About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

July 28, 2015

Emailed Questions, Part 2

Last week I mentioned Chromebooks and Antivirus software.  Today in continuing with sharing emails and answers we look at the following questions.

"How often do you run Windows Update, defrag, cleaning, and other computer maintenance?" Wow, huge question with a multitude of answers.  First I suggest for most users you should set windows updates to run automatically.  With Windows 10 your only choice may be to have it automatically update, there are varying reports.  If you now run the update manually they come out on "Patch Tuesday."  Or, the second Tuesday of each month.  So you are good to run your update any time after that.  I would recommend you do it each month for security reasons if no other.

Defragging and cleaning really depend on how often you use your computer.  I have also recommended here before that you use CCleaner ( for cleaning/removing old files and refreshing your registry. It is an excellent program.  For defragging I recommend another Piriform product called "Defraggler," found on the same site under "Downloads." 

Piriform logo

The timing for these is really up to you since it depends on how much you use your computer.  For a heavy user like me who can spend eight hours a day at work and then an hour or two several times a week at home, I run them every week or so.  If you only go online once a day to check email and Facebook for an hour, once a month or so is fine.  Longer will not hurt you and the more often you run them the quicker they work.  Defragging takes the longest so if you have never defragged before it could take overnight or more depending on the size of your hard drive.

One word of warning about defragging.  If you have a SSD drive and not a regular "platter" drive you should not run defrag.  It will not kill it; however, I have read reports that they will not last as long if you do. 

Maintenance other than those mentioned above is as follows:  Make sure you run your antivirus software regularly.  If you have a free one, as I told you about last week, you may have to do it manually.  To do so you usually right click on the software’s icon in your notification area and click update.  Applications can vary so check yours and proceed. 

Malwarebytes logoThe other two applications I have talked about before but are quite important are, "Malwarebytes" ( Filehippo logoand "FileHippo App Manager" (  I have talked about them in detail before but I do not feel like mentioning them again is too much.  The new improved version of FileHippo is even better and easier to use.

See you next week.

May 5, 2015

PC Spring Cleaning, Part 1

I realized several weeks ago that I had never provided you with a Spring Cleaning plan for your computer.  So guess what?  Today we start cleaning your system for better performance.

The first thing you want to do is to unplug your computer.  This includes the power, speakers, keyboard, printer, thumb drive, wireless mouse connectors and anything else plugged into your system.  Get a can of compressed air or three.  The following information is for desktop computers.  For notebooks you can perform pretty much the same steps but DO NOT take it apart unless you are a pro or daring.

Take your keyboard, turn it upside down and give it a good shake to dislodge stubborn food particles.  (Yes, I know you eat and drink over your keyboard.)  If you have a long, thin brush, use it between the keys. Whether you have a brush or not use the compressed air to blow everything out as much as possible.  Just use compressed air for the notebook keyboards.

Dirt on KeyboardSome people remove the keys and wash them.  Although I have never done this, you may try if you wish. Pry them up carefully (DO NOT do this on a notebook!).  After they are removed you may wash them anyway you deem feasible even using a nonabrasive soap and warm water.  Make sure they are thoroughly rinsed and dried before putting them back…in the correct order of course.

For the mouse you may just use a damp cloth and wipe it down, drying thoroughly again before using.  If you have an old "ball" mouse, go buy a new laser mouse for $15.   

Look around the sides and back of your desktop for thumb screws or regular screws.  Usually there are two, which when unscrewed allow you to slide the side off of your computer.  Unscrew them and remove the side.  If you have questions search online for how to open your computer for cleaning by make and model. 

For this step take your computer outside of your house.  Make absolutely sure you discharge all static electricity before touching anything on the inside of the computer.  A static "pop" inside your computer could be a costly mistake.  I still recommend keeping touching to a minimum.  Although, barring static electricity, you can touch anything in there lightly without damage. 

Dirty ComputerIf you have not done this before you may find a tremendous amount of dust, pet fur, hair, etc. in your computer.  (Check the site for photos.)  It needs to be cleaned out very well.  Dirt causes overheating by blocking vents and sticking to components which makes everything thing run hot and slow and causes repairs.  Get out your can(s) of air and blow as much of this dirt out as you can.  Get every bit of it out it will help significantly.

For notebooks, just use compressed air anywhere you can reach, even in the vents.  In a notebook blow in the intake vents and it will come out the other vents.  If you cannot determine which is which search online for your notebook’s make and model. This is not as thorough as taking it apart but it is much safer and is better than nothing. 

February 23, 2010

Happy Defragging

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , — Ron @ 5:12 am

One of the main things that I believe are of some benefit to your computer is to perform regular defrags on them.  Some geeks believe that a defrag of your hard drive is never needed.  If you are one of the people in my camp I have a couple of suggestions for you.

First an explanation in case you have absolutely no idea what defrag means.  Fragmentation, or fragging occurs each time you open a program or application. Your computer or system puts a picture on your monitor, calculates things, and runs the application, etc.  To make these programs work your system pulls files off of your Hard Drive, usually “C:\”, and puts them to work.  When you close the application(s) it places, or writes all of the files (even basic things like how to draw the window on your screen) back on the hard drive.  Each time you close down that application your computer writes the files to different locations on your drive.

Over time this causes your computer to slow down and not run as quickly or efficiently as it may have in the past.  This is because it has to look all over your hard drive for the files it needs to work.  Defragging moves the files around the drive in a more organized pattern.  When you defrag it places the files that are dependent on each other physically closer together.  When a program needs them it can find and use them faster, which in turn helps increase your system’s speed.

Visit Microsoft and see about defraggingBefore starting to defrag your drive you should shutdown all of your applications and plan on not using the computer until it is finished. 

To use the build in defrag component of windows, open “My Computer”, right click on the drive you wish to defrag, choose “Properties”, “Tools” and finally “Defragment Now”.  If you are a Windows 7 user click the “Start orb” and type “defrag.”  When it shows up click it or press your enter key. 

It will automatically select your C:\ Drive.  You may change to another drive; however C:\ is your main drive and almost certainly needs defragging the most.

Follow the simple instructions and you’ll be done in no time.  Well, Okay, if this is the first time you have run defrag in a while it could take a couple of Download Smart Defraghours.  The time depends on how badly your drive is fragmented and the size of the drive.  I usually run it once a month at night before I go to bed and in the morning it is done. 

Years ago before it was included with Windows you had to pay $90 to get the defrag  application.  Today there are some good ones for free. 

The one that comes with windows does a good job but it is rather clunky. I use Smart Defrag which looks good and is much more user friendly.  They both do the job. 

Happy defragging!

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