How to Run General Maintenance Tasks in Windows 7
How to Run General Maintenance Tasks in Windows 7

There are many things you can do in Windows 7 to keep your computer running better

Just like running your car, you need do regular checks and services on your computer to ensure it maintains good working order. We do recommend that you visit your local PC Service company to check over your computer once a year, and to clean the internal workings of your computer. However in the meantime, there are lots of things you can do to help keep your computer running at an optimum.


This tutorial will cover the following areas:
1. Disk Clean Up
2. Disk Defragmenter (Defrag)
3. Windows Updates
4. Backing Up Your Data Files
5. Internet Security

1. Disk Clean Up

Disk Cleanup is a quick and easy tool you can use to remove unnecessary files from your hard drive, and will free up some disk space. It can remove temporary files, empty your Recycle bin, and can remove a variety of temporary files sitting on your Hard Drive that you no longer need.

1.   Press the Windows start button (also known ad the Orb button), type in the search box (just above the windows button), the words "disk cleanup", as shown below, the top of the search results you will see "Disk Cleanup", click on this:



2. A small "Disk Cleanup" window will pop up, click on OK to proceed with a disk cleanup.


3. A small window with a progress bar will pop up, you computer will be looking for temporary files, and calculating the amount disk space that will be cleaned up if you proceed. Be patient, if it has been a while since you last run this process, it may take a while to complete


4. Once the disk space calculation is completed, as in the step above, a "Disk Cleanup for (C:) will appear, showing you what areas of your hard drive can be cleaned up, and how much space will be saved. Ensure you click in the check boxes to tick or un-tick which items you wish to remove, then click on OK to commence the cleanup.


5. Click on ‘OK' if you are sure you want to delete your temporary files:


6. The following box appears on your desktop for the duration of the cleanup, and will close once the cleanup has completed successfully.


This completes the section on "Disk Cleanup"

2. Disk Defragmenter (Defrag)

Over time your hard drive becomes defragmented (bits and pieces of files everywhere on your disk), you can run the Disk Defragmenter to get your hard drive to work more efficiently (files are stored nice and neatly on your drive). If you run the Defrag process regularly this will help to maintain efficiency with your Hard Drive.

Technically speaking, the two main reasons for running a defrag are:  one, it limits the amount of times the drive heads have to move to a difference section of the hard disk to read the data; and two, it places the majority of your data on the outer edge of the disk where your read and write speeds are faster.  However, please be aware if you have a Solid State Drive (SSD), which are becoming mainstream in high end computers, there is no need to run a defrag at all, so please skip this process.  This section covers the steps to complete the disk defrag process.

1. Click on Windows Start Button (also known ad the Orb button), and type into the search box, "disk defrag", then click on "Disk Defragment", which appears at the top


2. The Disk Degragmenter Window will then open, click on Defragment Disk


3. Leave this window open whilst your computer runs through the Defragmentation process, and depending on the size and fragmentation on the disk, this can take hours. Be patient. During the various stages of the Degrag process, you will see the progress as shown under the Progress column. It may seem to halt on a particular % for some time before progressing further, again, you just need to be patient.  See from the screen below, the first step of the degrag is to analyze the disk:


4. After the first stage of analyzing the Hard Drive, the process will go through 10 passes, where the data is reorganized on the drive, you can see from the screen below it is up to Pass 6: and the data is 3% Consolidated.


5. Once all 10 passes have completed, your screen should look like this, you will note under the Progress column, it is blank, just click on close, and this completed the defrag process.


This completes the section on "Disk Defragmentation"

3. Windows Updates

Microsoft regularly makes available updates to Windows, which include bug fixes, security fixes, updates to functionality to Windows and Office. Updates can be done manually, or you can setup Windows to update automatically, where Windows automatically sends the updates to your computer and installs them. It is advisable to keep your Windows updated, either by doing this manually, or setting up Automatic Updates.

Important Note about Computer Restarts: Once an update has been completed, you should be notified on screen if a windows restart is required to complete the installation of the update. You should be given an opportunity to restart immediately or postpone to a later time. If you are away from the computer, Windows will automatically restart your computer, this is done to make sure that the latest security and other important updates are applied in a timely manner, to help keep your computer more secure.

How to Run a Manual Update

If you do not have your computer configured to automatically download and install updates, then you are advised to check for updates manually and download and install on a weekly basis. This can help protect your system from security threats, and provide you with bug fixes to help your computer to run at an optimum .

