Article adapted from "Laptops and Tablet PCs with Microsoft Windows XP Step by Step: Keep in Touch and Stay Productive--At Work, At Home, and On the Go!" by Andrew Fuller and Ravipal Soin.
There are a few guidelines that you can follow to maintain your computer and keep it running smoothly.
This article discusses how to use the tools available in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) to more efficiently maintain your computer and safeguard your privacy when you're online.
Free Up Disk Space
By freeing disk space, you can improve the performance of your computer. The Disk Cleanup tool helps you free up space on your hard disk. The utility identifies files that you can safely delete, and then enables you to choose whether you want to delete some or all of the identified files.
Use Disk Cleanup to:
Tip: Typically, temporary Internet files take the most amount of space because the browser caches each page you visit for faster access later.
To use Disk Cleanup
After a few minutes, the process completes and the Disk Cleanup dialog box closes, leaving your computer cleaner and performing better.
Speed Up Access to Data
Disk fragmentation slows the overall performance of your system. When files are fragmented, the computer must search the hard disk when the file is opened to piece it back together. The response time can be significantly longer.
Disk Defragmenter is a Windows utility that consolidates fragmented files and folders on your computer's hard disk so that each occupies a single space on the disk. With your files stored neatly end-to-end, without fragmentation, reading and writing to the disk speeds up.
When to Run Disk Defragmenter
In addition to running Disk Defragmenter at regular intervals, optimally monthly, certain events warrant running the utility outside of the monthly rule of thumb.
You should run Disk Defragmenter under the following circumstances:
To use Disk Defragmenter:
Detect and Repair Disk Errors
In addition to running Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter to optimize the performance of your computer, you can check the integrity of the files stored on your hard disk by running the Error Checking utility.
As you use your hard drive, it can develop bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing (such as file saving) difficult, or even impossible. The Error Checking utility scans the hard drive for bad sectors, and scans for file system errors to see whether certain files or folders are misplaced.
If you use your computer daily, you should try to run this utility weekly to help prevent data loss.
To run the Error Checking utility:
Important: Be sure to close all files before running the Error-Checking utility.
Tip: Only select the Automatically fix file system errors check box if you think that your disk contains bad sectors.
Protect Your Computer Against Spyware
Spyware collects personal information without letting you know and without asking for permission. The information that spyware collects ranges from a list of Web sites that you visit to usernames and passwords. In addition to privacy concerns, spyware can hamper your computer's performance. Learn more about spyware and how to help protect your computer.