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Basic Windows Maintenance

Even with the most sophisticated hardware and software, you need to perform routine maintenance to keep everything working optimally. For regular home use, once a month is sufficient. For heavily used computers, performing these steps weekly is recommended.

Disk Cleanup
Clear up the clutter with Disk Cleanup.
Windows programs use a lot of temporary files, which can accumulate at an alarming rate. In particular, the folders \Windows\Temporary Internet Files\ and \Windows\temp\ can really build up.

Here's how to do it:

Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Disk Cleanup.
Click the drive you want to scan, and wait while the program calculates how much disk space is available for cleanup.
To delete obsolete files, click the Disk Cleanup tab, select the check boxes of the files that you want to remove, click OK, and then click Yes.

To remove Windows components, click the More Options tab. In the Windows Components area, click Clean Up.
To see what is included in any component, select the component, and then click Details. If you want to remove individual items within any component, clear the check boxes of the items you don't need.

To remove installed programs, click the More Options tab. In the Installed Programs area, click Clean Up. On the Install/Uninstall tab, click the program that you want to remove, and then click Add/Remove. Follow the instructions on your screen to remove the program.


Scan Disk
Clean up your hard disk drive with ScanDisk
Through normal use of your computer, your hard disk drive can become cluttered and a bit messy. And folders can become cross-linked, file names can contain invalid or unknown characters or become damaged, and file names can become disassociated with their files. ScanDisk can fix these and other problems for you. It's also a good idea to run ScanDisk on a regular basis: once a week for Standard, and once a month for Thorough.

Here's how to do it:

Click the Start button.
Point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click ScanDisk.
Click the drive you want to scan, and choose either the Standard or Thorough test.
Click Start.

The Standard test checks the files and folders on the selected drives for errors.
The Thorough test will give you further options. It performs the Standard test plus checks your hard disk drive for physical damage. You can even specify to scan areas of your disk containing only data files, or just the areas with system files, or both.
Both Standard and Thorough have a set of Advanced options that help you to deal with lost file fragments, invalid files, and files that overlap the same disk space. You can also choose to keep a log file of what ScanDisk finds.


Defragment your hard disk drive to keep it in peak condition.
Files and applications on your computer's hard disk drive are not always stored together as one unit, but are often divided into smaller units and scattered around the hard disk. This is caused by normal use.

On a fragmented hard disk, a computer has to work harder to gather all of the small units to perform the commands you give it; this slows down its ability to access files and run applications. Running Disk Defragmenter helps by putting all like files and applications into contiguous groups so the computer can access them quickly.

If you use your computer a lot, it's a good idea to run Disk Defragmenter on a regular basis. It's also a good idea to run Disk Defragmenter after you install a lot of applications to enable them to run at top speed.

Here's how to do it:

Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Disk Defragmenter.
Click the Settings tab, select the check boxes you want (to ensure fastest startup of programs, select the first box), and then click OK.
Click the drive you want to defragment, click OK, and then click Yes.

Note: It is best to shut down all your applications before you run Disk Defragmenter.


Update Virus Definitions
Any virus scanner is only as effective as its most recent update, so obtaining frequent updates is critical to maintaining a secure computing environment.

Here's how to do it:The instuctions below are for manual updating. Antivirus definitions can also be configured to update automatically.

Norman Virus Control:
You start Norman Internet Update by choosing Start | Programs | Norman Virus Control | Internet Update. Or you can select Internet Update from the menu that appears when you click on the Norman icon in the system tray (lower right hand side of the screen).

Norton Antivirus:
Start Norton AntiVirus (NAV) or Symantec AntiVirus Clicent (SAC), and then click the LiveUpdate icon. The LiveUpdate dialog box appears.
Click Next. LiveUpdate retrieves update information. This may take a few minutes.Click Next. LiveUpdate begins downloading the updates. Depending on what you have selected and the speed of your Internet connection, this may take from a few minutes to one or two hours. You can cancel this operation by clicking Cancel. Canceling will not affect the current program.
Once the download is finished, LiveUpdate automatically installs the updates and indicates when it has finished.

McAfee Antivirus:
Click on Start.
Point to Programs (XP users, click on All Programs)
Click on Mcafee.
Click on McAfee Shared Features
Choose Instant Updater
NOTE: Instant Updater can also be launched from with your McAfee product. Open your McAfee product and choose the update link from the Quick Jump menu.


Windows Update
Windows Update is the online extension of Windows that helps you to keep your computer up-to-date. Use Windows Update to choose updates for your computer’s operating system, software, and hardware. New content is added to the site regularly, so you can always get the most recent updates and fixes to protect your computer and keep it running smoothly.

Any update that is critical to the operation of your computer is considered a "Critical Update," and is automatically selected for installation during the scan for available updates. These updates are provided to help resolve known issues, and to protect your computer from known security vulnerabilities. Whether a critical update applies to your operating system, software programs, or hardware, it is listed in the "Critical Updates" category.

Here's how to do it:

Follow a simple, three-step process to get the updates you need to keep your computer up-to-date:
When you enter Windows Update, click Scan for updates.
As you browse through the available updates in each category, click Add to select the update of your choice and add it to the collection of updates you want to install. You can also read a full description of each item by clicking the Read more link.
When you have selected all the updates you want, click Review and install updates, and then click Install Now.
Note Some updates may require that you restart your computer. Save your work and close any open programs before beginning the installation process.



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