Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tip #2: Defragging, When and Why

Defragging, What is it?

To better answer this question, lets introduce you to why you need to defrag.

Your data is stored on a device called a hard drive. Hard drives work by storing data in magnetic poles, but this data is stored on platters, in the shape of disks. The data is stored in a line, going in a circle. Whenever you modify space on the hard drive, there is a possibility that the data that is normally stored in a line will get fragmented, and scattered. This causes the hard drive to have to skip to the different fragmented parts of the program.

As a result of this, defragmentation tools were created. These programs find programs, data, documents and the such, and see if they are 'contiguous' (continuous, or in this case, in a line). If not, the tool makes them in a line, and this decreases the loading time of your various data.

When should I defrag my computer?

Keep in mind, that the hard drive is the slowest part of the computer. So, defragging used to be important. Now a days, you can read a hard drive so fast, that defragmentation doesn't really matter.

So, is there a reason to defragment a hard drive, given that it can be read fast enough that is doesn't matter? Yes. You see, a larger hard drive with a lot of data will take some time to read even for the fastest of computers.

How large is my hard drive?

You can figure out how large your hard drive is in a few steps.

1. Click on the start menu in the bottom left corner (unless you have in another place on the screen)
2. Click on the "My Computer" or "Computer" option. (Unless you have My Computer on your desktop, if so, double click that)
3. Your main hard drive should be labeled C:, in XP, right click on it and choose properties. In Vista and 7, there should be a bar graph under the C: label.
4. In XP, there will be a bar graph at the bottom of the box that just popped up. The size of your hard drive is right above that.

Chances are you have a small hard drive, 80 gigabytes or so, in which case defragmenting your hard drive is neccessary, maybe do it once every month or so. If you have something 160 gigabytes to 250 gigabytes, I would defragment it once every two or so weeks, or if you do some heavy installing or modifying your files, defragment it after you're done. Anything larger than 250 gigabytes, I would defragment it once a week.

Another factor would be how much of your hard drive is full. The more your hard drive has, the more is has to go through. As a rule of thumb, take the percentage remaining and multiply it by the number of days suggested (50% full, 500 GB hard drive, defrag every 3.5 days).

What should I use?

I don't recommend the Micro$oft defragmenter. I recommend one of two:

Auslogic's Disk Defragone of the better disk defrags out. Takes a while, but it does it thoroughly, and even tells you how much better it estimates!

Smart Defrag, if you leave your computer on, but don't use it much, you might like this program. It runs in the background until it sees that you haven't touched the computer in a while. Then, after it detects that is hasn't been used in a while, it begins to defrag your computer.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tip #1, Beginner Tip and some programs.

Beginner Tip:

Let's start off with something simple. You see those programs in the bottom right? You know why your computer starts so slow? All of those programs in the bottom right load when you first start your computer up. Yes, there is a way to stop them.

1. Press the start button. On XP, it has the microsoft flag, and the word start in the little rectangle in the bottom left corner. In Vista and 7, it is just a flag in a little bubble in the same location.
2. On XP, click on Run. On Vista and 7, it is the little search box right above the start button.
3. Type in msconfig. On all windows operating systems.
4. Press enter on XP, click on the item that says msconfig above where you just typed in msconfig on Vista and 7.
5. Click on the tab that says Startup.
6. Click on 'Disable All'. Click Apply, then Ok.
PS: It will ask if you want to restart, you can if you would like. When it restarts, the box that pops up asks you if everything is satisfactory, just click the little box that says 'Don't show me this message again', and click OK.

Now, if there is something that you would like to start up when you first turn on your computer, you have to find it and click the checkmark on the left. Everything is named funny, so you have to know what you are looking for. If you have any questions about any particular program, go to Google, and type in the name. Tons of websites categorize programs and document what each one does.

Programs you might consider installing:

Two programs today, which you might consider downloading:

1. CCleaner. Many of you may already have this, but this is a great program for those who don't. This program is better than the Micro$oft disk cleanup program, in that it actually works. It doesn't compress the same files that the M$ disk cleanup program will, but it cleans your stuff thouroughly. Also, you can clean up your registry for those that actually think it is necessary (its not...)

2. The same company also created Recuva. Lets say you screwed up and accidentally deleted something precious/necessary. Recuva scans your hard drive for things that have been deleted (even if they have been removed from the recycling bin), and will give you the option to recover them. Now, this isn't always successful if you overwrite the data, like by installing this program after you have deleted said file. So, before you do something stupid, install Recuva.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Where am I, and what is this?

My blog, duh?

Basically, I will try to post a tip, everyday, on how to improve your computers performance. While also replying to questions left in the comments section. Mostly I will be revealing secrets computer repair shops try to keep hidden from you, in a simple, easy to read and understand format.

Well, how can I trust you? 

Good question, and you should be cynical, especially on the Internet. I will put it like this, I have no reason to harm you. It's not beneficial to me, also, any programs I post will be coming from reputable sources, such as, and not some known malicious site.

Who are you? Just some 12 year old kid who thinks he knows what he is doing?

No, I am not a 12 year old kid who only knows how to ping Google, but I am not someone who has several masters degrees ranging from Computer Science to Underwater Automated Basket Weaving. Don't take advice from me like you would a doctor, take advice from me like you would a friend that you have known for a while, and trust in his abilities.

Now, my experience:

I have been working with computers since I was about 4. I made my Dad mad (who is also a computer fanatic) with the things I did, that he didn't know how to fix. I have taken several computer classes. I have gone to a SkillsUSA regional, and state competition, placing 4th at state (out of 20), and 1st at regionals. The competition was about fixing and having general knowledge of computers (and by general, I mean RIMM memory for those who know what that is). I also am currently working at a local small computer repair shop, going on 9 months now. - shorten links and earn money!