Want to make your computer run faster and smoother? Then take advantage of three tools available in Windows XP that can help your hard drive operate better and optimise your PC’s overall performance.

Free Up Disk Space
By freeing disk space, you can improve the performance of your computer. The Disk Cleanup tool helps you free up space on your hard disk. The utility identifies files that you can safely delete, and then enables you to choose whether you want to delete some or all of the identified files.

Use Disk Cleanup to:

Remove temporary Internet files
Remove downloaded program files (such as Microsoft ActiveX controls and Java applets)
Empty the Recycle Bin
Remove Windows temporary files
Remove optional Windows components that you don’t use
Remove installed programs that you no longer use

Tip : Temporary Internet files typically take the most amount of space because the browser caches each page you visit for faster access later.

To use Disk Cleanup:

1.Click Start , point to All Programs , point to Accessories , point to System Tools , and then click Disk Cleanup . If several drives are available, you might be prompted to specify which drive you want to clean.
2.In the Disk Cleanup for dialog box, scroll through the content of the Files to delete list.
3.Clear the check boxes for files that you don’t want to delete, and then click OK .
4.When prompted to confirm that you want to delete the specified files, click Yes .

After a few minutes, the process completes and the Disk Cleanup dialog box closes, leaving your computer cleaner and performing better.

Speed Up Access to Data
Disk fragmentation slows the overall performance of your system. When files are fragmented, the computer must search the hard disk when the file is opened to piece it back together. The response time can be significantly longer.

Disk Defragmenter is a Windows utility that consolidates fragmented files and folders on your computer’s hard disk so that each occupies a single space on the disk. With your files stored neatly end-to-end, without fragmentation, reading and writing to the disk speeds up.

In addition to running Disk Defragmenter at regular intervals—monthly is best—you should run Disk Defragmenter when:

You add a large number of files
Your free disk space nears 15 percent
You install new programs or a new version of Windows

Tip : You should analyse a volume before defragmenting it to get an estimate of how long the defragmentation process will take.

To use Disk Defragmenter:

1.Click Start , point to All Programs , point to Accessories , point to System Tools , and then click Disk Defragmenter .
2.In the Disk Defragmenter dialog box, click the drives that you want to defragment, and then click the Analyse button. After the disk is analysed, a dialog box appears, letting you know whether you should defragment the analysed drives.
3.To defragment the selected drive or drives, click the Defragment button. After the defragmentation is complete, Disk Defragmenter displays the results.
4.To display detailed information about the defragmented disk or partition, click View Report .
5.To close the View Report dialog box, click Close .
6.To close the Disk Defragmenter utility, click the Close button on the title bar of the window.

Detect and Repair Disk Errors
In addition to running Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter to optimise the performance of your computer, you can check the integrity of the files stored on your hard disk by running the Error Checking utility.

As you use your hard drive, it can develop bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing (such as file saving) difficult, or even impossible. The Error Checking utility scans the hard drive for bad sectors, and scans for file system errors to see whether certain files or folders are misplaced.

If you use your computer daily, you should try to run this utility weekly to help prevent data loss.

To run the Error Checking utility:

( Important: Be sure to close all files before running the utility.)

1.Click Start , and then click My Computer .
2.In the My Computer window, right-click the hard disk you want to search for bad sectors, and then click Properties .
3.In the Properties dialog box, click the Tools tab.
4.Click the Check Now button.
5.In the Check Disk dialog box, select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box, and then click Start . In most circumstances, select Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.
6.If bad sectors are found, choose to fix them.

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