Windows Guide - PC Maintenance & Increasing Disk Space

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Windows Guide - PC Maintenance & Increasing Disk Space

Postby Solloby » Fri May 09, 2014 8:52 pm

Windows Guide
PC Maintenance & Increasing Disk Space


General
  • This guide is designed for Windows 7, but most can also be used for other versions of Windows. The tools and options may be located in other locations however.
  • The content of this guide is provided as helpful tips, and are suggestions only. You are entirely responsible for what you do to your computer, and any consequences of performing anything mentioned in this guide you do so at your own risk. If you are unsure about what you are doing, look it up online first for clarification or simply don't do it.


Contents
  • Backup & System Images
  • Uninstalling Unused Programs
  • Disk Cleanup & Shadow Copies
  • Disk Defragmenting
  • Malware Scanning
  • Malware Protection Tips


Backup & System Images
Windows has a backup & restore feature that, depending on your version of Windows, also creates system images. It's a good idea to set your computer to backup regularly. You can backup to a second hard drive if you have one installed, to an external hard drive or a disk if you have one large enough.

You can access the Backup and Restore program by clicking your Start button and typing "backup" into the search bar. This will bring up the program, where you can adjust the options and create backups. Backups copy your files only, while System Image creates a copy of your whole system for you to restore to if something goes wrong with your computer and you need to roll back. If you create a system image and it is much larger than the hard drive you are backing up, read below for some tips on how to reduce this in size.


Uninstalling Unused Programs
A great way to free up disk space is to uninstall programs you no longer use or need. To find a list of programs on your computer, go to Start and select Control Panel. Select Uninstall a Program to access the Add/Remove Programs listing. Scroll through the list to find software you no longer want, such as games that you no longer play. You can uninstall these programs from here.

After you have completed this, close the Add/Remove Programs and open My Computer. Navigate to the Windows folders in your C:\ drive (if you are on 64 bit Windows you will have two of them) and look through the folders to make sure there are no leftover folders from the games (you can delete them if they are empty; if they have contents it may be saved game files you might want to keep, it's up to you).

You may also find some programs that you installed that do not appear in the Add/Remove Programs list. Open the folder and try to find an uninstaller. If you don't see one, try to find the application on your start menu and right clicking it to uninstall it there. If that is not an option or the program doesn't show, it is usually safe to simply delete the folder containing the program.

If you are an advanced computer user, you might like to use software such as CCleaner to clean up your registry after uninstalling your programs, but this is not a required step and if you are not familiar with the registry it may be best if you leave it alone.


Disk Cleanup & Shadow Copies
Disk Cleanup can free up huge amounts of hard drive space. To access disk cleanup, navigate to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools. Once you open it, it will ask which drive you want to clean up. Select your main hard drive (usually C:\). The program will scan your drive's contents to see what's there, then present you with a list of options. Look through them to find large items and check them to select them for deletion. If you are unsure if it is safe to delete them or not, run a Google search to find out. You will notice some of the options can be really large - error and debug files, and service pack backup files in particular.

Disk cleanup can also delete shadow copies. In Disk cleanup, go to the More Options tab and select the Clean up... button under System Restore and Shadow Copies. If you choose to delete these, creating a new System Image using the Backup and Restore tool (after deleting the old one) should result in a much smaller file.


Disk Defragmentation
Disk Defragmenting is a safe process that makes sure all of your stuff is stored neatly with all of their portions together so it's easy for your hard drive to access them. You can set up your disk defragmenter to run on a weekly basis, or run it whenever you please. You should not run it if you hard drive has less than 15% free space left however, as that is not enough room for the tool to work with and it may end up using up more hard disk space rather than less. You can access the Disk Defragmenter through Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools. The Disk Defragmenter will show you how fragmented your hard drives are, allow you to defragment them, and allow you to set up a schedule if you wish to do it regularly.

WARNING - Never defragment a Solid State Drive (SSD). Only perform defragments on regular Hard Disk Drives (HDD). SSDs work very differently to HDDs and defragmenting will wear out an SSD quicker while providing no benefits at all. Only HDDs benefit from being defragmented.


Malware Scanning

What is Malware?
Malware, or computer virus, is software that installs on your computer, usually without your knowledge or permission, for the purpose of causing destruction or other negative actions.

Some malware terms you might have heard:
  • Adware - a type of malware that focuses on feeding you unwanted advertising
  • Spyware - a subtle type of malware that steals information from your computer, often personal and financial records
  • Anti antivirus virus - a virus designed to disabling antivirus software
  • Trojan horse - a virus that is hidden within seemingly harmless code such as an application you download and install
  • Keylogger - a virus that records your keystrokes, often for the purpose of stealing your usernames and passwords

How do I check for Malware?
There are two easy ways to check for malware. You can run a virus/malware scanner, and you can check what processes your computer is running to see if anything unexpected is there.

