Hard Drive Data Removal Ways to Cleanups Hard Drives

By: Steven Presar

“Renew Your Hard Drive: Here are the Simple and Easy Ways to
Cleanup your Hard Drive"

By Steven Presar

You know that a regularly scheduled simple maintenance may
help keep your computer in shape. There are plenty of
third-party programs to help you keep your computer in peak
form.

However, Microsoft Windows provides you with a solid toolbox
of built-in programs to help you keep your computer in
shape. Check out the Windows START menu, through the
PROGRAMS area, then ACCESSORIES, will reveal a group of
computer hard-drive helpers called SYSTEM TOOLS.

Backing Your Computer Files

One of the System Tools is the Backup program. Backup may
not be part of your default Windows installations. If is not
installed on your computer system, it may be found and
installed from your Windows system CD-ROM.

Although it will not recover personal files like email or
spreadsheets, the Microsoft Windows SYSTEM RESTORE tool may
restore files for individuals who have accidentally delete
vital system files or tinker so much that their computers
fail to operate properly. Windows Restore creates a series
of backup points at regular intervals that the user can roll
back to in an emergency.

Backing up your computer's data on a regular bases,
including bookmarks, e-mail folders and personal documents,
is an important task if you want peace of mind about your
computer system.

Once you start the Backup program, click on the files you
want to copy -- or pick one of the other options Windows
offers, including backing up all of your files -- and then
choose where you want to save the files. If you lose a file,
you can also restore it from the Backup program.

Your computer system can be backed up by a variety of other
devices: this may be an external tape, CDs, anther hard
drive or removable-cartridge drives like the Iomega
Peerless. Regardless of what method you use, making a backup
of your files that matter the most can save you aggravation
or despair in the event that something happens to your
computer.

Cleaning Your Computer Hard Drive

Once you have backed up your important system files, you
should delete the files that you no longer use.

Windows users can remove old unused software with the
Add/Remove Programs function (from the START menu, then
SETTINGS, then CONTROL PANEL). Or you may use commercial
software to safely remove old software.

Commercial utility software will not only uninstall old
programs but can also clean up unintentional clutter around
your hard drive. Temporary files, bits of previously viewed
Web pages, disconnected shortcuts, browser-history files and
other digital detritus hog space that you can safely
reclaim.

The Windows DISK CLEANUP tool in the System Tools menu does
a good job deleting unneeded files, but commercial utility
software like LIUtilities’ WinBackup, Norton CleanSweep or
McAfee QuickClean may do a more thorough job.

Checking Your Computer System

If you have ever suffered a crash while working in Windows,
you are probably acquainted with ScanDisk.

The ScanDisk
utility is run after an “unscheduled" computer system
interruption. It checks the hard drive for file system
errors, cross-linked files and other problems. ScanDisk can
do a lot more to your hard drive. It can seek out and find
bad spots on the drive where data cannot safely be stored,
and then prevent Windows from using the damaged space and
possibly losing data.

ScanDisk is standard with all recent Microsoft Windows
operating systems. ScanDisk may appear automatically in
times of your computers failure. It may also be launched
from your System Tools menu (unless you use Windows XP).
ScanDisk offers two testing options: Standard and Thorough.
The Standard test checks for file and folder errors, and
checks the hard drive's surface as well. If you choose the
check the Automatically Fix Errors option, you may want to
find something else to do while ScanDisk does its job. It
takes a while to run fix options.

If you have Windows XP, you may check your hard drive by
going to MY COMPUTER, clicking on the drive in question and
then going to the FILE menu and selecting PROPERTIES. Under
the TOOLS tab is the error-checking utility.

Many commercial utility software packages provide a variety
of disk-checking and repair tools. LIUtilities’ SpeedUpMyPC
and Norton SystemWorks suite by Symantec are two of the more
popular utility packages.

Buffing Your Computer System

Once the computer has been checked out and cleaned up, a
good defragmentation session can tune it up further.
Operating systems tend to fragment and scatter files around
the hard drive as they are used, causing slower performance
over time because the system has to look all over the drive
for those file parts. Defragmenting the drive puts
everything back together.

Windows has a built-in Disk Defragmenter program on the
SYSTEM TOOLS menu, and many of the non-Microsoft utility
programs mentioned above also provide a defragmenter option.
If you find that your computer keeps starting the process
over and over, try booting your computer in “Safe Mode" to
turn off all programs before trying to run the Defragmenter
again.

Microsoft’s Safe Mode is a Windows diagnostics mode. When
you start the computer in Safe mode, only the specific
components that are needed to run your computer’s operating
system are loaded. Safe mode does not load software
applications automatically and does not allow some
functions, such as connecting to the Internet.
Under Safe Mode, you are running your computer’s Windows
operating system at its most basic level.

To activate Microsoft’s Safe Mode, power-up your computer.
Watch for a blank black screen. When you see "Starting
Windows," immediately press the F8 key. Windows then proceeds to start in Safe Mode.

If you are running under Windows XP, Click START, and then click RUN. A RUN dialog box appears. Type “msconfig" (do not type the “) and then click OK. The System Configuration Utility appears. Select the BOOT.INI tab then check the "/SAFEBOOT" option, and then click OK.

The time needed to perform all of these system checks and
cleanup procedures will vary, depending on the size of your
hard drive and the amount of data stored on it. Each task
could take just 10 minutes or so, but it is not unheard of
for it to take several hours to complete all of them. If you
would rather be sleeping or playing softball, you can
automate many of the cleaning chores with the Maintenance
Wizard or, in some later versions of Windows, the Scheduled
Tasks function. Both are found in the System Tools area.

Here are three most important steps that you must do to
protect your valuable computer files:

~ Regularly Backup Key Files:
Save valuable computer data on a separate drive, CD, or
disk, such as a Zip(R) disk. After files are backed up,
remove the disks from the computer and keep them in a safe
place removed from your computer.

~ Install and Update Anti-Virus Software:
Make sure any anti-virus program runs from the start menu
and updates the program on a regular basis.

~ Carefully Review all email Attachments:
Don't open e-mail attachments unless you know the source.
Also, to minimize the potential impact of an email
attachment to your hard drive, transfer attachments to a CD
or Zip(R) disk before opening.

Taking care of your computer with a little regular
maintenance may just pay you dividends down the road.

Copyright Steven Presar

Steven Presar is a recognized small business technology
coach, Internet publisher, author, speaker, and trainer. He
provides personal, home, and computer security solutions at
www.ProtectionConnect.com. He provides business software
reviews at www.OnlineSoftwareGuide.com. In additionFree Articles, he
publishes articles for starting and running a small business
at www.Agora-Business-Center.com. Be sure to sign-up for
the SOHO newsletter at this site.

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