Edition 1, Volume 5
How S-l-o-w Can You Go?
How to improve the speed of your PC and laptop
Part 3: Internet cache, temp files, download folder, recycle bin, disk defrag, and system updates
Over the past two weeks I’ve gone over how malware and viruses can slow down your computer. This week I’ll be talking about the “other things” that can bog it down.
Each time you go to a website, a snapshot of your visit is stored on your computer. This is done so next time you visit the site it takes less time for your computer to upload the info. These cookies, temporary internet folder items, and history are known as your Internet cache (pronounced “cash”). Cache folders can get quite large, occupying hundreds of megabytes of hard drive space. And if the cache gets too big, it can bog down your computer and s-l-o-w down Internet response time.
As with Internet cache, too many temp files can slow down your computer. These temps files are created when the developer of a program forgets to add the code needed to delete the temporary files after the program is done with them, thus leaving behind a lot of clutter. The files accumulate over time and can take up a lot of disk space.
I once cleaned out a person’s download folder that contained almost a gigabyte worth of data. Now that’s a lot of downloading! Needless to say, these files were taking up valuable disk space which, in turn, slowed down that person’s computer.
Your recycle bin stays full until you empty it, and if it gets too full can behave much like an overfilled trash can. Enough said.
Every time you add a program, or create and save a new document, your computer “prints” a code to your hard drive that represents that item, as well as creates an index to help find that item faster next time. When you delete the program or doc, your computer removes that code from your hard drive and from the index. After time these imprints on your drive end up looking like Swiss cheese. It’s much faster for your computer to find programs when they are sorted properly than when they’re scattered all over the place. Defragmenting your disk is your computer’s way of getting rid of all those “holes” and lining stuff up in an order that makes sense so that retrieval is fast and easy.
Windows system updates are crucial, not only for the protection of your computer but also as a means of keeping your system operating in an optimum manner.
- Maintenance is much easier than you think. Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 each have a nifty little program called “Disk Cleanup.” You access it by going to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools. Once there you can choose which items you want cleaned up (temporary Internet files, temp files, recycle bin, etc.) by checking the box then clicking OK. You can also clear out your Internet cache by going to Start> Control Panel, clicking on Internet Options, then choosing “delete” under Browsing History.
- Clearing out your download folder is as easy as opening the folder, selecting CRTL+A on your keyboard (this will highlight everything in the folder), and hitting your DEL key.
- Like Disk Cleanup, Disk Defragmenter is located by going to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools. You can defrag once or choose a defrag schedule. Personally, I think it’s a good idea to schedule a disk defrag to run once-a-month. However, regardless of the method your choose, make sure you do the defrag at night while you’re sleeping because it can take quite some time to complete—especially if you have a large disk drive.
- Windows updates should ALWAYS be scheduled to run and install automatically. To find out how your updates are set, right mouse click on the My Computer icon and select Properties. Choose Windows Update and check your settings to see if Update is set to run automatically.
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So there you have it. Between handling malware and anti-viruses and cleaning up your computer you just saved yourself lots of $$$. Of course, if you still have problems it might be a good idea to take your computer to a reputable service department and have them take a peek. But at least if you do you’ll be able to impress them with what you tried beforehand to remedy the situation.
Next week: Facebook series – Part 1: Differences (and similarities) between timeline, profile page, group page, and just plain “page.”