Computer Maintenance

Throughout time, computers can start to run slow and not perform the way they use to. And from the constant use of them their functionality becomes less optimal. They're similar to our vehicles we drive. We take our cars/trucks in for oil changes, brake service, tire rotations, tune ups, etc. in order to keep them running stable.

Obviously, our computers don't come with a dip stick or don't require tires to run. But there are steps we can take as a user to help keep our computers at their optimum. Below I've listed areas of computer maintenance that should be addressed on a regular basis.


The storage space (hard drive) on our computer is like a filing cabinet. A filing cabinet has folders and sections labeled and organized in alphabetical order. That makes it a more efficient way to retrieve and store different files. Similarly, when you open a program or file your instructing your computer to retrieve specific data to fulfill your request. Upon exiting your program or saving your edited file; your computer stores the data back. Over time, some of the files aren't placed back in its same location and data is fragmented. That's when you can run Disk Defragmenter.

Defragmentation organizes your files and data. It relocates them to the proper areas and ensures they are in contiguous areas of your hard drive. Follow these steps to run Disk Defragmenter. This can be run once every 3 weeks to a month.

(Windows XP users)

  • Click on Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter
  • Click Defragment

(Windows 7 users)

  • Click on Start or Windows Button > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter
  • Click Defragment

Internet Browser Cleanup

The use of the Internet is one of the main functions we use our computers for. Data is retrieved and stored on our system to improve the speed at which we interact with websites. These are referred to as Cookies, Internet Temporary Files (Cache) and Browsing History. These can build up in size and reach a point to where they can cause conflicts with Internet browsing and render it unstable. The following are steps to address this issue. Please refer to your correct Internet browser.

Internet Explorer 8

1.  From the Safety menu in the upper right, click Delete Browsing History.
2.  Deselect Preserve Favorites website data, and select Temporary Internet files, Cookies, and History.
3.  Click Delete

Mozilla Firefox 5 for Windows

1.  Click the Firefox button and then choose Options.
Note: If you're using the menu bar, choose Tools and then Clear Recent History. Skip to Step 5 below.
2.  With the Options window now open, click the Privacy tab.
3.  In the History area, click the clear your recent history link.
4.  In the Clear Recent History window that appears, set the Time range to clear: to Everything.
5.  In the list at the bottom of the window, uncheck everything except for Cache.
Note: If you wish to clear other kinds of stored data, feel free to check the appropriate boxes. They will be cleared with the cache in the next step.
Tip: Don't see anything to check? Click the button next to Details.
6.  Click on the Clear Now button.
7.  When the Clear Recent History window disappears, all of the files saved (cached) from your Internet    
browsing activities in Firefox will have been removed.

Firefox 3.5 for Windows

1.  From the Tools menu, select Clear Recent History.
2.  From the Time range to clear: drop-down menu, select the desired range; to clear your entire cache, select Everything.
3.  Click the down arrow next to "Details" to choose what history elements to clear (e.g., check Cookies to clear cookies). Click Clear Now.

Firefox 3 for Windows

1.  From the Tools menu, select Clear Private Data, and then select the items you want to delete  (e.g.,  Browsing History, Cache, Cookies).
2.  Click Clear Private Data Now.

Files on the Desktop

The Desktop refers to the space that displays on your monitor when you first turn on your computer. It's the area where your wallpaper is portrayed - picture of your family, pet, artwork, etc. It's okay to create shortcuts to commonly used applications or store a handful of files that you're working on. But it can greatly decrease your system's performance when you start to store large amounts of data such as all the pictures from your one week trip to Hawaii or all your documents created from last month on your desktop. The purpose of the Desktop area is for minimal storage, and the more files stored on there the more of the system resources that are used. The best solution is to store your documents under My Documents (X drive) or your pictures on your personal external hard drive.

Antivirus Software

Viruses can corrupt system files and delete data. This can cause your system to run unstable and slow. It's important to ensure your antivirus software is up-to-date and scanning for viruses. Some examples of these antivirus applications are Norton, McAfee & Trend Micro. You can open your specific software and check when the last update was installed. Some versions allow you to configure automatic updates and schedule automatic virus scans. Or you can manually run updates and virus scans.

All SMU computers have Trend Micro Antivirus software which is configured for automatic updates and scheduled virus scans. To check the last update with Trend Micro, right click the icon on the taskbar and select Component Versions. If you haven't logged into the SMU network in over a week, I suggest running a manual update and virus scan. This can be done by right clicking the Trend Micro icon on the taskbar. First select 'Update Now'.  Next Select 'OfficeScan Console'. Check the box next to Local Disk(C:) and select 'Scan'. This will provide the necessary virus definitions and run a thorough virus scan of your computer.

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