The proper way to clean your hard drive

Last time we discussed hardware preventive maintenance, this week we talk software. Most software preventative maintenance is concerned with the operating system with common chores including cleaning the hard drive and ensuring everything is up-to-date.

Cleaning the hard drive of a Windows system involves a few steps. The first thing to do is to run the Disk Cleanup program which guides a user through the removal of temporary files. On Windows XP or Vista click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Disk Cleanup. Follow through the prompts to remove unnecessary files. Note: I do not recommend the option to compress old files in Windows XP.

Next up is to remove unnecessary programs. This optional but recommended step will free up disk space and remove unused programs. Click Start, Control Panel then select "Add or Remove Programs" in XP or "Programs" in Vista. Go through the list and remove programs you are not using

With unnecessary files gone we can scan C: for disk errors. Do this by opening My Computer, right-clicking the C: drive and selecting properties. Select the Tools tab then click the "Check Now" button within Error-checking. Select both check disk options and know that Windows is unable to do this right away because C: is in use. Schedule it to run, reboot the system and be patient as the procedure runs.

The last step in cleaning the hard drive is to run the disk defragmenter program. Do this by following the steps above for error checking except click the "Defragment Now" button in the Defragmentation area and follow the prompts

With the hard drive clean I recommend opening the Control Panel and checking the Security Center settings. Make sure the Windows update service is on and running properly

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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