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Keeping your operating system fit and trim.

Spring cleaning may be all right for your house, but when it comes to your computer's operating system (OS), maintenance is a year-round chore. Tuning and tweaking your system on a regular basis can enhance performance, free up hard disk space and save you time and money.

If you're running Windows 95, the first step is tO empty the recycling bin. "The files hide in the wastebasket and can take up a lot of space on the hard drive," says Stacey Breyfogle, a product manager for personal and business system groups at Microsoft.

By default, Windows 95 uses 10% of your hard drive for the recycling bin. Reduce the amount of space it uses by positioning your pointer over the icon and "right clicking" your mouse. Under properties, set the maximum amount of space you wish to allocate to the bin (less than 10 megs). When the recycling bin reaches that amount, it will automatically start dumping the oldest files. You also have the option of not sending anything you delete to the wastebasket and having it removed immediately.

Now for the deep cleaning. Windows 95 offers four basic tools that go a long way in helping to maintain your OS: ScanDisk, Disk Defragmenter, DriveSpace and Backup. You can find these "system tools" in the accessories menu. ScanDisk does exactly what it says. It scans your hard disk, the computer's built-in disk drive, for errors and corrects them. "We recommend running ScanDisk at least once a week," says Breyfogle.

The Disk Defragmenter searches for fragmented files and assembles them into contiguous chunks. Why defragment; Because every time you delete files, your OS writes information onto the hard ,drive, but this information is not all in one place. "It sticks information wherever it finds open space, says Breyfogle. Fragmented files slow down your computer by forcing the OS to look all over the place for files. Breyfogle also recommends running the Defragmenter once a week.

The Backup option helps you manage hard drive space. "When you mention backup, sometimes people think they have to back up their whole system. If you have the installation disks for your applications, then all you need to back up are data files," adds Breyfogle. This can be done cheaply on a floppy disk. "If you're getting into more complex backups, you may want to purchase external drives and additional software," she says. This could include using zip or jazz drives.

The DriveSpace allows you to create extra storage capacity through compression. When you click on DriveSpace, you have the option of compressing your C drive. Your new drive will be assigned a letter, such as "H." It's not really a new drive, but Windows 95 will read it that way. Just remember, applications running from a compressed drive always run slower.

Any true cleaning effort means dusting out every corner and crevice. One crevice your OS hides information in is the cache in your Web browser. When you access a Web page, your browser stores the HTML files, pictures and every object included on that page into the cache. This allows repeatedly without having to download them again. But sometimes cache gets cluttered and needs to be emptied. Make sure you check the cache on your Web browser weekly--or more often depending on how much surfing you do. You can usually find cache settings under preferences or network preferences.

Other house cleaning tips for sprucing up Windows 95 include running anti-virus software and organizing your start-up menu. To do so, go to "settings" on your start menu, then to the taskbar. Under the start menu programs button, you'll have the options to add or remove programs from the menu.

If you need outside help, you can invest in software such as CleanSweep, First Aid 97 or Norton Utilities, which are helpful in cleaning up files not written with Windows 95. To get the most out of Windows 95 tools, try scheduling regular maintenance. Microsoft has a self-help area at www.microsoft.com.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:B.E. Technology Workbook: part 1; your computer performance
Author:Corbett, Merlisa Lawrence
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jul 1, 1997
Words:667
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