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IT Help

Light Byte

by amWebright's Kathy Mercer

'Let me introduce you to.'

As you know, a good hostess is welcoming and helps you integrate by making introductions. So often communication is hurried and makes assumptions, leaving you confused and let down. So, firstly, let me welcome you to this page and introduce my column to you. Light Byte , as the name implies, will present an IT topic each month; explain it, help simplify it, and offer suggestions where applicable. This is a new venture for Bed and Breakfast News and so I am delighted to be 'on board'. I hope you will find Light Byte interesting to read and helpful for your businesses' growth.

Last year is now settling to become a collection of snapshots within the memory; ready to be tidied and filed away for recall later. This will then create freedom and energy for you to deal with the new season's events as they unfold.

Your PC also benefits from a tidy up as it too needs space. Just like us, it also suffers when there is too much filling its memory. When there is too much going on, again like us, a PC becomes less efficient. Often it will become very slow and will be a chore to use.

PC Health Check

Listed below are my top ten tips for a healthy PC with explanations for one to seven. Items eight - ten will be dealt with next month. I've started with the easiest to try first:

Periodically turn your PC off - don't rely on the sleep option. The sleep option, if used continuously, can gradually slow the PC down. Get in the habit of regularly switching it off.

Limit the amount of programs you are running and have open at one time. Make sure your PC is efficiently working on the programs you want it to and not wasting juice on things that are not needed.

Delete any old files that are now obsolete / unwanted. Are there any folders with photos etc that can now be erased or printed off? If in doubt, burn them to a CD or save to a memory stick and then afterwards go through the files on your PC and manually delete as you go. This could take some time - but diligence pays off!

Clean up your disc space There is a Microsoft menu option which when run will remove files that Windows knows are not required, for example; temporary internet files, offline web pages and the contents of the recycle bin, etc. To do this, (for example on XP,) go to Start->All Programs->Accessories->System Tools ->Disk Clean Up. (If you have multiple disc drives you will then be prompted for the disc drive you wish to clean up.) A list appears of various files that can be cleaned up - you ultimately have the choice of which files to clean up by unticking them.

Disable the Indexing service This is an in-built facility which uses a lot of memory (RAM) that you may not have to spare. Indexing adds extra information about a file in an attempt to speed up the search facility. As most of what you use the PC for is probably not searching, you may as well switch this facility off. To do this go to Start->Control Panel->Double click Add/Remove Programs->Add/Remove Window Components and then uncheck Indexing Services->Click Next. This configures your changes and then displays a finish button to click to end the process.

If you are on a network: Speed up folder browsing Each time you open up windows explorer or use the My Computer icon to view your files or folders, on a networked computer, XP automatically searches for any networked files (or printers). This can take a significant amount of time. To opt out of this go to My Computer->Tools->Folder Options->View Tab->Uncheck the Automatically Search for Network folders and printers->Apply->OK. You will then need to reboot your computer.

Update your virus checker / spyware Is your PC secure with up to date anti-virus checkers and spyware? If not something could be lurking within the PC and playing around with your information and gobbling up disc space or using your memory for its own destructive purposes.

Next month.


More memory?

And if all else fails...Re-installation Until part two.

PC Health Check cont.

Welcome to part two of the PC Health Check. Last month we looked at seven possible ways to ‘de-stress’ your PC and now we come to the last three of my top ten tips.

Defragmentation or ‘defrag’ is the facility for your PC to find, and then correctly file away, information deep within the computer which has become muddled and therefore stored in the wrong place. Imagine a van load of library books being returned after use which are then dumped in the archive room, rather than being processed for placement on the library shelves ready to relend. When requested, it could take the librarians considerable time locating these books because they are not in their designated place on the shelf. Your PC is also trying to recall bits of information which are not in the expected place, and so spends time searching through files.

Vista defaults to a weekly automatic defrag schedule. Prior to Vista you have to manually request it or set up an automatic schedule. A couple of words of warning though - the longer you have left it, the longer the process will take. Windows XP and earlier have an analyse button which is basically a test to see if you need to run the defrag operation, it is advisable to run this first. It is also recommended not to have any other programs running at the same time and if you are able to, it is generally best to switch your screen saver off.

To start the defrag process on Windows XP: Right click on the main drive (usually C) and a box will appear.
Click on properties.
A new ‘Properties’ window opens.
Click on the Tools tab.
Click on the ‘Defragment Now’ button.
At this point you can click either the ‘Analyze’ or ‘Defragment’ buttons.
While the PC defrags, you will see a colourful display of bands – this is normal.
When the task is completed a message will appear on the screen.

Adding memory You may have run out of available memory space. Vista, for example, is best run on a PC which has 2Gb of RAM and most IT commentators recommend 1Gb or above for XP – especially if you are running lots of programs and graphic-led applications. If you go to Control Panel->system properties, your PC will tell you how much RAM you have. Adding memory can be a specialized procedure – it’s best to consult your local IT specialist to get it installed.

Re-install Windows Operating System As a last resort a total re-installation may be required. This can be a complicated process and again it’s recommended you consult your IT specialist. You will need to save all the files, folders and applications you want to keep onto a CD/DVD or memory stick. Once re-installation is completed these will then need to be reloaded onto the PC.


If you want to catch up with more of Kathy’s articles, please contact us on 01606 784524 – you can order back issues & subscribe to B&B News so you keep up to date with all our superb articles & features!