3 Simple Steps To Keep Your Hard Drive Fit

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Copyright (C) 2001 by Phil Rigby

It's all too easy for a PC's hard drive to end up as the equivalent of a "couch potato".

Like the person who scarfs down too much beer and chips, and fails to follow a regular program of health maintenance, your PC can gradually accumulate "fat" and begin to drastically slow down.

There's nothing particularly difficult in correcting this problem. You just need to make a little time to carry out a few simple procedures.

1) Get in shape - Defragment your hard drive

One of the most overlooked areas of the PC is its hard drive. Over time, the clusters of data get fragmented and chains of data blocks become spread all over the surfaces of the drive platters. This slows down file accesses, sometimes quite dramatically.

You'll notice this if applications are slow to start up, and you can hear a lot of clicking from the hard drive read heads.

You should regularly defragment the drive, to pack the data more efficiently and shorten file chains.

To do this, shut down your system and restart it in DOS mode, which you should see as an option on the shutdown menu.

When the machine has rebooted and displays the DOS prompt, enter the command

defrag c: /f

Press Enter, and this will start Microsoft's defrag program. The "/f" switch tells the program to perform a full defrag operation. There are other options but I would only select a full defrag.

You may have a system configured with more than one drive partition. For example, in addition to the standard C: drive I also have drives D: through H: on my PC. I need to repeat the defrag command for each of the individual drive letters.

Note that your system may have a utility suite, such as Norton or Nuts and Bolts. This means that you may well have a defrag program that can be run under Windows itself, so there would be no need to reboot into DOS mode.

2) Lose the flab - Remove unnecessary files from your disk

As time goes by, hard drives tend to get more and more cluttered with rubbish and unused applications.

You should regularly empty your Internet browser cache, and delete all temporary files (anything in the Windows/temp directory, for example). Use the Find dialog to search for files with a name of the form '*.tmp', '*.~mp' and '*.chk'. You can safely delete these.

And go through your inventory of installed programs. You may often find that there's software on your system that may only have been used once, or not at all. In this case, remove it by using the Add/Remove Programs dialog in the Control Panel.

Of course, you should ensure that you have the original diskettes or CDs for applications you intend to delete, so that you can later reinstall them if required.

Make sure your hard drive always has at least 10% minimum free space.

3) Avoid stress - Disable power management for desktop PCs

By default, Windows will enforce power management procedures that involve shutting down a compliant monitor and spinning down the hard drive after a preset interval of inactivity.

When you next hit the keyboard or use the mouse the system will spin the drive back up to operating speed. This is a stressful operation and should be avoided where possible.

There is no need for power management on a desktop system that is connected to mains electricity. It's only justified to preserve the battery power of portable PCs.

To switch off this facility on your desktop system, do the following;

For Windows 95, select Start, then Settings, then Control Panel then double-click on Power. Clear the check box that reads "Allow Windows to manage power usage on this computer". Then you need to click on the Disk Drives tab and clear that check box also.

For Windows 98 or Me, go to Start, Settings, Control Panel, Power Management, Power Schemes, Home/Office Desk, Turn Off Hard Disks, and select Never.

So, get your hard disk into shape, cut down on the fat and avoid unnecessary stress. It's easy!
Phil Rigby is the "Secure Netpreneur - Doing Safe Net Business" http://www.secure-netpreneur.com

Now you can make your Windows PC "Invisible and Bulletproof" and, what's more, do it for FREE! Send a blank email to mailto:secnet@detailsinstantly.com

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