BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 1998

  

 

BOOT CAMP 009

SPRING CLEANING

Imagine a large, well-used filing cabinet in a busy office. It starts out all clean and shiny, and empty…Gradually it fills up; at first it is fairly well ordered, with all the folders neatly arranged, but as time goes by files are removed and not always put back in their right place. Soon there’s a build up of clutter, parts of files go missing, the office idiot gets them mixed up and it takes longer and longer to find what you’re looking for. Does that sound familiar?

The hard disc drive in your PC is a lot like a filing cabinet; in order to keep it working smoothly it needs to be tidied up every so often. As you install and later remove software odd bits get left behind and the file structure becomes disorganised, slowing down the time it takes for your PC to retrieve data from the disc drive. Windows 95 includes two very useful utilities that can help restore some order to the disc, and get rid of at least some of the jumble of unwanted file fragments that take up valuable space.

However, if your intention is to free up disc space now is a good time to remove unwanted programs and all the stuff those freebie magazine cover discs leave behind. Identify which programs you no longer need using Windows Explorer but don’t be tempted to simply highlight a folder and press the delete button. This can have disastrous consequences. A lot of programs write files into folders within Windows, change start-up files and the Windows Registry. They tell the computer to look for programs, but if they’re no longer there Windows can crash, or do all kinds of horrible things and display worrying warning messages.

Use the Add/Remove Programs utility in Control Panel to remove redundant programs, though this only works on software specifically written for Windows 95. Some programs have their own uninstaller utility – you’ll find it in the program folder  – if so use it. Better still; use an uninstallation program, like Clean Sweep, WinDelete or Uninstaller. They work best if they’re installed early on, as soon as possible after you've brought a new PC. They monitor each new item of software as it is installed, noting where files are stored, so they can be safely removed. Most uninstallers make compressed backups of all the files deleted, so if a problem arises they can be re-installed.

When that’s done you can use the Windows 95 utilities mentioned earlier, to tidy up the disc drive. Before you start close down any programs that are running, switch off the screen saver if you are using one and empty the recycle bin, (assuming everything still works okay). Go to My Computer and highlight the hard disc drive icon – usually drive C: -- then, without moving the pointer arrow, press the right button on your mouse and click on Properties. The first window shows a pie-chart that will give you a general idea of how much free space is left on your disc drive. Next, click the Tools tab and you will see three options. The first step is to use Scandisk to check the drive for errors. Scandisk performs a number of checks, looking through all of the files and folders on the disc for fragments of abandoned files and testing the surface of the disc for faults. Bits of old files are gathered together and deleted. If Scandisk finds any bad sectors – areas of the disc used for data storage – they are ‘tagged’ so they won’t be used again.

To start Scandisk click on the Check Now button. Choose the Thorough option; check the box that says Automatically fix errors and click the Start button. Depending on the size of your hard disc this can take quite a long time -- half an hour or more -- so it’s a good idea to do it when you’ve finished work for the day, or at lunch time.

When Scandisk has finished go back to the Tools window and click on the Defragment button. This might report that you don’t need to defragment now but if the value shown is more than 8%, say, then it is still worth doing. Defragging sorts out all of the files and folders on your disc, re-uniting files that have got spread around the disc, and putting them all together at the beginning of the disc. This means the read-write heads in the drive do not have to move around so much. It speeds up data access, and reduces wear and tear on the head stepper motor. (That’s what makes the clicking sounds, when your disc drive is busy).

Click on the Defragment Now button. If this is the first time you have defragged your drive select Advanced and choose the Full Defragmentation option. Select OK then Start. If you like click on the Show Details button, and watch Defrag go to work. You will actually see blocks of data being moved from around the disc to the file areas of the front of the drive. It’s quite entertaining for the first few minutes, if you’ve got nothing better to do, though again it can take a while to complete the job. Finally, make a note in your diary or calendar to run Scandisk and Defrag at least once a month.

 

JARGON FILTER

FILE FRAGMENTS

When programs are removed from a hard disc bits of files often get left behind. Scandisk checks to make sure they’re not associated with existing programs and converts them to complete files, so they can be safely deleted

SECTORS

Hard disc drives are split into tracks and sectors; they’re a way for the PC to identify where particular files or pieces of data are stored

WINDOWS REGISTRY

A large, constantly changing file in Windows 95 containing details of how your PC is set up, and all the programs stored on the hard disc

 

TOP TIP

If you have poor or failing eyesight computer display screens can be difficult to read. Make sure it is correctly positioned, there are no reflections from lights or windows and the brightness and contrast settings are properly adjusted. If you find the icons and printing underneath too small to read easily try the ‘large’ and ‘extra large’ colour Schemes in Display Properties. They’re located on the Appearances Tab that you can find by double clicking on the Display icon in Control Panel.  While you are there select the Settings tab and try the ‘Larger Fonts’ size. You may also find it helpful to change the Desktop Area slider to a lower value, especially if it has been set to a high resolution figure (1024 x 768 pixels, for example) and you are viewing it on a 14 or 15-inch monitor. Most word-processor packages have a ‘zoom’ facility, to enlarge the size of the text display

A similar set of options is available from the Accessibility Options icon in Control Panel. Double click the icon to open the window. Select the Display tab, then Settings. The next set of options will enlarge the display, with normal black on white text, or the whole thing can reversed, with white on black characters. Click on display, then check the Use High Contrast box and confirm the changes by clicking the Apply button. Be patient, it takes a few seconds for the display to change. 

Search PCTopTips 


Web

PCTopTips

Boot Camp Index

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

 

Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME

 

 

 

 

 

 Copyright 2006-2009 PCTOPTIPS UK.

All information on this web site is provided as-is without warranty of any kind. Neither PCTOPTIPS nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any of the information contained herein.