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Basic Recommended Computer Maintenance

Native tribesmen ( Ritual ceremonies to prevent the computer from breaking down. By the way, there are more PC tribesmen than Mac tribesmen so everything here is aimed at Microsoft PC systems. Besides, we belong to the PC tribe. )

1.Regular Rituals

It is HIGHLY recommended that that you periodically run the following system programs: ScanDisk and Disk Defragmenter.
Both of these utilities are accessed by going to START/PROGRAMS/ACCESSORIES/SYSTEM TOOLS
And they are very simple to run. *

*When using SCANDISK we suggest that you check off the block that says, "Automatically Fix Errors".
*The Disk Defragmenter takes quite a while to run in some cases, so it is wise to turn off your screensaver (go to My Computer/Control Panel/Display/ScreenSaver) while it is operating. Otherwise the program will keep on starting over. It will keep starting over and over again if you have any other program running.

2.MicroSoft System Updates.

It is HIGHLY recommended that you visit Microsoft Windows Update and download and install the latest Windows Critical Updates for your system, no matter which Operating System you use. Even new computers need updating. UPDATES
This site analyzes your computer to see what system you have and what you need. Be sure to download and install ALL critical Updates, and scroll down to the bottom of the list where it has available drivers. Updated drivers make your system run smoothly. All of this is automated and simple.

The installation of Microsoft Windows Critical Updates will also protect you from some common computer security risks and some viruses. But we also suggest that you run a good Virus Detection Program using the most recent updates. We will get to that.

After you run these programs, reboot before installing software. Reboot is an old DOS word meaning, " turn your computer off, wait a few minutes, and turn it back on."

3.The Golden Rule: When all else fails, REBOOT.

When the cursor quits cursing, the browser quits browsing or the system starts moving v.e.r.y s.l.o.w.l.y and you are annoyed with it, close down all the programs running (if you can) and press START/SHUTDOWN , then choose RESTART from the other options if you wish. If nothing will work, go to the back (or side or front) of the computer, use the OFF button, wait a few minutes, then turn it back on.

This clears your system of unwanted messes (not the technical term but good enough description) and often cures whatever problem was dragging the system down. For some reason occasionally a program may quit responding and that jams up the whole system. Sometimes the system is overworked and the swap memory is used up. A reboot refreshes the system. Operating Systems (OS) such as Windows 3.1 (anyone still have that?) 95, 98, and  Millennium need to be rebooted at least once a day (sometimes more) if you use the computer. Windows 2000 was such a pain in the neck to configure hardware for, that I will not comment. Windows NT can run a long time between reboots as can XP, and Linux (which may never need a reboot). No matter what system, even a Mac, if it gets sluggish, or something isn't working quite right, reboot. This often straightens out small problems.

4.The Magic Native Ritual that often cures programs that are not responding.

The scenario: You press Start; Programs; and press the button to start the program of your choice, but it does not pop up. You try it again, go get a cup of coffee, come back and it is still grinding away, trying to open, but not succeeding. Or maybe by accident you hit two buttons at the same time or the wrong button and confused the darned thing. Whatever you did, you are faced with a big half open window that will not finish its assigned task and that will not close.
What to do, what to do......well, you could wait, (have dinner, watch the Drew Carey show, knit a scarf) or you could pray. You could call on the great God REBOOT. But maybe you just rebooted or know your fingers flew just a bit too fast across that keyboard.
Natives of the Internet use a combination of three simple keys that allow them to see which program is not responding. They are ALT/CTRL/DELETE
By invoking these three keys, at the same time, natives can see deeply into the machine and know what is Not Responding. Even better, natives can stop the program that can't respond from continuing.
I don't want to give away too many native secrets but after you press ALT/CTRL/DELETE and the magic box appears, if you highlight the program that has a little note beside it that says, "not responding" and then press the button that says, "End Task", you will cure this particular little problem.


If we didn't take out the garbage every so often, we would soon find our house crowded by the bags of accumulated trash.
Every time we visit the Internet little files appear on our computer disk called "temporary files". Sometimes the Internet also bestows things called "cookies" on our computer as well. When new programs are installed sometimes temporary files are created too. Believe it or not, some of the email we receive is even filled with empty useless space, (not to imply that you receive empty useless email from empty useless people).

This computer clutter needs to be cleaned up every now and then.

Did I mention that on the great island Internet there are two other, sometimes warring, factions? Many have been slain in the Browser Wars. There are natives who use something called MicroSoft Internet Explorer and others who use Netscape Communicator. Here and there you will find natives using Opera or other browsers, but the majority of them use MSIE or NC. Both are browsers and allow you to travel all over the internet and email your friends (although email systems are another subject).

You can make housekeeping a bit easier by setting your internet options. Open your MSIE browser and choose the drop down menu called "TOOLS" at the top. Then choose "Internet Options". Netscape users have similar options.
There are several tabs there and one that says "General". Here you may choose to Delete files from the Internet stored on your computer manually, change your settings so that you limit the program from storing TOO many files for too long, and even find out where Temporary Internet Files are stored on your computer.

You can go to that storage folder (open My Computer/C Drive, then browse down to the folder where Temporary Internet Files are stored) to find and delete "cookies" if you wish. Cookies will not be deleted any other way automatically. Cookies do not take much space, but they do clutter up the computer. They are used by those on the Internet who wish to know how many times you visit a certain website or page. Having them is helpful if you like some sites to recognize you, but mostly it doesn't matter.
The best way to keep your computer housekeeping up to snuff is while still in "Internet Options" move over to the ADVANCED tab. Somewhere near the bottom, in the section called Security, there should be a line you can enable called, "Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed". Check that option, press OK, and the software will clean up that folder every time you close the browser.

Spring Cleaning: You can also press Start/Search (or Find) and type in *.TMP which will miraculously bring up a list of all the temporary files on your computer. This is the thorough way to remove all Temporary files that are left over from installing software and various other activities. These are files that were not automatically removed. You may safely delete them. You may wish to do this every few months.

If you use Outlook Express for email, occasionally go to FILE/Folder/Compact all Folders which compresses the space needed to store all your email. Most other email programs have the same type of option available. Even if you delete all email, email uses virtual space. Be neat, compact your folders.

Next: Dangerous Creatures


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