1. Click the Start Button (also called the Windows "Orb"), in the search box, type "Update" and select "Windows Updates" from the results list above:


2. The Windows Update window will open, and you will see in this screen if there are any updates to install on your computer. You can see in the example below, there is one important update selected. In this example we will install this update. Although there are optional updates available, we will not be reviewing or selecting these for update in this example. Click on ‘Install Updates'


3. Updates will commence, you may notice that Windows will save a ‘Restore Point' prior to installing the updates, should something go wrong, this gives you the possibility of recovering to the point prior to commencing the installation of this update.

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4. You May be Prompted to Accept License terms, as seen below:


5. At the completion of the update, you will be presented with a screen similar to below, simply close the window, and this completes the update process for today


How to Configure Automatic Updates

If you configure your computer to update automatically, then most updates will happen for you automatically, such as most security, reliability, and compatibility updates. Other updates are not installed automatically, and they are optional updates, and updates which require you to accept new terms of use. For this reason you should manually check for updates regularly, perhaps once per month.  Follow these instructions to check you are configured for Automatic Updates:

1. Click the Start Button (also called the Windows "Orb"), in the search box, type "Update" and select "Windows Updates" from the results list above:


2. The Windows Update Window will open, Click on the ‘Down Arrow' to drop down the list of choices, as shown by the red arrow below. Once you have selected "Install updates automatically (recommended), then select OK in the bottom right of this window. You will now receive most updates automatically.


This completes the section on "Windows Updates".

4. Backing Up Your Data Files

Backing up your data is a critical maintenance task in which you should do regularly, so as not to risk losing important data. It is important to note that even new hard drives can fail, and you should never rely on having your data stored in just one place.

Your data can be backed up in many ways, including:
1. A data backup can be done manually in Explorer, by selecting your data on your drive which you need to backup, and then pasting into an external drive, or DVD.
2. The use of a third party Backup software, that enables you to configure a backup schedule to enable you to run a regular backup very easily, without having to select which data to backup, and where to store it - all this information is stored in the backup software. Most backup software allows you to setup an automatic schedule, this makes your task even easier.
3. Using Windows own backup software. We have a complete tutorial on how to do a Windows Backup, and you can easily review this by selecting this link (or by copying and pasting this link into the address bar of your browser):

As a part of your backup procedure, you should also verify that your backup is complete. This can be done by selecting the source drive where you have stored your backup, and checking all the files you have backed up are there. You can do things like right clicking on one of your folders you are backing up, and noting the size and number of files, then do the same process on the folder you have copied your files to on your backup drive and check they match. Here is an example of what the screen looks like:


This completes the section on "Backing Up your Data Files".

5. Internet Security

Everyone knows that nowadays you cannot get to far on the internet without security software to help stop virus's, hackers, malware and all sorts of nasty's. You need to make sure your security software is installed and running, each time you turn on the computer. The most important things you need to do regularly are:

1. Check that you have Internet Security software installed and is running
2. Check your registration is current and your updates are up to date
3. You need to run anti-virus and anti-spyware scans regularly, as often as once a week if you are a heavy user of the internet, less often if you use the internet infrequently

Given that there are many, many different security software packages out there, it is impossible to cover step by step instructions for each brand of software. So in this example we will be using Trend Micro Internet Security Pro 2010, and note that other packages work in a similar way. In this example we are using Windows 7.

How to check your Internet Security Software is Running:

1. On the right hand side of the task bar, you will note a small upward pointing white trangle, click on this, and up will pop up all the programs which are running in the background on your computer, if your security software is running you should see the icon here. In our case the icon for Trend Micro is a red circle, with a white curling swirl, if your security icon appears here, this means your security is running. Next, double click on your security icon, to double check the settings.


2. Trend Micro Control Panel opens, this gives you a quick visual check everything is in order. You can see from the large green tick, that all is well. You can see the subscription status is in order. Also from this screen you can see the date of the last update, although this is automatic, you can select ‘Update Now' if you wish to check for more updates. Also you can run a scan from this screen by clicking on ‘Scan Now'. You can look at other elements of this screen, such as Virus and Spyware controls, Personal Firewall, and Internet and Email Controls.


Note that if you do not have Trend Micro, your software will look different, but will have all of the same elements, as shown here, you just need to go looking until you find what you need.

This concludes our tutorial on ‘How to check your Internet Security Software is Running"

In this tutorial we have presented to you some of the more important maintenance areas that you need to attend to regularly on your computer. There are many other things you can do to maintain your computer in good working order, however, we have decided to keep our tutorial to the most important and useful tips.

This concludes our tutorial on 'How to Run General Maintenance Tasks in Windows 7".


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