An easy and free antivirus to install is Microsoft Security Essentials. You can get this from the official Microsoft website. Keep it up to date, and run scans regularly. It is important to note that you should never run more than one antivirus at the same time. You can have more than one installed, and run one after the other to see if the second one picks up anything the first has missed, but you must never run them at the same time.

If you are still concerned about malware after running your antivirus software, you can check your Windows Processes by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del and selecting Start Task Manager. Look through the names of all the processes. The ones that will be of most interest to you have your login name on them, not SYSTEM or LOCAL (but you can check them as well if you like). You will notice quite a number of svchost.exe processes running; this is normal. Go through the processes and read their descriptions. If you don't understand what the process is based on that description or simply want to double check, type the process's name into Google. You should find plenty of information about what the process is and if it is dangerous or not. If you do find a problematic process that indicates you have a virus, you can search for the process and virus name to find information on how to remove it.


Malware Protection Tips

Novice Tips:
These tips are simple and easy for everyone to following.
  • Never open an email from a person you don't know, especially if it has an attachment.
  • Be wary of emails sent to you that are claimed to be from a company. Unless you explicitly signed up to receive emails from them, it is likely they are fraudulent.
  • If someone calls your phone and tells you something about your computer being broken or infected with a virus, hang up immediately. They are trying to gain remote access to your computer.
  • Be careful of clicking hyperlinks, especially those in emails. A link may say it is taking you to one place, but if you hover over it, in the bottom left corner of your screen it should tell you exactly where it is going. If you want to go somewhere such as your bank's website or to sign into a website account of some sort, type in the name of the site directly or use your bookmarks - don't click links in emails.
  • Try to avoid visiting suspious websites.


Advanced Tips:
These tips require a little more time and effort to implement.
  • Use a secure web browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Internet Explorer has a number of security issues, and it's also a lower quality web browser in terms of rendering. Each version has numerous flaws and differences making it to keep websites compatible with the different versions. As someone who works in IT, I can tell you definitively that IE is a heavily underperforming web browser that you are better off without.
  • Install a Javascript addon for your web browser such as NoScript. Use it to disable Javascript globally, and only allow scripts from sites that you trust. This does mean that the first time you visit sites you haven't been to before that they may not work until you enable the scripts, but once you allow the scripts on all of the sites you visit frequently, you will find it much lower maintenance. This is the biggest tip when it comes to preventing malware installation - Javascript is a common method of websites downloading and installion malicious code onto your computer.


That concludes this little Windows 7 guide. I hope you were able to reclaim some disk space!
Last edited by Solloby on Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Windows Guide - PC Maintenance & Increasing Disk Space

Postby Solloby » Fri May 09, 2014 8:53 pm

I'm not sure where the best place to post this is, but figure this forum is a technical one so it might be appropriate here. But if you can think of a better place for it to go, please do suggest and I'll see that it's moved c:

I don't need more than this so feel free to post here if you like.
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Re: Windows Guide - PC Maintenance & Increasing Disk Space

Postby *JACKAL* » Sat May 10, 2014 2:12 am

I'd have posted this here.
Good guide though, think this will help a lot of people. Might use this for my work computer. Sticky it maybe?












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Re: Windows Guide - PC Maintenance & Increasing Disk Space

Postby Solloby » Fri May 23, 2014 9:24 pm

Thanks for the PM last week Jackal. I'm glad you like the guide <3
And yay, someone stickied it for me!
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Re: Windows Guide - PC Maintenance & Increasing Disk Space

Postby *JACKAL* » Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:49 am

Yep! I sent the help ticket through, like you said. It's just a useful thread that doesn't need to be lost.












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Re: Windows Guide - PC Maintenance & Increasing Disk Space

Postby Peppercorn » Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:16 pm

Thank you!
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Re: Windows Guide - PC Maintenance & Increasing Disk Space

Postby EnigmaticDream » Thu Dec 25, 2014 4:52 am

whenever i start up my mom's computer it says: "checking disks" what does that mean?
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Re: Windows Guide - PC Maintenance & Increasing Disk Space

Postby Daffana » Wed Dec 31, 2014 5:42 am

Moon-Lit-Shadow wrote:whenever i start up my mom's computer it says: "checking disks" what does that mean?

http://www.thewindowsclub.com/check-dis ... up-windows
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Re: Windows Guide - PC Maintenance & Increasing Disk Space

Postby ramonchek » Wed Jan 25, 2017 1:27 am

My list of tools
For defragmentation - O&O defrag
Cleaning - CCleaner
Adware (malware) removal - adware cleaner
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Re: Windows Guide - PC Maintenance & Increasing Disk Space

Postby Byter » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:50 pm

You forgot to add "Worm" to the Malware section.
If you don't know what is that, worm is a virus that passes into other computers.
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