Passing on the wisdom

Tech Guy taught me this stuff. I thought I’d share and multiply the benefits. 🙂

Maintenance steps to keep your Windows PC running smooth and fast using CCleaner and Defraggler, which run better and do more than the programs provided with Windows.

CLEAN OUT UNUSED FILES

The Windows operating system and the various programs that run under it build a whole slew of temporary files that build up on your hard drive. Unfortunately, when you delete files or programs, these temp files often just stay behind, cluttering things up and making it harder for your computer to operate.

You can remove them and keep your system running smoothly, with CCleaner, available free from http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner.

N.b., CCleaner (and Defraggler) are available at multiple sites. Some will automatically ALSO download extras you may NOT want, such as Google Chrome or McAfee.  Before downloading, read the page and UNcheck anything you don’t want. After downloading, you will need to install the programs.

I suggest you run these at least once a week. To remind myself, I keep the icons for these and other computer maintenance things, like Control Panel and Norton, grouped together, but separated from the grouping of my work program icons and the grouping of my game program icons.

To use CCleaner: OPEN it. Select “Options” (left bottom) and look at the default settings. It they are okay with you, leave them alone. But as long as you’re there, check out the Secure Deletion option.

“Normal file deletion (faster)” is the default setting. The information isn’t actually erased; the areas on the hard drive where the information is stored is simply marked as available for new information storage. The original information will remain on your hard drive until your computer overwrites it.

In fact, when you first delete a file, it isn’t even marked for overwrite, but is placed into the Recycle Bin, where you can go to restore it if you realize you made an oopsie. “Normal file deletion” is what you do when you EMPTY the Recycle Bin. Even after that, if you (like Dearest did recently) get a bit too overzealous and empty your Recycle Bin of something you really, really need back, you can get it back if you act quickly to utilize File Recovery software before your computer overwrites the old data.

But let’s suppose you have the opposite problem. You have a file you really REALLY need removed beyond the reach of even the best File Recovery program … like the military does with classified documents. In CCleaner, you have access to “Secure file deletion” which does not just mark the areas for overwrite, but actually overwrites the areas with nonsense one or more (up to 35!) times. NO file recovery software can get it back after that.

However, since most of us are in the “Oh no! I didn’t mean to delete that!” club, use the default “Normal file deletion” setting. I just wanted to point out that CCleaner has this nifty feature.

Next, and we’re still in the Options area, select “Cookies.”

On the left, you’ll see a list of all the cookies presently on your computer. Cookies are tiny files the websites you visit drop on to your hard drive when you visit and look for when you revisit. They store information about you and your preferences and visit history at that site. Generally they are harmless and the ones for your fave sites are a blessing, since they remember what you did last and save you time.

But cookies pile up and can occasionally be malicious. What you want to do is have CCleaner erase all BUT the ones you really like. So look down the list and highlight each one that is for a site you want to remember you.  Use the arrow key in the middle to move them to the “Cookies to Keep” list.

Now move from “Options” to “Cleaner” (top of far left menu).

Before running it, I suggest you UNCHECK “Empty Recycle Bin” in the Windows System list. Sometimes stuff gets moved there by accident! I find it’s safer to NOT have CCleaner empty it automatically, but instead open the Recycle Bin myself, look over what’s in there and empty it by hand as part of my weekly computer maintenance regimen.

BTW, I don’t spend a lot of time on this stuff. Instead, I just do one thing at the end of each day. Over the course of a week, I manage to run each of my maintenance thingies at least once without having to do some boooooooooooring computer clean up that I know I’d put off too long.

To remember, I keep the icons for each of them in a row at the very top left hand corner of my desktop, one space in from the left. The left most spot is for the “on deck” program I need to run next. When I finish with it, I move it back to its home spot and drag the next one in line to the on deck spot. Except for Defraggler, none of these things takes long to do and Defraggler I just start before leaving my office at night. It’s always done by morning.

So, back to business.

At the bottom of the “Cleaner” window are two buttons: “Analyze” and “Run Cleaner.” You can run “Analyze” if you want to see what it does, but if you’re going to “Run Cleaner” anyway, skip it.

N.b., Even if you never use Internet Explorer, CCleaner will still find Internet Explorer files. I asked Tech Guy about this. He said they show up because of software update downloads. Just thought I’d mention it.

CLEAN UP YOUR WINDOWS REGISTRY

After you finish Cleaning, select “Registry” in the left menu to clean up confusions that have crept into your Windows Registry, which is an enormous batch of files containing information about almost everything that occurs on the computer.  (Only computers running Windows operating systems have registries.)

A registry may have hundreds of thousands of entries, and new entries are created all the time. Windows almost never removes registry entries and, as files are moved around and programs are uninstalled, some registry keys point to programs or files that no longer exist or are located elsewhere.

To clean these out and help your puter run more smoothly, select “Scan for Issues” then select “Fix selected issues.”

You will be prompted to backup changes to the registry, select “Yes” so you’ll have your current settings stored in case the cleaned up settings cause problems.

DEFRAG YOUR HARD DRIVE

Defraggler is much more efficient than the defragmenter built into the Windows operating system. It’s available free from http://www.piriform.com/defraggler and some other sites. (Remember to watch for unwanted freebies when you download. )

So, why defragment?  Imagine taking all of the pages out of your favorite book, then putting the book back together again but with the pages completely out of order, then trying to read the book. Yuck.

Unfortunately, this is how your computer has to store new information. Any single file you’ve created and altered over time is stored in bits and pieces on your hard drive. This makes it slow to access and use.

Defragmenting reads every file and puts the bits in order, then saves it into one spot.

After you install Defraggler, move the icon to your Computer Maintenance spot and open it. As above, you can “Analyze” if you want to look at the mess. But if you’re going to defrag anyway, just select “Defrag.”

The first time you do this, it may take a while. Hours in fact. But if you use your puter a lot, even a weekly maintenance will take a long time. I set my Defraggler to run before I go to bed. It’s always done by morning.

That’s it. Happy puting!

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