Clear Hard Drive Space
Hard drive space on your computer does more than allow you to store data. It acts as virtual memory when necessary. When your computer runs out of RAM, or random access memory, to perform its tasks, it allocates some of your hard drive space as RAM. Keep at least 4 GB of hard drive space available for this purpose; deleting old files from your Recycle Bin and files from Temporary Internet Files weekly ensures plenty of storage capacity on your hard drive. Also, remove old software you don't use anymore. In Windows XP and Vista, the Control Panel offers this option; in Vista, click "Programs and Features" for your list of installed programs.
Defragment and Disk Check
The hard drive of a computer organizes your data in blocks of a set amount of memory. The data physically occupies consecutive spots on the hard disk drive itself. When you add or delete files, they can become disorganized, similar to the pages of a book being out of order. Fragmented files, or files whose data packets are out of order, take longer for your computer to access. To defragment your hard drive, click on "My Computer," then right-click the hard drive you want to defragment--usually drive C. Choose "Properties." Click the "Tools" tab, then choose "Disk Defragmentation." At least 15 percent of your hard drive space should be free. Disk Check runs in the same manner, and your computer has the ability to schedule these tasks. After defragmentation, you should notice a boost in hard drive performance.
Because virtually all computer users have Internet access, you can't neglect online security. Purchase virus protection, spyware-blocking programs and adware blocking programs. Some companies offer trial versions of these programs for free download, with the basic features available to you. Be careful of your Internet browsing habits; some sites contain trojans. TechFaq explains that a trojan virus is a seemingly harmless file or program that, when downloaded, creates copies of itself and sometimes sends sensitive information from your computer to a remote Internet server. Never open emails from people you don't know or trust. Install a pop-up blocker in your Internet browser to warn you of potentially harmful websites.
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