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Step-By-Step Tutorial: Windows Basics For The First Time User
Part 2b: Maintaining Your Computer – Disk Clean-up
By Patricia Ouellette

Last month we learned about Disk Defragmenting. Now we are taking our maintenance one step further by looking at Disk Clean Up – which is just as important as Disk Defragmentations.

Disk Clean Up will clean out what are commonly called "dead files". These are files that remain in different areas of your computer that, for various reasons, it will not need again. Lets face it, it would be a waste of time to maintain our computers if we kept all the garbage in it. How good would our spiritual lives be if we did not get rid of our excess baggage by giving and receiving forgiveness? Or would our homes remain clean and tidy if we did not take out the garbage everyday?

We also need to take out the garbage in our computers if we want to keep them clean and healthy. Emptying out folders with dead files does this, and Windows makes the task easy by having the pertinent folders listed in the Disk Clean Up function.

What Are These Files and What Is In Them?
  1. Downloaded Program Files – these are files that remain on your system after you have viewed them on the Internet, requiring the use of programs like Flash, Real Player, Windows Media Player, image viewers, Adobe Reader and program updates, just to name a few. Everything we hear and view on the Internet is downloaded to our computers in order for us to be able to hear or see it.
  2. Temporary Internet Files – these are small snippets of web addresses (commonly known as URL’s). These are also stored in our history or cache files (history files for Windows Explorer; Cache files for Netscape and some other browsers). Temporary Internet Files simply allow for fast loading of pages when we hit the back or forward buttons on our browsers.
  3. Recycle Bin or Trash Can – Everything we have deleted ourselves will be in here until we empty the bin. You can set up your system so that the Recycle Bin empties as you shut down. However not many of us do, so it is vital that this Bin is emptied regularly and the best method to be sure it is, is with the Disk Clean Up.
  4. Temporary Files – these are all the copies of files we have worked on. Windows keeps the copies in the Temporary Files folder in the case of a system crash, freeze up or illegal shutdown, so that your document can be retrieved. Again these are not necessary to keep after we have finished the document, so cleaning them out is a good habit to have.

    Different versions of Windows may have other things in the Disk Clean Up list; however the abovementioned sections are the most important ones. If they are not emptied out at all, your system will eventually fill up with garbage and get extremely sick, or worse, die.
How To Do a Disk Clean Up
  1. Make sure you do not have any program running and that you have disconnected from the Internet.
  2. Go to your start button and left click
  3. Slide mouse over to All Programs (Program Files for Win 98)
  4. Slide mouse up to Accessories and down to System Tools
  5. Left mouse click on Disk Clean Up
  6. Be sure that the Drive letter for your main hard drive is showing, e.g. Drive C, and left mouse click on OK.
  7. Be sure all items in the list have a check mark in the boxes.
  8. Left mouse click OK. A message box will come up and ask if you are sure you want to perform this action; left mouse click yes.
  9. It will only take a few seconds to complete. Once it is done it will disappear.
  10. Try to do a Disk clean up before doing a Disk Defragment for a more thorough maintenance job.
It is that simple.

How Often Should A Disk Clean Up Be Done?

A Disk Clean Up should be done at least every two weeks for minimally used computers, weekly for heavily used computers and before performing a Disk Defragmentation.

For a healthy computer be as diligent with your maintenance as you would with your body’s physical maintenance. It will save you a lot of heartache and frustration in the long run.

What if You Use Browsers Other Than Explorer?

If you use Mozilla, Netscape or any other browser, you will need to manually delete the cache and/or temp files within those browsers. These are generally found under the tools or options on the taskbar. Should you have difficulty remember you can always check the help files.

Next Month: System Restore with Windows XP
Trish Ouellette is a wife and step-mother of seven glorious children and three grand children. Trish and her husband Jim, run a small computer business from home, as well as two large Internet ministries, which keep her busy designing websites, fixing, upgrading and building computers and teaching computer and Internet technology. With every minute of her spare time she explores her talents in writing and art, which is available to view on her personal website Christ Driven Brush & Pen http://christdriven.evangel-list.com.
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