Spring Cleaning

With spring on the way (finally!), this seems like a great time to discuss cleaning up one's hard drive.

Before doing anything else, we should make sure your file system is in good shape. First, close any open programs. Open My Computer and look at the Properties of your drive. On the Tools tab you should see an option to check your drive for errors. This runs Microsoft's ScanDisk utility. If ScanDisk finds any "lost clusters," a relatively minor disk problem, it usually saves them in C:\ under the names Filennnn.chk. Unless you are looking for missing data you can safely delete these files.

Next we recommend uninstalling or disabling any programs you do not use. Remember, any programs with icons in the System Tray (down by the clock) take up memory and resources. Usually you can right-click on those icons to see available options. To uninstall a program, you should always use the Add/Remove Programs applet in your Control Panel. That way the uninstall program can remove unnecessary registry and system files automatically.

Most of us have had Windows programs crash at some point. Often when this occurs temporary files are left on the hard drive since the program has not had a chance to clean up after itself. Most Windows 95, 98, and Me systems store their temporary files in the C:\Windows\Temp folder, although this location can vary. Again, make sure all programs are closed before deleting any files in this folder. You may also want to sort the files by date, and only delete files more than a few days old to avoid deleting any files that are in use. If you try to delete a file that is in use you will receive an "access denied" error message and can skip that file.

January 2001

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