NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, March 2012
Degunking Windows 7
By George Harding,
Treasurer, Tucson Computer Society, AZ
October 2011 issue, eJournal

georgehardingsbd (at) earthlink.net (click to email author)

The book is written by Joli Ballew, an author (36 books!), trainer and web site manager . She has written for the McGraw-Hill How to Do Everything series. The book has 273 pages, including an extensive Index of 19 pages. The theme of the book is how to easily clean up your PC and speed it up. The process does not involve any special tools. All you need is already contained in Windows 7. If you are running XP, Vista or 2000, many of the tools you need are available in those programs as well. A few are only in Windows 7 .

The author has developed a 12-step process for degunking your computer. Here it is:
1 . Get rid of files and programs you donít need.
2 . Organize the remaining files and folders.
3 . Clean up your desktop, Start menu and Task Bar.
4 . Optimize your hard drive and limit the programs that run in the background.
5 . Clean up and secure Internet Explorer and consider alternate web browsers.
6 . Reduce e-mail spam, back up e-mail and organize e-mail.
7 . Install Windows updates and reconfigure anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-adware programs.
8 . Clean up your network and create a homegroup.
9 . Fix problems with media, including duplicate files, files that wonít play and files that are taking up hard drive space unnecessarily.
10 . Optimize syncing with cell phones, music players, iPads, iPhones, netbooks and laptops.
11 . Get rid of errors for hardware, the operating system and third-party programs.
12 . Create a working, reliable and fool-proof backup system.

She realizes that not everyone can afford the time or is interested in doing every one of the steps. To address that she has developed 10-minute, 30-minute, one-hour and half-day programs. These capture the most significant actions that will give the most benefit for the time allotted.

The first step is probably the most difficult and time-consuming, because you pretty much have to look at a lot of the document, pictures and media files to determine what can be trashed and what must be saved. If you click on the Change My View button (in Documents or any folder) and select Details, simply click on the Date header to sort by date and see the oldest files. These may be the most likely ones to delete.

If you press the Delete key or right-click and select Delete, the file will be moved from its current location to the Recycle Bin. This is just a different location on your hard drive, which you can empty from time to time. To permanently delete a file, hold down Shift while you delete.

Getting rid of unused and unwanted programs can be easily done through Control Panel/Programs. Here, you can uninstall those programs you no longer need and those you didnít know you had. While youíre there, note on the left side of the frame the option to turn off Windows components. Here, you can turn off or on various Windows components.

One last thing to do to clean things up is to run Disk Cleanup. In the Start menu Search window, type ďcleanupĒ and click on Free up Disk Space.

When the analysis is done, you see a list of types of files and the amount of space that would be freed up by deletion. Check or uncheck as appropriate and click OK .

You can organize your files by creating folders inside the major system categories. For example, to organize your client letters, create folders in the My Documents folder for each client and save files in each for your clients. Likewise, for pictures, classify your photos by creating a folder for each trip or subject. Youíll be able to find the pics you need much more easily this way.

Lastly, defragment your hard drive to reorder and reconnect the files youíve moved and deleted. Right click your drive in Windows Explorer, choose Properties, then Tools . Click Analyze to see if defragmenting would be advantageous. You can also adjust the scheduled defragmentation thatís currently set up .

You should clean up your Desktop by deleting any icons and shortcuts you donít use. You can put a shortcut on the Desktop for Computer or Network by browsing to that folder and right-clicking. Choose Send To/Desktop to create a shortcut.

You can customize your Start menu by right-clicking the Start icon and choosing Properties, then click on Customize. I like the Recent Items choice because it avoids having to first launch an application, then open the document I want to continue with. You can also pin items to the Start Menu or Task Bar by right-clicking and selecting Pin to Start Menu or Pin to Task Menu.

The author points out several things you can do to optimize your hard drive: convert to NTFS (assuming youíre still on FAT), run Check Disk (under Properties of your drive), run Performance tests, run Disk Cleanup.

One of the most powerful enhancements is in Performance in Control Panel. Here you can adjust visual effects, control indexing and change system settings.

Thereís a chapter on IE8, including how to turn on Compatibility View, remove toolbars and add-ins, explore privacy and security settings.

Chapter 8 deals with email, how to organize it, filter it and how best to deal with spam. It also shows you how to back-up email lists.

Chapter 9 deals with the important subjects of security, Windows Update and the use of firewalls and other security packages.

The balance of the chapters deal with less crucial subjects. They may be of interest to some users, but probably not all.

I found this book to be useful. I tried out many of the ideas both to see how they worked and to see the improvement that might result.

About: Degunking Windows 7
Author: Joli Ballew
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
ISBN-10: 0071760059
ISBN-13: 978-0071760058
Price: $25, $16.50 @ Amazon

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