Computers are now commonplace and a vital component of both the workplace and the home. What is less usual is the knowledge required in order for the systems to continue to perform at the speed they are capable of. To preserve the performance of a computer, basic computer maintenance needs to be applied. Windows is generally the operating system of choice when it comes to the home PC or laptop and is globally recognised and used. When it comes to using a PC nearly everyone involved will learn what they need to know on the Microsoft Windows operating system. Unfortunately basic steps to ensure that the computer continues to operate as expected are things which aren't taught as commonly as they should be. Simple computer maintenance techniques can be applied so that the PC will continue to run as efficiently as possible. As Windows runs it leaves behind a trail recording every single activity whilst it is switched on. Each application that is loaded, website that is visited and file created will all generate vast amounts of information that is stored on the computer’s hard drive. Log files, temporary files and cookies from the internet are all stored each second your computer is running and performing duties. If these files aren’t regularly cleaned the machine’s performance will gradually deteriorate. It is with sensible computer management that the constant use of Windows doesn’t have to be detrimental to performance. End users don’t have to be technical experts to take basic steps to ensure their computer or laptop continues to run as quickly as it did on the first day of use. Windows provides its own tools to the user that can be used to keep itself clean. Under the ‘Start’ > ‘all programs’ > ‘accessories’ > ‘system tools’ menu is a variety of easy to use applications which can assist the end user with basic computer maintenance. Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter would be the two easiest applications to use, and two of the most effective in home computer maintenance. A wealth of old files that are built up and useless to the average home user can be removed with a simple scan and delete operation using Disk Cleanup. Downloaded program files, temporary internet files, and the recycle bin and general windows temporary files can all be safely removed to free up system resources. The Disk Defragmenter is also another simple but effective computer management tool. When Windows installs new applications and writes new user files to the disk it generally does this in a linear fashion. However, when a PC is used extensively files are relocated over time, applications are uninstalled and new ones are installed. This change on the hard disk means the linear pattern that windows prefers is broken, with large gaps between the files that it is looking for. This is called fragmentation. By running the application it aligns all of the files on the hard disk that are movable to reduce the gaps. This means that when a file is clicked to be opened the loading time is no longer than expected.

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