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My five favorite Windows tips for maintaining your computer

Updated October 14, 2020

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 overnight. That way, your computer is ready to go first thing in the morning.

    For more information on how to perform a Checkdisk, select your operating system below:

    Windows 10 Checkdisk

    Windows 8.1 Checkdisk

    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 purpose at one time, but the program that used them did not delete them for some unknown reason. When deleting temporary files, some may still be in use. I recommend deleting all files/folders that are over a week old. See below for the location of the temporary files folder on your version of Windows:

    Windows Vista / 7 / 8.1 / 10 - 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 overlooked. 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 Vista / 7 / 8.1 / 10 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, select your operating system below:

    Windows 10 Pagefile Settings

    Windows 8.1 Pagefile Settings

    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 throughout 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, select your operating system below:

    Windows 10 Disk Defragmenter

    Windows 8.1 Disk Defragmenter

    Windows 7 Disk Defragmenter

    Windows Vista Disk Defragmenter

    Windows XP Disk Defragmenter

Using Disk Defragmenter in Windows 7

Have you ever gone to a file cabinet to get a file, but it was not where you had left it? That's kind what fragmentation does to your hard drive. Disk Defragmenter in Windows 7 arranges all of the folders and files on your hard drive, making it easier and faster for Windows to find your data. Disk Defragmenter can be run manually or on a schedule.

Click on the Start button, then All Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools.

Click on Disk Defragmenter. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Note:
Here's another way to open Disk Defragmenter: Click the Start button. In the Search box, type Disk Defragmenter or defrag, and then, in the list of results, double-click Disk Defragmenter.

Click Defragment Now.

Disk Defragmenter might take from several minutes to a few hours to finish, depending on the size and degree of fragmentation of your hard disk. You can still use your computer during the defragmentation process.

Using Disk Defragmenter in Windows Vista

Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer. Disk Defragmenter rearranges fragmented data so your hard disk can work more efficiently. Disk Defragmenter runs on a schedule, but you can also defragment your hard disk manually.

Click on the Start button, then All Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools.

Click on Disk Defragmenter. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Note:
Here's another way to open Disk Defragmenter: Click the Start button. In the Search box, type Disk Defragmenter or defrag, and then, in the list of results, double-click Disk Defragmenter.

Click Defragment Now.

Disk Defragmenter might take from several minutes to a few hours to finish, depending on the size and degree of fragmentation of your hard disk. You can still use your computer during the defragmentation process.

Using Disk Defragmenter in Windows XP

You might need to be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group to perform some tasks.

Disk Defragmenter consolidates fragmented files and folders on your computer's hard disk so that each occupies a single, contiguous space on the volume. As a result, your system can gain access to your files and folders and save new ones more efficiently. By consolidating your files and folders, Disk Defragmenter also consolidates the volume's free space, making it less likely that new files will be fragmented.

  • To open Disk Defragmenter, click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Disk Defragmenter.
  • For information about using Disk Defragmenter, on the Action menu in Disk Defragmenter, click Help.

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