Friday, April 20, 2012

Time to Defrag

Search for defrag
The disk defragmenter helps your computer (Mac or Windows) run more efficiently.  After you have removed unused files and old programs, your file system is disorganized and fragmented. Basically the files are a mess in the file cabinet and are not using the space efficiently, slowing the system down as it tries harder to access the files you need. This is the time to optimize your file system, making it run quicker and access files and this is what this program does. 

First things first. 
  • Find a time that you aren't using the computer.
  • Don't do a defrag when there is a chance of a power outage (during a storm for example) unless you have a UPS backup power source. 
  • Close down as many programs as possible including things running on the right side of the taskbar, such as programs for your printer, or Dropbox, for example.
Windows 7 Disk Defrag
  1. Click the "Start Menu" button and type defrag into your run/search. If that doesn't work,
    1. Click on the "Start Menu"
    2. Select "All Programs"
    3. Select the folder called "Accessories"
    4. Select the folder called "System Tools"
    5. Select "Disk Defragmenter"
  2. In Windows 7, you can schedule your computer to run a defrag regularly or do it manually. You can also see if your computer is fragmented. (See the example). In Windows Vista, the screen looks a little different but has similar options.  In Windows XP, the screen looks different again, but has a button for defrag. See the screen shot below.

    Vista Disk Defrag
XP Disk Defrag

 Mac also has a disk defrag. As I am not as familiar with the Mac,  you can read more about how to defrag your computer at this website.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fixin' and Organizing Your Photographs

Euharlee Covered Bridge © Rebecca McAllister
I have a lot of people come to me for advise... pretty regularly. Over the last couple of days, it has been about Photography. Not that I am a professional photographer, but I do enjoy the hobby and I work with computers, so it must be the reason.  If you are getting a sense of déjà vu, I did briefly discuss online photo editing options in the past.

First, someone wanted to resize a picture for a contest. Maybe make some minor modifications and wanted to know what the best option might be to accomplish this job. Obviously there is lot of software available but boom! a lack of time to install, learn and configure, so the next option. Let's look to the 'cloud', another name for online software or online servers, to manipulate the picture quickly, by just uploading!  For the quick fix, I directed her to Pixlr, a simple and easy to use online photo editing too. Want to do some cool photo effects? Got to Pixlr's O-matic website.

Then, I was asked how to organize a large assortment of pictures. Another free option is Picasa, by Google.  This is software that you download to your computer, not to be confused with the online storage called the same thing.  They all have to do with photography, I guess.  Picasa also lets you edit and upload your pictures, so it has multiple features that will help you keep your digital photos organized and easier to sort and enjoy.

One final note to add is that you need to back up your photos as hard drives are not permanent and could one day could be the next piece of scrap metal in your home.  Don't take risks with your photographic history. Back up your images to CD/DVD (which the shelf life is unknown and does have a risk of damage) store them online to Dropbox or other online storage such as Picasa or Flickr. After all, a remote server will preserve your photos even if your computer is stolen, the house catches fire or the disks disintegrate into dust. ☺

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Purging Old Programs

Yesterday, we removed temporary files. Today, it will be old programs.

So, you haven't used that software you downloaded last year because you have something else that works better. There really isn't a reason to keep it on your computer, right? It is just cluttering your hard drive.  This guide is related to the Windows 7 and Vista operating system, but it works similarly with Vista. In Windows XP it was called "Add and Remove Programs" which, alphabetically put it farther up on the Control Panel screen.
1. Control Panel
  1. Go to your "Start Menu" and select the Control Panel on the right side.
  2.  Select "Programs".
  3. Click on "Uninstall a Program" This will let you view the programs on your computer. 
  4. Be selective about the programs you remove as some may change the functionality of your computer, such as Java or Windows updates. That doesn't mean you shouldn't remove any programs. Remember that game you downloaded and hated? Time to remove it from the computer!
  5.  Select the file you want to remove and click on the "Uninstall/Change" at the top.
  6. Follow the instructions such as if you are prompted to confirm the removal of the program, click Yes.

2. Programs
5. Uninstall/Change

Monday, April 16, 2012

Time to Purge and Clean Your Computer

Click to Enlarge

Even with the ever larger hard drives, it is suggested that you purge your computer of unneeded files such as temporary files, recycle bin files, and temporary internet files.

  • Click [Windows] + [R] to open the Run dialog box.
  • Type "Cleanmgr.exe." or "Disk Cleanup" 
  • If it pops up as shown in the picture, select "Disk Cleanup"
  • Select the drive you wish to clean, usually C:
  • Wait for the application to run its check on files.
  • Select files you wish to clear and actions you wish to take. None of these files will damage the system if removed. But there may be webpages you purposely downloaded or game statistics that you wish to keep.
  • Click OK to confirm and let the cleaning begin.
One of many small things that will help it run faster and more efficiently. ☺