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My five favorite Windows tips for maintaining your computer

In this article, I am going to share my five favorite tips for maintaining Microsoft Windows.

  1. Checkdisk. This is the first thing I do when I get a system here in the shop. Errors do occur and files do get damaged. Best to take care of this first thing. And yes, this can take a while, so I always recommend leaving your system on and let Checkdisk run over night. That way your computer is ready to go first thing in the morning.

    For more information on how to perform a Checkdisk, just select your operating system below:
    Windows 7 / Windows Vista Checkdisk
    Windows XP Checkdisk

  2. Delete Temporary files. This is the first place to look when you need to free up some hard disk space. These files served their propose at one time, but for some unknown reason, the program that used them did not delete them. When deleting temporary files, some may be still in use. I recommend deleting all files / folders that are over a week old. See below for the location of temporary files folder on your version of Windows:

    Windows 7 / Vista - C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Temp
    Windows XP - C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Temp

  3. Delete the Internet Explorer cache. This is the second place to look when you need to free up some hard disk space. I have seen systems with over 9 Gb of temporary files. Open Internet Explorer and go to Tools > Internet Options and change the following settings:

    Internet Explorer Temporary Files
    Internet Explorer Temporary Files

  4. Pagefile optimization. This one often gets over looked. There is a formula for calculating the correct pagefile size. Minimum pagefile size is one and a half (1.5) x amount of memory. Maximum pagefile size is three (3) x minimum pagefile size. Say you have 4 Gb (4,096 Mb) of memory. 1.5 x 4,096 = 6,144 Mb would be the min. pagefile size and 3 x 6,144 = 18,432 Mb would be the max. pagefile size.

    Windows Pagefile Settings

    To change the pagefile size, you need to access the System Properties dialog box. Press Windows logo key + Pause (Windows 7 / Vista users select 'Advanced' system settings). Then select the 'Advanced' tab and under 'Performance' click on Settings. Then select the 'Advanced' tab and under 'Virtual memory' click on Change.

    For more information on how to change the pagefile size, just select your operating system below:
    Windows 7 Pagefile Settings
    Windows Vista Pagefile Settings
    Windows XP Pagefile Settings

  5. Disk Defragmenter. Probably the best single thing you can do to speed up your computer. Imagine a filing cabinet where all of the folders were out of order and files were misplaced through out the cabinet. How could you find anything? Same thing with your hard drive. Disk Defragmenter takes care of that for you. And you can run it as a scheduled task too.

    For more information on how to use Disk Defragmenter, just select your operating system below:
    Windows 7 Disk Defragmenter
    Windows Vista Disk Defragmenter
    Windows XP Disk Defragmenter

Give these five tips a try and see how much more performance you can get from your computer,
Scott

Simple security with Microsoft Security Essentials

In this article, I am going to spotlight Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). This is not Microsoft's first venture into the ant-virus market, but it is probably the best. Having used the some of the more well know anti-virus software (Norton / Symantec, McAfee, etc.) for over a decade, I decided to give MSE a try.

Microsoft Security Essentials

All of articles I had read on Microsoft Security Essentials were quite positive, so I installed its on my netbook running Windows 7 in June. Since then, I have taken the netbook on several on-site service calls and on vacation. I am happy to report that the netbook remains virus free. What I really like is the small footprint the software has. It does not take five minutes to start up Windows, as can happen on systems with limited resources (such as a netbooks).

MSE works quite well with Windows 7 built-in firewall. The interface is clean and easy to use, unlike some of the anti-virus software out there. It's easy enough for a novice user to navigate. It also integrates into Windows Update as well. Here's a quote from Microsoft's website:

Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free* download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple.

Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so that you are free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions or long computer wait times.

I encourage you to take a look at Microsoft Security Essentials. It's simple and free.
Scott

Tether your Android's 3G to your pc with PdaNet

When I changed over to the Android, one of the functions I wanted was to use it's 3G data connection with my netbook. I found this great program from June Fabrics Technology called PdaNet. It allows you to tether your Android's 3G without having to do any hacking.

PDA.net

Once the installation is complete on both PC and Android, you will find connecting to be easy. Just connect the USB cable from the Android to the PC, start the PdaNet app on your Android and then use the tray icon in Windows to connect. Here's a quote from their web site:

PDA.net has been one of the most popular software for Windows Mobile phones, Palm OS phones and iPhones. It is now ported to the Android system! PdaNet provides you with FULL Internet access so all your email, instant message programs will work without any setting changes. Supports both USB Tether and Bluetooth DUN.

PdaNet does NOT require root access or hacking your phone's firmware in order to work. It is just a regular Android application that works on all Android phones as-is. Tethering is fast, secure and USB mode will also charge your phone at the same time. Your phone can either connect to 3G data, WiFi, or even through VPN and PdaNet will share the connection with your computer.

If you are looking to connect to the internet on your computer through your smart phone, I recommend you go over to June Fabrics site and take a look at their line of PdaNet products. BTW: If you use Windows 7, you can create a WiFi hot spot with PdaNet and Virtual Router.

Enjoy,
Scot

Use DejaOffice to sync Outlook with your Android

In my recent change to the Google Android from a Palm, there were two main functions I required. The second one was to be able to synchronize my Android to Microsoft Outlook. I have been using Outlook as a PIM (Personal Information Manager) for years now, as it's sort of the 'de facto' standard in the corporate world. I was pleasantly surprised to find DejaOffice by CompanionLink.

Being on the Palm platform for years, I became kind of pampered when it came to synchronizing data with Outlook. This really was one of Palm Pilot's strong points. So when I found DejaOffice, it was just the perfect replacement for the conduits from Palm. With the ability to sync Contacts, Tasks, Calendar and Notes, this is a 'must have' if you use Outlook. Here's a quote from their site:

Data from the PC syncs to DejaOffice, a mobile office application suite for Android. DejaOffice features robust contacts, calendar, tasks and notes apps that provide enhanced functionality over the native Android applications. Contacts and calendar automatically sync with the native Android databases to allow for full functionality with other apps.

I highly recommend you give this program a try. It's available from the Android page at CompanionLink.

Enjoy,
Scott

Work with Office files on your Android with Documents To Go

In my recent change to the Google Android from a Palm, there were two main functions I required. The first one was the ability to create, edit and view Microsoft Office documents on the Android. I was please to see that DataViz, the creators of Documents To Go, had a version for the Android platform.

Documents To Go on the Android platform

I have used Documents To Go for around a decade now on the Palm platform. The basic features are the same between the platforms, with a few minor changes. There is Word To Go (Microsoft Word), Sheet To Go (Microsoft Excel), Slideshow To Go (Microsoft PowerPoint) and PDF To Go (Adobe Acrobat). I like to create documents on my workstation, sync them with SyncToy to my Android and then be able to view / edit them when I am away from the office. Plus you can also open up documents you have downloaded too. (like PDF's). Here's a quote from their web site:

Whether you’re an organization looking to mobilize your sales professionals or an individual looking to increase personal productivity, leaving your office or laptop behind does not have to mean leaving your crucial files and work behind.

Now you can get your work done no matter where you are by using Documents To Go to view, edit and create Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files as well as view Adobe PDF files on your Android-powered smartphone. And since it is full featured yet easy to use, Documents To Go is one mobile office suite that makes good business sense.

There is a free version of Document To Go and it's available on the Android page at DataViz.

Enjoy,
Scott

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