Regular chores to help keep things running

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

This week I have mostly been cleanin’ PCs.

Yes, it is that time of year again, when we look at all the stuff that is behind us and think, “What the heck is that?”

Time to do some spring cleaning and tidying up I think. Which is exactly what I have been doing myself. For example, on my home PC I took the time to review all of the programs that are currently installed and remove all of the ones I know I do not need or no longer use. There is no sense in keeping things that take up space and use up resources if they are no longer needed.

If you do need something again in the future, you can always reinstall it. However, if as I found, the programs are a bit long in the tooth, the chances are that they will be out of date and you will need new versions anyway.

It isn’t just the programs we no longer use that need to be sorted out, there are all of those files that start clogging up your documents, pictures, video and music folders. As well as taking up vast amounts of space, it will also mean that finding anything can become a bit of a nightmare. In fact, if you have a lot of files your PC will take longer to index them all, which means it will take longer for it to display the list of files. So the advice here is, delete the rubbish you really don’t need, or archive it off onto an external drive or USB stick.

The space you have left available on your computer’s hard drive is important. If you have only a little bit of space left your computer’s performance will suffer, as all computers need a certain amount of space left to be able to process commands and run programs. Additionally files are more likely to be fragmented with less free space, which will also slow down retrieval of those files if the processor has to hunt around the hard drive looking for all the different bits that make up each file.

On to fragmentation. Older Windows machines will need to be defragmented manually periodically. Newer versions of Windows are better at handling this on their own, but it is still worth checking. If your PC has a solid state disk (SSD) you should never try to defragment it. It works in a completely different way to older hard disk drives (HDD) and may be damaged if you do.

The boring stuff is almost over. Once you have your machine nicely spring cleaned, your machine should be run a bit more smoothly. That’ll mean you can have even more fun playing those games you got for Christmas!

Alan Stainer