need to in the future, you can restore your PC to its current perfected state in just minutes?

Well, you can. In fact, you're just one step away from a Holy Grail of computing: A way to restore your system rapidly to near-perfect condition; to ensure you'll never lose an important file; never to have to rebuild your system and reinstall all your software from scratch; never to have to re-type or recreate old data; and never to have that awful "Oh, no!" moment when you realize you need a file you deleted several weeks--or even years--ago. It's all dealt with in full detail in "Fast, Easy Backups For Win98 / ME / NT / 2K / XP", which discusses how to arrange a drive's contents for best efficiency; how to maintain a heavily-used drive; and how to achieve near-total immunity from data loss.

Dust, You Must
Listen...hear that fan whirring inside your PC? Since the day you first turned it on, it's been sucking dust and dirt through your PC's air intakes. Over time, the dust and dirt builds up, and can affect airflow and lead to overheating or even shortened life of your system's components. Turn the system off, remove the cover, and carefully clean the accumulated, um, junk from inside the system case. (Use caution so as not to cause a static electric discharge anywhere inside the case.) While the case is open, take a moment to ensure all cards are seated firmly, all cables are tight, and any socketed chips are solidly and evenly set in their sockets. Make sure all cables to your peripherals are also tight, too.

And when you do listen to the fan whirring inside your PC, think about how loud it is. If your PC sounds like a hair dryer or vacuum cleaner, you should know that it's fast, easy, and inexpensive to make your system literally whisper quiet. See the four-part "Cool and Quiet" series for complete information on making your system nearly inaudible.

Finally, remove your mouse ball and then clean the ball and the rollers inside the mouse housing. Yes, even the inside of your mouse needs attention!

Your Turn
What tools and techniques do you use to keep your PC running smoothly? Join in the discussion -- and Happy Holidays!

Fred Langa

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Fred Langa's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Fred Langa, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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