Well, I’m a techno-idiot too. But I’ve learned a bit and can still speak enough english to discuss it with my fellow human beings. Maybe the tech-heads can intervene if I’m doing something wrong or giving bad advice?
Unnecessary programs and files: Tons of’ em: You can find out how many programs start up when you press the ‘on’ button by running msconfig. Just go to your ‘start’ button, click on ‘run’, then type in msconfig.
Then go to the ‘startup’ tab. This will list all the programs that start up with Windows. I have XP, and opt to turn everything off. I do it every month or so, just to keep track of what’s going on with my machine.
There’s a really good site that gives you tons of advice on this issue:
You can also hit <alt/control/delete>to find out what’s running on your machine at any one time too. Rummage around on the above site for a complete listing of what everything does and how to turn it off.
It used to be that I showed 20-30 ‘processes’ running at any given time. These days I have around 10, all authenticated as being necessary, and nothing I don’t need.
Next, I deal with the secret stuff - all that nasty data-mining crap - using lavasoft’s “AdAware” program. The first time I ran it I had owned my machine for 3 months and it found 16 nasties that were reporting back to other people about my habits, and slowing my computer down at the same time. That kind of shit gets installed by misc websites and other ‘free’ software that extracts it’s price by making you a target for advertising.
Adaware is free too:
I run this every week or two.
Then there’s viruses. I’ve given up paying for virus protection, and opt to not open suspicious emails. SobigF got past my Norton Antivirus a while back, so I’m not going to pay for it any longer. I’m just careful, and visit Trend every week or so:
housecall.trendmicro.com/ - and click on ‘scan now’
It only works with Internet Explorer these days, and takes a while to load, but it seems to clear everything. Again, I run this every week or two.
Now for the ‘D’ partition. I use mine for all my MP3s and movies. One advantage of doing this is that I can continue to have music playing while the machine is doing something else with the ‘C’ drive. I dunno if moving .exe’s is a good idea because they may be looking for system info you haven’t moved and could crash. Check with those better qualified than me, but I keep ‘D’ for my personal data only.
THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!!
Computers need to defragment regularly. If you create a lot of data, or download stuff like I do, then your drives quickly get full of bits and pieces of files. It spends all its time looking for the fragments.
Defragmenting sorts all the bits into proper files where A follows B, instead of being scattered all over your drive. If your computer is not wasting time looking for stuff then it can concentrate on doing whatever you asked it to.
So defragging is a good idea. I try to do it weekly.
The first time I did it, after a year or so of owning the machine, it took virtually forever. Then someone told me to empty my recycle bin (D’Oh!!, right click on it!) and use the ‘cleanup’ function to get rid of unnecessary crap by right-clicking on the drive icon. It still took a long time afterwards, but things improved.
If you have C and D drives you can make life even easier:
First cut and paste as much data as you can from C to D. Don’t copy. This doesn’t help. MOVE the file. The computer will pick up all the bits and pieces of the files you move, and lay them down in the right order on the other drive. Now you have tons of space on C, and nicely ordered files on D.
Then run defrag - you can find it through your start menu, or you can right-click on the drive you want to defrag. (Click on ‘properties’, then ‘tools’.) Defragging can take time when you first do it, and sometimes it kind of gives up. Even with XP I had to run defrag twice recently to reshuffle some big files.
Defrag won’t run properly if you have less than 15% of any given drive still available. Another good reason for shuffling files around!!
Sometimes I shift files from one drive to another to facilitate defragging, then move them back. Most commonly this will be part-downloaded movies, files of up to a Gigabyte, scattered all over one drive. Tidying them up does wonders for my peace of mind, if nothing else. They start downloading to C, get dumped onto D, come back to C to finish downloading, and finally get transferred to D - or another drive - once finished.
So there you are, virus and spyware free, with all your files tidies up. What next??
I have nothing to say about Outlook, as I don’t use it.
Now to external drives.
I bought a plug-in Hard-drive last year when my old laptop was starting to struggle. It has a USB connection. You just plug it in, and it shows up like all the other drives on your machine.
I copied EVERYTHING I had collected over the years to it, and was able to successfully transfer all my data to the new machine when the old one croaked. These days I regularly copy everything in my ‘my documents’ folder, plus all the music and movies from my ‘D’ drive. This is not a real ‘backup’, but it preserves almost everything I need in an easily accessible form.
There is some ‘system’ information I would hate to lose - such as email, PDA files etc. - which is not preserved by this method, so I also do a proper backup using the facility provided. It dumps everything onto the plug-in drive, but is limited in size to 4Gb. As my music is bigger than that, without even mentioning movies, the backup crashes if I leave those files in ‘My Documents’.
Keeping them on the ‘D’ drive obviates the problem, but I have to remember to periodically copy them from D to the plug-in. No biggie.
The other stuff you mentioned sounded kind of unaddressable, and as I don’t drink coffee or like 'japanese food very much…
I’ll leave it to others more competent than I